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Essential Photography Equipment for Beginners

If you are a beginning photographer, taking the leap from a basic point-and-shoot to a full-blown professional-grade camera isn’t as easy as it may seem.

Of course, buying the camera itself is just a small part of the equation. But, it’s not always easy to know exactly what it is that you need to get ahead.

Therefore, having a creative eye and a thoughtful outlook can take a person a long way in the field.

✔ Photography Equipment List for Beginners

1. Prime Lenses
2. Tripod
3. Speed-Lite
4. External Hard Drive
5. Memory Cards
6. Reflector
7. Polarizing and ND Filters
8. Bag/Carrying Gear
9. Cleaning Supplies
10. Rechargeable Batteries
11. Color Checker

Must-Have Gadgets for the Beginning Photographer

So, which gadgets should beginning photographers keep on hand? This list below provides the specifies that any beginning photographer needs. Also, it explains how and why each piece propels users further along their photographic journey.

1. Prime Lenses

It comes as no surprise, that any photographer’s first purchase should be a lens. Of course, most cameras come equipped with a standard kit lens.

However, it’s unheard of for the average kit lens to living up to the quality a versatile prime lens has to offer. Although they lack the adjustable focal length, a fixed focal length is unbeatable.

All Lenses Are Not Equal

Keep in mind, no two lenses are exactly the same. Shapes, sizes, and prices vary significantly. More notably, each available model accomplishes something different.

Also, it’s important to consider the direction you’d like to take as a photographer before making any purchase. For instance, landscape photographers will likely want to invest in a wide angle lens, such as the Canon EF-S 24mm.

Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Lens
  • Wide angle lens for Canon APS C cameras (equivalent to 38 millimeter on a full frame camera)
  • Focal length & maximum aperture: 24 millimeter 1:2.8, maximum magnification of x0.27
  • Slimmest and lightest lens of the EF S series
  • Circular aperture (7 blades) delivers beautiful, soft backgrounds
  • Full time manual focus allows manual focus adjustment while in One Shot AF mode

Macro Photography Lens

On the other hand, portrait and aspiring macro photographers will likely want to check out a model that offers a longer focal length, like the Nikon AF-S 85mm.

Related Post: How to Organize Your Photography Equipment

Although a bit bulkier and pricier than the Canon 24mm cited above, it’s nice to have an additional option that is capable of performing a different job.

Nikon AF S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G Fixed Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras
  • Fast aperture medium telephoto lens
  • Internal focus, focal length: 85 millimeter, minimum focus range: 0.80 meter
  • Silent wave motor (SWM). Number of diaphragm blades: 7 (rounded diaphragm opening)
  • M/a focus mode switch. Filter-attachment size is 67 millimeter (p=0.75 millimeter)
  • Nikon super integrated coating (sic)

For Those On A Budget

Yongnuo YN 50mm
The Yongnuo YN 50mm is the ideal prime for photographers on a budget.

For those on a budget, a 50mm is an excellent jumping off point. In fact, third-party glass lenses such as the Yongnuo YN 50mm are purchased for as little as $50. Don’t let the low price fool you – it provides a superb image, reaching apertures as low as f/1.8.

Related Post: Yongnuo YN 14mm f/2.8 Lens

Additionally, since a lens often proves to be an investment worth hundreds of dollars, cutting corners where you can is an important skill.

YONGNUO YN50mm F1.8 Lens Large Aperture Auto Focus Lens Fixed Standard Prime Lens...
  • Yongnuo Lens EF 50mm 1.8 for Canon is a 50mm auto fucus lens for creative, art and beauty photography. The wide aperture of...
  • F1.8 large aperture,virtual background,which makes photography with more fun.
  • Support auto focus and manual focus mode;
  • Adopts gold plating for the metal contacts,effectively improve the signal conductivity and corrosion resistance;
  • Supports M/AV/TV/P and other camera shooting modes,and can be displayed the aperture data in the EXIF Information;

2. Tripod

Manfrotto MT055XPRO3 055 Aluminum Tripod
A combination of strength and versatility, the Manfrotto MT055XPRO3 055 Aluminum Tripod.

A decent tripod is a worthwhile purchase for anyone working with a camera. Keep in mind, with a tripod it becomes possible to utilize long exposures and low ISOs. This is achieved without the risk of motion blur. It is also used in conjunction with a remote shutter release.  You could even use a camera without any sort of direct contact.

Additionally, a tripod allows you to neatly bracket shots, opening up doors for HDR experimentation. But, what exactly makes a tripod great? It all depends on your priorities.


Portability and Strength

In short, it comes down to finding the right balance of portability and strength. A hiker might prefer a model that’s easy to carry long distances. Although a photographer sporting a bulky lens might prefer something that offers above-average support.

As a result, for beginners, the Manfrotto MT055XPRO3 055 Aluminum Tripod is a great place to start. With the ability to safely support 9 kg, you feel confident in the strength and stability that this offers.


Additionally, it weighs in at just over 5 pounds, making it lightweight and practical for photographers on the go. So, offering up the best of both worlds, this particular tripod is an excellent baseline in determining which qualities mean most to you.

Manfrotto 055 Aluminum 3-Section Tripod with Horizontal Column (MT055XPRO3),Black
  • STABILITY: The QPL's (Quick Power Levers) design offers more powerful locking of each section, meaning the tripod is more...
  • ERGONOMIC DESIGN: The long lasting ergonomic design ensures extraordinary ease of use, with a wide range of leg angles to...
  • VERSATILE: The horizontal column mechanism can be easily extended when you need to shoot at the last-minute and is housed in...
  • PRECISION: Frame and shoot more precisely with the bubble level, which rotates freely around the centre column
  • SUPPORT ACCESSORIES: The top casting of the 055XPRO3 has an easy link connector for supporting a photo or video accessory

3. Speed-Lite

Canon Speedlite 430EX II Flash
A portable speed-lite such as the Canon 430EX II can help produce a perfectly exposed shot when there isn’t much natural light to use.

The most helpful tool a photographer can have on hand is light to spare. For most image makers, a speed-lite is the easiest and most convenient way to illuminate a scene quickly and efficiently.

Also, synced directly to a camera’s shutter, it offers a powerful burst light for fractions of a second.  Keep in mind, most of the major brands and third party manufacturers produce flash units of their own.

The Look and Control You Need

The Canon Speed-lite 430EX II Flash in particular has everything you are looking for in a speed-lite.

  • Automatic and manual control settings
  • 24-105mm zoom head (this detects sensor size)
  • Full coverage
  • Mounts easily
  • Utilized as an independent wireless “slave” unit

Additionally, thanks to its small size, a beginning photographer can carry along in virtually any camera bag. With just a few of these on hand, you can achieve the look and control that comes with studio lighting just about anywhere.

Canon Speedlite 430EX II Flash for Canon Digital SLR Cameras Bulk Packaging (White...
  • Superior build quality, including a metal foot for added strength
  • Approximately 20% faster recycling time, compared to previous 430EX II
  • 1-Touch Quick-Lock Mechanism for easy attaching/detaching flash from camera
  • Full flash control possible on camera menu, with compatible EOS digital SLRs
  • Zoom head full frame: 24mm-105mm, virtually silent operation

4. External Hard Drive

Think of an external hard drive as a form of insurance. Though it may not be directly beneficial at the moment, having a catalog of images tucked away can offer a piece of mind should your computer suddenly fail. That being said, any wise beginning photographer should have one of two backups on hand at any given time.

Also, aside from security, external hard drives are just plain useful. As the output quality of cameras continues to improve, resulting in image files are growing larger and taking up more space.

Additional Storage

As a result, we recommend the HGST Touro S Portable Drive. The truth is that there are plenty of viable options out there. But, keep in mind that with an additional terabyte of storage space, it’s possible to fit tens of thousands of RAW image files onto a single drive.

HGST, a Western Digital Company Touro Mobile USB 3.0 Portable Drive 1TB (0S03801)
  • Slim and compact 5400 RPM portable drive for all your digital files
  • Transfer faster with fast USB 3.0 interface (backwards compatible with 2.0)
  • Two levels of protection, with preloaded local and cloud backup software, to help keep your content safe
  • 3GB of cloud backup enables anywhere, anytime remote access
  • Preformatted for PCs, easily reformatted for Macs

5. Memory Cards

Sandisk 128GB SD memory card
Though they come in a small package, DSLR cameras record hundreds of images onto a single SD card.

Keep in mind, without a memory card, digital photographs won’t have anywhere to go and cannot be recorded. Therefore, a decent set of memory cards is a necessity.

Due to advancements in camera technology, nearly every camera provides a slot to accommodate a small SD card.


Another point to mention, due to their popularity, SD cards are found at inexpensive prices.  So, you can find them just about anywhere, from corner convenience stores to specialized photography shops.

Related Post: Best SD Card Recovery Software

Also,  some higher-end cameras are compatible with Compact Flash (CF) cards. They are a bit larger than their SD counterparts and are significantly more durable.

Because of this, the CF card is a bit pricier than the SD. In terms of speed and capacity, however, they don’t divert much from SD.

Memory Card Storage

The Honsky Aluminum Memory Card Carrying Case seen here prevents unused memory cards from getting crushed.

Due to SD and CF cards being inherently small, they’re quite easy to lose track of and misplace without proper storage and organization.

So, the Honsky Aluminum Memory Card Carrying Case and other similar products offer a safe place to store unused memory cards. Also, since it’s compact and protected from the elements, it can be thrown in a camera bag and taken on the go without a second thought.

6. Reflector

Neewer 43-inch 5-in-1 Collapsible Multi Disc Light Reflector
Neewer Collapsible Disc Reflectors are effective at redirecting light into a scene.

Much like a speed-lite, reflectors are used by beginning photographers and professionals in the field and in the studio to bring in the supplementary light.  Reflectors are primarily used to redirect existing light for a more diffused and natural look.

Also, while a speed-lite may be convenient and more immediate at times, it’s important for photographers to have multiple lighting options when it comes to cultivating a feeling or idea through an image.

Related Post: 7 Amazing Photography Backdrops

Many Options

Also, there are several different types of reflectors available, each sporting different surfaces that absorb or bounce light away to varying degrees. For instance, a shiny silver reflector will significantly brighten highlights and shadows, while a white reflector will produce a much softer, more subtle light.

For this reason, those still figuring out the basics behind working with light may want to opt for the Neewer 43-inch 5-in-1 Collapsible Multi Disc Light Reflector, which offers different reflector options worth experimenting with.

Neewer 43 Inch/110 Centimeter Light Reflector 5-in-1 Collapsible Multi-Disc with Bag...
  • 5 in 1 Light Reflector
  • cheap 5 in 1 multi photo reflector disc 43" / 110CM
  • quality Multi Disc Light Reflector
  • best 5 in 1 Collapsible Multi Disc Light Reflector
  • 110CM 5 in 1 Professional Collapsible Multi Disc Light Reflector 43

7. Polarizing and ND Filters

What is a polarizing filter? Though it may not look like much, it makes all the difference for landscape and nature photographers. The pictured Hoya 58mm Circular Polarizer is an excellent tool for every beginning photographer.

Placed in front of the lenses front element, it plays a crucial role in keeping composition elements properly exposed. This is true, especially when working during daylight hours.

Also, photographers often have to work around blown out skies or distracting reflections. So, with the ability to absorb polarized reflected light, the addition of this filter instantaneously brings out details and colors that might otherwise be lost without making adjustments to camera settings.

Related Post: Best Polarizing Filters

Also, products that are equally useful are neutral density (ND) filters. Available in multiple stop values, ND filters also recover details by bringing down the overall exposure of a scene. As a result, this makes it possible to create long exposure images during daylight hours while retaining detail in highlights.

Hoya 58mm HD Digital Circular Polarizing Screw-in Filter
  • Designed to adjust Brightly Reflected Light Especially Sunlight (Reflected off of Water or Snow) and Reduce Unwanted Glare
  • Creates Dramatic Sky and Cloud Contrast with Saturated Colours, without affecting Colour Balance
  • HD POLARIZING FILM - High Transparency and High Durability UV Absorbing Film Provides 25% Greater Light Transmission than...
  • HD COATING - 8-layer Anti-Reflective Multi-Coating Repels Water & Oil and is Scratch & Stain Resistant
  • HD FRAME - Glass is Mounted in an Ultra-Thin Frame using High Pressure Press Technology

8. Bag/Carrying Gear

Pelican 1510 Case
The Pelican Case comes with a lifetime satisfaction guarantee and is available with a choice of protective foam or padded dividers.

Certainly, you’ll need something to store all of your gear in. So, depending on what your needs happen to be, there are an array of options available.

So, for those traveling long distances – especially via airplane – the Pelican 1510 Case is a good bet. Since it’s sturdy and secure, it keeps fragile, expensive gear locked down and protected. Also, the design is reminiscent of a piece of luggage, complete with wheels and a retractable handle for easy movement.

GOgroove DSLR Camera Backpack Case
This backpack is ergonomically designed to fit a full-sized DSLR, accessories, and a laptop.

Packing Light?

Obviously, weight is important, and a huge case isn’t always practical. So, for those packing lighter, there are a plethora of backpacks designed to carry all of a photographers essentials. When venturing outdoors, GOgroove DSLR Camera Backpack Case allows users to keep their hands free without any concerns of gear getting in harm’s way.

GOgroove Full-Size DSLR Photography Backpack Case for Camera and Laptop with 15.6...
  • PORTABLE AND STYLISH BACKPACK with side access opening , rain cover , luggage handle slot plus room for all your photography...
  • HIGH-QUALITY DESIGN Includes a padded compartment (16.5"L x 10.5"W) for laptops/notebooks (can fit up to 15.6"), tablets,...
  • CUSTOMIZABLE DESIGN Loaded with many user friendly features including accessory pockets , rain cover , tripod foot holder ,...
  • VERY COMFORTABLE PACK with padded adjustable straps and back. Wear as a backpack with two straps or tuck one strap away and...
  • BUY WITH CONFIDENCE Covered by 3 year manufacturer's warranty ; External Dimensions - 17" x 12" x 7" / Waist straps adjust up...

9. Cleaning Supplies

Altura Photo Professional Cleaning Kit
Altura sells this cleaning bundle, which includes everything required to keep a camera in pristine working order.

While camera upkeep isn’t necessarily the most glamorous part of a photographer’s responsibilities, understanding how to keep your camera clean ultimately saves both time and money.

Because a DSLR is an incredibly sensitive piece of equipment, any dirt and grime buildup left untreated is detrimental.

Clean With Care

Above all, your camera is sensitive to water and prone to scratching. Haphazard cleaning techniques irreparably damage the body, the lens, and the sensor. As a result, we recommend the Altura Photo Professional Cleaning Kit. It provides the supplies needed to maintain every element of the camera, including:

  • 6 Dry Sensor Cleaning Swabs
  • Microfiber Cloths
  • 50 sheets of Lens Tissue Paper
  • 2 oz. Natural Cleaning Spray
  • an Air Blower
  • a Lens Brush

Also, even seemingly insignificant smudges can distort details and get in the way of a photo’s overall sharpness. So, having cleaning materials easily at hand, you ensure that any issues your camera has will be taken care of immediately.

Altura Photo Professional Camera Cleaning Kit APS-C DSLR & Mirrorless Cameras -...
  • CAMERA SENSOR CLEANING KIT INCLUDES: 6 Altura Photo 16mm Dry Sensor Swab + Altura Photo All-Natural 2oz. liquid lens cleaner...
  • SENSOR CLEANING KIT SWABS: Absorbs and sweeps away invisible particles and smudges. Compatible with APS-C sensors.
  • ALL-NATURAL LENS CLEANING FLUID SOLUTION: Uses the power of nature to clean without leaving streaks or blemishes. Safe for...
  • TRAVEL CASE: Stores and protects all of the essential tools.
  • SATISFACTION GUARANTEE: Backed with Digital Goja 90-Day 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.

10. Rechargeable Batteries

EBL 8 Bay Smart AA/AAA Battery Charger
Having a set of rechargeable batteries can be a lifesaver in the event that a piece of gear begins to run low on power.

Battery Types Are Important

Above all, no matter the situation, run-of-the-mill AA batteries are handy to have lying around. Photography is no exception. Alkaline batteries used to keep tools like speed-lights, syncs, and remotes in working order.

Above all,  when working on location, discovering that a piece of equipment needs a recharge will potentially wreck a shoot. So, rechargeable batteries allow photographers to keep working without missing a beat.

Also, they are used to revive a dying camera with the aid of a battery grip. The EBL 8 Bay Smart AA/AAA Battery Charger is a popular option among image makers and everyday people alike, supporting both AA and AAA batteries.

Always Keep Extras On Hand

Also on the subject of batteries, it’s never a bad idea to stock up on extra batteries and chargers designated specifically for your camera. Because many of the major manufacturers use proprietary equipment, you’ll have to look into which battery models, in particular, will be compatible with your camera before making any purchases.

EBL Rechargeable AA Batteries 2300mAh Long Lasting Battery (8 Counts) with Battery...
  • Batteries come with storage box, much convenient for your collecting while no use or in travel.
  • Batteries keep a high performance that its life span up to 1200 cycle and will maintain 75% capacity after 3 years no use.
  • Charger can freely charge 2, 4, 6, 8 AA AAA Ni-MH/Ni-CD rechargeable batteries in the same time, refuse low power.
  • AC 100-120V 50/60Hz input for worldwide usage,2.4V DC output shorten the time of charging.
  • Packages: EBL 808 8 bay smart charger, 8 packs AA 2300 Ni-MH rechargeable batteries with 2 battery storage boxes.

11. Color Checker

X-Rite ColorChecker Passport
The X-Rite ColorChecker Passport can potentially save a significant amount of time in post-production by eliminating color casts.

One of the most difficult tasks for any photographer to undertake is that of understanding color. Because not all light is created equally, the time of day, and type of environment are important.

So, once you determine the light source being used, there’s a wide gamut of color casts photographers have to work around. In some situations, you’ll have an artistic license and a bit of flexibility in terms of color.

However, for any sort of commissioned professional work, you’ll want to be sure that your colors are spot on.

Easy Perfect Color

In particular, the X-Rite Color Checker Passport is a useful tool to have.  Also, by simply referencing a photograph of the color grid taken within the environment that you’re photographing, you can easily get the perfect color by sampling a gray patch in a post. This immediately eliminates any sort of color casting.

Consequently, the other colors included can be used to instantaneously apply tints. So, even if you’re in a sterile studio or a specific location, this little tool can save you hours worth of editing.

X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Photo (MSCCPP)
  • DESIGNED FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS: ColorChecker Passport Photo is a powerful capture to edit solution for more consistent color &...
  • ACCURACY & CONSISTENCY: ColorChecker Passport Photo combines 3 photographic targets – Classic, White Balance & Creative...
  • IDEAL COLOR BALANCING: ColorChecker Passport Photo was developed with the DNG workflow in mind. Quickly & easily create...
  • CONVENIENT & EFFICIENT: Using the target together with included software makes the camera calibration experience fast & easy,...
  • COMPARE THE QUALITY: Compare our advanced display calibration color solutions to similar products from Viewsonic, Datacolor,...

We hope you liked this basic list of gear for beginners. If you want a more extensive guide, make sure to check out our photography gear buying guide.


  • Meghan is an artist and writer based out of Boston, MA. With an interest in everything from instant film to experimental videography, her work has been featured internationally in a variety of photographic exhibitions and publications. As a regular contributor, she uses her broad background in fine art and varied professional experiences to inform her articles.

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