Photography Equipment List for Beginners – The Essentials

Amateur photographers are often confused about what to purchase to capture memorable pictures. But we hear you out, which is why today’s guide will present a comprehensive photography equipment list for beginners. This list will cover all the basic gear that should be added to a photographer’s kit.

So let’s get started!

1. Lens

First on the list, many photographers give a higher priority to lenses than the camera. And why wouldn’t they? Lens focuses light to direct on the camera sensor. Some cameras permit photographers to switch out the lens.

These are known as interchangeable lens cameras. Users can replace the portrait lens in place of an expensive and big sports lens. It is a tempting perk, which makes the gadget more flexible for all photography niche.

But what lens should you go for? For starters, beginners should learn about three types. From the most useful to least, you should consider:

Kit Lens

This lens zooms and some examples include 18-105mm, 14-42mm, 18-55mm, 18-50mm, and 16-50mm lenses. These affordable options guarantee great versatility. This offers you an insight on the specialty lenses you should purchase in the future. Lastly, kit lenses are underrated for their superior quality.

Prime Lens

One can’t own a camera without a lens. The majority of cameras come with a standard kit lens. But the average kit is unable to match the diversity and features of prime lenses. That’s why photographers should splurge on this tool.

This lens surpasses portability and image quality, but there is no adjustable focal length. Remember that prime Lenses have a variety of pricing, size, and shape. Each model is meant for a different purpose. This is why consider the direction you want to adopt as a photographer prior to buying these lenses.

For example, macro and portrait photographers are recommended to invest in Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G, which boasts an extensive focal length. However, landscape photographers will want to check out wide angle lenses, like Canon EF-S  24mm f/2.8 STM lens.

And in case your budget is tight, consider 50mm as a jumping point. Third-party lenses are great options too. For instance, Yongnuo YN50mm f/1.8 is sold at $50 only. But even with the affordability, it reaches low apertures like f/1.8 and the image quality is impeccable.

Telephone Zoom Lens

This category allows you to snap faraway subjects such as sports and wildlife. But not many beginners demand such capability. If you are interested, buy a 55-200mm lens.

All lenses are differentiated by their millimeter figure, which is actually a focal length. And focal length refers to how zoomed in the lens is, and how narrow the angle it can snap. Lenses with a high millimeter (85 or above) are called telephoto lenses.

But lenses with 28mm or lower focal length are known as wide angle lenses. These provide sweeping views. And lenses with a between figure (50mm) are just normal lenses.

Furthermore, understand this difference between prime and zoom lenses:

  • Prime lenses: These are unable to zoom and are fixed on one focal length.
  • Zoom lenses: These are able to zoom and cover numerous focal lengths.

2. Tripod

This is another worthy investment for aspiring photographers, especially if you are a fan of landscapes. Tripod enables you to use low ISO range and long exposure without any motion blur. Moreover, it allows you to safely bracket snaps for HDR composites. But with the wide variety of tripods, consider your priorities to buy one.

In simple words, strike the correct balance between strength and portability. A professional with a heavy lens should go for a tripod that guarantees above mediocre support, whereas hikers should get a highly portable model.

Amateurs should consider the Manfrotto 055 Aluminum 3-Section Tripod as it will put you in the right direction. This tripod boasts unrivaled balance and strength. Plus, it can easily support 9 kg while only weighing 2.3 kg itself. In short, it’s practical and lightweight for all types of shooting.

Furthermore, get a tripod head in case your chosen tripod doesn’t come with one. The head allows you to maneuver the camera to snap pictures. Instead of a pan-tilt head, purchase a ballhead as it offers the same composure in smaller size. However, a pan-tilt head is great for shooting videography. Famous brands include Sirui, Manfrotto, Slik, Mefoto, Oben, Benro, and Vanguard.

But there are tons of more brands in the market. And the difference between these makers isn’t big, particularly in terms of price to performance ratio. Invest in a tripod featuring maximum height, good weight, and folded length. And don’t forget to read the reviews.

3. Speedlight

An additional light is another valuable tool. It instantly illuminates the setting and can be directly synced to a camera’s shutter. Speedlights present a strong burst of light that lasts less than a second.

Photographers can purchase the tool from third-party companies and all leading brands. A worthy model is the Neewer NW-670 TTL Flash Speedlite. It offers LCD screen for the following:

  • Canon 60D
  • Canon 7D Mark II
  • Canon 70D
  • Canon 5D Mark II III
  • Canon 80D
  • Canon 1300D
  • Canon 100D
  • Canon 1200D
  • Canon 500D
  • Canon 1100D
  • Canon 550D
  • Canon 750D
  • Canon 600D

Newer speedlights guarantee stunning pictures anywhere anytime.

4. External Hard Drive

This tool is a photographer’s insurance. Having a slew of pictures saved gives you peace even if your PC unexpectedly fails. That’s why a wise professional has several backups all the time.

There is no shortage of external hard drives in the market. However, the WD 4TB Elements Portable HDD. This beast can store 4 terabytes of your pictures, even in RAW file format.

5. Memory Cards and Their Holders

It is impossible to snap pictures without this tool. That’s why amateurs should have a high-quality set of memory cards. But not everyone knows how to match the accurate card to their gadget because different camera models are compatible with different formats.

Most modern cameras present only one SD card slot. And SD cards are available anywhere. Some elite and old camera models support Compact Flash cards, which are a tad bigger than their SD rival and more long-lasting too. However, these features make them more expensive.

Both of these memory cards are very small. This means that users often lose them if they don’t arrange proper organization and storage. Therefore, try buying the LYNCA Memory Card Case Holder. It effectively stores unused memory cards. In total, the case holder can accommodate the following:

  • 12 micro SD TF memory cards
  • 4 CF memory cards
  • And 8 SD memory cards

6. Reflector

This is another basic and affordable addition for beginner portrait photographers. The reflector directs additional light into the frame. Although a speedlight seems more practical for some professionals, light modifiers are versatile. Therefore, photographers should have a stock of different options to achieve varying looks.

Reflectors have many categories, and each displays a new surface. For example, a lustrous silver reflector immensely illuminates shadows and highlights, whereas white reflectors create a more subtle, soft light. But the beginners who are still learning lighting should pick the Neewer 43-inch/110 cm light reflector 5-in-1. It presents different reflector shades.

7. Filters

These are directly attached to the lens, and sometimes behind it. Filters influence the light captured by the camera. Almost all photographers love using filters, and you only need a few. These are the major categories of filters:

Clear Filters

These transparent filters shield the lens. Superior lenses in this category are expensive. However, inferior ones will reduce the picture quality. Professionals only use clear filters in rare cases. Other names for clear filters are Haze and UV filters.

Neutral Density Graduated Filters

These lenses smoothly shift from dark to transparent gradient. In case you want to darken some part of the image (like the grass), but leave the remaining image unaffected.

Polarizing Filter

Although it looks useless, a polarizing filter can transform nature and landscape images. Amateurs can opt for Hoya 58mm HD Digital Circular Polarizing Screw-in Filter. Polarizing filters reduce reflections and make the colors more pop out, like gorgeous blue skies, rich greenery, and more. In simple words, if you love capturing nature, polarizing filters will darken the portions of your images wherever needed.

Neutral Density Filters

Neutral Density filters lowers the general light levels, or the light that reaches the camera sensor. This enables photographers to achieve long exposure pictures in daytime while maintaining highlights details.

Neutral density filters are just darkened glass pieces. Photographers buy these if they desire additional motion blur, or if they want to achieve flash photography in illuminated scenes.

8. Carrying Equipment

Imagine splurging your hard earned money on these items, but without any storage solution. Based on your photography career and preferences, many types of bags are available in the market. If you are traveling long on an airplane – purchase the Pelican 1510 Case. This is a robust and secure bag that can accommodate delicate and expensive equipment. It keeps all items protected and locked down.

Furthermore, its body profile resembles luggage due to the addition of a retractable handle and wheels. However, if you are a budding photographer that does not travel with much gear, carrying the Pelican is not too practical. So whenever you are packing light, choose the GOgroove Full-size DSLR Photography Backpack Case. It is perfect for outdoors and indoors.

In a nutshell, the perfect carrying bag is based on the niche:

  • Studio professionals don’t necessarily need a bag since they don’t often leave their studio workspace. However, they can still buy a rolling suitcase during long trips.
  • Landscape photographers should ideally get a hiking backpack because they travel extensively with too much gear.
  • Wedding photographers vary, but the majority of these professionals prefer a rolling suitcase or a backpack to carry their gear. Plus, they might demand a shoulder bag for capturing pictures in the reception room.
  • Vacation or street photographers probably will do great with a shoulder bag because it accommodates smaller camera kits and can be accessed easily.

9. Cleaning Supplies

Camera maintenance is not a glamorous aspect in a photography career. However, expert photographers know that an efficient maintenance routine saves money and time. Cameras are fragile equipment that can cause malfunctions if they get a buildup of grime and dirt.

However, inferior cleaning supplies and impractical cleaning methods can also harm the camera body, the sensor, and the lens. Ultimately, it is recommended to buy the Altura Photo Professional Camera Cleaning Kit. It includes everything for the upkeep of all the components of a camera, such as a rocket blower, microfiber cloth, a lens brush, and cleaning spray.

10. Rechargeable Batteries

More than anything, irrespective of the situation, rechargeable AA batteries are useful to keep. The run-of-the-mill batteries ensure that remote, speedlight, and other tools keep functioning. This is the secret of how photographers can shoot all day.

Not only this, AA batteries can be employed to bring a dead camera back to life through a battery grip. But which batteries should you invest in? The EBL Rechargeable AA Batteries are famous in the photography field.

Wise professionals always keep spare chargers and batteries especially created for their model. But since plenty of leading brands employ proprietary gear, you have to decide which batteries can support your camera model.

11. Color Checker

The light color is able to shift immediately based on the weather, time, and the environment. This is why photographers have to guarantee that their pictures are crisp, particularly during product shoots and portraits. This is where a color checker comes to the rescue.

Simply position it in your shooting scene, and employ its gray values to adjust white balance. This task is done in post processing. Although this tool is not among the basic kit components, it is still a good addition for commissioned work. The color checker will ensure that the shades in your images are popping.

Consider the ColorChecker Passport Photo 2 Kit. Plus, just by referencing an image of the color grid captured in the scene, photographers can achieve the ideal shade by sampling a gray patch. This instantly avoids color casting.

As a result, the other added shades can be employed to simultaneously apply tints. Therefore, even if photographers are in a particular address or sterile studio, this tiny tool will save you hours of editing.

12. Post Processing Software

This tool is required after shooting. Many photographers love spending hours on editing. But the free software of the camera model lacks good features. This is why investing in a software is a smart choice, but this again depends on your specific needs.

Adobe Photoshop is a popular software.  It is best for digital artists, photographers, and graphic designers. For commercial work and conceptual photography, this software is a must. But professionals in other niches won’t like Adobe Photoshop.

But if you want to stick with Adobe, shift to Lightroom. This is particularly for photographers, and charges $10 per month with the addition of Photoshop. This professional editing program is basically a steal. But many photographers don’t want subscription programs.

Beyond Adobe, the closest Photoshop alternative is a cheap and high-quality software known as Affinity Photo. However, no option is perfect to replace Lightroom for all editing preferences. Other famous softwares are as follows:

  • Corel AfterShot Pro
  • ON1 Photo RAW
  • RawTherapee
  • ACDSee Ultimate
  • Alien Skin Exposure
  • Photo Ninja
  • Capture One
  • DxO PhotoLab

13. Calibration and Monitor Gear

The shades visible on your PC should reflect the shades you snap with your camera. If not, the editing will be flawed. When it comes to the majority of monitors, they suffer from prominent color problems, or they’re inferior monitors themselves. Therefore, invest in an 8-bit monitor from the IPS panel. And if you want better quality, choose a 10-bit or above monitor. These monitors showcase the widest range of color with ideal color reproduction.

Since these devices are expensive, we recommend Dell U2415. Afterwards, you should calibrate the device. This is where an outer hardware piece presents a correct profile and measures the monitor shades. ColorMunki and Datacolor are the leading brands for calibration items.

14. Other Accessories

The market for photography accessories is diverse. It includes printers, motion triggers, GPS attachments, shutter releases, and so much more. However, beginners should not be tempted to buy this stuff until they have chosen their niche. For example, you wouldn’t want to splurge on expensive studio lights only to discover that you like landscape images more than portraits.

Therefore, make the core camera kit your starting point. Allow your photography to take you in your desired genre. Afterwards, you are free to buy accessories as per your preferences.

Final Words

We hope you gained sufficient information from the photography equipment list for beginners, and our list put you in the right direction. But remember that the gear you end up buying should consider your photography niche, needs, and budget. Therefore, keep your options broad and do not splurge on expensive stuff which you won’t use afterwards.

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