Phoblographer Back to School Special

As August winds down here in Austin you see more and more cars on the road. Students come in from all over to start their Fall semester at the University of Texas. If you are a student interested in photography and made some money over the summer you might be wondering what to spend it on. See what are photography gear picks are for college students after the jump.


Whether you are starting college or are almost done all students need computers. I have Apple’s latest 13in MacBook Pro, and have nothing but good things to say about it. So naturally my first choices are Apple products. In making my picks I wanted to list computers that would not only be able to handle programs like Aperture and Photoshop, but also be able to get a student through 4 years of college. Here is a list of the computers that I would recommend for students that are also going to be editing photos:

  1. Apple MacBook Air – Apple recently updated the MacBook Air and as it has become available professional photographers have been loving how fast it is. If you are using this as your main computer you will want to buy an external hard drive to store photos, assignments, and papers. They start off at $999, but if you have a student ID you can take advantage of student pricing.
  2. Apple MacBook Pro 13in – This is the computer I use currently and I love it. If you are looking for something with more processing power then this is the computer for you. During college I used a Dell XPS, but when Apple switched to Intel chips I bought a white MacBook. This is before the sexy aluminum MacBook Pros came out. I haven’t bought a PC since.
  3. Dell XPS 17in – For around the same price as the MacBook Pro mentioned above you can buy the Dell XPS that includes a 17in screen. When I was in school I did coded applications and ran database software all the while my XPS could take everything I threw at it. If I had to buy a PC it would be a Dell XPS. It has an Intel i7 processor so you know you are getting the best that Intel has to offer.
  4. Samsung Graphite i7 – I didn’t even know that Samsung made laptops until I walked around the PC aisles at Best Buy. Like the Dell XPS this computer has an Intel i7 processor. What I really like about the Samsung laptops are that some are actually built out of aluminum like the Apple laptops. That means that they are less prone to scratches and can take more wear and tear. I did my research and people buying this laptop have only positive things to say about it.


For most people going to college means moving to a new city. This is a great time to buy a new camera and capture all the places and people that you meet in that new city. I have shot with both Canon and Nikon cameras so my picks will include those brands due to my firsthand experience with them. Whether you are buying your first camera or upgrading here are some solid choices:

  1. Nikon D5100 – I’d recommend the D5100 because for $200 more than the D3100 you get a better sensor and camera that will take you longer to grow out of. It also comes with a flip out screen for recording video, or for creative stills.
  2. Nikon D7000 – If you have more money burning through your pocket then the D7000 is the best camera that you can buy without spending $2200 on the D700.
  3. Canon T3i – The Canon T3i has 18 megapixels and can record full 1080HD video. It is very similar to the D5100 so it is really just a preference between Canon or Nikon.
  4. Canon 60D – Again, if you want to spend more money the 60D is a great camera for someone that isn’t new to photography.
All the cameras listed here will produce great images if you take time to read through the manual and practice using the custom settings. If you are looking for smaller cameras you might want to try looking at the Fuji X100, Olympus EP-2, or Panasonic GF-1. These cameras will be easier to carry around everywhere so you don’t miss a shot.


If you purchase a Canon or Nikon camera and are looking for a lens that will give you better image quality than the kit lens, but won’t break the bank look at the following lenses:

  1. Nikon 50mm 1.8G – Great inexpensive lens that can be used as a walk around lens as well as a portrait lens.
  2. Nikon 35mm DX 1.8G – This lens gives you a wider field of view than the 50mm, and is better if you want to practice your street photography.
  3. Nikon 40mm DX 2.8 Micro – This lens is for people that like to take pictures of insects, flowers, and smaller details.
  4. Canon 50mm 1.8 – This lens can also be used as a walk around lens as well as a portrait lens.
  5. Canon 28mm f2 – At 28mm this lens is a little wide shooting people, but if you like shooting landscapes then this lens will do the trick.
  6. Canon 75-300mm – For those of you that might be shooting subjects further away like wildlife, or outdoor sports.
I wanted to list lenses that didn’t go over the $300 range, but still offered nice features. All the lenses listed, except the Canon 75-300mm, offer a nice big aperture so you can take pictures in lower light. So if you live in a city like Austin where we have tons of live shows in the evenings, you can use most of these lenses to take pictures in low light.

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