Starters guide: camera equipment

Most of the money I earn goes straight into my photography. From my first ever compact camera which was a Canon icus 85IS (Google it, it's as basic as it gets) to my current gear and collectable items. I thought it'd be a good time to look back and see where it's worth investing in, and when you can save some money. Here is my take on what you need to get started in photography!

Check your budget

There is no point in going to a store without having a clue what your budget is. As with a lot of things, there is a huge range in photography gear. You pay for the quality you get. Especially when it comes to lenses and camera bodies prices can go up really fast. Try and make your budget as big as you can, there is no point in buying the cheapest camera body if you'll end up replacing it within one or two years. I did that and I couldn't have been more disappointed with my first dslr.

Camera body

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Your camera body is the main part of your camera. It's what you'll be working with. Personally I've always used Canon and it has never let me down, but feel free to try out every brand. Hold the camera and see what you feel most comfortable with. In terms of budgeting, know that your lenses are much more important in the final photos. Don't splurge on the most expensive camera body and the cheapest kit lens. Within your budget, look if you're able to go for a full frame model or stay within the budget of a small frame. Prices for lenses also differ a lot between those two types of cameras. The full frame will be able to capture much more of what the lens is showing and therefore you'll be able to get smoother and sharper final photos.

Lenses

There are a few different types of lenses on the market. I would recommend having a combination of two of them. For your first lens I'd recommend a zoom lens. Usually the kit lens in the cheapest set isn't going to be the best option. Go for a different one that has a nice range, for example the 17-85mm f/4-5.6, when you're going for a Canon kit. It'll serve most basic needs when starting out for a very reasonable price. The one thing you have to keep in mind when choosing a zoom lens is the fact that the broader the zoom range, the lower the image quality. This is the case when you stay within the same budget of course.

The next lens I'd recommend is a fixed lens. You are not able to zoom with these, so keep that in mind. The plus side is that the quality is way superior to zoom lenses. Less moving parts results in better quality for the same price. I started out with a Canon 50mm f/1.8, which is an amazing lens for such a low price. The built quality isn't the greatest, but the image quality is out of this world considering the low price tag. When mine broke I upgraded to the Canon 50mm f/1.4 which is a bit more expensive but feels much nicer and is just a lot better in general. The 50mm is a great starting point for any new photographer. Go for a 35mm if you know you'll be traveling more, and go for an 85mm when you want to get into portrait photography. It all depends in what you're going for.

Accessories

There are a couple of things you're going to need that you might not think about at first. First of all, memory cards, and lots of them. You want to go for cards with lots of space and a fast processing speed. You might think you'll be okay with that one 16GB card you have laying around somewhere, but trust me, you won't. Next on the list, batteries. If you plan on taking on jobs like weddings or senior portrait shoots you have to be able to guarantee that your camera will last. The last thing you want to happen is having your camera die on you halfway through the wedding day and missing an hour due to charging your battery. Having at least one spare battery will save you from that. An external flash is one of those things you want to consider. Nothing is more unprofessional than having to use your on camera flash directed in the faces of the people in front of you. Not only is it super unflattering, it won't have enough power for most situations. Some other accessories I collected over the years that have been really handy, but not something to spend a lot of money on are reflectors, a gorilla tripod, a regular tripod (unless you're doing landscapes, then invest in a sturdy and heavy one), backgrounds,...

I hope this guide was useful for some of you starting out, or wanting to get into photography. I only covered some basics with the knowledge I have gathered over the last couple of years. There are so many options, and deciding what you'll need will always be difficult in the beginning. You'll figure out what you need along the way but I hope this brought some stuff into perspective. Good luck!

(Photos are taken with my Fujifilm x10)