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Flat Lay of Photography Gear used by Home James Media including sage green billingham bag, nikon camera equipment, slik and gitzo tripods and SRB Photographic Filters

Some of you will be wondering what equipment it takes to start out in photography. I touched on this in my article ‘What camera should I buy?’  but since I’ve not done a dedicated gear article here it is!

Camera Bodies

I have used a Nikon D90 for about 7 years now, before that I used a Nikon D50 which was my first DSLR. I still get fantastic prints with both of these cameras. Remember, if you look after your gear, it will look after you!

If I were starting out again, I’d still likely shoot a Nikon and look at the following camera models (note I’ve not chosen starter DSLRs but picked options that allow some creative flexibility as you develop in the hobby).

Nikon D5600 Kit with AF-P 18-55mm VR lens

Perfect for beginners this camera and lens combo is ideal for starting out in photography and offers a lot of power for the money.

Nikon D7200 Kit with 18-105mm VR Lens

If even more shooting flexibility is what you are after and your budget allows, I would go for the D7200. This is targetted to advanced amateurs and semi-professionals but still caters for people starting out. As I always encourage photographers to shoot in manual mode and the RAW image format, I’d pick the more advanced camera as the D5600 includes features that won’t get used that often.

Lenses

Here I cover the range of focal length ranges from wide angle through to telephoto choosing lenses in price ranges to suit the amount that I’m likely to use them.

  • Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 lens – This super wide angle lens produces amazing result for it’s reasonable price point. I use this in tight situations when I’m close to the subject and it is great for buildings.
  • Nikon 50mm f1.8D lens – Another super sharp Nikon lens. They don’t call them the “Nifty Fifty” for nothing. I use mine for portrait work, in low light conditions and anywhere I want to get great bokeh in an image. By using the “D” series lens I also get a manual aperture ring so I can reverse it round with a reversing ring screwed to the filter thread and use it for macro photography too!! The later “G” series lenses do not have this.
  • Nikon 18-70mm f3.5-5.6 lens – Super sharp lens I use for about 80% of all my photography. It’s a go-to piece of equipment in my bag and is perfect as a ‘walkabout’ lens when in towns and cities.
  • Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6  lens – as I don’t spend a huge amount of time doing wildlife photography, this budget telephoto zoom suits my needs. You can get great results with this lens and I’ve had a lot of fun using this at airshows and sporting events.

Camera Bags

After using a selection of camera bags in various styles over the years, I’ve arrived at what I class as being the ultimate for me in the Billingham 335. However, I also use a backpack style bag when a hike is required to get to remote locations as this allows me to comfortably carry gear and tripod as well as supplies for the day (food, drink, waterproofs, etc.). The backpack I use is no longer manufactured, however Amazon produce a great starter backpack (from their Amazon Basics range) at a fantastic price point that would be difficult to pass up.

Billingham 335 Shoulder Bag

Big enough to carry 2 camera bodies along with 3 medium sized lenses and a flash gun in the main compartment, this bag is good enough to stand up to a lifetime of photography.

Billingham’s bags use a fabric which contains a membrane layer sandwiched between two canvas layers which serves to make the bags very water resistant as well has offering great sand/dust protection – perfect for landscape photography.

There are a number of other compartments in the bag and I can fit in a whole host of other gear including a Macbook Pro, quite a few filters, my remote flash triggers, interval timer and a bunch of other accessories.

I’m quite into vintage looking gear given my countryside heritage, so the bag fits my sense of style as well as being perfectly fit for purpose.

I know they are expensive but up to this point I must have spent a similar amount on bags I’ve thrown away, or got rid of by some other means over the years. Remember the adage “look after your gear and it will look after you” – this bag plays an integral part in looking after my gear.

Amazon Basics SLR Camera Backpack

A good option if you have a tight budget, this backpack is well made and spacious and looks a lot more expensive than it is. I’ve seen a few of these close up and would be happy to own one myself if I didn’t have an alternative.

If starting out in photography, this has to be a top contender to keep your gear safe. It also has loads of room to grow into as your collection of gear expands!

Other Accessories

Remote Release

I’ve used this inexpensive remote release for many years now. Key uses include night photography where camera shake could ruin the exposure, long exposures (bulb mode) and timed exposures (which is great for timelapse and star trails). They do versions for most of the major camera systems including Nikon, Canon and Sony.

Tripods

Here I use a couple of tripods depending on the shooting situation. I have an battleworn Slik Pro 700DX which is strong as an ox and absolutely rock steady that I take everywhere if i’m shooting near the car (it’s quite a substantial bit of kit and requires a fair bit of stamina to carry it far).

My other tripod is a Carbon Fibre Gitzo number which is nearly as stable as the Slik but is perfect when I am planning a hike to a location shoot as it weighs very little and the legs scope down to a little over 18 inches – its very compact indeed.

My recommendation would be to look for a good quality used tripod. There are a lot of cheaply made tripods that arent that inexpensive new that won’t last for long. Spend the extra or buy used. Trust me you wont regret it!

Flash Head

Unless you intend to do a lot of studio photography or events, there really isn’t any need to purchase expensive speedlights. I also advocate learning how to shoot with the flash in manual mode so no need for fancy i-TTL or e-TTL “cheat” modes in my bag.

This means you don’t need to spend a lot here as well. I bought a Yongnuo 560 II about 5 years ago and it gets used a lot and still handles everything I throw at it.

It’s been superseded now but the price point is comparable to what I paid but with additional features.

I have a whole host of other accessories in my bag including wireless flash triggers and filters but I’ll cover these in a future post as some of these are worth a review on their own!

There you have it, the first peek inside my camera bag and some tips for finding some gear bargains for yourself.

I hope you have enjoyed this article, feel free to comment if you have any questions or queries. I’ll be glad to help!

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