When I started taking pictures of my Tango Voyage, I was originally using a cell phone, not even a point and shoot camera.  I tried my best to get the best camera I could in the cell phone.  Started with a LG G4, then to the LG G5, and now I’m using the LG G6 (Dec 2017).  Why? The reason is dual cameras and manual settings for everything as an option in the phone! Taking cell phone pictures don’t turn out great, mainly just for the web.  If you want to actually take good pictures, some proper gear is highly suggested!

My First DSLR for Tango Photography

For my day job, we were needing to take pictures and using a cell phone for those pictures never turned out great, so I suggested we get DSLR camera for this use. My job was also working for family, and I’d be the only person actually using and taking pictures for work, it essentially became my camera.  The company has full use of it, is a work expense when it comes to taxes, and I get a camera I can also use for my own hobby! I couldn’t buy myself the best camera, I had a budget as well i really needed to stick to.

This is a unique bit that allowed me to focus my money on the right lenses and added accessories for the camera, which isn’t tied to the company.

When I was shopping around, I had a few things I really wanted.  Good ISO, lightweight, and a touchscreen… which turned into an oscillating touchscreen in the end, which I really do love! I had no lenses, so my choices were wide open. In the end, I went with the Nikon D5600 due to the fact it felt really good in my hand compared to the Canon.

Photo from my LG G5 at Burning Tango 2017

So a Nikon D5600 was the first DSLR I got.  I was looking at the D3400, but really went for the external mic option, with the touchscreen, and just overall better features.  This was a great first upgrade without breaking the bank completely, especially since it was within the work budget. Got the camera with the 2 stock lenses that Nikon offers in a package, because having the low 18 mm and the 300 mm range between two zoom lenses actually is perfect for work! Work for my day job, but not really for Tango.  The only exception is the lenses actually do a pretty good job when there is sufficient lighting, so with well lit classes, I don’t need to use prime lenses and get closer for the same shot.

Photo from my D5600 at Portland Tangofest 2017

The Nikon D5600 is a crop sensor camera, meaning, any lens you get will act as something at 1.5x the distance.  My 35mm lens works instead as a 52mm lens. If I had the budget at the time, and knowledge, I’d go for a full frame camera, the Nikon D750. An FX camera actually performs much better in low light.

My Tango Photography Lenses

When it comes to gear, what you really need to have are some good lenses.  The stock lenses are horrible in low light which requires you have to step up the ISO to compensate but sacrifices detail… especially in a crop sensor and not full frame. When I say you need good lenses, I mean you need lenses which have a low F-Stop.  If you look at lenses, you will find the brand, mount type, zoom/prime distance, and f#. The lower the F# then the better it works in low light.  An F1.8 Lens will be great in low light compared to an F4 lens.

Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G – Auto Focuses on my Camera, DX lens, not for FX bodies, the DX was $100 cheaper (would prefer FX)

Nikon AF FX 50mm F/1.8D – Manual Focus only, harder to use than a 50mm AF-S, but also around $80 cheaper.

Photo from my D5600 at Connect 2017

As you can see, my main lenses are on the cheaper side, but they are great quality for what I need.  I would have preferred to get the FX lens in the 35mm, and also prefer to get the AF-S auto focus lens for the 50mm.  Both would make my life easier in the long run. Since I was on my own budget, I also wanted to get a nice bag, cleaning supplies, hand strap, memory card, and extra battery. So saving around $200 dollars allowed me to get the rest of the items. You can spend $1000+ on good lenses, but you don’t need it to start out.

On another note about lenses, if you want to know if you’re getting a good lens, check out DXOMark! They will give focus areas on many good lenses at different lengths and F-Stops. If you want to know if a lens will be in focus on the edges at the low F# (not all are) and understand what you’re looking at, then DXOMark is amazing!

The next lens I want, also is manual focus, more expensive yet also on the cheaper end is the Samyang 85mm F1.4.

Photo from my D5600 at Portland Tangofest 2017

My other gear of note I’m happy with is the Alturas Sling Bag and the Movo-Photo HSG-2 Wrist Strap. A good 64GB Class 10 (U3) memory card, Alturas photo Cleaning Kit,and an extra Nikon battery complete the rest of my budget camera kit.

Total cost: ~$420
Camera Body & Stock Lenses Extra ($900 for the D5600 & Lenses)