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As you get more comfortable in your photography, growing in skills, artistry, and technique, you find yourself wondering if certain tasks or methods could be better or more easily accomplished with the right photography gear additions.
You don’t need to add camera gear simply for the sake of having more toys (but what’s wrong with that?), but there are certain items of versatile camera gear that can assist you without being big, pricey, or difficult to learn.
As we look at this versatile camera gear, remember that it’s your skill and artistic eye that is most important, camera gear simply allows you to take advantage of your abilities.
What’s in Your Bag Now?
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Camera gear for beginners is pretty versatile camera gear already. Look at your camera, it can take full resolution RAW files and smaller Jpegs for still images and also record video. It likely has a built-in flash, built-in microphone, and image stabilization.
The kit lens covers wide angle, normal, and short telephoto focal lengths, can focus close up for macro photography, and focuses automatically with manual override.
Your kit may have also come with a small tripod, some basic filters, and a pretty nice bag to hold it all. Here are some ideas of other versatile camera gear you can add to your kit.
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A portable LED panel light that fits on camera and runs off of battery power is a useful tool for both photography and videography. Continuous is necessary for video and is useful for still photography as well, so a small LED light satisfies both ways.
Since they’re LED bulbs, these lights are very efficient allowing them to be used with rechargeable batteries. They also run cooler than other continuous lights, making them very versatile for all sorts of subjects.
Fast Prime Lens
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One of the major limitations of the kit lenses included with entry level camera gear is the maximum lens aperture. A fast prime lens, such as the Nifty Fifty for Full Frame format, is more versatile camera gear for use in lower light levels or for enabling use of selective focus techniques.
The focal length of the Nifty Fifty normal lens will be different for the crop formats. MFT format would use a lens around 25mm while APS-C format normal lenses are generally 35mm. The maximum aperture of these fast prime normal lenses, regardless of the format, are usually f/2.0, f/1.8, or even f/1.4, which are about 2 or 3 stops faster than the kit lens.
Other choices for a faster than the kit lens prime focal length lens include macro lenses in the normal or close to normal focal length. A fast prime macro lens for APS-C format that is common is a 40mm f/2.8. Not as fast as the normal lenses but with the added feature of being designed for ultra close focusing.
Sometimes we need a tripod for added stability but carrying one with us all the time can prove to be tedious or cumbersome. Tripod alternatives such as the OctoPad can become extremely useful as a camera mount.
The OctoPad is so versatile because of how it's designed. It’s a small, semi-rigid disk with a non-slip pad on the bottom and a ball head or extension arm on top. It can be placed on virtually any surface up to 45 degrees and is small enough to fit in most camera bags. Except for the one that came with the kit, but we got you covered there, too.
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Some portrait situations have us wishing for a way to turn our subject away from the sun to avoid those squinty eyes and harsh shadows and yet have a nice, soft light for their face.
A collapsible reflector is what lots of photographers find to be one of the best versatile camera gear choices around. A 42 inch reflector can be folded or collapsed to fit into a small pouch only about 10 inches or so across. Being extremely portable is what makes a collapsible reflector so versatile.
Sling Pack Camera Bag
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One of the worst components of most camera kits is the small, unpadded bag it all is supposed to fit in. Another issue with most of these kit bags is that they have no place to put anything extra, such as an OctoPad, prime lens, or collapsible reflector. They also tend to be kind of tacky looking or advertising for the camera brand.
A sling pack style camera bag is a great choice for holding your versatile camera gear because they combine the best aspects of a regular camera bag combined with a backpack. Many of these types of bags have excellent camera protection as well as being versatile in how you set them up for your own personal gear.
Use these options of versatile camera gear for beginners to enhance your artistic eye and your increasing skills as a photographer.