Photography Materials List

Required Materials

Digital camera capable of user adjustments for shutter speed and aperture—see recommendations below.

Epson Letter-size paper—either Enhanced Matte (Matte Heavyweight), Premium Glossy, or Premium Semi-Gloss (you will be able to try each of these out in class before you need to buy some). You may also need to buy several sheets of larger paper. Paper is available at the college bookstore or places like Staples. Please, only buy Epson brand paper. 10% of other brands work fine, but that means 90% work terribly with our printers.

There is also a lab fee ($50) for this course which mainly covers ink costs.

Optional Materials

A book on digital photography. There are several good ones—I can make recommendations or you could browse a bookstore like Barnes & Noble.

Memory Card: You can use the one that came with the camera, but a higher capacity one or having two might allow you to take more photographs before putting them on the computer.

Laptop Computer (Apple MacBook is preferable) with Adobe Photoshop (educational version)—you wouldn't want to get this just for this class, but if the scales are almost tipped to buying one anyway, this might help with the decision. You can rent the educational version of Adobe CC Design suite for about $20 a month (educational), and it includes not only Photoshop, but InDesign, Illustrator, Acrobat, and Dreamweaver as well. At least the last time I checked. Adobe changes things a lot.

Camera Recommendations

For this class you must have a digital camera capable of user adjustments for both shutter speed and aperture. These are usually identified by having shutter-priority and aperture priority modes. There will be a dial on the back or top of the camera with the selections P, AV, TV, and M. On some cameras these are labeled P, S, A, and M. Make sure the camera has at least all four of these settings.

Basically, the more money you spend, the better the quality of the camera's image. Stick with the major brands. Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, and Pentax have excellent reputations. Do not get a very small camera. If it will fit in your pocket, it is terrible for the class. While they are very handy, you are paying a lot for that small size. Typically these cameras are relatively expensive and have marginal image quality and very few creative controls like the ones we will be using in the class.

RECOMMENDATION 1: Digital SLR camera. These are the ones that are bigger because they have a mirror that directs the light to the eyepiece. The mirror flips up to allow light to the sensor when you take a photograph. Currently the Canon Rebel T5 and Nikon D3300 are newer examples of this kind of camera (around $350– $500), but older models can be cheaper, and maybe your uncle has one that he no longer uses and would consider a loan or a donation. You don't need any other lens than what comes with the camera. These cameras are not changing too much nowadays, and if you get a good one, you will have a very good camera for years. Also, if you can afford a better one than the cheapest line, your money will not be badly spent. The more expensive ones are more rugged and have easier controls.

RECOMMENDATION 1: If you want a smaller camera with just as good image quality as a Digital SLR, look for one of the 'mirrorless' cameras. Any of these that have changable lenses will work great, and Panasonic and, Sony, and Olympus are good brands. You won't need to change lenses, but manufacturers generally put this capability in the better cameras (the ones with the controls you should have). These also start around $500, and are just as good as the Digital SLRs. These are harder to find used.

RECOMMENDATION 2: If you need a cheaper camera, and are willing to sacrifice some image quality, the Canon PowerShot SX 500 IS (around $200) is good for the class. An older model of this camera (such as the SX160 IS) is also good, and sometimes they can be found new for around $100. There are a lot of brands of these out there. Stick to the brands you have heard of (except Kodak—don't get a Kodak). Just remember to look for a dial on the top of the camera that has the letters P, A (or Av), S (or Tv), and M. Make sure it has ALL of these settings.

You can also spend less (around $30 is not uncommon) on a camera by buying it used, but beware–I have had students who have gotten taken on ebay with malfunctioning cameras. Also, if you buy used, make sure you get the instruction manual (although an electronic versions can probably be found on the manufacturer's web site).

Largely forget about software that comes with the camera - it ranges from bad to worse, and you will not be needing to use it. A web site for good reviews of digital cameras is Digital Photo Review –- there is certainly more information than you would want, but you can just read the summaries to know more about a camera. PLEASE stay away from off-brand cameras, and tell your grandpa no-thanks very much for offering to loan you his very expensive camera he bought ten years ago. Unless it is a digital SLR, tell him gently that the thing is probably a piece of junk in today's terms and you really need a newer camera.

Updated October, 2014

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