Are you ready to speed up your journey into the world of photography?
Below I have gathered some free photography guides and tutorials that will give you a head start in learning photography. I also share some recommendations on camera gear that will help you on the way. Note, that I will only recommend things that I actually use in creating my art and in my photography business.
If you are in doubt in which order to go through the guides and articles, you can use this roadmap to learning photography, which shows you the intended level for each guide and article.
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Free Photography Guides
DSLR Cameras I Recommend
Click here for an extended list of recommended camera gear.
Great Camera: Nikon D7100/D7200
This was my first DSLR camera. Even though it wasn’t a cheap, priced just above $1000, I preferred a camera that I wouldn’t feel lacked essential features as I explored which way my photography journey would take me. Other photographers, that I met started out very cheap but soon felt they needed to upgrade to a more advanced DSLR. After two or three cameras they ended at the top of the enthusiast range, where you find the D7100/D7200. You might as well begin with a camera that you are satisfied with for at least the first three years.
Compared to cheaper models you get a lot more buttons at the back and more dial control, instead of having to enter the menu system to change settings. I have been very happy with it, and I feel it is the best crop factor (DX) camera around.
Check the price of the Nikon D7200 DX-format DSLR at Amazon.com
Camera Choice of Pro Photographers: Nikon D810
This camera will set you back around $3.300 for the body alone, but you’ll get one of the most awesome full frame cameras for landscape photography. It has got an impressive 36.3 megapixels. It only shoots around 5 frames per second, which might not be enough for fast moving wildlife or sports, but it is one of the best cameras for landscape photography. However, if you really need to shoot a little bit faster, you can add a battery grip and you will boost that with one or two extra frames per second. The D810 has got extraordinary ISO handling and an expose-for-the-highlights metering mode, which is very handy for landscape photography.
Check the price of the Nikon d810 Full Frame Camera at Amazon.com
DSLR Lenses I Recommend
Amazing Wide Angle Lens For Full-Frame: Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD
In tests, the Tamron 15-30mm take a small win in regard to sharpness over Nikon’s AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, which is normally considered top of the class when it comes to wide angle lenses for full-frame cameras. However, the Tamron has a wider focal range spanning over 15mm compared to just 10mm with the Nikon. Furthermore, the Tamron SP 15-30mm is about $700 cheaper. In addition, the Tamron lens offers Vibration Compensation (VC), which the Nikon doesn’t. I have used this lens without a tripod, just before sunrise, and still get sharp results at a shutter speed of 1/10 of a sec. Both the Nikon and the Tamron wide angle lenses for full-frame need a special filter holder due to the front element on the lenses curves too much. With a smaller price tag and slightly better sharpness and Vibration Compensation, I opted for the Tamron lens, and I have certainly not regretted it. It delivers sharp results every time. This is my new favorite lens.
Check out the price for Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD at Amazon.com
Great Wide Angle Lens for Landscape Photography on a crop format camera (DX): Tokina AT-X PRO SD 11-16 F2.8 IF DX II
A dedicated wide angle lens for use on a DX-format camera, like the Nikon D7200. It delivers good sharpness and does very well in comparison to other wide angle lenses for crop factor DSLRs. I have been very happy with this lens, as it really helped me achieve first good results with my landscape photography. I would recommend this lens to every aspiring landscape photographer.
Check out the price for Tokina AT-X PRO SD 11-16 F2.8 IF DX II at Amazon.com
A Perfect Macro/Portrait lens: Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD (Model F017)
To me, this is a perfect match for a great macro photography lens, that can be used for other things as well. Read this short review of the Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Macro lens. It gives razor sharp results, is very fast and has Vibration Compensation, which is very useful, when shooting in less than perfect lighting conditions at close range, where shaking occurs more frequently. 90mm is a great focal length for doing portraits too. However, I also this prime lens when on a walk with my family or on occasional street/travel photography sessions, where I want a little distance to my subject.
Check out the price for Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD at Amazon.com.
Software To Get You Started
- Lightroom is the most popular software for managing your images using folders and collections. And it is a great photo editor too. I use it for 80% of my photo editing. You can get the Lightroom+Photoshop Creative Cloud Subscription here.
- If you want a cheaper alternative to Photoshop, take a look at Affinity Photo which has growing popularity among photographers. It can do almost everything that Photoshop can, and the more I use Affinity Photo, there more user-friendly I find it, as opposed to Photoshop, which is more difficult to learn. I have created an Affinity Photo macro pack that can help you speed up the workflow and help you get a good starting point for applying a specific look to your photos.
- Whenever I need to do something more advanced, like blending multiple layers (to create HDR), focus stacking, and so on, I usually turn to Photoshop or Affinity Photo. Also when exporting my images for the web I use the web sharpener actions in this Photoshop Actions package. They do a far better job than Lightroom when it comes to exporting for web use.
- Nik Collection by Google is also a favorite of mine for editing photos. Especially, when editing black and white photos, or enhancing details. I created a set of presets and recipes which give you a wider variety of starting points for editing your photos. The good news is that Nik Collection plug-ins are free. The bad news is that they are not stand-alone but extends software the software mentioned above like Lightroom/Photoshop or Affinity Photo. So you need one of these to get a good workflow with Nik collection.