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06-16-2011, 12:27 PM   #1
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lifestyle portraits: what gear should I get?

Hey Pentaxians. I hope I can get a little advice. I posted this in another forum where I got lots of advice on my original question but it died after I wrote my thoughts on options for me. Background: I'm wanting to start a portrait business (ideally by next spring) and need to practice/build portfolio with subjects. I'd like to specialize in kids and babies...lifestyle photography...no in studio type stuff. I love a shallow DOF, and bright airy photos. I intend to be shooting in families homes and outside. I know I'm going to need A LOT OF THINGS, but right now I have around 300 dollars to spend for this month. I have: FA50mm f1.4, DA18-55mm f3.5-5.6, K-x, tripod, fast 8g card. What do you suggest I should get right away?

Here's my thoughts on options: (mind you I really need to do some major research on lighting)

-sell my FA50 1.4, get a tamron 28-75 f2.8, spend about $200-300 on lighting
-sell my FA50 1.4, get the tamron and an old A 50mm to mostly use on babies indoors, and spend about 100-200 on lighting
-keep my FA 50 1.4, also get the Tamron, spend around 50-75 on lighting
-don't get the tamron, stick with my 50 and 18-55 kit lens for all work, and spend about $300 on lighting
-keep my 50, get a longer telephoto prime (maybe the FA100 2.8? or 135 2.8) , and a reflector
-don't buy anything (except maybe a reflector)...save up and get a DA* 50-235 2.8

06-16-2011, 12:38 PM   #2
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Don't sell anything and don't buy anything. Keep prakticing for the coming two months and share results to get better at this.

Well there is no harm in buying a large reflector.
06-16-2011, 12:53 PM   #3
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You said you have $300 to spend... You'l most likely spend it anyway so...
QuoteOriginally posted by mhaws Quote
-keep my FA 50 1.4, also get the Tamron, spend around 50-75 on lighting
Is what I suggest...

A cheap manual flash should get you started (yongnuo)... Maybe a cheap ebay flashstand and reversable umbrella if you can get a deal on the flash and lens...

That's what I'd be thinkiing anyway...
06-16-2011, 01:20 PM   #4
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FA 50/1.4 is a nifty little lens for what you want to do, and I agree with the above - lighting will make the biggest difference to your results and your learning. Get savvy with how to manipulate your off-camera flash setup and you'll find you won't need to 'upgrade' to very much. The Tamron 17-50 is a good kit lens replacement, but if you don't care for wide angle shots, then the 28-75 will be even more versatile for you.

06-16-2011, 02:51 PM   #5
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I like to take outdoor portraits too, I did a couple of shoots the other weekend with FA50, metz 50 and my Kx. I used my 18-250 for some of the wider angled shots. I also have an umbrella + stand and next will be a reflector. Reading books on lighting and on posing as well will help loads.
06-16-2011, 03:16 PM   #6
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Keep FA50, get the Tamron 28-75 and decent flash. Babies and moms won't have too much patience while you'll be fiddling around with manual lenses and swapping primes. May come weird from me as I own no zoom lens but then again, shoot 90% of my baby pictures with DA*55 and I'm really happy...
06-16-2011, 03:31 PM   #7
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Do you mean you can afford $300 every month? If so I'd wait, maybe buy a cheap flash, some ebay triggers and a reflector (get the type that has gold/silver/black/grey reversible covering and a semi opaque 'scrim') and save my pennies for a DA50-135. I believe you can pick this lens up for around $800 in the US, so in three months or so you can afford it.

Outstanding lens (sdm problems aside) that will suit your intended portrait use very well.
06-16-2011, 04:13 PM   #8
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The first most important item your missing is a flash

06-16-2011, 05:28 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by NicoleAu Quote
Reading books on lighting and on posing as well will help loads
+1 on that!

David Prakel's 'Lighting' is one of the most comprehensive lighting guide I've found in print (ISBN-13: 978-2-940373-03-1)...

Google 'strobist.com' for a great online resource, and the 'strobist.com group' on 'flickr.com' is awesome too as all subbmitted images must have lighting info...

Can anyone recommend a good posing-guide I've only found one in the UK on amazon but the reviews there slated it as a waste of money... ???
06-16-2011, 05:30 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
FA 50/1.4 is a nifty little lens for what you want to do, and I agree with the above - lighting will make the biggest difference to your results and your learning. Get savvy with how to manipulate your off-camera flash setup and you'll find you won't need to 'upgrade' to very much. The Tamron 17-50 is a good kit lens replacement, but if you don't care for wide angle shots, then the 28-75 will be even more versatile for you.
+1 on that too!
06-16-2011, 08:46 PM   #11
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David, I just read (and misplaced argh!) a Portrait Photographers handbook, which was really good, by Bill Hurter. It had heaps of handy tips. Another book I can recommend is Visual Poetry by Chris Orwig, he name drops a bit, but his work is good. The book is easy to read and interesting.
06-16-2011, 08:55 PM   #12
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I'm just a hobby photographer, but mho is that you'd need to take control of the lighting to have the consistency needed in all situations to make some money.
As such equipment wise, my few cents would be :

1. Tamron 28-75/2.8
2. Wireless flash trigger (the newer ebay ones are fine enough)
3. Light stand (x2)
4. Flash (x2)
5. Umbrella x2 (shoot thru or bounce)
6. Reflector x1
7. Some cloths as backdrop

Of course you can also specialize in natural light, but this will be more reliant on agreeable weather and enough sunlight coming in from windows in whatever venue you are shooting in.

Lastly, practice, read-up, practice... repeat...repeat...repeat.
Knowledge of the equipments, lighting setups and shooting angles (some will be safe generic money earning poses) is really important.
No chance to fiddle and think and leave the customer waiting, though I'd recommend a slow pace and not rush through of the process.
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