Photography Equipment Guide - What Do You Really Need?

So you recently decided you want to get into photography. Maybe you just want to try your hand at starting a business, just take better photos of your family, or need good photos for your blog. It can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to buying photo equipment. Buying equipment that you think you need but end up barely using is frustrating, and a huge fear for many beginner photographers. The great news is, you don't need a huge bag full of equipment to take decent photos. Today I'll be sharing with you (a beginner photographer) what you will actually need and use.

photo equipment


Camera Body

For a camera body, I suggest a Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR). Companies like Canon, Nikon, and Sony have a reputable array of DSLRs at various price points. You don’t need a $6,000 camera to get nice photos, but low to midlevel priced DSLRs still give you more control over your camera settings than point and shoots do. Some great mid-range cameras include the Canon EOS Rebel T3I, Canon EOS Rebel T5I, Nikon D5100, and Nikon D5300.



Choosing a lens is more important than the camera itself. Your camera lens determines what kind of photos you can take. Lenses sometimes come with the camera body (called a “kit lens”), but they are often not quite as sturdy or flexible as you may need. There is a wide array of lenses to choose from, but some of the best lens choices are prime lenses (lenses that don’t zoom in or out).

While a lens that is “fixed” may sound inconvenient, there are many benefits to using them. For one thing, zooming in lets less light in. When it’s darker, you may not be able to get that great of a photo. Prime lenses let a lot of light in, providing for a crisper photo. They are also light and easy to carry around when traveling. A quality telephoto lens is very costly, but you can buy a 50mm prime for as low as $100! That’s a cheap price to pay for a versatile lens. Besides the 50mm, the 35mm and 85mm lenses are also great choices when it comes to choosing a fixed lens.

Ben used my 50mm prime for my headshots.

Ben used my 50mm prime for my headshots.

Memory Cards

The type of memory card you need depends on the camera. When you buy it the manual (or google) will let you know which ones are compatible (cameras usually don’t come with the card). The most common types of cards are SD and Compact Flash, and they come with a variety of storage capacities. They are relatively inexpensive - you can even buy them at Walmart. Card readers are also reasonably priced; you’ll need one to view your photos on the computer.

And that's it! If you want to eventually pursue photography professionally, you'll definitely want to invest in some more lenses or lighting, but a camera, all-purpose lens, and memory card are the essentials. Camera equipment can be expensive, no doubt about it, but consider buying on sale (Black Friday, Labor Day, after Christmas) or even buying used or refurbished. If you do buy used, just make sure it's from a reputable dealer or you may not know exactly what you're getting. A good quality camera and lens should last for a long time and it's well worth the investment. As always, contact me if you have any comments or questions!