What camera and lenses are best for shooting stock?
As with anything technological these days, the equipment you use for shooting stock now, may well need to change in the future.
As bandwidth increases on the web, as does the quality of images and video used.
As more and more people switch to HD and even 4K television, the bigger the demand for higher quality images and footage becomes.
Whatever happens, you will do well to equip yourself with the best equipment you possibly can afford. At the very least, make your lenses top quality ones!
Tip: If you are in the market for a new DSLR, why not opt for one that has HD movie capability? Stock footage is rapidly becoming popular and a good money earner these days so even if you don’t shoot it now, you may well want to later and the quality from DSLR’s is good enough for stock. (I will add a full tutorial to this site later on).
When I first started shooting stock, all I had was a 6mp Canon EOS 10D and a couple of cheap lenses (this was when I first went digital in 2003/2004). My point is that you don’t need every piece of kit you see advertised to start building a portfolio. In fact, you could start with a simple DSLR and decent “walk around” lens such as a 24-70mm or 12-24mm.
What you DO need to do however, is learn how to use them properly and create images that are not only sell-able, but worthy of an agency’s library.
If you submit substandard images regularly, it could damage your reputation and harm your relationship with certain agencies so read on to make sure you do it right from the off!
So, let’s assume you have a half decent DSLR and top quality 24-70mm lens…what can you shoot with that? We will go into more detail on subjects, setting and “how to’s” later on but for now, your options are virtually unlimited even with minimal kit…just open your mind.
For a start, and I have always been on the side of the fence that in some circumstances, more megapixels are better, shooting stock can benefit from larger sensors and more megapixels…especially if you are restricted by just one, walk around lens.
For instance, let’s say you are in town and an opportunity raises its head for an amazing stock shot for an instant. You don’t have time to get closer and you are restricted by the reach of your 24-70mm lens…you can only get the main subject to fill half the frame.
You will need to crop that image to fill the frame and make it worthy but if you shot with an 8mp camera, you would end up with a substandard shot that need to be interpolated or “uprezzed” (increase resolution) to make it up to the required file size. That can cause lots of “ugliness” to appear in the shot.
However, if you shot that same image with the 21mp Canon EOS 5D Mark II or Canon EOS 5D Mark III for example, you would be able to crop right down to get a perfect image and still have a shot that makes the grade with regards to resolution. Of course, even a 15 megapixel camera would do the job as well.
That is future-proofing and extremely good use of those extra megapixels. Make sense?
Back to a standard DSLR with say 10-15mp and a good 24-70mm lens.
Assuming that the subjects you want to shoot are for the best part, stationary and you have the time, use your kit to get the best shot possible from a few angle too depending on the light.
Subjects that spring to mind using this simple set up are:
- Buildings and architecture
- Landscapes and places
- People, portraits and people in action
- Sports (if you can get close enough)
- Animals/Pets (as long as they are unique. Do NOT upload snapshots of your cat etc)
- Objects (cars, bikes, boats, doors, trees etc)
- Still life and products
- Concepts (Health, wealth, poverty, fun, happiness, sadness, life, death, danger, fear, excitement, laziness, strength…)
- and so on…
You see, when you start to think about it, you are not limited for subjects with lack of equipment as long as you can light and compose them well enough but more on that later.
As you improve and delve deeper into this trade, you can start to add useful bits of kit that will help you get different shots:
- Macro lenses (a whole new world)
- Studio lights
- Light tents for product shots
- Tripods for night photography etc.
- Telephoto lenses for nature and sports
- Timer release for time lapse videos
- Specialised software for creativity (although many agencies like clean, untouched images as designers sometimes like to play themselves for the desired effect)
That all comes with time but you should be able to see already how this industry can become addictive and never ending. We will “weave” more equipment into this section as we progress…to see it being used for certain images as and when needed.
So, as long as you have a decent DSLR, at least one quality lens and some software to prepare your images, you are set to get started!
Next Page – Traditional vs Microstock