Photography is a deceptively simple discipline; how hard can it be to pick up a camera, aim it at the subject, snap a picture, and admire the result? In fact, the whole category of point-and-shoot cameras strives to accommodate this line of thinking, and indeed many models make it easy.
But just as sidewalk chalk gives way to fine-art pastels, the real art and science of photography reaches new levels once you purchase a digital SLR camera deal. The EOS Rebel series represents a flagship in Canon's camera line, and you can now land one for the picture-perfect price of $440 with free shipping at Adorama. The refurbished Canon Rebel T1i 15.1-Megapixel Digital SLR Camera comes equipped with the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens and earns its keep as an Editors' Choice pick.
But what if you want to take that camera and lens combo and really make a go of it? Photography can become a gadget-rich hobby, but we hope to lay out some basic guidelines about add-ons you'll need, or at least want to consider, as part of the cost of ownership.
The kit lens that comes bundled with most DSLR cameras is usually a great starting option for beginners, but you'll want to consider opting for a secondary lens that will offer more range for your photography. Here, the bundled Canon EF-S 18-55mm lens can tackle your basic photographic needs, but what about shooting sports, birds, or other wildlife? To capture these images you'll want a longer focal length lens like the Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Autofocus Lens ($534.99 with free shipping, a low by $24). Additional lenses can run upwards of this mark, depending on the make and model.
Just as a second lens will expand upon your photographic horizons, so will an external flash, which the EOS Rebel can accommodate. You can opt for a basic Sunpak PZ-4000 AF TTL Shoe Mount Flash ($74.95 with about $3 s&h, a low by $22), or take the professional-grade route and choose the pictured Canon Speedlite 580EX II Shoe Mount Flash ($419 with free shipping, a low by $4) if you're looking to expand your photography hobby into something more advanced.
Lens Cleaning Kit
Didn't think those lenses would stay clean with just a lens cap, did you? The Canon EOS Digital SLR Camera & Lens Cleaning Kit ($14.95 with $6.95 s&h, a low by $1) from Cameta Camera via Buy.com comes with cleaning solution and cloth, a brush and the wonderfully named, dust-clearing device known as a "hurricane blower." We found a similar kit however from Meritline called the uWinka Professional Camera Clean Set ($5.69 with free shipping).
The EOS Rebel takes batteries from an LP-E5 battery pack. You can buy a spare rechargeable battery like VidPro Power2000 Rechargeable Battery ($5.40 with $2.98 s&h, a low by $6) and pickup the pictured Power2000 Replacement Battery Charger for Canon LP-E5 Batteries ($19.95 with free shipping, a low by $7).
How else did you plan to hold all of those photos? The Kingston 16GB Ultimate X SDHC Class 10 Secure Digital High-Capacity Card ($18.98 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $1) will only set you back $1.25/GB of space, and certainly has enough of it, even if you're shooting raw.
Your extra lenses, flash, cleaning kit, and backup batteries will require that you carry a case in which to store all these goodies — not to mention your camera! The Case Logic SLRC-202 SLR Medium Camera Bag ($37.07 with free shipping, a low by $3) can fit a DSLR with zoom lens. Plus it boasts two large side pockets, and zippered front and rear pockets. If you'd rather not carry your equipment, you could opt for a heavily padded suitcase-style molded case on wheels, which could easily set you back $400 or more.
The sturdier the tripod, the better. Not only will investing in a durable and level tripod benefit your shooting with a lighter DSLR, but if you choose to graduate to heavier professional equipment, your tripod won't need to be upgraded. Among budget tripods, the Giottos MTL 9251B Vertical Column Aluminum Tripod ($119.99 with free shipping, a low by $60) receives high marks, as it rises up to 63" and supports up to 11 lbs. With heavier equipment, however also comes a higher price tag on tripods. Don't be surprised to have to spend around $500 for a tripod that can support telephoto lenses and the like.
Photo Editing Software
Because you're shooting in digital, you're going to want to "develop" in digital, too. You can't go wrong with Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Mac ($569 with free shipping, a low by $30), pictured, or PC ($558.99 with free shipping, a low by $11), which lets you crop, adjust clarity, cleanup focus, correct color, and more. While it takes some time to master, the basics become like second nature in just a few lessons.
Some enthusiasts are impulsive and require the whole kit and caboodle from the get go. If you're one of those folks, be prepared to spend at least $1,800 on the aforementioned camera accessories. If you go higher-end, you can expect to pay a minimum of $2,400, or more. With that said, the best way to become a great photographer is to practice and reward yourself with new accessories when you feel you've earned them. There is a science behind the art, and once you've mastered the basics, a new world awaits you from behind your lens.
Not a fan of the Canon Rebel T1i? Check out our other digital camera and accessory deals, or set up an email alert for the model of your dreams.
Front page photo credit: Camera Shop Endinburgh