Three Photography Kits for Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced photographers
By: Colton Newman
For photographers who are just starting out with a basic DSLR camera is probably your best bet. One of Canon’s easiest cameras to use is the Canon T series. The most recent T series release is the Canon EOS Rebel T7i, but any T series from the Rebel family would work. Look at the T5i to the T7i cameras. The benefits of these basic models is that they tend to be on the cheaper side but the quality is good, they tend to hold a good resale price. They also have simpler and easy to navigate settings menu.
Once you have a camera body picked out the next step is to decide on a lens. For a beginning photographer a general purpose zoom lens will serve you best. A general purpose zoom lens works well on for many subjects as it covers wide and narrow scene selections. Let’s look at the work a wide lens does and then a lens on the other end of the spectrum. A wide lens has small designation number like 14 to 20mm. This is the focal length, a classification that uses a millimeter number that tells the photographer about the lens capability. Wide lenses allow the photographer to get very close to the subject or to show a lot of scenery. Think of wide as if you are looking at the world through a big window. There is a great deal of stuff outside. A focal length of 50mm and higher allows the photographer to stand back from the subject and get tight images like a dog’s face or even a single bee. Imagine a small window that provides only parts of the scene. Most photographers use a zoom lens that covers wide or tight image choices. I tested an inexpensive 18-55mm lens and could photograph most subjects well. The 18-35mm is most photographers’ bread and butter lens. The wide lens has better depth-of-field. What that means is that more things are in focus. Imagine photographing a row of fence posts from one end to the other. A good depth-of-field will keep many of the posts in focus. The tendency of a high number, telephoto lens like 80mm will tend to show just one or a few posts clearly. With a long lens, the scene will also appear compressed. I you change the F-stop to a higher number like F-16, the depth-of-field will also increase. Let’s leave F-stop for a later discussion. One of the most recommended 18-35mm is the Sigma 18-35mm F/1.8 DC HSM “Art”.
After you’re set with a good body and a lens or two it’s time for the smaller details such as memory cards and cases. For a memory card SanDisk is usually one of the more reliable companies for memory cards. For a beginning photographer a handful of cards from 16GB to 32GB would prove to work best. The last item that beginning photographers usually overlook is a camera case. Most beginning photographers usually have only one or two bodies and only need a simple shoulder strap camera case. For a cheap and durable case Canon offers a Deluxe Soft Case PSC-4200.
Camera- Canon Rebel T6i
Lens- Canon EF -50mm- F/1.8, Sigma 18-35mm F/1.8 DC HSM “Art”
Memory Card- SanDisk 16GB, SanDisk 32GB
Case- Canon Deluxe Soft Case PSC-4200
The camera with the quality your photos deserve, the EOS Rebel T6 can be ideal for smartphone or digital point-and-shoot camera users looking to step up their imaging game. It's equipped with an 18.0 Megapixel CMOS image sensor and the DIGIC 4+ Image Processor for highly detailed, vibrant photos and videos even in low light. Whether you're out on an adventure hike or snapping candids of your friends during a late night out, the EOS Rebel T6 can help you take photos you'll want to show off. Built-in Wi-Fi®* and NFC** connectivity make it easy to share, print, or get your favorite pictures up on select social media sites for your friends, family and the world to see. If you're new to DSLRs, Scene Intelligent Auto mode can conveniently and automatically adjust the camera's settings to suit your subject. Easy to use and simple to share with, the EOS Rebel T6 delivers high image quality that's sure to catch the audience's eye.
Compact and lightweight—an outstanding walk-around lens—Canon's EF 50mm f/1.8 STM is a great entry into the world of EOS prime lenses. With an 80mm effective focal-length on APS-C cameras, 50mm on full-frame cameras, it's an excellent prime lens for portraits, action, even nighttime photography. Its bright maximum aperture of f/1.8 helps it not only to excel in low light, but also to capture gorgeous, sharp images and movies with beautiful background blur thanks to its circular 7-blade design. An updated lens arrangement with new lens coatings helps render images with excellent color balance, plus minimized ghosting and flare. Performance is brilliant, with a stepping motor (gear-type STM) to deliver near silent, continuous Movie Servo AF for movies plus speedy, smooth AF for stills. A redesigned exterior with improved focus ring placement makes manual focus adjustments a breeze. Canon's most compact 50mm lens, the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM has a rugged metal mount, plus an improved minimum focusing distance of 1.15 ft. (0.35m) and a maximum magnification of 0.21x. Offering sharp performance for the best in movies and stills, it's a fixed focal length gem—the perfect lens for photographers and moviemakers to expand the creative possibilities with their EOS cameras.
Before the D3400, you chose your smartphone camera for convenience. Zooming was clumsy. Shooting in low light was nearly impossible. Capturing fast action was a game of luck. But after the D3400, you'll see that you were compromising image quality. That some of the greatest photos happen when the light is low. That fast action can be frozen in perfect clarity. And that a camera and a smartphone can work together in harmony to make the photos you share absolutely amazing.
For photographers looking to take their photography to the next level a more advanced camera, more diverse lenses, larger memory cards, a bigger case, and a professional detachable flash are all a must. This equipment list is for photographers who are doing more than just casual photography. If you are getting into professional photography work such as wedding photography, journalism, senior portraits or any job where someone is paying you for your pictures, you will need to upgrade to a higher quality photography package.
If you are using a Canon you want to start moving away from the Canon T series and start working with higher quality gear. Canon EOS 7D Mark II is a good place to start. It has been hailed as one of the most complete DSLRs on the market. For Nikon users, the Nikon D7500 would be in a similar class.
A higher quality body a lens to do it justice is a must, but it is a good idea to hold onto and the 18-35mm lenses. Adding higher quality lenses to your collection will help with the quality of your images. Two additional lenses would have to be a macro lens and a telephoto lens. For a macro lens a Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS, is a good cheaper option that is still an effective tool. For telephoto lenses the Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM, is one of the best mid range telephoto lenses that someone can buy.
When looking at on-camera flashes a few features you want to look out for are manual settings that allow you to control the flash power. Not every situation needs a massive explosion of light to illuminate the scene but maybe sometimes it does. Having the ability to change the power of the flash is a huge plus. A flash that is easy to use and has been positively reviewed is the Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT. Some highlights for the Speedlite flash are that it has a 2.4 wireless radio transmission, it rotates 150° to the right and 180° to the left. As this is a pretty high quality on-camera flash it is a bit pricier, around $350, but if hired for weddings, conferences or club photography it will pay for itself pretty fast.
With professional photography comes the need to start shooting your photos in raw and not JPEG, this means that you are going to be using memory far faster than when you are casually out shooting images. Having a few 36GB SanDisk cards on hand would be a good idea, but if you want to keep shooting and not worry about memory than having a 64GB SanDisk card in your camera would be wise.
If you have added more than one camera body to your collection that single body shoulder strap won’t help you too much. If you are carrying around 2+ camera bodies and more than 1 lens than you need to start looking at an upgrade. The Sports Elite Camera Pack from Pelican Cases is a good place to start. It offers space for more bodies and lens, along with that it has a slot for your computer. This can come in good use if you are pressed to edit photos on the spot. This case runs at $150, for the amount of space it offers, and the cases known durability this is a steal!
Camera- Canon EOS 7D Mark II, Nikon D7500
Memory Card- 36GB SanDisk, 64GB SanDisk
Case- Sports Elite Camera Pack
Lens- Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS, Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM
Flash- Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT
The Canon EOS 7D Mark II digital SLR camera is designed to meet the demands of photographers and videographers who want a camera that can provide a wide range of artistic opportunities. With a winning combination of cutting-edge operations and a robust, ergonomic design, it is optimized to make even the most challenging photography simple and easy. The EOS 7D Mark II features a refined APS-C sized 20.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor with Dual DIGIC 6 Image Processors for gorgeous imagery. It shoots up to 10 frames per second at ISOs ranging from 100–16000 (expandable to H1: 25600, H2: 51200), has a 65-point* all cross-type AF system and features Canon's amazing Dual Pixel CMOS AF for brilliant Live-View AF. It has dual card slots for both CF and SD cards, USB 3.0 connectivity and even has built-in GPS** for easy location tagging, automatically. Compatible with an ever-expanding collection of EF and EF-S lenses plus a host of EOS accessories, the EOS 7D Mark II is an ideal tool for creative and ambitious photography.
Improving upon one of the most celebrated lenses in the Canon EF line is no easy feat, but Canon has done just that. The all-new EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM increases the speed, performance and optical quality of the EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS USM while maintaining all of the characteristics that have made it a legend for professionals and advanced amateurs alike. The EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM features one fluorite and five UD elements for increased optical quality and reduced chromatic aberration. It has a minimum focusing distance of 1.2m/3.9 ft. at all zoom settings, which is useful for photographers in smaller spaces trying to get closer to a subject. It features a next-generation Optical Image Stabilizer, providing up to 4 stops of correction at all focal lengths. And as with all L-series lenses, the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is dust- and moisture-resistant and designed for use in the challenging environments typical of rigorous professional use.
Born from a desire for flagship performance and innovation in a more compact and streamlined connected camera, the D7500 delivers the game-changing resolution, ISO range, image processing and energy efficiency of the award-winning D500 in an enthusiast-level DSLR. Simply put, the D7500 is built to outperform any camera in its class with top-tier image quality, blazing speed, flawless autofocus, 4K Ultra HD video and pro-grade creative tools—all in a comfortable, rugged design. This is a camera for the new generation of creators.
- Latest generation of Nikon's famed 70-200mm f/2.8 constant aperture zoom lens
- Lens of choice for low-light, sports, wildlife, concerts, weddings, portraits and everyday shooting
- New optical formula achieves jaw-dropping image quality, even in trying conditions
- Improved AF performance, weather sealing and handling
As far as camera bodies go the Canon EOS 7D Mark II and the Nikon D7500 are probably your best bet when it comes to the more advanced higher quality DSLRs. The Canon EOS 7D Mark II has 20.2MP, a maximum continuous shooting speed of 10fps and promoted as one of Canons “toughest builds”. The Nikon D7500 has a higher megapixel coming in at 20.9MP, but a slower maximum continuous shooting speed at 8fps. Both bodies offer top of the line quality with just small variations within their stats.
It’s recommended to have a 128GB card because these are cameras with higher resolution. The only catch is when you are at a higher level of photography you are probably going to be shooting jobs such as photo shoots or weddings and it always comes in handy to have more than a few memory cards at your disposal. So a handful of 64GB and 32GB would be what I would recommend along with the 128GB.
As a photographer collects more gear a larger more heavy-duty gear case never hurts. The Pelican 1535AirrTP Wheeled Carry-On Case is on the more expansive side of casing but the benefits out way the cost easily. The Pelican 1535 is watertight, dustproof and crushproof case with a large interior with room for multiple bodies, lenses and other accessories. This case is lightweight and easily maneuverable, and it is meant for traveling short or long distances.
When adding a higher quality lens to a collection the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM is a gem that you’ll find yourself using every trip, job or simply just for fun. Although extremely pricey the EF 100-400mm offers a high performance, rotation-type zoom ring allows for a precise composition and the optical image stabilizer provides up to four shutter speed steps or correction. This is a highly recommended piece of equipment for any photographer looking to become more professional. Along with a high quality telephoto lens a reliable wide angle is recommended. The Canon 16-35mm f/4L EF IS USM is an EF Mount L-Series lens with an aperture range of f/4 to f/22. This 16-35mm is water and dust resistant and has a nine-blade circular aperture. These two lenses alone would set any photographer up for a successful shot.
Knowing that you will be tackling a tough lighting situation a reliable flash will always be handy to have in your back pocket. The Canon 600EX II-RT EOS Speedlite Flash with Wireless Capability will come to your aide more than a few times as you start to take on more challenging photo assignments or jobs. The 600EX-II-RT is a simplistically operated flash with a stunning performance rating.
If you’re looking for a trustworthy and affordable tripod look only to the MeFOTO RoadTrip Aluminum Travel Tripod. At under $200 this lightweight heavy duty tripod is sure to do the trick for whatever photo you are trying to capture. This tripod can hold around 17 pounds and can pan 360 degrees.
More mature photographers will begin to collect small gadgets that can be used in different situations. One device that will come in handy in multiple situations is the AmazonBasics Wireless Remote Control for Canon Digital Cameras. This wireless remote can help if you are one a jobs where you might need two people but it’s only you and you have to be away from your camera but still need to take photos with it. This will be helpful on professional shoots and during small family gatherings.
Listed next is camera batteries, because each camera has their own type of battery I can’t recommend a specific one. Though to always be prepared a photographer should always have at least two charged batteries on hand when going out to shoot. If you are doing all day events having event three batteries is highly recommended.
The last item on this list is a piece of equitant that many photographers now a days probably over look and that is a light meter. When using film a light meter is crucial when figuring out what settings you should be using but with digital most people will just guess around until they find their sweet spot but if you’re running low on time popping a light meter out and getting a quick read can give you a more professional presence to a client opposed to just messing with settings until you get them right.
Camera- Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Nikon D850
Memory Card- 64GB Sandisk, 128GB Sandisk
Case- Pelican 1535AirrTP Wheeled Carry-On Case
Lenses- Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens, Canon 16-35mm f/4L EF IS USM Lens
Flash- Canon 430EX III-RT EOS Speedlite Flash with Wireless Capability
Tripod- Manfrotto RoadTrip Aluminum Travel Tripod
Remote Control- AmazonBasics Wireless Remote Control for Canon Digital Cameras
Batteries- Depending on camera body
Light Reader- Pyle Pro PLMT21 Digital Photometer with 20,000 Lux Range
The EOS 5D Mark IV Body with Canon Log builds on the powerful legacy of the 5D series, offering amazing refinements in image quality, performance and versatility. Canon's commitment to imaging excellence is the soul of the EOS 5D Mark IV Body with Canon Log. Wedding and portrait photographers, nature and landscape shooters, as well as creative videographers will appreciate the brilliance and power that the camera delivers. Superb image quality is achieved with Canon's all-new 30.4 Megapixel full-frame sensor, and highly-detailed 4K video is captured with ease. Focus accuracy has been improved with a refined 61-point AF system and Canon's revolutionary Dual Pixel CMOS AF for quick, smooth AF for both video and Live View shooting. Fast operation is enhanced with Canon's DIGIC 6+ Image Processor, which provides continuous shooting at up to 7.0 fps*. The Canon Log feature records a vast dynamic range for increased flexibility during post processing. Built-in Wi-Fi®**, GPS*** and an easy-to-navigate touch-panel LCD allow the camera to become an extension of you. When quality matters, the EOS 5D Mark IV Body with Canon Log helps deliver results to inspire even the most discerning imagemaker.
The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM telephoto lens delivers a superb combination of cutting-edge performance, compact construction and brilliant resolving power that's great for sports and wildlife photography. The telephoto lens features one fluorite and one super UD element to help provide impressive contrast and resolution with reduced chromatic aberration across the entire zoom range. Canon's new Air Sphere Coating (ASC) helps significantly reduce backlit flaring and ghosting, while fluorine coatings on the front and rear lens surfaces help lessen smears and fingerprints. A 9-blade circular aperture renders beautiful, soft backgrounds, and a 3 mode (standard, panning and exposure only) Optical Image Stabilizer provides up to 4 steps* of image correction. The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM telephoto lens is equipped with a new inner focusing AF system to help ensure fast and accurate focus down to 3.2 ft. with a .31x maximum magnification. Usability enhancements include a rotation-type zoom ring with adjustable zoom torque for more precise, customizable zoom performance, a redesigned tripod mount that can be attached and detached without removing the lens from the EOS camera, and an all-new lens hood with a side window that makes it simple to adjust specialty filters-like polarizers-without the need to remove the hood. Ruggedly constructed with advanced dust and water sealing for durability in a range of environments, the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM telephoto lens is a stellar performer with refined controls for a wide variety of situations.
Delivering the ultimate combination of wide-angle, low-light performance, L-series optics and compact construction, the new Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens is a phenomenal complement to any EOS SLR camera. This L-series ultra wide-angle zoom incorporates an Optical Image Stabilizer, and offers up to four stops of correction for admirable performance even in dim light. It features three aspheric lens elements and two UD lens elements to minimize aberrations throughout the zoom range, plus a fluorine coating that helps to minimize ghosting. A circular 9-blade aperture delivers gorgeous background blur. The EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM features inner focusing and ring USM for accurate, discreet and speedy AF. It also offers full-time manual focus and has a minimum focusing distance of 0.92 ft./0.28m across the entire zoom range. Built to function even in unfavorable weather conditions, the EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM is dust-resistant and water-resistant (when used with an optional Canon PROTECT filter) for professional caliber ultra-wide performance, everywhere.
The Speedlite 600EX II-RT delivers impressive power, responsive performance and advanced, wireless communication for those who demand the very best in flash photography. Featuring improved continuous performance up to 2.0x* faster than its predecessor, the Speedlite 600EX II-RT performs at a phenomenal speed, and reliably at that - new Quick Flash settings and a flash-readiness indicator help ensure priority shutter operation, even when the flash isn't fully recharged. It's also built for fast, convenient use virtually anywhere for any situation, with improved combination button and dial controls, a refined dust- and water-resistant body and new accessories tailor-made for enhanced lighting effects. For speedy and comprehensive flash photography on the go, the Speedlite 600EX II-RT delivers portable, professional performance with ease.
- Versatile FX-format super-telephoto zoom lens that covers a broad focal length range—80mm to 400mm (120mm to 600mm equivalent on DX-format cameras).
- Excellent all-in-one choice for everything from portraiture and landscapes to wildlife and sports.
- In low-light situations, Nikon's Vibration Reduction (VR) technology lets you shoot at shutter speeds up to 4x slower than would otherwise be possible.
- Get as close as 5.7 feet from your subject, then zoom in for dazzling macro-style close-ups.
- Nikon's exclusive Silent Wave Motor (SWM) provides ultra-fast, ultra-quiet autofocusing with seamless manual override.
- Radio control Advanced Wireless Lighting that does not require line-of-sight to work
- Flash cooling system provides more than 100 consecutive shots at full output
- Streamlined access to your frequently used functions such as Flash Mode, Zoom Head Position and Flash Compensation Value
- Fully compatible with all current optical control Speedlights