Recently I was reminded that not all new photographers know, or have an idea of what should be in their basic or beginner's camera kit. If you are new to the art of photography, the following items are a great starting point.
1 DSLR Camera – An advanced point and shoot camera will work, but generally speaking an entry level DSLR camera will provide more flexibility and let you take your photography to the next level.
2 Zoom Lenses – A set of lenses with focal lengths ranging from 24mm up to 300mm is a good starting point. This can be done with a 28 to 300mm all-in-one zoom lens, with two lenses a 24 to 70mm and a 70 to 300mm, or any combination to cover the range.
3 Cable Release – A cable release is important for landscape and long exposure photography.
2 Tripod – A tripod is important for landscape and long exposure photography. Most new photographers do not realize that tripods and heads are designed to support a specific load consisting of the weight of camera and lens. Instead they purchase a tripod based on weight of tripod and cost. Don’t make that mistake. A tripod that is too light is worse than no tripod. Also, unless it is exactly what you want, consider not purchasing a prepackaged tripod and head combo. Tripods last for years. Purchase a tripod and head with the future in mind and you will never have to replace it as your equipment grows with your skills.
3 Tripod Head – Tripod heads can get confusing. There is a specific head for every type of photography. It seems the ball head style has become the head of choice. Before buying a ball head, consider pan and tilt heads, and gear heads. Also, based on field experience with clients, avoid the pistol grip style heads. Buy quality here and you will not regret it.
4 Circular Polarizing Filter – A circular polarizing filter will enhance your landscape and nature photography the same way polarized glasses help your vision. They reduce glare, enhance rainbows, and add contrast to skies. With the polarizing filter mounted on the lens, look through the view finder and rotate the filter until you get the desired effect. Polarizing filters are purchased based on the size of the lens filter threads.
5 Memory Cards – Carry extra memory cards. Check the camera specifications and use the recommended size or faster memory cards. Faster cards allow you to upgrade your camera and still use the existing card.
I prefer to carry cards in the 200 - 300 image size instead of a card that can hold thousands of images. If a card is lost or damaged, I will lose a couple of hundred images from a trip instead of all of the images.
6 Camera Bag – Now that you have your starter kit it is time to find something to carry it all. Shoulder bags, sling bags, and pack packs are popular choices. Start with a bag or pack that only holds what you intend on carrying and don’t forget about incidental items like a water bottle, sunscreen, or can of bug spray. The style of bag is a personal choice and can change as you collect more equipment. If you plan on being outside and hiking, consider a rain resistant bag or pack.
Whatever equipment manufacturer you decide on, use the above as a starting point. The next piece of equipment to purchase will be a flash unit. It is not essential for getting started in nature/outdoor photography, but will be useful if you find yourself shooting indoors in low light.
Get your gear, join a camera club, and I will see you in the Glades.