I often receive a lot of questions about what kind of equipment I use, or what equipment I would recommend for a photographer on a budget.
Many people argue about the better camera brand. I believe that it shouldn’t matter if you are a fan of Nikon or Canon. Furthermore, there are no limits in price and you can truly spend tens of thousands of dollars in pursuit of photographic excellence. Only you can figure out the budget and power of equipment you will use.
I love hearing that people are getting into photography and I love talking about it, so I decided to provide the insider’s scoop on what is in my photography bag, as well as some examples of what I have been recommending to others trying to broaden their equipment collection.
All of you aspiring photographers should take note about the concept of diminishing returns in that the return you get by spending more money will most likely begin to taper off at some point; not only will doubling the money you spend not double your photography, but it may not even be what you need to get the most out of whatever you’re shooting.
It isn’t always completely about the equipment. As a matter of fact, I shot my first job on a $300 camera and an $80 lens and still did great! If you have a great eye for composition and know how to control your light, you can begin with the basics, and once you feel comfortable, start adding lenses and off the wall stuff to your collection. If you start small and work your way up, I believe you will become more aware of the kind of photographer you are, and the kinds of conditions you shoot best in. Explore the entirety of the scope of your equipment and what you’re shooting before you cast judgment!
First, let us start with what I currently have in my bag. Part of this equipment I suggest for beginning photographers on a budget.
2. Nikon D7100. I also carry extra battery packs with this camera. This camera has a wide angle 16/28mm 2.8 or 50mm 1.8. I always have this camera on my neck as a supplemental to the D800.
3. Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 DG HSM Lens. This is a great lens for spying on people…just kidding! It’s very good for getting long distance shots. I’ve used this taking shots of wildlife and sports from far away, or if I really want to throw out the background, I can bring this all the way down to 2.8. However, this kind of lens is not cheap.
4. Tokina AT-X 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro FX wide Lens. I have an issue sometimes with some lenses. They can never get the entirety of a scene in the photo. To solve that, I bought this lens for about $500. It can see EVERYTHING! I’ve used it for landscapes of everything from nature to architecture. Note that it does provide a bit of distortion, so if you’re not into that effect, you may not like such a wide shot.
5. 28mm f/2.8 Nikon Prime Lens. What I love about Nikons is that you can use film lenses on digital bodies. It gives your image that film-like quality, which I find to be a great mixture of color and softness. This is a film lens and costs less than $200. It works great for landscapes without distorting the scene. When I’m hiking up hills or doing some kind of intense physical routine in order to get to my photography location, I do not want to carry all this gear, so I would bring this lens, my camera, and maybe a tripod. It has a great bang for its buck.
6. Nikon 50mm 1.8 Prime Lens. I would have to say this is my favorite lens (and almost least expensive at $125). I have used it for weddings, landscapes, architectural shots, pictures of newborns, and so on. It’s an amazing portrait lens that provides a very moody and dramatic feeling. It’s wide enough to capture a somewhat wide shot from afar, and still focus in on your subject. It’s also great for low light as well, if you drop it all the way to 1.8 and crank your ISO up. In all, I think, no matter what photographer you are, you need this lens.
7. Lens Hood. Blocks glare. Honestly, I rarely see myself using it, because I like a little glare.
8. Teleconverter. I use this to add onto my 70-200mm when I need to get a closer shot but I am further away. I use this for surf photography and long shots from the boat or sea. But for the most part, as I said before, I like really wide shots, so 200mm is already close enough. If you don’t want to spend the money on a big 600mm (about $2000), then this $110 fix will do it for you!
9. Extra Lens Caps The majority of these are missing in action. It’s good to have an extra to protect your lens, and if not, a UV filter.
10. D800 Quick Tips Manual. Read it before, during, and after. I will probably read it again. Sometimes good to have, because sometimes stuff goes wrong. Besides, nobody needs to memorize over 400 pages.
11. Memory Cards. No explanation needed. I always carry at least one extra for each camera.
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