Photography Reviews


Looking for the best camera (point and shoot or DSLR), lens, or other photography gear and equipment to buy? This photography buying guide offers helpful “real world” ratings and reviews on photography equipment from an experienced photographer (take a look at my photo galleries to see my work). Although my specialty is landscape and travel photography, the gear reviewed can be used in a whole range of photographic scenarios. (Note: this guide was most recently updated in February 2014 to cover new products.)

Before considering any camera and photography equipment upgrades, it is a great idea to learn about photography. Use online resources (Google can find a tutorial on anything!), but if you want to learn the basics or read something more thorough, we recommend books (read our book reviews). The book we always recommend starting with is Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. Seriously, get it. All of the expensive equipment in the world won’t help you if you haven’t learned the basics, and that book is the best way to learn the basics. A book is a lot cheaper than a new lens, and if you’re a beginner, that book will improve your photography more than a new lens.

No camera “takes good pictures.” Some cameras can help an adept photographer more than others, but if the person taking the photos doesn’t do things right, photos taken with a $2,000 camera can look worse than photos taken with a camera phone. Likewise, many experienced photographers can take better photos with an iPhone than inexperienced photographers can with expensive DSLRs on Auto Mode.

The point being, it’s important to learn the fundamentals of photography in addition to buying shiny, new toys. This guide will start by providing resources for learning more about photography (the most important step) and then reviews and information concerning buying more tools to improve your photography.

Books

Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson – (same one as above, just in case you missed it there, because it’s really that important) this book is where I learned photography. He would still be using automatic mode if it weren’t for someone recommending Mr. Peterson’s book. A wealth of information, from the basics to some more advanced techniques, this book is the perfect jumping off point.

The Photographer’s Eye - Great composition is paramount to a great photo, but unfortunately it’s one of those things that’s difficult to learn. This book helps any aspiring photographer really learn composition. This is a book to read over and over again. Definitely the second-most important book to own on photography and one that’s become a recent favorite of mine.

Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Boxed Set, Volumes 1, 2, 3, and 4 - A four part series of  beginner and intermediate books with plenty of useful tips for veteran photographers, too. The information in these books really runs the gamut, and if ever there were to be a single (or 3 book) series for mastering the craft/business of all types of photography, this would be it.

***Click here for our full list of Photography book recommendations***

Disney Photography Tutorials



We’ve done a number of blog posts providing tips for improving your photography at Disney. Here are some of the best ones, which you should read once you have a decent foundation to understand photography (in other words, read a couple of the books above before reading these):

This just scratches the surface on the photography guides we’ve written. To read and learn more, browse the photography category of posts on the blog. Once you’ve learned a bit, it might be time to buy some new equipment to help you take better photos. Read on for our buying suggestions…

Cameras

D7000 v. D600 v. D700

Over the last few years, we have had the chance to extensively use a number of cameras. Primarily, we use Nikon DSLRs, various point & shoots, and iPhones for photography. Since 2008, we have used a Olympus EM-5, Canon XTi, Nikon D40, D90, D7000, D700 D600, and Infrared D70. Sarah uses an iPhone 5 for Disney iPhoneography. You can see what’s currently in my camera bag here.

While we are primarily Nikon users, we aren’t crazy brand-loyalists. Every manufacturer is making excellent cameras right now, so you need to read reviews for particular models of cameras. The top Canon DSLR cameras are definitely quite comparable to the top Nikon DSLR cameras. Personally, if in the market for a DSLR, I’d stick with one of the big two not because they’re better than Sony or Pentax bodies, but because of lens support. If you’re looking to go mirrorless, Sony or Olympus are the way to go. When it comes to point & shoots, a number of manufacturers (including Sony, Panasonic, Olympus, Canon, and more) are all putting out great cameras.

Let’s go through the different categories of cameras for reviews of some of our favorite cameras that we’ve used.

DSLR Cameras

Nikon D70 Infrared-Converted DSLR and Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 Lens

Nikon D3200 DSLR - This is the newest entry level DSLR from Nikon, which offers great bang for your buck in a small size. It has pretty solid image quality when compared to higher level cameras, and only lacks some of the features–definitely a great value. It’s definitely a good idea to use less of your budget for the camera body so you can put more towards additional lenses and necessary accessories! (Read Our Full D3200 Review w/ Photo Samples) Score: 9/10

Nikon D7100 DSLR Camera – If you’re upgrading or are more serious about photography, skip the D5200 and go straight to the D7100. The benefits of the D7100 over the lower models are improved dynamic range & high ISO performance, better build quality, better HD video capabilities, and more. Each of these improvements seems insubstantial on its own, but together they make for a pretty impressive camera that you can grow into as a photographer! A slightly cheaper option here is the Nikon D7000, which is a great camera, but is a bit older and doesn’t perform quite as well.  (Read Our Full D7000 Review w/ Photo Samples) Score: 9/10

Nikon D600 DSLR Camera – I pre-ordered this within minutes after it was announced, and am so glad I did. It offers full frame quality, amazingly clean images at high ISO, incredible dynamic range, and a litany of features. I purchased this instead of the Nikon D800 because the D800 offered too many megapixels for my shooting style. In my opinion, the Nikon D600 is the perfect camera for the very serious Disney photographer. (Read Our Full Review w/ Photo Samples) Score: 10/10

Nikon D70 Infrared DSLR CameraInfrared cameras are a niche camera that can only achieve a specific type of photo (see above). I use the Nikon D70, but I don’t recommend it. Instead, I’d buy a new Nikon D5100 and have the conversion done for $250 via LifePixel. Infrared cameras capture light beyond the spectrum of light visible to the human eye. If you already have a solid lineup of gear and want to try a new style, think about purchasing one. All others should avoid. Read Our Full “Infrared Photography Guide & Tips” post for more info.

Lenses

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Nikon D3100 DSLR and Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 Lens

We have used a lot of lenses over the past few years, and we have reviewed many of these lenses on the blog. However, some stick out as our top choices if you’re just getting started in photography or want to “complete” your camera bag. Here are our capsule reviews for some of our top lenses to get when you’re first looking to upgrade your gear:

Rokinon 8mm f/3.5 Fisheye Lens - This lens goes by many different names (Rokinon, Bower, Pro-Optic, Samyang, etc.), but if you find a lens that is an 8mm f/3.5 fisheye, it’s this one. This is really an amazing lens for it’s target audience. It’s really wide, reasonably fast, and incredibly cheap. It is manual focus, but manual focus is no problem at all on a fisheye lens. (Read Our Full Review w/ Photo Samples) Score: 9/10

Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens - Essentially a replacement and upgrade for the kit lens that comes with most entry level DSLRs. It allows for more creativity, but also covers a very useful focal range, so it’s not a niche lens like an ultra-wide angle or a fisheye. It covers largely the same focal length (17-50mm v. 18-55mm) as a kit lens, but offers better image quality, better low-light performance, and allows for more shallow depth of field because of the constant f/2.8 aperture.(Read Our Full Review w/ Photo Samples) Score: 9.5/10

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 LensThe world’s first (and only) f/1.8 zoom lens, this is a real game-changer. For a first of its kind lens, the quality is surprisingly great. The lens flat-out performs well, and the focal range is great for Disney photography as it can be used for landscapes, dark rides, in-park portraits, fireworks, and more. The lens is a bit pricey, but it’s highly recommended if your budget allows. (Read Our Full Review w/ Sample Photos) Score: 10/10

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 Ultra-wide Angle Lens for Nikon - The Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 is a gem. With an aperture of f/2.8, it’s fast enough to use hand-held at night (or on some dark rides!) and its image quality is stunningly sharp. If you do get this lens, make sure you use it to its full potential by leveraging the distortion it produces. Don’t just use it to “zoom backwards” or cram more things into the frame. (Read Our Full Review w/ Photo Samples) Score: 10/10

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM Lens for Nikon – The holy grail of portrait and dark ride lenses as far as we’re concerned, the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is the perfect focal length for photographing dark rides, and it’s a more natural portrait lens for using in the parks. It produces buttery-smooth bokeh and images that pop. Nikon offers a 35mm f/1.8 for a bit less, but it’s not nearly as good. Spend a little more and get the exceptional quality of the Sigma. You will not regret it. Score: 10/10 (Read Our Full Review w/ Photo Samples)

***We have a lot more reviews on our Lens Reviews Page. Read that to decide what’s right for you***

Point & Shoot Cameras

DSC_0249 as Smart Object-1 copy

Sony RX100 - This point and shoot has been described by just about everyone who has reviewed it as a game changer. I was skeptical at first, but I drank the Kool Aid, and am loving it. This point and shoot somehow combines a large sensor and a great f/1.8 lens into a compact package. The only downside is its price. It has replaced our Nikon D3100 DSLR as a backup camera–we carry this camera just about everywhere! (Read Our Full Review w/ Photo Samples) Score: 10/10

Canon PowerShot S110 - The Canon S110′s biggest strengths are its minimum aperture of f/2.0 and its ability to shoot RAW which are quite impressive for a point and shoot. Obviously it’s no miracle worker, and it definitely doesn’t compare to even an entry level DSLR, but it’s a solid point and shoot for the money. It’s no Sony RX100, but it’s a cheaper alternative. Score: 9/10

If you’re looking for an underwater camera or a waterproof case to use at the beach, diving, or at a Disney water park, check out our Best Underwater Cameras for 2013 page. In lieu of a dedicated waterproof camera, we recommend the DicaPac Waterproof Digital Camera Case. It works surprisingly well!

Accessories

Nikon D90 and Sigma 30mm f/1.4

A lot of beginners make the mistake of only budgeting for a camera and lens when starting out, only to find out they need other accessories. These things quickly add up and can cost far more than expected. Some of these additional expenses skew more towards necessary (memory cards, camera bag, tripod) whereas some are not necessary but nice to have (polarizing and neutral density filters). Here are our picks for the best accessories:

Tripods

DSC_4501 as Smart Object-1 copy

There are a lot of differing opinions on this one, but for the purpose of vacationing to Walt Disney World or Disneyland, a lightweight travel tripod is best. We use the Velbon line of tripods, specifically the Velbon Luxi-L III. This is a GREAT tripod: incredible value, height, and it collapses to a small size!

Since tripods are such an incredibly important (yet often overlooked) element of capturing great photos, I’ve put together a thorough guide for choosing the right one.

***Visit our “Choosing the Best Travel Tripod” page for more information.***

Remotes

If you want something easy and simple (with a bit of range for self portraits), get a Wireless IR Remote Control. It’s inexpensive, and incredibly useful for fireworks shots (bulb mode), nighttime long exposures (so you don’t move the camera when pressing the shutter button), and for taking shots of yourself!

If you want something with a bit more functionality, get a Fotodix Wired Remote. This is better for serious or advanced users who need more than shutter release functionality.

Flash

If you like taking photos of your family & friends, an external flash is a must. The little on camera flash just washes people out and doesn’t do nearly as good of a job as an external flash. External flashes are fairly cheap, too.

Nikon SB-400 flash – great entry level flash that’s small, cheap, and has an adjustable head for bouncing. This is the flash Sarah uses.

Nikon SB-700 flash – mid-range Nikon flash that has a lot more features than the SB-400, is larger, and a bit more expensive than the SB-400. Unless size is an issue, this is the flash you should target. Its features make it much more compelling than the SB-400. I use the last generation (SB-600) of this flash.

Filters

Unlike in the days of film, most filters nowadays can be achieved via post processing. For that reason, we don’t recommend many filters. We also don’t recommend UV filters for protection (use a lens hood instead) as they slightly degrade image quality, especially if shooting into bright lights. Here are the filters we do recommend:

Tiffen 77mm Circular Polarizer – A great option for deeply saturated blue skies, but is by no means a necessity. It also acts as a neutral density filter, of sorts. Be careful using polarizers on wide angle lenses. You may not like the uneven results.

CHEAP-O $25 Infrared Filter (72mm) or 77mm - This is what you want to buy if you want to give infrared photography a try. Before I got my infrared camera, I used one of those CHEAP-O filters, and it worked just fine for me…actually, it worked great considering the price! If you like this, consider a dedicated camera…

B+W 77mm Neutral Density 1.8-64x Filter #106 – Neutral Density filters are great for long exposure fireworks shots and long exposure daytime shots. There are cheaper options, but this is really the filter that will be most versatile. If you’re considering purchasing one, read the link below to make a better-informed decision.

***Visit our full list of Neutral Density Filter Reviews.***

Nikon D7000 and Sigma 8-16mm Lens

Camera Bags

We recommend that you learn from our mistakes and purchase a camera bag you can “grow into” as you buy your gear. We’ve gone through far too many bags as our gear “collection” has grown.

Lowepro SlingShot 102 AW – This bag provides great bang for your buck, and can store your camera with a lens mounted, plus two additional lenses. It’s possible to cram three additional lenses into this in a pinch by using the top pouch for the 50mm f/1.8 or another small lens. It’s much better than the 100AW that it replaced, because you can carry a tripod on the side of it!

Lowepro Flipside 300 Backpack – Better for “heavy” traveling, this bag is used by many Disney photographers. If you’re only looking to purchase one camera bag, and plan on eventually owning 4 or more lenses, this is the bag to get. It’s roughly the same price as the 102 AW, but it can hold much more–and it utilizes space amazingly.

***Visit our “Choosing the Best Camera Bag for Travel” post for more info!***

Software

A photo isn’t done the moment you click the shutter. Much like photographers of yore polished shots in the darkroom, it’s imperative that you have your own “digital darkroom.” Don’t mess with any software (sorry Aperture, Gimp, Paint Shop Pro, etc., users!) besides Adobe’s. They’re the market leader for a reason.

Adobe Photoshop CS6 (and its included programs, Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw) – If you’re serious about photography, this is the go-to photo-editing suite. If you’re a student or teacher, you are eligible to purchase the Photoshop CS6 Teacher and Student Edition for $192! We highly recommend buying that version of Photoshop if you’re eligible. Photoshop can do it all and includes other programs that are also incredibly useful. Highly recommended.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 - Perfect for quick edits or people who don’t want to fuss with photos as much. (There is also a Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Student and Teacher Edition available for only $80) Lightroom is a very powerful program and can do 98% of the editing that we perform on our photos.

Nikon D7000 and 8mm Fisheye Lens

Guide Conclusion

It will probably take several years to acquire everything you need. It would be imprudent to buy it all at once, because you might find your interests differ from ours, and even your style will change and evolve. Lenses make much more of a difference than the body, so budget accordingly.

If you’re on a limited budget, start out by setting aside the cost of an entry level camera body, and add the following as funds allow. If you could purchase all of these things with money left over, consider starting out with a more advanced camera than entry level. Here’s what you’ll want:

1) tripod & remote
2) Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 (if that’s outside your budget: Sigma 30mm f/1.4 or Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8)
3) Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 or Rokinon 8mm fisheye
4) SB-700 external flash.

From there, buy whatever lenses and other accessories that might interest you. We’ve discovered that buying photo gear on eBay or Craigslist is a huge risk, but we still do it sometimes. You don’t know how the seller took care of their gear, or what problems may come up down the road. You also don’t save that much over buying new. Finally, you don’t get a warranty. Things do go wrong with cameras, seemingly inexplicably, and it would really stink for that $1,000 investment to break with no recourse for you.

Similarly, there are a lot of New York City based camera stores online with too-good-to-be-true prices. These sites are scams, DO NOT order from them! If the price looks to good to be true, it is.

We’re Amazon Prime members, so we almost always order from Amazon.com. I also recommend Adorama.comB&H Photo, or Abes of Maine, but I generally avoid all other online photo retailers (I STRONGLY recommend avoiding J&R Cameras).

If you are considering a purchase of any photography equipment, lenses, or anything else for that matter we would greatly appreciate it if you use the Amazon, Adorama, and B&H Photo links in this post to make your purchase. It benefits the site, doesn’t cost you a dime, and helps us to keep providing you with useful content! Every penny helps!

Your Thoughts…

We hope this guide helps you out and answers your questions. If you have other gear recommendations or tips on new products we might like, share them in the comments! If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below, too.

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124 Responses to “Photography Reviews”

  1. Gordon says:

    A very timely blog Tom as I am looking at my options regarding a Fisheye lens and funnily enough the Rokinon lens or Samyang as I know it over here was the likely lens of choice. Now its the definite lens of choice.

    The only other bit of kit I was/am missing is the external flash but I had earmarked one, Canon Speedlite 270EX and I will have amassed all the shiny gubbins needed by the time Aug 2012 rolls around.

    As for my camera body its an old Canon EOS 300d body I have but I am so used to it and comfortable I cannot bear to part with it. It feels like an extension of my arm when I use it.

    Anyway, cheers for another great blog

    • Tom Bricker says:

      If you like the camera body, and it suits your needs, stick with it. Spend the money on other upgrades!

      • Sam Nosavan says:

        Hello Tom,
        After i read your “Nikon d600 Review” i really like it, give me a lot of idea it helps me a lot but i still have question for you, please help me make decision. Before i waited for Nikon D600 because rumors said the price was &1500 but the real price is &2100 then i decided to get D7000 and Nikkor lens AF-S Dx Micro 40mm f/2.8 2 weeks ago and plant to buy Nikkor 85mm f1.8G lens, until now i am still thinking about D600 yet. Now i had 5 lenses together 3dx and 2ff (1:AF-S DX VR Zom 18-200 VR f/3.5-5.6; 2:DX 55-300mm; 3:Dx micro 40mm; 4:24mm f/2.8; 5: 50mm f1.8 all are nikkor lenses. I still have time to return or exchange for D600. What do you think or suggest? oh taking photo just my hobby. Sorry for my writing because i am not good English enough.
        Thank you so much and thanks for your review.
        Sam Nosavan.

    • Andrew says:

      Do you have any suggestions for graduated neutral density filters? Do the filter holders fit multiple lenses or do you have to buy a holder for each lens?

  2. Dan says:

    Great information Tom and timely for me since I just purchased the D7000. I’m starting to build up my arsenal of lenses. I have made a couple purchases via Amazon and one via a flickr contact, but would like to purchase more. What would be your vendor of choice? B&H, Amazon, Ebay, et al.?

  3. Michelle Schaefer says:

    This was so helpful! Thank you!! My son is wanting to save his money that he’s earning this summer to buy a DSLR for a media arts program he’s starting in the fall and this guide will help a lot!
    Another great blog, as all your blogs are!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Glad I could help! Like I said in the post, I would highly recommend starting small with the body. If he’s looking at it for artistic purposes, maybe start with the body only (no kit lens) and the Sigma 30mm lens. That will really help him learn composition!

  4. Ben says:

    Great post, Tom. I ended up getting the Sigma 30mm from your suggesting it over on WDW Photography, and I’ve been loving it. “Buttery smooth” does not even begin to describe how breathtaking the bokeh on this lens is. It is worth every last penny it costs. I highly, highly, highly recommend it!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I’m glad to hear that you like it. A lot of people overlook that lens in favor of the similar Nikon and Canon models, and that’s a huge mistake. The Sigma, surprisingly, is better by leaps and bounds!

  5. Allen Castillo says:

    Thanks for a great post Tom. I’m a big fan of your flickr photostream. I have the D7000, the 28-300 and 50 f/1.8. I was finally able to find the Tokina 11-16 in stock at amazon. This lens was really hard to come by. I can’t wait to try it out when we head out to AKL next month.

    Thanks again and keep those great shots coming!

  6. Suzy Stidham says:

    I have been so confused on what to do here recently. I want to upgrade my camera (currently have canon 40d) I’ve been torn, do I get the nikon d7000, or nikon d5100 and just change the lens? Perhaps to the 30mm you suggested. I mainly photograph my kids and for travel. I don’t want to change lenses all the time either. Any suggestions to help push me in the direction I’m looking for?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      First, let me say that the Canon 40D, despite being a bit old in the tooth, is a great camera. The D7000 would be an upgrade from it, but the D5100 would only be an upgrade in technology (button and feature-wise, the 40D might best it).

      If money is an issue, I would recommend going with the D5100 kit and getting the 30mm (if it’s no issue, get the D7000). If you’re disciplined with it, you can use just the 30mm for most subjects. It’s not good for sports or safaris (since it doesn’t zoom) so you might want to add something like a 55-200mm, too. Hope that helps!

      • Suzy Stidham says:

        Okay thank you…one last question. If I do decide to go with the d5100 I can only use AF lenses correct? I wouldn’t be able to turn off the auto to focus manualy (something I may want to consider in dark rides yes?) there is no option for this on the 5100. Yes?

      • Suzy Stidham says:

        Nevermind I just figured out that you can turn it off on the lens itsself…duh :-)

  7. Katie says:

    What a helpful post–I have a D40 with the 18-55mm kit lens, a 55-200mm lens, and a 35mm f1.8 lens (which I got after reading about prime lens day on WDW photography). I have been looking to upgrade my tripod (which works great for family group shots, but which is a pain to carry anywhere farther than the car), and to get an external flash. This post has been great help with that. I was wondering if you could help with software. I have photoshop and play around with it a little (usually more to the line of effects like making a photo b&w, using the clone tool to heal things, or doing selective coloration, than actually adjusting levels). Is there any reason to get lightroom too?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      If you have Photoshop, you have a program called Adobe Camera Raw. I recommend just using that instead of Lightroom. A lot of people swear by LR, but I think it’s sort of a waste of money if you have Camera Raw. Your mileage may vary.

  8. Daniel says:

    what about your backpack???

  9. MIke Sperduto says:

    What about editing software? Are you using Photoshop? I just download Gimp but haven’t really tried it out yet. Seems to be similar to Photoshop but its free : )

  10. Jack says:

    I read you Club 33 review and found it very interesting and really loved your photo’s I truely believe in the Brian Peterson book on exposure. Many years ago I went to Brooks Institute and then cinematography school but found out I could not make a decent living being a photographer.
    I still use a Hass 550c/m for those pictures I want to keep and had tried using a Nikon D5000 but really have not progressed very well. Very rarely have time in a day to PP, it actually takes more time for using PP software then to get a excellent photo from my Hass.

    Thanks so much for sharing you excellent pictures. Would love to see some of your work enlarged.

    Thanks again,

    Blackjackdelta

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Thanks! I’ve refined my post processing work-flow so most of the time it’s only 10-30 seconds or so per photo (or I can just batch process if I don’t feel like spending time on each).

  11. Michael Williams says:

    Tom,
    I’ve noticed on some of your pictures that you have a great collection of Mickey camera straps, do you mind if i ask where you are finding those?

  12. Suzy Stidham says:

    Tom, have you ever played with a 35mm lens? As much as I would LOVE to purchase the sigma 30mm I can’t seem to stay under my budget so I looked into the 35mm lens. Will this lens fair in dark rides (low light) as weel as the 30mm?

    When I search for opinions on the lenses, I mostly get 30mm and 50mm discussions coming up. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

  13. Eric says:

    Hey Tom. Love your posts. Any experience with the Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 Di LD Macro Zoom Lens with Built In Motor for Nikon Digital SLR . Looking for a new lens for our D40. Keep the great posts coming.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I’ve never personally touched that lens, but I’ve heard OKAY things about it. I personally wouldn’t buy it based on what I’ve read about it, but that’s just me. The 200-300mm range doesn’t do a whole lot for me, so I’d rather just get the Nikon 55-200mm VR if I were on a budget. The VR is more important than the 200-300mm in my opinion.

  14. CC says:

    Hey Tom,
    Love Love Love your posts and pictures. Am looking to get my first DSLR camera. I have read your reviews and know how much Sarah loves her Nikon D3100. I have thought about getting that, but I have also looked at Canon EOS Digital Rebel TS and a couple of Fuji’s and Panasonics. Do you still think that the Nikon D3100 is the best out of those brands for my first one? I am eager to make my purchase, because I have only been using a point and shoot on my Disney trips and it’s not cutting it anymore. I can hardly get any decent night time pictures with it. Especially of the castle. I always try to get all the different colors that it changes and they never come out, you can barely even see the castle. I know I won’t be able to get the quality of your pictures but I’m just looking to start getting better shots. I really value your opinion. Thanks!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Do you mean the Canon T1i, T2i, T3i line? I’ve never heard of Canon TS. I would stick with Canon or Nikon, they are the market leaders for a reason.

  15. Dominic Wilson says:

    This blog is really great!
    I have learned a lot by reading your contents and also with the others who posted their comments here. Let me also share you some good thoughts about my Nikkon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX Lens.

  16. Jeff says:

    Great review! Also, thanks for the Abes of Maine link. I used your link to buy a Canon 7D body and a Canon EF-S 17-55mm f2.8 IS lens and saved some pretty decent money. Now ia the hard part, waiting for it to arrive.

    After reading your review of the Sigma 30, I’m excited to pick one of those up as well. I want to experiment with the 17-55 first.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Hope you enjoy the new camera and lens–the Sigma 30 is also awesome!

      • Jeff says:

        Well, I couldn’t wait to get the Sigma 30. After playing with this lens for only one day, I am stoked. What an incredible lens. Thanks for the recommendation!

      • Tom Bricker says:

        It’s an awesome, awesome lens. I’m sure you’ll love it!

  17. I am frequently to blogging and i genuinely appreciate your content. The article has truly peaks my interest. I’m going to bookmark your website and preserve checking for new info.

  18. Josh G. says:

    Just received my Bower 8mm f/3.5 Manual Focus Fisheye Lens I purchased after reading some of the post about it. Have to say it is one of the most fun lenses I have ever shot with. I’ve only had it a few days and I am so anxious to use it more, I hate even seeing it sit in the camera bag. Didn’t think a little $250 “creative” lens would push aside my go to Canon 24-70 2.8L, but it looks like it may be the case for a while. Thanks for the great tip. Now the real test will be during my December Christmas trip!

  19. Keith LeLievre says:

    Tom,

    I was wondering what made you decide to get rid of the Canon after only a week and switch to Nikon?

    I’m looking at some cameras on the $550-650 range and Canon and Nikon are both in there. A friend has the Canon T1i which I am about to borrow for a night to test out if I like it, and I was just wondering what about the Canon XTi you didn’t like.

  20. Hi Tom (and Sarah),

    Love, really love, tour website! I just tool your survey (more hippos, just kidding).

    I’m a Nikon shooter (D300) and have a handful of lenses that I’ve been packing around for years. More recently, I’ve been getting tired of packing the load around with me. Last week I had delivered a new Sony NEX-5n camera with a 16mm & an 18-55 lens. My theory is that i’ve still got the Nikon D300 sized APS-C sensor but in a tiny package to pack around with me.

    My first results have pleased me – sharp, nice high resolution, excellent low light.

    Any thoughts or experience?

    John

  21. Can you please send me the code for this script or please inform me in detail concerning this script?

  22. seo says:

    Hey there! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a team of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us valuable information to work on. You have done a marvellous job!

  23. Aby Sy says:

    What about hybrid cameras like the SONY NEX C3? what do you think about those?

  24. Mike says:

    Hey Tom –
    With your extensive camera strap collection, I’m guessing you change them out quite often. Is there a “clip” that can be purchased that makes changing straps a faster process? I have the black/white/gray film strip Mickey strap and, when it is threaded through my camera, it’s a bit short and time consuming to change. I’ve looked around and cannot seem to find anything – thought you might have a suggestion.

    Thanks!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      One of the straps I purchased had very thick metal clicks attached to it, and I use those. Prior to that, I tried to find clips (to avoid the exact problem you described) to no avail. Try looking for a random old camera strap on eBay with the metal clips I’m describing.

      • Mike says:

        Great idea….I’ll check it out and see if I can find anything. You wouldn’t think it would be such a novel idea…apparently so!

        Thanks Tom!

      • MARY says:

        I have the newer Disney strap and I used the clips from my lanyard pouch worked great- the pouch only cost $5= so $10- and they are small enough to clip on the camera and the strap will feed though the bottom . Look up lanyard pouches on the Disney web site and you can see how useable it might be for you.

  25. Chris says:

    Tom,

    When buying a new DSLR camera do you think it’s generally worth getting the most recent model of a camera eg. a D5100 over a D5000?

  26. Chris says:

    I was wondering if you can give me some advice on what would be the best camera lens to bring to Magic Kingdom. I have a Canon Rebel EOS T3i with 18-55mm lens and 55-250mm lens. I love your pictures, especially the ones with the castle before the CP breakfast. What lens did you use? Should I invest in another lens. This is my son’s first vist to MK and I want to capture the moments the best way I can. Thank you.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Which do you use more, the 18-55 or the 55-250? If the 18-55 (which I assume is the case), you can’t go wrong upgrading to the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens reviewed here. It’s a gem of a lens! Make sure to read the full review I wrote on it (see the link here).

    • Chris says:

      Thank you for your advice. Your pictures are absolutely amazing!!! Did you use a tripod and remote for the castle and statue picture prior to your CP breakfast? Again, thank you and please do not stop your site. You truly have helped me plan my son’s trip to make it the best ever!

  27. A Newto says:

    I just bought a D3100 for my first DSLR and somehow missed the fact that there is no wireless remote for it. Apparently Nikon decided to downgrade to a wired one from the d3000. Any suggestions?

  28. Jack Fussell says:

    Hey,
    I saw that you mentioned you didn’t like the Nikon D800…..why?
    And is this what you do for a living?
    Jack

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I mentioned that the D800 is ‘disappointing for my shooting style,’ which is the case because the files are so large, and I shoot in high volume. Memory (CF, HD, or RAM) is not yet cheap enough for this to be a realistically viable camera for me. Otherwise, it looks absolutely amazing.

      I am not a full-time photographer.

  29. Sean says:

    Tom, this is really a great article. I just bought a Canon EOS Rebel T3 yesterday that came with an 18-55mm IS Lens. I’ve been looking to get into the DSLR game for a while, and got a great deal on Woot.com for this one, so I jumped on it. And I have to say, your pictures are one of the main reasons I wanted to hop into the wonderful world of photography.

    Thanks for all the resources you’ve posted here. I think I’m going to pick up a book or two you’ve recommended.

    Thanks again!

  30. Dane says:

    Tom, great content and photos. I am a novice with a DSLR with a D5100 for approximately a year. Work and an infant have hindered my development. Santa delivered CS6 extended, with hopes that I will better capture our family memories and create family portraits. I have a handful of RAW files from a recent trip to WDW and Christmas that I am tinkering with. Do you suggest any books or online classes to help learn Photoshop? I have been using the adobe site and searching you tube for help so far. I did notice that you have an older Kelby book on your blog. Any help is greatly appreciated. Keep up the good work!

  31. Adam Willis says:

    Cannot wait til the day when I need to actually use this guide for a fancy new camera! What a magnificent resource. Thanks for all you do. Really.

  32. Dbug says:

    This great. Noticed that most of the wide angle or super wide angle lens are for APSC sensors. Can we get the similar ones for full frame 35mm.

  33. christine says:

    hi tom, i will be heading to WDW soon and wanna know if the new tokina 11-16 dx ii works fine with 5D iiii??! or sigma 12-24 a better choice on FF system? thx a lot!!

  34. Josh says:

    Hey Tom! I’ve read through your guides and subsequent other and had a few questions as I’ll be spending a good deal of the next several months at WDW: Would you recommend a point-and-shoot (S95 or G12) or a new lens?

    I already have a Nikon D3100, and just looking for an addition to shoot dark rides, fireworks, and Architecture while visiting. I see the point-and-shoot as convenient. Just looking for the best option. Thank you Sir!

  35. ElizabethNDP says:

    Since the Velbon tripod you recommended is no longer available, is there another lightweight, study, & not $$$ tripod you’d recommend? I’m using a Nikon D5200 with the 16-85 lens, also have the 55-200 kit lens.
    Thanks!

  36. Ray says:

    What is your opinion on whether lens hoods are a “necessary” accessory? Should it be something we all should buy? Only for certain lenses? “Brand” hoods or “cheap-o”?

  37. Laura says:

    Do you have any suggestions for external flashes for a Canon camera? I have the T3i. I loved this post and I love your photo a day app.
    Thanks!

  38. Lisa says:

    Hi, Tom,
    I have a Canon Rebel T3, with the 18-55 and 75-300 mm kit lenses, as well as a 50mm f/1.4. We will be going with a large group to Disney this fall (first trip!) I’m wanting a good, multi-purpose lens…have been looking at Tamron 17-50 or the Sigma 30mm that you recommended. What would your opinion be? My 50mm is my favorite, but I know I won’t be able to use that for everything.
    Thank you!

  39. Todd says:

    Hi Tom, Just FYI I came here just to see what tripod you recommend and the amazon link is broken!

  40. Nate says:

    I am surprised that you say to avoid J&R. I don’t remember buying anything from them, but I do know that I have considered them on purchases in the past as I thought that they were a reputable company.

    Is there any particular reason they should be avoided?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      We have had two negative experiences at J&R, the second of which sealed the deal. I was one of the first people to pre-order the D7000 (from them), and when other retailers started shipping their cameras, mine didn’t ship. So I waited, and waited, and finally called when Amazon had shipped its THIRD round of cameras. The person on the phone was incredibly rude, and wanted us to re-place the order through him over the phone (presumably for commission). Didn’t do that, but accepted his ultimate assurance that it would ship in the next couple of days.

      The next week (it still hadn’t shipped), I read of other people having a similar issue on forums, and the rumor was that instead of filling pre-orders, they had been putting the cameras on the shelves of their NYC superstore. Regardless of whether that was true, I decided to cancel my order.

      The very next day, B&H got inventory in, I placed an order, and had it 2 days later. I’m convinced that had I placed my order with B&H or Amazon to begin with, I would have had the camera on release day, and wouldn’t have dealt with J&R’s crap for over a month.

      I’m sure other people have had fine experiences with them, but for that, I will never buy from them again, and recommend that others don’t, either.

      • Nate says:

        Wow, that stinks. I wouldn’t return to them after that either. I guess the old adage is true: “Give somebody good service, they’ll tell one person. Give them bad service, they’ll tell ten.” Although, in this case is probably more like hundreds or thousands. :-)

        I, too, like B&H and use them for just about all my large purchases. Even though they close business often for religious observance, they’re very quick to ship and I’ll often have my item before the estimated delivery date.

        On a related note, are there any places you use beside B&H and Amazon? I’ve been looking to get the Lowepro Flipside 400AW backpack and B&H had it for something like $115 around Christmas. Now it’s $200 and Amazon has always had it around $180 (although it’s now on sale for $160). However, I’m the kind of guy who’ll wait for the price to come back down knowing that they’ve offered it for such a low price before.

      • Tom Bricker says:

        Most of the time, I use Amazon (we have Prime and there’s a shipment center near us, which means next-day delivery most of the time). B&H sometimes, and Adorama on rare occasions. I’ve used a couple others, like Beach Camera, here and there, but you have to be careful with camera gear, as there are so many shady stores.

        For something like a camera bag, you’d probably be safe checking eBay. Not for a used one–they should have new ones.

  41. Jordan says:

    Tom,
    Love the site! I’m getting ready to head to Disney World for a five month stay (doing the Disney College Program) and I’m a huge photography junkie. At home, I usually only shoot concerts and sporting events, so this will be a different style of shooting for me.

    Right now, I’m using a D3100 with 18-55 and 55-200 lenses. I’ve grown to shooting “light” since I’m constantly moving around (quickly) to new positions and can’t afford to be lugging stuff with me. Right now, my bag is a Lowepro Passport Sling (http://www.amazon.com/camera-photo/dp/B0039NLS3I), which holds my camera with either lens attached plus room for the other lens in storage but not much else (it also holds an extra battery and extra memory card, and can fit an external flash if I bought one, but thats it).

    I know I’m going to buy a tripod and the TW-282 remote you recommend, but is there a good way to carry my tripod, short of buying a new bag? I had tried the AW202 before getting the Passport Sling, but it just didn’t feel right on my back, for lack of a better description. If I need to get a new bag, would you have any other suggestions besides the AW202?

    Thanks in advance for your suggestions!
    -Jordan

    P.S. There is a group of almost 100 of us doing the Disney College Program in the fall who made a Facebook group for us to talk photography, and a bunch of us really like your posts. If/when you’ll be there in the fall (the majority of us will be there starting in mid-August and leaving in January (but some are there now)) and would be willing to take some college students around the parks for an afternoon on a photography adventure, I know that we’d love it. Feel free to come check out our group and say hi! https://www.facebook.com/groups/DCPphotography/

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the best way to carry the tripod is going to be a new bag–or carrying it in its case in addition to your current bag. The latter option is far from ideal.

      Thanks for the heads up about that group. I joined it and posted a message!

  42. Laura says:

    I love this post! Thanks so much for all of your advice. As far as your conclusion recommendations…what flash would you recommend for a canon eos t3i? Thanks so much!

  43. Jessica Holland says:

    Thanks so much for this post. I want to step up my photography so I am considering the Nikon D7100/ D7000 based on your review in hopes that I will grow into the camera. Do you think it is best to purchase the body only and purchase one of the lenses you recommend to replace the standard lens kit?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Yeah, purchase the body only. The kit lens is okay, but there are far better options. If you’re going to spend that much on a body, you should buy one of the upgraded lenses to get the most out of it. A great option is the Tamron 17-50mm.

      • Jessica Holland says:

        That is exactly the one I had my eye on. Thanks so much! Love your blog. I’m trying to get through the whole thing before taking my daughter to WDW for the first time in April. :)

  44. Jessica says:

    Oh my, this is so overwhelming. I just upgraded my point and shoot yesterday and bought a D3200 for our first trip to WDW Jan 2014. I think I have to learn a whole new language to be able to learn to use it as I only understood about 1/2 of this post! Good thing I have a long time to learn before we leave to visit the mouse!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      It’s daunting at first, but all it takes is a little reading and you’ll understand all of the jargon in no time. Good luck!

      • Jessica says:

        Thanks! I love how you get so many pics of the park w/out people. I know you stay late in the night, but how do you get early morning ones? If Ihave an 8am breakfast reservation, how early will they let me in for it. I’d love to be in by 7:30 to take pics on my way to Crystal Palace.

  45. Gareth says:

    Thanks for all that information. Most of it went totally over my head, Im a point & click kind of guy, with a basic digital camra. The main thing I got from this though was you don’t nesaserally need the best most flashy camra to great phtos. Somthing that will come in handy not only on my next trip to DW, but also in other situations when photos need taking.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Yep, that’s a great take-away! Knowledge of photography principles applies across the board, not just with DSLRs.

  46. atet says:

    Hi Tom newbie here. I have a D3200 any suggestion on which lens I can use for this type of camera? I love all your Disney night shots and fireworks. You think I can take photos similar to yours with D3200? Any help and suggestion will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  47. Laura says:

    The pictures on this website are amazing!! I wish you’d include more of the technical info other than just the lens used i.e. shutter speed, f-stop, ios etc. Especially in the photography section of the blog

  48. Jen says:

    what do you do with all your equipment on water rides!?

  49. Angie Hashemi says:

    Bought the MeFoto Road Trip for Photo Magic. I’ll let you know how I like it. I am going to try out the ball head that came with it and see how I like that one. I have just had cheap tripods in the past, so anything will be an improvement!

    Love your reviews. Got a lot of gear for the trip. Here is hoping I can drastically improve my pictures with some help! :-)

  50. rahul says:

    Think of buying Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM, any other lenses will you suggest to consider before taking a call.

  51. Andrew says:

    Do you have any suggestions for graduated neutral density filters? Do the filter holders fit multiple lenses or do you have to buy a holder for each lens?

    Sorry meant to add a new comment to reply to someone else.

  52. Krista says:

    Is there a specific reason you suggest the Fotodiox remote instead of the Nikon brand remote? This is the next accessory I plan on picking up & your feedback is most appreciated! Thanks! BTW, I love your site and follow you on Pinterest & Facebook…Your tips & reviews are very helpful and much appreciated!

  53. Lindsey says:

    Hi there,
    I will be Honeymooning at Disney this coming May and my fiance and I would like to buy a new point and shoot camera for our trip. I’d like to stay below $300 price point but get the best camera for my buck. I’ve been looking at the Canon PowerShot SX280 HS. What are your thoughts about this point and shoot camera? I’d really like to get some half decent shots of the fireworks, but mainly a nice camera to bring with us to capture this special time! Any input would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks!

  54. Kara says:

    Any reviews or recommendations for photo printing or photo book sites? I typically use snapfish but haven’t wen too impressed with the quality

  55. Suzanne says:

    Do you have any suggestions for use of a point and shoot at the Christmas Party? I’m going in a few weeks and recently got a new Nikon L820. I’ve been trying to use it as much as possible so that I can feel more comfortable. It’s great (and marketed as such) at lower light photography so I’m fairly confident I can take some decent pictures of the parades, maybe some rides (big maybe there) and hopefully the fireworks. I’d love any tips you might have specifically for a point and shoot though.

  56. Mary says:

    Hey Tom
    Your Link for the Luxi Tripod is broken.
    Just wanted to let you know
    Mary

  57. Maria says:

    Hello,
    Love this blog, thank you for the resources…
    I was wondering at what time do you normally shoot? There are no people in your shots? Do you have a special pass?

    Thank you,

    Maria

  58. Adam says:

    Hi Tom,
    What is your method for uploading photos (direct from camera, integrated reader, USB reader, etc…)? The reason I ask: I recently upgraded to a dedicated USB 3.0 reader and realized it was a significant time savings (every little bit helps!). Thanks!

    -Adam

  59. Samuel Lee says:

    Tom, the link for the Velbon Luxi-L tripod above stopped working. But the B and H Photo and video site has one. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/589888-REG/Velbon_ULTRA_LUXI_L_Ultra_LUXi_L_Tripod_with.html

  60. Elyssa says:

    How many photos that are shared on this blog are taken with the Nikon D3100? I am just starting to get into the manual mode and would love to see more photos of what my camera can do in the Disney parks. Thanks for the insight in this post!

  61. Samuel Lee says:

    After reading your review, I tried out the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Art version for couple of weeks after I got it from B&H photo. Sadly, I sent an email requesting a refund. The lens on my D300 Nikon just doesn’t focus very well, really inconsistent results on different days on the same subject in the same location. I requested the Nikon version in the email. At least, Nikon is consistent, and B&H has great customer service.

  62. Anthony Preciado says:

    Hi Tom Love your site, just ordered Understanding Exposure on your recomendation. Keep up the good work

  63. Angela Ash says:

    Tom, when was the student/teacher edition for CS6 $192? Was this posted a long time ago? I looked on amazon through your link and was $349. I figured this may have changed. Thanks. I would love to use my husbands student ID and purchase for us using his discount.

  64. Matthew says:

    This might be a silly question, but I have a DSLR and am taking my girlfriend to Disney World in a couple of months. We both would like to ride some of the rides, but how would you recommend handling a camera while going on rides?

    Would it be better to just leave to camera in the room and use it when not in the parks? Any suggestions would help.

    Thanks,
    Matthew

  65. Galonii says:

    I LOVE your work, but how did and do we get the photos of Disney without anyone in it. Will they let you tag along behind everyone and snap a few before locking up?

  66. Ashley Miller says:

    Hi! I’m a single mom traveling with my 4 year old to DisneyWorld next month. I have a Nikon D3200, I really want to take it with us in the parks, but I’m not sure the best way to carry it. I really don’t want to have a lot to carry around.

    Thanks,
    Ashley

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Have you checked out the camera bags mentioned in this post (see the link above)? There are a few small ones that would work with a D3200.

  67. Eric says:

    I have 2 kit lenses and was wondering what I should pick up or upgrade next. I have a AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 and a AF-s DX Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6. I am mainly interested in shooting fireworks, fantasmic, world of color, and nighttime and daytime landscape/building shots.

  68. Eric says:

    I was thinking about the Nikkor AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8 G as I can’t find the old Sigma 35mm 1.4 anywhere new and the new one that can zoom is a bit out of my price range right now.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Look for the Sigma 30mm f/1.4, not the Sigma 35mm f/1.4. Two different lenses–the latter is full frame and is much more expensive!

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