The best photography gear for beginners - my top 10 camera gear recommendations
Updated: Aug 21, 2019
When it comes to taking photos of your family on holidays, you need to have the right camera gear to produce good quality images. Below is my list of top 10 camera gear recommendations for beginners who are wanting to learn photography.
My very first SLR camera was a Pentax *ist DL. It wan't very good. I changed over to a Canon 60D and then upgraded to a Canon 5D and then to a Canon 5D Mark ii (which they don't make anymore because Canon has now produced the Canon 7D in it's place). The 5D Mark ii is the current camera that I have today because I've stopped upgrading each time a new camera came out. My friends have also bought the Canon 7D and the Canon 6D which are also very good cameras (better than the 5D), but my sister swears by Nikon Cameras which produce sharp images, however as I've used Canon for most of my life and I'm very loyal, I'm choosing to stick with Canon cameras and lenses.
I've decided to stay with the Canon 5D Mark ii because there's only so many times that you can upgrade and pay 1,000's of dollars, for not too much difference in quality between upgrades each time. If someone was to ask me which camera they should buy today, I would suggest a Canon 7D.
There's always a great debate between photographers about whether Canon or Nikon is better. I recommend the Canon brand because I prefer the colours that the cameras create compared to the Nikon cameras and the settings are very easy to find and use - especially since I've been using them for about 20 years now.
The best camera accessories
Now when you start getting into photography as a hobby, there are other accessories that you need to buy to improve your images, apart from your camera of choice. They are:
A tripod is necessary when you want to produce images of running water, before sunrise, after sunset, night sky photos, and when you want to be in the photos yourself. You will not be able to hand-hold your camera and capture the movement of the ocean without camera shake. Nor will you be able to create star trails, take decent photos of waterfalls or moody landscape images at sunrise and sunset.
2. SD Card
You will need an SD card to capture your images on, so you can download them onto your computer or laptop at a later stage. The Sandisk SD cards are cheap and produce quality images. I usually pack a 32GB card, or 64GB card and I'm set for the day. (Unless you're planning to do wedding photography - then you'll need a couple or even 3 x 64GB cards, as you will take so many images it's not funny.)
You won't be able to use your camera if you don't have a battery and battery charger. No more needs to be said about that, except that you can buy them pretty cheaply nowadays, so you should probably get two or three batteries, so you don't run out of power just as the sun is going down and the colours in the sky are amazing! (Your camera should come with a charger when you buy it though, unless you're buying just the body, second hand.)
There are so many different camera lenses that you can choose from, depending on what sort of photography you want to do. My favourite lenses are below:
85mm lens - this is also fantastic for portrait photography - this is the one I used the most when taking photos of the bride at a wedding, as it produces very sharp images.
70-200mm lens - this is good for wildlife photography - when you can't get up close.
55-250mm lens - I have this lens in my camera bag, however it's now been replaced by this one - Tamaron 24-70mm as it was a better focal length for what i needed and it produced sharper images overall. The 55-250mm lens is pretty good for macro photography though.
8mm fish eye lens - this is a fun lens if you want to create some weird and wonderful fish eye images to hang on your walls.
10-18mm lens - this is next on my wish list, as I sometimes take photos of houses for my Real Estate career and my friends are getting sick of me borrowing theirs all the time. (Thanks Kym!) It's also fantastic for landscape photography too.
Always remember to check that the lens you're looking to buy will fit on your type of camera before you buy it though, as some places won't accept returns if you've bought the wrong size lens. If you have a Canon camera, there is a little red or white dot on the body of the camera that should match the little red or white dot on the lens. Don't buy a lens with a red dot if your camera has a white dot on it because it won't fit.
Lowepro doesn't make the camera bag that I use anymore (that's how long ago I got it!) but they still have a good selection of backpacks that you can choose from that are probably even better quality than the one I bought years ago. I chose a Lowepro one because it came with a lifetime warranty!! (not many companies offer that). You can also buy a camera backpack from Amazon quite cheaply now which has all the padded compartments for all your different lenses etc.
If you only have the one camera and the one lens to go with it, then you could just purchase a simple camera bag like the one below, which will fit all your gear in it nicely. There are pockets in it for your spare batteries and SD cards and even room for your flash.
6. Camera Strap
This camera strap has prevented a lot of smashed cameras in my lifetime. It connects to the bottom of your camera and hangs off one of your shoulders, so you can have two on the go at the same time. (Not that you need that when taking landscape images - just at weddings.)
If you're wanting to do portrait photography (or wedding photography) then you will need a flash or a speedlite. If you're outdoors and you're taking photos of your kids playing at the beach, then it's probably not necessary, however if you're taking photos at night or want some in-fill flash on your subject's face, then you will need one. Unless you're photographing a model and have a reflector - but that's a whole other story.
If you want to be in your travel photos and don't want to set the timer on your camera, run to get into place and sit in the frame just in time to have a silly look on your face while mid-blink, then I'd suggest investing in a remote control for your camera. They're cheap and they give you the freedom to set everything up and sit down and relax before pressing the shutter release button.
I also recommend buying some filters for your camera lenses, more so that you don't scratch your expensive lens while you're travelling, rather than using them for anything fancy like reducing reflections in buildings or creating vignettes in skys. However some of the darker filters can be used to photograph waterfalls and beach scenes when the sun is just that touch too bright to use for a long exposure.
The Go Pro is the next thing on my list - because who doesn't want to be able to take photos and videos underwater? And a good drone is also on my list, because I want to be able to create stunning aerial images at the beach. :-)
I hope this has steered you in the right direction as to what camera gear to buy for your photography hobby/career. There are loads of other things that you could buy to improve your photography (like indoor studio lighting and a backdrop for newborn photography perhaps?) but these are the main accessories that I would recommend for people just starting out with photography.
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