- Build a Photography Kit with Used Gear
- Photography Kit Examples for Newer Equipment
- Photography Kit Choices for Older Pro Gear
- Add To a Photography Kit with Alternative Equipment
- Genius Tripod Alternative
- Better Lighting for a Photography Kit
- Move Up to the Next Level
- Other Recommended Photography Gear
- Which Canon Full Frame DSLR Is Right for You?
- What Is the Best Nikon Lens for Landscape Photography?
- Basic Wildlife Photography Gear List
Photo by franckreporter via iStock
You’ve decided you want to try your hand at some more serious photography than what you do with a modest smartphone camera or other point-and-shoot cameras. But the prices of some photography gear for a usable beginner photography kit seem slightly higher than what you may have been expecting.
This is a lament all of us engaged in serious photography share, from the established pro to the enthusiast just starting out. Good photography equipment can require a serious investment, but there are some ways I’ve found to ease the price burden.
Join me as I show how you can build a beginner photography kit cheaply while still acquiring excellent photography equipment.
Table of Contents:
Build a Photography Kit with Used Gear
One of the best methods I’ve found for saving money on photography gear that you can use for building a beginner photography kit is buying used cameras and lenses.
A sticking point for a lot of people considering whether or not to purchase a used camera or lens is the worry about picking up a dud. It doesn’t save any money if you lay out cash for a great piece of photography gear and it doesn’t work. Then, it’s just a waste of money.
Used cameras are cheaper than brand-new photography equipment; in fact, I see many examples on the market of used cameras and lenses that are still in current production but at substantially lower prices than buying that gear brand new. It’s similar to how a new car becomes cheaper once driven off the car lot.
Even with that truism about pricing, it still doesn’t help us not to worry about getting a non-working or poorly working camera. What I use to make that worry go away is buying my used photography equipment only from a trusted source and with buyer protections.
MPB is the online platform I have been using for some time now. Here’s what I like about shopping for used cameras, lenses, and accessories at MPB. They really know photography gear, being avid photographers themselves. They thoroughly vet each piece of gear they see before putting it up for sale to ensure it works properly.
When you look at an item for sale on MPB, it is listed with a condition rating that actually makes sense. If it’s WELL USED, it says so. Many pieces will be in EXCELLENT or LIKE NEW condition. There will also be an image of the item, maybe several photos, so you don’t get any surprises.
Watch this video from the MPB YouTube channel for some understanding of their condition ratings:
MPB has the buyer protection I want, too. They offer a 7-day return/exchange window on almost everything on their site. And here’s the best thing for me: if it qualifies (in other words, not an AS-IS item), it has a 6-month warranty.
Accurate condition listings, pics of the item, and a warranty all add up to MPB being the best way to save money on a beginner photography kit. I buy pro-level photography gear there all the time. Plus, I can trade in anything I have and don’t want anymore, providing it’s good enough for them, saving me even more money in the long run.
Photography Kit Examples for Newer Equipment
Now for the cheap beginner photography kits available at MPB. I looked for some newer camera models and found quite a few. To keep the budget as low as possible, you’ll probably want to look at DSLR-style cameras instead of mirrorless cameras. Also, opting for a crop format camera such as APS-C instead of Full Frame.
Considering these parameters, the Canon EOS Rebel T7i camera body can be found in EXCELLENT condition with a very low shutter count (another great bit of info MPB provides) for only $399. Introduced in 2017, this camera has a 24MP sensor, swift AF, built-in flash, and a high-quality video mode.
Add a kit lens for it to complete your beginner photography kit. I found the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM wide to short telephoto zoom lens for $44 in EXCELLENT condition. Complete your beginner photography kit with a telephoto zoom lens, the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS, for only $90 in LIKE NEW condition.
That’s just one example of a beginner-level complete photography kit for under $600. Look through all that MPB has in APS-C format DSLRs from Canon, Nikon, Pentax, and Sony for lots of ideas. Some kits could be even lower priced than the one I listed above.
Editor's Tip: Regardless of the gear you use, strive to create images you'd be proud to display. Completing the process of creating an image, from composition and framing to editing to printing, is wholly satisfying and is also informative for building additional skills. When selecting a printing company, use a company like Printique, with a long record of quality and success in the industry. With a wide selection of prints, photo albums (like the leather-bound ones shown above), and other photo accessories, you can customize how you display your images with the knowledge you'll get a beautiful, high-quality product from the experts at Printique!
Photography Kit Choices for Older Pro Gear
If you're willing to pay a little more and use a larger camera body, you can move into a Full Frame format DSLR made for professional use.
As an example, I found the amazing 36.3MP Full Frame DSLR Nikon D800 in EXCELLENT condition with a low shutter count for the low price of $579 for the body only. In addition to the fantastic sensor, the D800 has a great video mode and all of the extreme ruggedness you would expect from a Nikon professional-level camera.
Lenses for your pro-level Full Frame format beginner photography kit on the cheap include the normal range AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED VR in LIKE NEW condition for $209 and a telephoto zoom lens, the AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G IF-ED VR in LIKE NEW condition for $334.
Add a flashgun like the Nikon SB-600 in EXCELLENT condition for $41, and that’s a pro-level photography kit for well under $1200. It's a significant increase in price from a used APS-C format photography kit, true, but for the higher cost, you get to use an incredible piece of photography gear.
Add To a Photography Kit with Alternative Equipment
That covers some ideas for the cameras and lenses available as less expensive photography equipment. But we also need to add some accessories to make our beginner photography kit completely capable of being used for serious photography, such as a camera mount or tripod and some lighting gear.
So, I’ll show some ideas I’ve found of alternative photography gear that is lower priced than what may be considered as more mainstream equipment.
Genius Tripod Alternative
Let me introduce you to a genius-level hack that can replace the need for a tripod in many picture-taking situations, the Octopad camera mount.
A good tripod will be somewhat cumbersome to carry around, especially for entry-level photographers; it takes some getting used to. Plus, a really capable tripod can cost anywhere from $200 to over $1000.
The Octopad comes in two sizes, L for $19.99 and XL for $33.99, each with a ball head included. It’s a weighted disk with a non-slip on the bottom. Combined with the ball head, this non-slip pad allows you to put the Octopad anywhere you need it to hold the camera. It can even stay put on a surface that’s irregular or angled up to 45 degrees.
Better Lighting for a Photography Kit
A lot of photography will happen in natural light, but we can control or modify that light with a very inexpensive piece of photography gear, the collapsible 5-in-1 reflector. Neewer makes a 43” collapsible reflector that you can pick up for as low as $26.34 after discounts are applied.
Move Up to the Next Level
Photo by Pekic via iStock
It’s called a beginner photography kit for a reason; this is the start of your experience with serious photography. Where do you go from here? With one of these low-cost used camera, lens, and accessories photography kits, you can do a good amount of very special photography.
Generally speaking, it’s not our photography gear that keeps us from creating exactly what we’ve envisioned in our minds. However, some photography does require certain features or functions from our equipment.
It’s our skill, our talent, our knowledge, and our involvement in higher-end photography that can give us a better capability to create excellent images. The good news is we can easily fix all of that, too. Keep reading here and stay with your choice to move up into more serious photography.