The best photography equipment for beginners who are looking to start creating some awesome images.
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, however all opinions remain my own and these are all products I currently use!
Photography Equipment For Beginners
I began taking photos on Oahu, Hawaii during the summer of 2015. Before that I had spent all of my time being a college athlete and studying Journalism. I was inspired by a lot of talented people around me and of course it is hard not to be amazed by the beautiful nature of an island paradise. I spent hours researching online and by asking professionals about which gear would be best for me as I began my photography journey. This article will look at what I believe is the best photography equipment for beginners.
When I first began photography I bought an old Canon 7D with a kit lens. It was second hand and helped me to learn quite a lot but it wasn’t until I bought my Sony A7II mirrorless camera that I really began to take some photos I was proud of.
Here is the equipment I have personally used and would suggest for someone looking to get into photography:
Sony a7II Mirrorless Camera
I wanted a light camera, one that I would be able to carry on hikes and to secluded beaches. It had to be able to take a knock or two and be relatively weather proof. It also had to be affordable, which is different for every person. My budget for the camera and lens was $2000 at the time. It was compatible with Canon lenses if I bought an adapter but I decided to sell off all of my Canon gear and purchase some Zeiss lenses designed for the Sony a7 series. My favorite part about the Sony A7II is being able to use the Sony PlayMemories Apps. There are lots of free apps you can install on the camera such as the Time Lapse app and Sky HDR app.
Landscape Photography Lens
The Sony 16-35mm Vario-Tessar F4 Lens was the lens I decided to purchase and it gave me a lot of flexibility. The focal length of 35mm is equivalent to what you see with a naked eye. A focal length of 16mm is much wider and enabled me to capture an entire scene, a vast range of mountains or an entire beach in one shot. The Sony 16-35mm was my primary lens and It enabled me to shoot some portraits but also the flexibility to fit an entire landscape into my frame.
I started to field several requests for taking portraits and decided maybe it was time to look at a prime lens. A prime lens has a fixed focal length and a much wider aperture, which enables low light shooting and a much smaller depth of field. I purchased the Sony 55mm F1.8 Sonnar T FE ZA Prime Lens. I ended up doing a few paid jobs and paying off this lens quickly. My favorite time with this lens was in Indonesia where I tried my hand at travel portrait photography for the first time, which turned out to be really fun especially with the small depth of field the the Sony 55m F1.8 delivered.
Why a Polarizer filter was so important!
All of my landscape photos involved the sun and often the ocean. The harsh light from the sun often blows out the water with awful reflections. I bought a Hoya 72mm HRT Circular PL Polarizer and with a small twist before taking a photo I was now able to reduce or eliminate the reflections on the ocean. All of a sudden I could see the reef below the water and bring out the turquoise color of the Pacific Ocean. Even on hikes the polarizer really brings out the greens of the trees and is so handy when shooting a waterfall. My polarizer is on my camera 90% of the time and is one of my favorite accessories.
Carbon Fiber Tripod
Of course to be able to use an ND Filter to smooth water and show movement with long exposure photography you need a tripod. Choosing which tripod to buy was a tough decision for me as I wanted something sturdy enough to endure windy conditions, however it was something I would have to carry up mountains. I decided to get the sturdiest carbon fiber tripod that would fit in my bag. I am so happy with my ZOMEi Z669C Portable Carbon Tripod and it comes everywhere with me. In the past I would have left a tripod at home unless there was a specific shot I wanted but because it is lightweight and compact, my tripod is constantly packed in my small backpack. This is definitely one of the most important pieces of photography equipment for beginners.
Taking it to the next level with an ND filter
I began looking the work of many talented landscape photographers and decided I wanted to try my hand at long exposures. I did hours of research and finally decided to get a Hoya Pro 72mm 1000x Neutral Density Filter, which is a 10 stop ND filter. This allowed me to smooth oceans, waterfalls and show motion in water. It also helped to show motion in the sky especially with cloud movement and during sunset/sunrise.
Keeping charged with batteries
If you are traveling like me, you don’t get to charge your batteries every day. I carry four batteries with me and charge them all whenever I get the opportunity. The Wasabi Power Pack comes with 2 batteries and a charger, which is handy for the hotel room and is much cheaper than buying the Sony version. Sony mirrorless cameras tend to go through batteries a bit quicker than traditional DSLR’s so I suggest buying a few extras so you don’t run out on top of a mountain as the sun is setting.
I struggled carrying my gear in different sized backpacks and was constantly frustrated trying to pull out my camera to quickly get a shot. When I was hiking I would put it back in the bag to continue the hike with both hands free for safety. I finally decided to get a VictoriaTourist DSLR Camera Backpack that was designed for carrying electronics. This durable bag fits my laptop, chargers, 2 lenses, memory cards, a jacket, 4 liters of water and still has space for any extras. The great thing about this bag is that comes with a waterproof cover that is in a zip pocket underneath the bag. I have used this a lot of times and is something that is actually really important to think about.
I bought two SanDisk Extreme PRO, which have worked perfectly for me and can hold over 1500 raw images and are also capable of shooting 4K video.
If you have any suggestions for other useful gear for beginners or travel photographers comment below. I’m always looking out for handy accessories.