If you’re in my Client VIP Facebook Community, you’ll know what this is all about. I get asked all the time “What camera should I buy?” “I have XYZ already, should I upgrade?” so I thought I’d compile a list of my favourite camera gear and must-have accessories if you’re starting out, right through to semi-pro!
Now I’m going to start by saying, I’m a bit biased, as I’ve been shooting with Canon equipment for 10+ years, and I have never had a reason to change or move to another brand. I find the ergonomics of the camera easy to use (as in, where they place the buttons to how your fingers move naturally across the camera) and their quality is next-level incredible. I am also NOT a techy kind of person, this stuff doesn’t get me excited and I use what I have, and know what I need to know. I’m also in the mindset of, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. And I do not need the latest, fanciest, most “on-trend” camera or lenses to have a good photography business, or take good photos – and neither should you!
If you’re just starting out, and you’re overwhelmed already. Please don’t get sucked into expensive gear. There’s no point being the person that “has all the gear and no idea”. I have a camera that’s 10+ years old and still takes amazing images and does all I need it to.
Now, I’m going to break down two different types of cameras for you. A DSLR, and mirrorless/pocket cameras. A DSLR is something you could invest in if you’re wanting to take this hobby seriously, and a mirrorless/pocket camera if you’re just wanting something to throw in your handbag occasionally.
CAMERAS (DSLR, digital cameras)
For the absolute beginners >> Canon EOS 1500D and 18-55mm kit lens
This is a great camera and starter lens if you’re new to photography, and don’t want to invest a tonne.
Pros: It’s cheap, and you can get it for less than $1,000 with a lens. Detachable lens, which means you can buy better quality ones later. This camera also has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, which means you can sync it to the Canon Connect app to share photos to your phone wirelessly (a must-have these days!)
Cons: The build quality isn’t that great, it’s not weather-sealed and you probably can’t shoot in the snow/cold weather or drizzly rain without it cracking the shits. This camera (1500D) is a cropped sensor SLR, which means you don’t have as much “freedom” in the image (the opposite to this is a Full Framed camera, which I’ve linked below). If you’re looking to be more of a hobbyist, you might want to NOT get this one.
A step up from the one above, the 90D is a popular choice for beginners and hobby portrait photographers >> Canon EOS 90D and 18-55mm kit lens
This is by far the most popular choice for beginners and hobby portrait photographers, it’s a notch up from the 1500D linked above, and will get you a better quality image with faster frame rates (11 frames per second, compared to 3 frames per second) you can shoot kids, moving subjects faster.
Pros: It’s a fast little camera for its price range. You can snag a combo for under $2,000 still. Can still detach lenses and add better quality ones to your kit later on. Video record with 4K video, flip-out screen for self-portraits, Wifi and Bluetooth for syncing to your phone. Build quality is slightly better.
Cons: It’s still a crop sensory, which means you’re limited to image quality and light sensitivity.
If you love photography as a hobby and want to take photos on a regular basis >> Canon EOS 6D Mark ii and 24-105mm kit lens
I have this exact camera, it’s full-frame (which means you have more dynamic range, it’s better in low light situations) and it’s a great starting point.
Pros: You can definitely take this camera into a photography business, and upgrade to better quality lenses when you have the budget. It has Canon Connect capabilities, meaning you can wirelessly share photos with your phone. The flip-out screen, so you can take self-portraits with your kids! And the quality in video recording (which is an added bonus if you want to learn video sometime along the track)! It’s a Full Framed sensor, which means you can photograph in low light (indoors, dark rooms etc) MUCH better than a Cropped Sensor (like the one above). It’s weather-sealed, meaning it can withstand colder temperatures like snow, rain and heat
Cons: It’s more expensive, however, you can look at buying a second-hand body only online for way cheaper. It’ll be heavier to hold onto for longer periods of time.
LENSES TO ADD TO YOUR KIT!
If you buy either of the above Canon cameras or already own a Canon DLSR/SLR with an EF mount (Canon’s mount type for categorising lenses), you can upgrade to one or more of these lenses. NOW, I’d rather you buy an entry. level camera, and then upgrade lenses, then think a fancy camera and crappy lenses will do. NOPE, it’s the other way around. I know some PRO photographers that have 10 plus year-old cameras and new lenses that shoot SO WELL. I also recommend sticking with PRIME LENSES, when you’re considering upgrading. This is a lens that has a fixed focal length and doesn’t zoom. They’re typically made with higher quality glass, have fewer moving parts and are faster, better in low light and produce incredible bokeh and background blur! *dreamy* (unless you’re photographing birds in the bush, zoom lenses can be a waste of time – move your feet and move closer to your subject!)
The nifty 50! >> https://www.teds.com.au/canon-ef-50mm-f1-8-stm-lens (about $200)
A 50mm lens is a great starting lens for portrait photography if you’re wanting to capture photos of your family, kids and loved ones. This size lens is a MUST HAVE. This option is Canon’s cheapest 50mm, they have two other versions which price at about $700 (1.4) then $2,000 (1.2) I have all three versions of the 50mm, and they’re incredible!
Example of an image taken with a 50mm lens (1.2 L series version, not what’s linked above)
The 85mm (slightly closer focal length than the 50mm, beautiful bokeh, incredible portrait lens) >> https://www.teds.com.au/canon-ef-85mm-f1-8-usm ($650)
This lens is by far a must-have if you want to take this hobby to a little side hustle. I have the next level up from this version (it’s about $2,500) and it’s one of my go-to’s for portrait sessions, families and weddings. The compression and “blur” you can achieve at that length (85mm) with an aperture range of 1.8, is stunning! It’s definitely more of an investment, but if you can snag one for second hand online – I’d say GO FOR IT!
Example of an image I’ve taken with an 85mm lens (below, Olivia)
COMPACT CAMERAS (throw in your back pocket)
Full control over your settings and capabilities, in your back pocket >> Sony RX100 Mark VI
This is a great little compact camera, and probably one of the most powerful of its size in the market. We have the exact same one, and it’s been our go-to travel, day-to-day camera for a few years (it’s actually our second if it’s kind).
Pros: You can control all your manual settings just like you would on a DLSR (your ISO, shutter speed and your aperture), meaning you can almost create whatever you want when you learn how to shoot manual correctly. It’s a great size, fit’s easily in your pocket or handbag and is super lightweight. Has a flip-out screen and built-in Wifi (though I don’t think we’ve ever used it). It has a great zoom and is one of the best on the market (maintains its quality when you do zoom). Tiltable LCD screen, so it flips out but then you can twist and adjust it to any angle if you’re shooting above your kids/somewhere tricky.
Cons: It’s expensive. For close to $1,500, you could also get a good second hand DLSR (like above) and have so much more control and variety. The controls are not easy to learn how to use, and it’s not easy to be “fast” when shooting (as in, you have to fiddle a bit more through the settings to change things around). You cannot detach the lens, meaning you’re stuck with whatever focal length (zoom) and aperture is built in.
Below is an example of a photo we’ve taken with our Sony RX100.
If you don’t have the budget, but just want something to take on holidays/around town with you >> Canon Powershot G7X III
This is a great little camera if you’re wanting something for the holidays, or just around town with the kids. You can get one for less than $1,000, but I wouldn’t be spending your cash here if you want to pursue photography as a business.
Pros: You can get it for less than $1,000. It has 4K video capabilities, which is great (just make sure you spend the money on good quality memory cards so you have the right storage). It’s rated as one of the top vlogging cameras, just grab yourself a tripod and YouTube channel, off you go. Touch screen LCD (no so great for big hands and fingers though, might be too fiddly)
Cons: Doesn’t have a great zoom (half of what the Sony above has). You cannot detach the lenses and upgrade later on. Not much really, it’s a great little family camera!
MEMORY CARDS: Now before you start with memory cards, make sure you get the right size for your camera. Most have an SD or CF card size. The gold memory cards have a faster writing speed (which means it creates images faster on the card) and are higher quality, will probably last longer in the long wrong, BUT they’re expensive. I always recommend having at least 2-3 memory cards on the go, fill one before you start with another and always format them (via your camera settings) after you’re done with uploading etc (it’s like a hard reset on your cards)
SD Cards >> https://www.teds.com.au/sandisk-extreme-pro-32gb-sdhc-card-95mbs
CF Cards >> https://www.teds.com.au/sandisk-extreme-32gb-cf-card
Card reader (so you can get your photos off your memory cards) >> https://www.teds.com.au/sandisk-imagemate-pro-multi-card-reader-usb-c
HARD DRIVES & EXTERNAL STORAGE: Hard drives can be confusing, it’s more important you have a couple of good quality smaller sized ones than a poor quality bigger one (with more storage). Get into the habit of storing files and photos (even your phone photos) on hard drives and labelling them for each year (2020, 2021 etc). Then you can store them safely at home in containers and pull them out as needed.
Sandisk SSD 1TB Drive >> https://www.teds.com.au/sandisk-extreme-ssd-drive-1tb – The SSD stands for solid-state drive, which means it has no moving parts internal parts/no whizzing sounds when it’s plugged into the computer. If you drop or crack this hard drive it’s safer and you’re more likely to be able to retrieve the files if something happens. Sandisk is also a GREAT brand and they have excellent customer support should something go wrong.
G-Tech 1TB Hard Drive >> https://www.teds.com.au/g-tech-g-drive-usb-3-1tb (not an SSD drive)
Tripod, Manfrotto MK290XT >> https://www.teds.com.au/manfrotto-mk290xt-3-way-head
My favourite camera backpack and the most loved amongst girl photographers right now (I literally know SO many people who have these!) >> https://kamrette.com.au/collections/the-collection/products/lyra?variant=288377962500
I have used this bag for years, it fits a tonne of the year (I can fit two camera bodies and 3-4 lenses, plus a laptop and extras). It’s not as comfortable all day to wear, but looks way prettier than most camera bags! Plus, it doesn’t “look” like a camera bag which I love!
Camera straps! A must-have if you’re going to give this hobby a go. Trust me, you do not want to be dropping your gear (been there, done that) – here are my two favourites.
Lucky Camera Strap >> https://luckystraps.com/collections/all-camera-straps (100% Australian made leather, a small business and I’ve owned one of these for 7+ years and it’s so beautiful. You can even get them monogrammed if you like, cute!)
Knit/Scarf Camera Strap >> https://www.etsy.com/au/listing/1050773035/knit-scarf-camera-strap?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=material+camera+strap&ref=sr_gallery-1-7&tr_rank=12&organic_search_click=1 (I have one of these and it’s so comfy, I’d recommend one if you’re taking photos at home and not day-tripping with a camera 24/7 around your neck or body, I don’t 100% trust them, but they’re super comfy to wrap around your hand/wrist when shooting)
Phew, that was A LOT. Now, this is just the icing on the cake. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes for running a photography business and gear is just the start. There are things like editing software, admin management systems, insurances, backup gear and equipment, flashes, cleaning tools, file storage, gallery delivery systems and SO MUCH MORE. If you ever want to ask a question, please reach out and ask – I’m here to help!
If you found this post helpful, please leave a comment below, find me on social media or send an email.
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of country
I acknowledge the wiradjuri people as the custodians of the lands and waters of the region, on which I live and work. I pay respect to elders both past and present. I acknowledge and respect the wiradjuri people’s cultural, spiritual, physical and emotional connection with their land, waters and community.