What gear do I need?

By Steven Kirby
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What gear do I need?

I am often asked what gear is required to start out in photography, I can only really speak from a canon users point of view when it comes to equipment but some of the following thoughts are general and can be applied to any brand.

Which Camera?

The first choice to make is what kind of camera you require, from point and click through 35mm film SLR to professional Digital SLR. Think about what you require the camera for, what features your chosen subject requires. You can always check out other photographer's work and see what equipment they use. You can also look for books that is introducing the kind of photography you are interested in as these books may also provide a gear list.

Today's point and click compact cameras are very sophisticated, many are small, light weight and easily carried around. A lot of these compact cameras also are now very versatile and you can be quite creative with them, which means you can put them to use doing many different types of photography.

Digital SLR "like" cameras, if anyone is still producing them, are the midway point between compact and budget SLR cameras. They offer many of the features of an SLR but do not have interchangeable lenses. Often the manufacturers and third party suppliers offer lens adaptors to make them even more versatile. One big advantage of the SLR like camera is usually the cost in comparison to a full Digital SLR.

Digital SLR cameras are chosen by people who want maximum versatility and more options by using a multitude of lenses. The down side is Digital SLR's tend to be bulky, heavy, can draw some unwanted attention at times and cost about the same as a small second hand family car. There may also be more countries following Kuwait's ban on DSLR in the future.

Which ever type of camera you decide that you need it is always worth checking out the second hand market, you can often pick up a bargain. Gone are the days of using the 5-10 year old camera body because photographer's have become victims of "upgrade fever" since the introduction of digital cameras. Those extra few mega pixels on each new camera have often been enough to influence the consumer to spend, spend, spend.

Which lens?

No matter which of the above camera or body you are looking to purchase, the lens attached or the separate lens you purchase will be dictated by the type of photography you wish to pursue.


Generally for landscape photography a wide angle lens is required, any lens with a focal length of less than 50mm is considered wide angle, below 20mm is super wide. For landscapes 15-30mm is usually what is required.


Portraits are generally taken with lenses with a focal length of between 50 and 100mm, often 80mm would be ideal.

Wild life

Wild life photography usually requires big numbers, if you are on a budget or can get reasonably close to your subjects 300mm may be enough. The next step up is 400mm whether fixed or zoom is your choice, then at the top end in terms of price a 600mm fixed lens would be ideal, adding tele-converters to the lenses may also push the focal length a little bit more.

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