If you’ve ever read any of these types of posts before, you probably know that they can be all over the place. One person’s beginner gear has the potential for being quite different than another’s. Personally, if I were to keep this post as short as possible, I’d say to grab yourself a decent camera, make sure you’ve got a lens attached, stick a memory card inside the camera, make sure your battery is charged and then go. Head out there and snap away. But rarely are things so simple. What makes this topic sort of tough to discuss is the actual definition of beginner. What’s a beginner anyway? Is it someone who has never touched a camera? Someone who’s been dabbling in the hobby for about a year? Three years? You see the problem here.
For this post, I’ll assume that a beginner is someone who has never touched a camera before to someone who’s taken a fair amount of photos over the past year. Most of what I list below this person may already own, but some gear they might want to look into acquiring. I’ll include a few of those things that we all wish we owned a little sooner than we actually did. Such as a larger memory card. I’m sure most of us got stuck with a tiny one of those somewhere along the lines.
Now, mind you that much of what I share below will boil down to personal preference. While I enjoy shooting with a certain type of lens, someone else might not like that type at all. So, take what I write with a grain of salt and do some research before heading out to your favorite camera store to spend all sorts of money.
1. Camera: You’ll obviously need a camera. When you buy one, be sure to get yourself a nice DSLR or a mirrorless model. Don’t spend more than you have to here and remember that many beginner models are much better today than cameras that cost twice as much ten years ago. These things have come a long way and even a moderately priced camera of around $700 is an incredible piece of equipment.
2. Lens: I would suggest you pick up a good 18-135mm kit lens as a first one. These are very versatile and can honestly cover about 90% of the photography you’ll engage in as a beginner. Since the average lens of this type will cost you about $350, you’ll want to make sure it’s high quality. A good lens will be quiet, have auto focus, and will not have any lens creep when facing straight down.
3. Extra Battery + Charger: Your brand new camera will likely come shipped with a battery and a charger, but you’ll love it if you have a spare battery. Also, if you buy used, the person selling to you might stick you with a battery that’s on its last legs. Get yourself a spare and make sure you’ve got a good charger.
4. Beefy Memory Card: If memory serves, my last camera (or any camera for that matter) didn’t come with a memory card. I had to buy one. While small slow cards are cheap, you’ll want to buy yourself the biggest and fastest you can get your hands on. You’ll most likely find 32GB, 64GB and 128GB models on Amazon for anywhere from $11 to $50. Buy a fast 128GB card because you may want to shoot some video in the future. You’ll need it to be fast to record the video and you’ll want it to be large to hold all of that content.
5. Camera Bag: I bought myself an AmazonBasics backpack for cameras back in 2012 and it’s still my favorite go-to camera bag that I use today. I picked it up for just under $40, so this piece of gear doesn’t need to be expensive at all. Buy yourself a large camera bag that’ll fit all that gear you’re bound to buy in the future.
6. Tripod: As you start getting into different types of photography, such as long exposure, studio and landscape, you’ll wish you owned a tripod. Again, this piece of equipment doesn’t need to be expensive. You can buy a fine tripod for under $100, so don’t go nuts with thinking that you need to get the most expensive one on the market. You’ll need one though. Not all the time, but you will.
7. Remote Shutter Release: Again, you’ll likely find yourself wanting one of these gadgets while taking those night star photos you always wanted to take, so buy one online for only a few dollars.
8. Different Lenses: If you’re at the one year mark, you’re probably wondering how different lenses can improve your photography. Lenses can truly enhance photos in dramatic ways, so it’s good to start looking at your options. Around this time, I remember buying a good 10-20mm wide angle that I still love today, a 50-200mm that’s great for getting close up, and two prime lenses (50mm and 24mm). These lenses were added to the 18-135mm that I already owned, so I think I covered a fairly large region of possible photographic scenarios.
9. Camera Cleaning Kit: Around the one year mark, you’ll also begin noticing that your camera is filthy. Pick up a cleaning kit to make things better.
For the absolute beginner, I would say that items one through five are essential and for the more advanced beginner, I’d say to get the entire list. You’ll need all of this stuff eventually, so there’s no harm in doing some online window shopping.
Let me know if I missed any critical items in the list I shared above. I’m always interested in other opinions. Thanks!
Reply: I have all except the camera cleaning kit. What brand should I buy? Where should I buy this kit from? I live in Bangladesh so I do not think it will be available over here. Can you please give me some idea about it ?
Reply: I wrote two posts on camera cleaning and cleaning kits a while back. I invite you to read those posts to learn a lot about this topic. Let me know if you have any questions about them. Enjoy!
To answer your question though, I would try to search Amazon, Ebay, or another website like that for “Camera Cleaning Kit” and I’m sure lots of results will come up.
Reply: It depends on your photography type. Photography is a personal art and it varies form person to person. So buy the best camera that is suitable to your photography type and that fits in your budget.
Reply: I 100% agree. There’s no sense in buying very expensive top of the line gear if you’re just trying to take some quick photos and vice-versa. You need to think hard about what type of photography you’ll eventually get into so you don’t spend money on lower end equipment if you’ll need more expensive gear in the future though. I suppose you can purchase the gear and then sell it on Ebay or another site like that. Or, you can always rent cameras and lenses to see how you like them before making the investment. Great comment.