When you’re just starting out in photography, it can be a little bewildering to know what kind of basics you should have in your kit bag. To help you, we’ve put together this beginner's photography kit list list of a just a few items you’ll need to start you on the journey to photographic prowess.
Equipping your camera bag when you’re new to photography can be a little confusing. However you actually only need a few basics to start with, adding to them with time, and when you start to hone in on a preferred genre of photography.
Here are some of our recommendations for every beginner photographer.
Beginner’s photography kit list: camera
Obviously the first thing you’re going to need is a camera. The choice of cameras currently on the market is better than ever, and there’s something to suit every need.
It’s likely you will be drawn towards an interchangeable lens model. When you buy one of these, it will usually be supplied with a kit lens, allowing you to get started straight away. This gives you the opportunity to switch out lenses as your collection grows.
These days, most beginner photographers will go for either a traditional DSLR, or a CSC (compact system camera). Generally speaking, entry-level DSLRs can be picked up more cheaply than many CSCs. For example the Canon EOS 1300D, which was announced in early 2016, is available for around £300. That said, some will prefer the smaller and lighter body shape of a compact system camera.
Take a look at our list of best DSLRs for beginners to get a better idea of what’s out there.
Beginner’s photography kit list: lenses
While a kit lens is great to get you started with – it may not be long before you start to notice the limitations that such lenses come with.
A prime lens will help you learn more about composition, get you thinking with your feet, help you create shallow depth of field effects and more. You can pick up a classic 50mm f/1.8 lens, either for DSLRs or CSCs, usually pretty cheaply. You may even want to consider going second hand if you don’t want to outlay too much money while you are setting up.
As you progress, you may want to start adding wide angle primes, zoom lenses, macro lenses and portrait lenses. Think about the type of photography you want to do before investing in any new lenses though.
Beginner’s photography kit list: bags
Ah, the kit bag itself. This can be just as important as the kit you find within it. You’ll want something sturdy to protect your gear, and you may want to pay extra for waterproofing if you think you’re likely to be outside a lot (if you’re photographing landscapes for instance).
Generally speaking, bags are divided into two categories – rucksacks and backpacks, or over-the-shoulder messenger bags.
While messenger bags are more convenient for quickly grabbing your gear – backpacks are more comfortable to carry, especially if you have a lot of kit. Again, think about the type of photography you’re likely to be doing.
If it’s landscapes and scenery where you’ll be setting up in one place and don’t have to rush, a backpack is ideal. If it’s street photography or events photography where the ability to quickly change lenses is necessary, a backpack is going to be less appealing.
Beginner’s photography kit list: tripods
You may not need a tripod when you’re first starting out, again, depending on the type of photography you’re going to be doing. However, if landscape photography is your main goal, then you’re definitely going to need one.
You can spend a heck of a lot of money on a tripod if you want to. However, if you’re just starting out and want to save money, then there’s also some decent cheaper options. Try to avoid ultra-cheap options though, as you may find that you’ll have to replace it very quickly as it doesn’t stand up to the job.
Have a look at our Best Tripods feature to see some options ranging in price – around £100 is a good price for a very good first tripod.
Beginner’s photography kit list: memory cards
Most entry-level cameras use SD cards, so you’ll need at least one of these. You can purchase memory cards in high capacity formats such as 128GB or 64GB. However relying on just one memory card means that if there’s any problems with corrupt cards, formatting issues, or anything else, you may lose all your photos. It also makes sense to have at least two cards so that if one fills up when you want to photograph something, you don’t have to spend time in the field deleting files. For that reason, it may make more sense economically to stock on several, smaller sized cards – aim for 8GB minimum though.
Beginner’s photography kit list: other accessories
As you may have already established, the range of accessories for photographers is almost limitless. What you absolutely must have, and what are just nice must haves varies wildly depending on the type of work you do.
Some examples of some accessories you may want to pick up as you go along your photographic journey include: a remote release, filters, a flash gun, reflectors, lens cleaners, extra batteries and more besides.
It’s unlikely you’ll need any of those things when you are at the very beginning of your photography life. However, you may find that these accessories become more useful as you begin to work on particular genres. For instance, somebody who is going to concentrate on sweeping landscapes is unlikely to find much use for a reflector.
In summary, don’t be tempted to buy every accessory you see advertised until you know your camera and what you want to shoot.