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Buying your first gear: a tutorial for the beginner photographer

Buying your first gear as a beginner photographer.  After reading all my posts about lenses, sensor size and my 3 part tutorial for the beginner photographer, you are about to spend that cash and getting yourself you first gear. 

The Budget and the Plan

In my previous posts you have read that setting your budget is very important.  As a beginner photographer you don’t need the latest and greatest and best photo equiment that there is on the market. What you need is gear that fits your needs and your budget. So what is your budget ? I don’t know, i really don’t know. One have 500USD to spend, the other 5,000 USD. Therefore I will make different set ups in different price ranges with different camera brands. One thing I can tell: you need at least 1,000 USD to get yourself some decent gear that can shot various types of photography. A bit of an allround set for the beginner photographer. 

All that gear….

It is not only a camera body and a lens. Most beginner photographers need 2 lenses, extra battery, tripod, filter, bag, memory cards, etc. The costs of all these things you have to take into your budget as well.  If you don’t have the cash to get everything you need in one time you can also buy it in parts. Save bits and pieces over time and get your gear together.  

In my previous posts I always said that you need to have a plan. The first gear you buy will stay with you for about 2 or 3 years or maybe longer. But then comes that word: Upgrade. So you started with an APS-C camera and lenses and after a while you feel that it not suit your needs anymore. You want to upgrade to a full frame camera and lenses. To save you costs you could have started with an APS-C camera but with Full Frame Lenses. In the future upgrade, you only need to upgrade the camera body and not the lenses. Now this is an example of having a plan. 

Where to buy

For the beginner photographer this can be a real pain. I buy everything online. Everything. You just get better deals than in shops. Also the sales people in shops tend to sell you stuff that is good in THEIR opinion, but might not suit your needs. In my experience buying online is also cheaper. 

Online there are plenty of websites. Amazon and BH photo are very popular. But it also depends on were you live. If you live in the US I recommend you shop at BH or Amazon. But for people who live in Europe they better shop somehere else. Why ? Because of the delivery costs and possible import fees. So an article can be cheap in the US but getting it to Europe can be costly. In the end the article in Europe might be cheaper after all. 

When I was living in Thailand I bought my stuff at Lazada.co.th. I bought my Fujifilm X-M1 there. Due to the ASEAN economic agreement, i could purchase my camera online from a store in Hong Kong and had it send to me in Thailand without import fees.  The promotion was very good and I got it (incl. delivery fee) for two thirds of the price in Thailand. So yes, searching on the web does get you financial advantages. The money that I saved I spend on a CPL filter and extra battery.  

An example of different prices: The new Nikon D850 costs 3300USD at BH Photo in the US. Well in Europe the same camera costs somewhere between 3200 and 3600Euro.  Consider the exchange rate is 1€ = $1.16, so the Euro price would become : 3712USD to 4176USD. That is quite a price difference.

The Gear

Below some basic set ups. With these set ups you can shoot everything. Landscape, portrait, sport, holiday, travel, etc. All the kits that I put together have 2 lenses. This is what I think that a beginner photographer should have. 

Canon 800D with 18-55mm Kit Lens

KIT 1 DSLR – Total price: $1683

Body: Canon 800D (incl. EF-S 18-135mm kit lens) $1099
Lenses: EF-S 18-135mm (incl. kit lens) and EF-S10-18mm F4.5 – F5.6 STM $279
Memory cards: Sandisk Extreme Pro 64Gb – $36
Batteries: 1 LP-E17 extra battery $57
Filters: CPL filter Hoya HRT $32
Tripod: Silk Sprint 150 Aluminium $55 
Remote release: Canon BR-E1 $50
Bag: $50
Cleaning kit: $25

 

KIT 2 Mirrorless – Total price: $1432

Body: FujiFilm X-T20 (Incl. XC 16-55mm & 55-230mm kit lens) $1200
Lenses: XC 55-230mm F4.5-6.7 and XC 16-55mm F3.5-5.6
Memory cards: Samsung EVO 64Gb – $35
Batteries: NP-W126 compatible $25
Filters: Tiffen 58mm $25
Tripod: Manfrotto Compact $60
Remote release: Fujifilm 3rd party release $12
Bag: $50
Cleaning kit: $25

Olympus OM-D E-M 10 Mk3

KIT 3 M4/3 (Micro 4/3) – Total price: $1258

Body: Olympus OMD EM10 Mk3 (incl. 14-42mm kit lens) $799
Lenses: 14-42mm F3.5-F5.6 and 40-150mm F4-F5.6 $200
Memory cards: Kingston 64Gb $34
Batteries: BLS50 compatible $25
Filters: Hoya 37mm CPL $40
Tripod: Rollei Travel $55
Remote release: 3rd party, $30
Bag: $50
Cleaning kit: $25

I didn’t put any Full frame kit in. A similar Full frame kit starts at $1500 body only. Then you have to get lenses which will set you back another $1500 (at least). A complete kit is about $3500. So start saving. 🙂 

Of course there are tons of combinations possible. There are some highly capable cheaper bodies like de Nikon D3400 and the Canon SL2.  These 2 cameras are the smallest DSLR’s you can find. The reason why I put in a Canon 800D (or it could also be a Nikon D5500) is that these cameras have a larger feature set and you can grow your experience without buying a new camera. 

The website DPreview.com has a really nice side-by-side comparison tool so you can see what each camera offers for the money. Click here to go their website

If the kits that I put together are out of your price range, below some kits that are a bit cheaper. 

Nikon d3400 kit

KIT 1 DSLR – Total price: $843

Body: Nikon D3400 Kit (incl. EF-S 18-55mm kit lens) $410
Lenses: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II Lens $150
Memory cards: Sandisk Extreme Pro 64Gb – $36
Batteries: 1 extra battery $35
Filters: CPL filter Hoya HRT $32
Tripod: Silk Sprint 150 Aluminium $55 
Remote release: Canon BR-E1 $50
Bag: $50
Cleaning kit: $25

 

KIT 3 Mirrorless – Total price: $1216

Body: Fujifilm X-A3 with 16-50mm and 50-230mm Lenses Kit $948
Lenses: 16-50mm and 50-230mm Lenses
Memory cards: Sandisk Extreme Pro 64Gb – $36
Batteries: 1 extra battery $35
Filters: CPL filter Hoya HRT $32
Tripod: Silk Sprint 150 Aluminium $55
Remote release: 3rd part release $35
Bag: $50
Cleaning kit: $25

Sony A6000 Kit

KIT 4 Mirrorless – Total price: $1214

Body: Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm and 55-210mm Lenses $948
Lenses: 16-50mm and 55-210mm Lenses
Memory cards: Sandisk Extreme Pro 64Gb – $36
Batteries: 1 extra battery $35
Filters: Tiffen 58mm $25
Tripod: Manfrotto Compact $60
Remote release: 3rd part release $35
Bag: $50
Cleaning kit: $25

 

KIT 5 DSLR – Total price: $1330

Body: Canon SL2 $549
Lenses: Tamron 16-300mm F3.5-6.3 with Macro $500
Memory cards: Sandisk Extreme Pro 64Gb – $36
Batteries: 1 extra battery $35
Filters: Hoya 67mm $40
Tripod: Manfrotto Compact $60
Remote release: 3rd part release $35
Bag: $50
Cleaning kit: $25

As you see a good kit for the beginner photographer will cost you at least $1200. And these are the basics. The minimum what you need. Of course, these amounts are just an indication. If you take smaller memory cards, cheaper bags, no cleaning kit and a cheapo tripod, you will save at least a $100. But should you do that ? I don’t think so. For example you can get a tripod for half the price but it is just not as good. You will notice that when it becomes windy 🙂 

All the these kits are good entry level cameras. With these cameras and lenses you can shoot very nice photos and post process them after, if you like. So there you have it. Now go online and start doing your research, start comparing, start finding out what you can get within your budget. Good luck. 

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Hi... I am Ryan Nigel Scheemaker and I am a travel and landscape photographer. On my website you can read and see what I shoot, what I like, what my interests are and more.

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