Equipment You Need for Magazine-Quality Photos

Design

Beautiful, compelling photography is one of the most effective ways to elevate the overall quality of your magazine. While the best publications always rely on the trained eye of experienced photographers, it is possible to capture magazine-quality photos yourself. Photography equipment is not as expensive as it used to be, and thanks to inexpensive digital "film," you can invest a little more in the tools that result in professional, high-quality shots. Here are some of the equipment basics you'll need to get started:

Camera

Although cellphone cameras can take very good photos, full-sized digital SLRs are usually a better choice. They aren't cheap, but they offer more flexibility with lighting and shutter speeds and hold up better on a tripod. Once you have a new Nikon, Canon or Minolta to play with, read the instruction book or sign up for a basic photography course (there are many of them online for free) to learn about its settings.

Lenses

Professional photographers take pride in their lenses. Although the kit lens that comes with your camera are perfectly adequate, they're likely limited in range. Once your skills improve, invest in a macro/micro lens for closeups and portraits, a telephoto lens if you take action shots or landscapes, and a wide-angle lens for fish-eyes and panoramas. Also important is the focal length of the lens. Measured in millimeters, the focal length determines the size of what you see through the viewfinder and on the print itself.

Light

The success of nearly every photograph depends on the quality and quantity of light surrounding the subject. Many photographers work strictly in natural light, controlling it with umbrellas, foil and mesh screens, and lens filters. For indoor studio work, you can buy an inexpensive kit that includes lights, shades and a basic backdrop that lends professionalism to your shots. You can also use a flash when light is minimal. However, you should spend time reading and experimenting before relying on a flash for light.

Tripod

No matter what camera you own or what kind of light you have available, you will always need a tripod to make your shot the best it can be. Stabilizing the camera is crucial to proper focus, composition and angle alignment, so don't avoid investing in a good one. Buy a small, light tripod for remote locations and a heavy one for the office. Use your tripod carefully - too many photographers have accidentally damaged a camera by knocking it over. Also, consider a cable shutter release.

With your camera and equipment ready to go, you'll soon be shooting like a star. Don't forget to use appealing backgrounds, props and models to make your photos even better. If things don't go as planned, a little work with editing software can go a long way.

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