What is a good start for photography gear?

Question by chightower06: What is a good start for photography gear?
I want to buy gear for taking portraits of familys, children.. etc. I don’t want to be a pro just taking them for my friends and family, and such. What would be a must have? I am drooling over the canon rebel xsi.. I am not sure about lenses, lighting, background drops.. any advice?

Best answer:

Answer by fhotoace
Any entry level DSLR and the two entry level lenses, 18-55 mm and 55-200 mm lens.

When you start talking about lighting and backgrounds, while your intention may not be professional, you will be buying the same equipment as pros use and needing all the skills that the pros use.

Do some more research and find the camera body that costs the least amount and invest the rest of your budget on a second lens.

Look at Nikon, Pentax, Canon, Olympus and Sony systems. See what they offer in the way of lenses and other more advanced bodies which you may want to buy in later years.

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

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4 Responses to What is a good start for photography gear?

  1. Bill says:


    I know this might seem a little simplistic, but the single most important thing after the camera itself is your tripod, get one that is heavy and stable.

    When you buy your camera get one with lots of megapixals (the more the better in general).

    I also recommend learning a good photo editing software Gimp is very good and it is free. A good printer is a must — there are a lot of great machines at whatever price range you choose.

    As for special lenses, lighting systems and other accessories my advice is to work up to them … learn to use the basic machinery first and then if you want to buy Green Screen or special lights you’ll have a better understanding of how to use them.

    Best of luck


  2. bbshady says:

    I totally agree with the entry level dSLR. For portraits you can probably get away with the kit lens. That’s pretty much all I use for mine… i have an Olympus E-510 and I take portraits with my 14-45 lens.

    Lights and backgrounds I get from ebay. You can get a decent little lighting setup for a couple hundred bucks. IF you are going to do families, you have to get backgrounds big enough for that. I hate doing family portraits to be honest. If there are 3 or 4 people its not too bad. More than that, not for me.

    This is what I’d say you need to get started.

    background stand
    2-150w/s monolights (or as big as you can afford)
    At least 1 softbox and an umbrella
    2 smaller strobes for background or hair lights (they don’t have to be smaller)
    A reflector and stand

    The lights on ebay ofttimes come as a kit, with stands and umbrellas. They sell a lot of kits with most of this stuff included. Good luck to you.

  3. FocalPoint says:

    Basic equipment for portraiture:

    1. Camera. I’d recommend Canon or Nikon and nothing less than 10MP.
    2. Lens – kit lenses to start until you build some of your skills up (but hey if money’s not an issue – a quality zoom 80-200mm/F2.8 plus the following fixed focal lengths: 85mm, 105mm and possibly a 50mm).
    3. Off camera flash and light stand (as you advance you’ll eventually want two flashs and then perhaps even three).
    4. Umbrella’s and/or diffuser to be used with the flash.

    Since you’re talking about starting out I wouldn’t get into buying backdrops quite yet. You should be able to pose people.

    Take my info with a grain of salt and evaluate it against how serious you want to be and how much time you want to put into it. If all you want to do is take portraiture outside in summer daylight then you could be fine with a good camera (yes, the rebel family is a great line of cameras) and a high quality zoom.

    Also, I’d supplement my knowledge with some good technical books: I recommend the following books.

    The best book purely on composition that I have ever read is Michael Freeman’s The Photographers Eye. Its typically available at Borders Books and Amazon. This book stresses how to ‘See’ and how to develop composition skills. There will be no talk of what type of equipment to use – only the concepts of good composition.

    For purely technical information on photography I recommend:
    Tom Ang’s: Digital Photography Master Class
    He also wrote a book titled How to Photograph Absolutely Everything – it has great information but if you have any experience at all you might find it too basic. Nonetheless it’s worth a look.

    Also AMP books puts out guides for almost every category of photography (portraiture, landscape, glamour, macro, etc). Usually Border’s has a good selection of these type of books.

  4. amelia.camelia08 says:

    I’d love to help you but I don’t know what equipment and experience you already have. You’re not making it easy.
    If you’re just taking pics for family and friends a simple digital point and shoot that you can keep in your purse or pocket and an appreciation of fine art and design will take you very far indeed. Good luck.

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