Finding the best photography equipment for beginners can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. Yes, we know that it is not the gear that makes a photographer great. A talented photographer can rock any camera because they know how to use light, composition and the situation to create a dynamic image. That being said, it helps to have the right gear to learn on, so we made this photography equipment for beginners list. It can be challenging to learn manual mode on a point and shoot or try to get those blurry backgrounds with a kit lens. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.
If you are serious about photography, you will be wondering what your first camera should be. I recommend a DSLR as your first camera. However, mirrorless cameras are becoming more popular, so if you have a mirrorless camera, that works as well. According to Wikipedia, a DSLR is a “digital single-lens reflex camera is a digital camera that combines the optics and the mechanisms of a single-lens reflex camera with a digital imaging sensor, as opposed to photographic film”. Basically, that means you are looking for a camera that has interchangeable lenses.
Beginning Photography Equipment
If you’re starting in photography, there are a few critical pieces of essential gear that you should have. Once you’ve built up your photography skills, then you can invest in more photography equipment. At Wild Romantic Photography, we have the best Melbourne wedding photographer to take memorable photos on your wedding day. Assuming you already have a good camera for photography, here’s an essential photography equipment list to get you started on the right foot.
The core of photography is a camera or at least the sensor of a camera. At the moment, one of the biggest debates in the photography world is between two different types of cameras: mirrorless and DSLR cameras. Both have their merits, but a beginning photographer on a tight budget should be looking more closely at DSLRs. With entry-level models, new mirrorless cameras cost about the same as new DSLRs, and sometimes less. However, you can still buy older, high-quality DSLR equipment (including lenses) for a lower price than similar mirrorless gear. Mirrorless cameras fill this gap quickly, but the best camera for a beginner on a budget is almost certainly a DSLR.
Of all the possible DSLR cameras, my strong recommendation is to buy the Nikon D7000, used, from the camera store Adorama. Some people find too much risk buying a used camera from eBay, and Adorama is one of the most respected names in the camera business — when they rate a used camera at E-, its condition will be as good as most “mint” cameras sold through eBay.
Whereas a camera sensor will record the light that it receives, a lens’s job is arguably even more critical: help the light get to the sensor in the first place.
Lenses range from the “free” — those which come in a kit with the camera — to the unbelievably expensive ones. As a beginner, it can be tough to determine which lenses are worth their asking price, especially if you have no prior knowledge of which lenses even exist in the first place.
If you want a high-quality beginning lens for the lowest possible price, you should look at prime lenses (those which do not zoom) or third-party lenses. I do not recommend starting with the kit lens with some cameras (usually an 18-55mm zoom) since you will soon realize that you want something better.
Often overlooked and undervalued, a tripod doesn’t seem nearly as important as it is. After all, three aluminium sticks glued together are no more complex than three sticks glued together. Right? Unfortunately, that logic is why many photographers choose to buy the least expensive tripod they can find, then leave it at home all the time because it’s cheaply made and hard to use. A tripod should be as popular as its buddies Camera and Lens, but it got the short end of the stick somewhere along the way. Every photographer needs a tripod. Whether you decide to shell out a lot or a little, having something to safely stabilize a camera is a must-have for certain kinds of shots.
You will realize over time whether or not you need a tripod for your photography (and if you do, you will want a more expensive model at some point in the future), but a beginner needs to have a solid model as well. With that in mind, my recommendation is to get the Manfrotto MT190X3 tripod. It is not a perfect tripod, but I can say (having used the older version of this tripod extensively) that it should be more than enough for most beginners. Plus, at $150, it is pretty inexpensive (as far as good tripods go).
The Manfrotto MT055XPRO3 is an excellent all-purpose aluminium tripod with enough camera systems support up to 19.8 lb. The MeFOTO Globetrotter is perfect for photographers who like to travel. This is a jack-of-all-trades tool that also doubles as a monopod with the removal of the central column. The MeFOTO’s aluminium construction can support up to 26.4 lb of equipment. One of its key features is its portability: it collapses into a mere 16.1″, which is remarkably convenient for a tripod of its size. But if that’s still too big, the flexible little Joby Gorillapod is a perfect mini-tripod to stabilize up to 6.6 lb of camera. It’s bendy joints can be flexed to grip or wrap around almost any object.
There is a lot of competition for software that processes images, with the two most popular options being Capture One Pro and Adobe Lightroom. These two programs are similar — they both allow you to organize and edit your photos — but Lightroom is far less expensive. Some argue that Capture One Pro is better (whereas some argue the opposite), but Lightroom will be ideal for those on a budget since it costs half the price. I only ever use Lightroom for what it’s worth, and I find it to be remarkable.
If you are starting photography, your current monitor probably is not good enough for serious editing work. Specifically, the colours on your screen will almost certainly be wrong — you will not be editing anything how you think you are.
Check out our monitor purchase guide for more information, although note that several new monitors have come onto the market since it was published. One of the best new models is the AOC 12367FH 23″ screen. Don’t be fooled by the bizarre name — at $160, this is one of the least expensive IPS monitors on the market, and you need an IPS monitor if you want to do serious colourwork on your computer. Yes, better options exist (often for significantly more money), but this monitor is an excellent start for a beginner.
Unfortunately, getting a good monitor is only half the battle — step two is colour calibration. My strong recommendation is to buy a piece of hardware to calibrate your monitor, such as the $60 Spyder4Express. It does not have the same features as its $190 older brother, Spyder5Pro, but it gets the job done for a much lower price (assuming you only use one monitor). I edited my photos for almost a year without any calibration, and I never realized how wrong my colours were. I had to re-edit everything! Save yourself some time and buy an actual calibration unit.
Disclaimer: I don’t use much external lighting for my photos, mainly because I do not take many people’s images. That said, most photographers will need a flash at some time or another, whether for portraits or creative still-life photography.
Nikon brand flashes cost hundreds of dollars, assuming that you want a flash that can function off-camera in an automatic (TTL) mode. However, third-party flashes with those features can be reasonably cheap — check out the Yongnuo YN-568EX, an extremely well-specified flash for the price of $105. Depending upon the genre of photography you practice most, this may be the only flash you need. (Or you may need dozens more — ask any portrait photographer!) We have the best wedding photographer in Yarra Valley to capture your beautiful moments on your wedding day.
Filters are another essential element of a photographer’s toolbox. With digital cameras, only a few filters are even necessary in the first place (the old colour-correction filters for a film can be replicated using software like Adobe Lightroom) — but some filters cannot be reproduced in post-processing. The single most helpful filter for digital photography is a polarizer. Like polarized sunglasses, these filters cut glare from shiny surfaces (other than metal), darken skies, and reduce haze. Plus, they make images look more vibrant and saturated.
If you are not a landscape photographer, you will want a polarizer because of these benefits — and if you are a landscape photographer, you will probably never remove the polarizer from your lens! Depending upon the lens or lenses you use, you will need to get a specific size polariser. Polarizing filters (and filters in general) are sized in millimetres — just like the front rings on a lens. For a lens with a 72mm ring (like the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 that I suggested above), you would need a 72mm filter.
If you are on a budget, buy a polarizer that is the same size as your most giant lens filter ring. For example, you may choose to go with my suggestion to purchase both the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX and the Sigma 17-55mm f/2.8 OS. These lenses have different filter ring sizes — the Nikon is 52mm, whereas the Sigma is 77mm. Use the same filter on both lenses and get a 77mm filter plus a 52mm-to-77mm step-up ring. This is a lot less expensive than buying two filters!
Filters can be somewhat underrated these days, but they serve a purpose, even in the age of digital photography. Warming or cooling filters can be used for adjusting colour temperatures, and a multitude of specialty filters can be used to achieve different creative effects. For landscape photographers, two of the most beloved types of filters are neutral density and circular polarizers. ND filters come solid, graduated, or centre-weighted and cut the light entering a lens by several stops. These are great for long-exposure shots, letting the photographer dictate the shutter speed and aperture without worrying about overexposing in bright ambient light. Circular polarizers work by changing the way lenses take in light. They eliminate reflections and glare (water, glass, etc.) and darken blue skies for rich, gorgeous colour. Tons of fan favourites are made by Tiffen, Hoya, and B+W.
Key Accessories for Photographers
Photographers love their gadgets, and gadgets are fantastic go-to’s when the gift-giving season rolls around. There’s certainly no shortage of toys on the market, but it’s overwhelming figuring out what’s worth the buy. If the photographer in your life hasn’t provided you with a wish list, it feels like a shot in the dark trying to pick out what they need. This might help. Here are ten essential photography accessories that make for excellent gifts. Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.
Most digital cameras have an Auto White Balance function that works in a pinch. But, for many pros and serious hobbyists, it’s preferable to customize WB right on the spot. Impact’s QuikBalance Collapsible 12″ Gray Panel, a modern twist on the classic grey card, is one way to do this. One side is 18% grey, and the other is neutral white. When placed in the same lighting as the subject, photographers can adjust their settings accordingly or use it as a base point for accurate post-processing later. The same concept applies to the X-Rite Original ColorChecker Card, which features 24 colours that mimic things they might be shooting (skin tones, sky, foliage, etc.) as well as neutral greys. Finally, the ExpoDisc 2.0 is a popular wedding-photography tool due to its small size. These circular filters come in two thread sizes, 77mm and 82mm. If your lenses are smaller than that, no worries; hold the disc up in place and shoot the sample. ExpoDiscs capture a featureless grey image that replaces a traditional grey card. It comes in a little carrying pouch with a lanyard and stores easily in a pocket.
Replacement Camera Straps
The neck straps that come with bigger cameras typically aren’t designed for comfort. On longer shots, they can become downright painful. The best way to avoid strain is to get the camera off the neck altogether, and these several fantastic alternatives can do just that. BlackRapid straps are designed to be worn from shoulder to hip, distributing weight evenly across the body. They come in a range of designs, depending on how much or what type of support is needed. Peak Design also has a great line of versatile straps that can be worn around the neck or across the shoulder, along with a quick-connecting handgrip and tethered wrist cuff (great for lighter cameras). Hand straps are also available from Vello, who sells some excellent little padded attachments that can be used with or without battery grips. To go hands-free altogether, hip holsters are lifesavers. Spider is famous for its heavy-duty SpiderPro Single and Dual holster systems and its smaller Black Widow for lightweight DSLRs.
A memory-card wallet is a downright necessary organizational tool for any photographer. Memory cards are small and delicate, a bad combination without somewhere safe to keep them. Check out the colourful little SD Pixel Pocket Rocket from ThinkTank. This wallet will hold 9 SD cards in clear slots, along with a few business cards in the back. It folds up nice and flat, so it hardly takes up any room. Pelican offers some significant hardcover cases made of polycarbonate resin for a more protective way to store cards. These are water-resistant and shock absorbent, so they’ll gladly take a beating. The 0915 is perfect for SD or Mini SD cards, while the 0945 is designed for CF cards. Wild Romantic Photography has the best range of services of wedding photography Yarra Valley. Check them out here.
Clean optics are essential not only for the quality of images but the care and longevity of equipment. No one should be cleaning lenses with a t-shirt or paper towel. Instead, they need something that’ll do the job safely. Zeiss Moist Cleaning Wipes come in a pack of 20, including a microfiber cloth, and are specially made to gently remove dust, dirt, and fingerprints from the surface of lenses. For some particular tough spots, a proper lens cleaning solution will do the trick. The Purosol PUOC-10078 Optical Lens Cleaning Small Kit comes with a pocket-sized bottle of eco-friendly and streak-free solution and a small microfiber cloth. This liquid is safe enough for use on any lens coating. Don’t forget about dreaded sensor dust, either. Many times, this can be remedied with something like a Sensei Bulb Air Blower. The nozzle helps direct air current exactly where it’s needed, with an inlet valve to prevent backflow.
A good camera bag is a necessity. It will be heavily used, so put some thought into what’ll serve someone best. Lowepro is an excellent place to start since the company offers just about any style of carrying case a person could need. Sleek black shoulder bags are available in various sizes, each with padded interiors and retractable rain flaps. Lowepro also offers similarly-built backpacks, which come in assorted colours and well-suited to the mobile photographer. If you’re looking for something that provides style as well as protection, check out the Domke F-5XB RuggedWear Medium Shoulder and Belt Bag. This water-resistant canvas bag can be worn across the shoulder or on the hip.
Memory Card Reader
High-volume photographers need a way to quickly and efficiently get their digital images uploaded to a computer. The best way to do this is with a memory card reader, and the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot device is perfectly cut out for the job. This portable reader is compatible with CF, SDXC/ SDHC UHS-I, and SD cards and is fully capable of simultaneous transfer. Its pop-up design protects inner circuitry when not in use, and it’s compatible with both USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports.
A reflector is the best friend to the still-shot photographers of the world, especially for subject matter like portraits, products, or food. Impact’s 5-in-1 collapsible reflectors are super versatile for use either in the studio or out on location. The Circular 42″ Reflector Disc includes white, gold, silver, and silver/gold combination panels for bounce fill and a translucent panel for diffusion. The larger Oval Reflector (42 x 72″) is well suited for portraits and comes with black, silver, white, soft gold, and translucent panels. Both reflectors collapse to a third of their size and tuck neatly away into a storage bag. You can also pick up an Impact Multiboom Light Stand and Reflector Holder to indeed go hands-free.
If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.
External Hard/Solid State Drive
A reliable external solid-state or hard drive is critical when you start amassing an extensive collection of digital photos. These are a lifesaver when you need a way to transfer large folders, back-up image catalogues, or clear up some room on your computer. WD’s line of Elements Portable Hard Drives come in a range of sizes from 500GB through 2TB, with compatibility for both USB 3.0 and 2.0. If you plan on lugging it around with you, you may instead want to check out LaCie’s Rugged line. Those recognizable orange hard drives also range from 500GB through 2TB, with an external solid-state drive available in 250GB. All LaCie drives hold up against drops, moisture, and dust contamination. They can also be password-protected in case one goes missing.