Essential Photography Equipment

Basic equipment remains the same. However, the photographer will have to build his or her accessories according to the type of photography chosen.

Listed below are some of the basics that every type of photographer needs:


Wide angle zoom lenses provide a larger field of view than normal lenses and are vital in several types of photography, such as still life, wedding, landscape and others. Additionally, a wide to telephoto lens is essential in wedding photography to capture group photos with ease.

External Flashes

An external flash gives the photographer more control over the amount of light introduced into the photograph than a built-in flash. There is often photo color degradation when the built-in flash is used alone.

The type of flash will depend upon the photographer’s subject. For studio photography, a powerful flash is employed to yield a certain effect. Photojournalists may use a TTL (Through the Lens) metering flash that allows the photographer to measure light levels through the lens itself. This method minimizes the need for a hand held flash meter. Once the light level is determined, the photographer can control the amount of light the flash needs to emit to produce the desired image.

Hand Held Flash Meter

The hand held flash meter determines the amount of light of a scene when there is no internal mechanism on the lens to do so. This is one tool that assists the photographer in controlling light levels to obtain the best quality photograph.

Filters, Reflectors, and Diffusers

Filters provide special effects without damaging the image. UV or haze filters are available to provide polarizing, neutrality or coloring. UV filters primarily protect the lens from scratches. Reflectors and diffusers are used to soften light or add more light. Polarizing reflectors specifically reduce reflections to achieve deeper colors and richer images.


A photographer whose shot requires patience and many hours to achieve needs to invest in a tripod. Tripods are useful for shooting slow-speed exposure, where any sort of movement will result in a blurred image. Tripods should be 2 times the weight of your camera, with the heaviest lens attached, in order to provide proper support. Flexible legged tripods are also useful in shooting images outdoors, because they can attach to the natural elements in the environment.

The monopod also provides the photographer added stability; however, the photographer still holds the monopod while attempting to capture the image.

Cable Releases and Remote Flash Triggering

This mechanism allows the photographer to be hands free to avoid movement from depressing the shoot button or the flash button. Often the camera vibrates from simply depressing the shoot button, which may result in a blurred image. The cable release alleviates this problem by distancing the photographer from the camera body.

Other Pertinent Accessories

For landscape photographers, a sun and tide calculator is necessary to know when the tide and sun will be at the desired levels for the image that the photographer is trying to capture.

Basic Lighting Knowledge Makes Photographs Shine

When trying to create perfect photography, it’s all about the lighting. Good lighting can make any subject look great.

Studio lighting is perhaps the best way to accomplish good photography. In the studio, the photographer has complete control of the lighting dynamic. A photographer must first decide whether the lighting in the studio should come from the ceiling or be based on the floor using stands. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Ceiling-based lighting is out-of-the-way. It won’t interfere with movement in the studio. But a ceiling-based system is usually far more expensive. Expect to pay thousands of dollars for the rover and rail system used to manipulate the lights.

Floor-based lighting systems are considerably less expensive. They are mounted on portable lightweight stands. They are easily moved, but contribute to clutter in the studio and can be easily knocked over.

There are three types of studio lighting. One is called hot lights. Hot lights are on continuously. This type of illumination is usually reserved for television and film production. However, they can be useful in still photography also. Their advantage is a photographer can set a shot and know precisely what the lighting will look like. One big disadvantage is that they use a lot of energy and put out tremendous heat.

Some still photographers use warm lights. Warm lights are color balanced fluorescent light bulbs. Like hot lights, they provide constant illumination. But unlike hot lights, they don’t produce substantial heat and are more energy-efficient. The main disadvantage is they can cast an uneven illumination.

The most common form of lighting for photographers are cold lights. Simply put, these are electronic flashes or strobes. But these flashes are more powerful than those built into cameras. There are two types of studio flash systems: Monolights and Power Pack systems. They both do basically the same thing. The monolight is a single illumine that plugs directly into the wall. A power pack system connects one or more strobe lights to a timing mechanism and a charging system. Both systems link electronically to the camera and flash as a photo is taken.

Understanding the types of strobe lights or flashes is also important. For general-purpose photography, 500 watt-seconds should work. Photographers can employ a smaller strobe to photograph smaller subjects such as those on a tabletop. However, most professional studio photographers have at least 2000 watt-seconds. Experts suggest photographers purchase strobe systems popular enough to get accessories, replacement bulbs and tips and service.

Regardless of hot, warm or cold lighting, the illumination might need to be diffused. Hard lighting can be achieved by using bare bulbs placed at an appropriate distance. To achieve diffused or softer illumination, light must be bounced or reflected off umbrellas or other reflective material. Hot and warm lighting can be diffused with filters placed directly in front of them. Gold and silver reflective panels can be used to balance light and change the color temperature.

By creating a good studio plan, and having a basic knowledge of color temperature and types of lighting, even the most novice photographer can achieve professional results.

Essential Photo Film Equipment (PFE)

For anyone who is looking to finally take the plunge for a quality camera setup, there are some pieces of photo film equipment (PFE) that must not be overlooked.


The most important piece of equipment in any film setup is the camera. Your shots are only as good as the camera you take them on, no matter how talented you are as a photographer. There are plenty of great analog cameras on the market, many of which can be purchased rather inexpensively. The best way to get set up with a new camera that is right for you is to go to a camera shop and explain to the clerk what you’re looking for, including what type of shots you plan to take, your price range etc.


Just as important as the camera you use is the film you put in it. Film can range from low to high quality, and its prices usually follow accordingly. While budget film can be useful for test shots, one should never use cheap film for a final product, as it will almost always develop poorly compared to a more expensive, higher quality film. Use cheap film for tests, and good film for the actual shot.


Chances are the camera that you purchase will come with an adequate lens to get started with. However, you may want to purchase a second or even third lens to add to your repertoire. While all-around lenses can be used in most lighting situations, they don’t handle any of them perfectly. That said, it is wise to have on hand specialty lenses, such as one meant specifically for nighttime shots. The more you can do to perfect the shot, the happier you’ll be with the final result.


Like lenses, different flashes are usually necessary for different situations, and chances are the flash that comes standard on your camera is not nearly as high in quality a the one you purchase separately. Build your bag up with at least one extra flash; two or three if you can afford it.


A tripod is practically necessary for certain shots, and can help you to achieve monumental clarity and focus in your work. Fortunately, tripods can be purchased very inexpensively, and come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. Choose the one that you feel best fits the scenarios you like to shoot.


Without a bag, carrying all of your equipment becomes cumbersome. It’s not worth the hassle, so do what you can to purchase a high-quality, durable bag for your equipment.