Perhaps you want to be the next Instagram star, or perhaps you just want to take better pictures of your kids and dogs. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking photos from your phone camera, to take your photos to the next level, take a look at our recommendations for what you need and why.
Olympus OM-D EM10 Mark III – Camera Body Option 1
If you are absolutely just getting started, the Olympus OM-D EM10 Mark III is a great beginner’s camera. It is light, travels well, is inexpensive in case you damage it, has a very capable micro four-thirds format which is used by a number of professionals, shoots in RAW format, and perhaps most importantly, allows you to change lenses. The kit lens is decent and very usable in outdoor environments, and we recommend picking one up unless you have a higher-end one already in mind.
Sony Alpha A7III – Camera Body Option 2
In the world of mirrorless cameras, there are three formats that really matter. Micro four-thirds has the smallest sensor while still being viable. APS-C is a step up from there. Full frame is typically what professionals will shoot with. However, this doesn’t mean a beginner can’t shoot with a full frame camera. The larger sensor size will help capture more light, which means you can shoot with higher F-stops or faster shutter speeds and still have a crisp photo. If you have the budget for a full frame camera, the Sony Alpha series is one of the more affordable lines.
50mm F1.8 Prime Lens – Nifty Fifty
If you want to do some indoor shooting, having a good prime lens with a low F stop will help you take some great photos for cheap. Prime lenses are different from zoom lenses in that they have a fixed focal length. This means if you want to zoom, you need to do it with your feet. The 50mm, also known as the nifty-fifty, is a great all-around prime lens. It approximates a human being’s natural vision. If you are shooting at F4 on your kit lens, you will be astonished the clarity you can get on F1.8. Note the above lens is for the Sony E Mount system, which is compatible with their Alpha Full Frame line. Make sure to purchase the lens that matches your camera mount system.
Tamron F2.8 28-75mm Zoom Lens
This zoom lens will blow your kit zoom lens out of the water. Able to hold a consistent F2.8 throughout the zoom, this lens will take crisp shots with excellent bokeh for subjects near and far. For the E Mount system, there is also a similar Sony G Master lens, but it runs twice the price for similar performance.
Camera Backpack with Compartments
As your camera gear collection grows (and it will grow!) you will need a way to safely transport all of the lenses and accessories that you carry with you. A camera backpack with compartments adjustable with the help of velcro is a great solution that can grow as your gear grows. A backpack can typically fit 2-3 lenses, a camera body, and your various accessories with room to spare.
Speedlight – Made in China
After making sure every piece of your equipment meets the highest standard for performance, it feels funny to cheap out on the speed light. However, even seasoned pros will often use a cheap speedlight in the place of the branded one. The reason? It can be hundreds of dollars cheaper, without a noticeable difference in quality. This is one of those pieces of equipment, that even after doing comparison testing, turns out that the cheap ones perform about as well as the expensive ones. If you have the cash to burn, feel free to buy branded, but generic speedlights seem to work just as well.
SD Card Reader to USB
You may be lucky and have an SD card reader built into your photo workstation. But if not, you will need an SD to USB adapter. They are inexpensive, and if you need one, just pick up one or two to make sure you can always get your photos onto your computer when needed.
Adobe Lightroom – Photography’s #1 Secret
This is the one of the most important things that will help you shoot photos like a pro. Next to the lens you use, the post-processing software is key. You need to shoot in camera raw, and then Adobe Lightroom will let you adjust things like exposure, white balance, shadows, and highlights. This is where professionals make those fine-tuning adjustments that make their photos stand out from everyone else’s.