Choosing the best equipment for surf photography
Identifying your needs
Before you get into surf photography you have to choose the right gear for the job. Often people think to take nice photos you need to have the very best gear, but they would be wrong. The perfect gear is great for professional photographers who need to take top quality photos to feature on magazines and billboards, but it is not the only gear that will get the job done, nor is it the only requirement for taking good photos. The most important ingredients for good photos are having the right settings and good composure.
Before you buy
Think about what your needs are.
- If want to be a professional. It may be worth it to invest more into a professional camera, and a few good lenses.
- If you are just starting out. You may ease your way into it and buy used camera gear to begin with until your skill levels out grow it. Look after your gear, because photography equipment hold value quite well, meaning you can sell it later on after you upgrade.
- If you’re on a budget. Then there’s no reason you can join in on the fun. Look into used gear, I started off with a $70 lens, $150 camera and $9 tripod, and I still managed to take photos like this…
I personally, don’t think it’s always best to start off with the best gear. It is nice the best gear, but its also harder to use if you don’t have a lot of photography experience. Sometimes it good to use beginner to intermediate level gear to learn how to get most our of your camera and photography skills… If you can take professional quality photos with budget gear, just imagine what you will able to be do when you eventually upgrade.
Choosing Your Camera
The easiest way to start surf photography is from land, as it enables you to use more versatile gear. So for those of you who don’t already have one you will need a DSLR. Now we can’t all afford the Canon EOS-1DX Mark II (link to amazon) to shoot 16 frames per second (fps), but we don’t all need to. Personally, my camera (link to amazon) shoots 5 fps, and although it’s not really a professional level camera, I find it does the trick, but you wouldn’t want any less than that and you can pick it up new for around $400-$500 and used for even less. If you
DSLR Buying Guide Specifications Surf Photography
- Minimum 5fps
atleast16 megapixels for a tight budget (a good selection of used cameras have atleast18 megapixels)
Canon DSLR Suggestions for Sports Photography (Amazon Links)
Nikon DSLR Suggestions for Sports Photography (Amazon Links)
SONY CAMERA SUGGESTIONS FOR SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY (Amazon Links)
Choosing a Lens With Reach
Buying a lens on a budget
If you’re new to photography, or just like it as a hobby, spending thousand on lenses to take surf photography is probably a big turn off. Alas,
If you’re willing to spend a bit more on a budget lens, Sigma and Tamron have some great option with tonnes of reach which you should be able to pick up used for between $500-$1000, such as the Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3, Sigma 120-400mm f/4.5-5.6, Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3, and the Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3, Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3.
Getting Serious about Surf Photography
If you nail your composure and settings there’s no doubt you could still achieve professional quality photos, but if you’re really serious about surf photography and can afford it, skip the time mucking about with budget gear and invest in higher quality lenses. In the end, they are more expensive for a reason, you’ll often find they are built more robust, shooting faster and sharper photos. Buy lenses like the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, and maximise the enjoyment and potential of
Buy a steady Tripod and/or Monopod
When shooting from land and you find a good vantage point, for better image
To save you and get better quality at the same time, you can even buy a tripod that turns into a monopod, which is also ultra convenient (Adjustable Pro Tripod Monopod).
Things to consider
- Lenses with lens zoom generally shoot better pictures within their range, that’s why 50mm lens are so popular for portraits. For example, shooting long distance with a lens 200mm prime lens will likely take better photos than
- Make sure your gear can auto-focus, when shooting motion sports photography you want to capture clean, still snapshots
of thesubject, which means to accompany your high shutter speed photos, manual focusing just wontcut it, you need a quick auto-focusing system.
- Extenders reduce image quality and
slowsdown the auto-focusing, so unless you have a top grade lens, itsprobably not worth it.
Now get out there and just give it ago. Experiment, have fun, and take pride in your photos.