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Essential Photography Equipment

Updated on June 19, 2013

There are many different types of photography equipment. There are those for technique, care and maintenance, and editing and printing pictures. There are also the cool gadgets like the remote control handset and under water housing that are fun to have too but completely not necessary to take amazing photos.



One of the very first items you should purchase for your camera is a tripod . Using a tripod is the most reliable way to counter camera shakes and help steady the camera so your shots don't come out slightly blurred. Here is what you should look for when buying a tripod.

  • Construction - Most tripods are aluminum construction, though carbon fibre and basalt models are available.
  • Standard or Wide Spread - As well as having a standard leg angle of around 30degrees, there should also be options for wider spreads for ultra low angle shooting.
  • Leg Locks - Most tripods extend by three or four telescopic sections. The leg locks should be quick and easy to operate and should not slip under pressure once locked.
  • Closed Length - A compact closed length is always an advantage whether it is for storage, comfortable carrying or stowing away in your car.
  • Leg Warmers - These pad your shoulder to add comfort when carrying the tripod. If it is really cold these also protect your hands from the cold aluminum.
  • Centre Column - For added shooting flexibility, the centre column should be able to be shortened, reversed and positioned horizontally.
  • 3/8in Stud - 3/8in is the standard thread for a pro tripod head. If the tripod has a 1/4in stud (as on the base of the camera) it is an amateur tripod and will be limited in scope.
  • Sealed Lower Legs - You might need to stand the lower legs in water, so if the legs of the tripod are sealed then they won't hold water and leak once you fold up your tripod.

Some other items that will help you with technique are filters and polarizers.

The Neutral Density grad or ND grad is a useful tool for balancing landscape exposures where the sky is much paler or brighter then the land below. The filters come in a range of strengths, commonly reducing the light from the sky by one, two or three stops, to suit different lighting conditions. The most useful is the 2-stop grad, especially at sunrise or sunset.

A polarizer is one of the most useful filters you can own. Not only does it allow you to reduce glare and boost color saturation and cut out reflections from surfaces such as glass, water and foliage, it also has the ability to darken blue skies and make white clouds stand out. This darkening effect can add loads of punch to sunlit landscapes and is very difficult to accurately simulate on the computer.

A darker sky with whiter clouds at the Roman Coluseum in Rome, Italy
A darker sky with whiter clouds at the Roman Coluseum in Rome, Italy | Source

Care and Maintenance

Taking proper care of your camera is the one thing that will help your camera last forever. Whether you are a professional photographer or an amature you should always have a camera bag or backpack, the proper memory cards (and spares if you can afford them) and a sensor cleaning kit to keep your camera clean.

Choosing the right camera bag for your own requirements is a matter of deciding what sort of photography you will be doing most. If your shooting style is more geared to capturing a single great shot using a tripod then the backpack design is best for you, as you won't be trying to access your camera until you reach your final destination. If you are more like me and find inspiration everywhere, you will want more frequent, repeated access to your camera and kit. This makes the shoulder bag a better option. Here is what to look for in a bag or backpack:

  • Strap - You will need a well padded strap to distribute pressure across your shoulder and a non-slip grip to keep it in place while you are walking.
  • Press Top - Not every bag will have one, but a press top is a handy opening on the top of the bag, providing really fast access to your kit.
  • Fabric and Build - The base of the bag should be double the thickness for added protection. The stitching should be of good quality. It should be made out of a durable material.
  • Padding - This is one of the last things you want to compromise on! You need protection from knocks and dividers that stop kit clanking together.
  • Capacity - Work out how much gear you have (or are likely to take with you) and make sure your bag can carry everything. (My bag has straps that will hold my tripod, although my tripod does have it's own carrying bag)

Canon 100DG Bag for Canon SLR Cameras
Canon 100DG Bag for Canon SLR Cameras

This camera bag is the perfect bag. It can hold everything you need for your camera and has a durable water-repellent nylon exterior. Includes a custom media case that will hold your memory cards as well as two CDs. This camera bag can also hold a small laptop.


Memory cards are a must with any DSLR camera. Most cameras these days, whether DSLR or not, take memory cards. Make sure you have the right kind for your camera and that it will hold everything you need it to hold. I started with a little 1GB card and have since upgraded to an 16GB card. With the card I have now I have never filled it up completely but I will be testing how much it can hold on our upcoming vacation.

Sensor Cleaning Kits are available just about anywhere that sells a DSLR camera. The website Cleaning Digital Cameras has some great information on how to clean your digital camera and what the pros and cons are of each type of cleaning. There is also an article written by aperturering called How to Clean your DSLR's Camera Sensor that has great information as well. As for me, I would rather spend the money and have a professional take care of my camera because if I were to mess it up it would end up costing me a lot more to replace my camera! I do, however, keep a lens cloth and other small cleaning items inside my camera bag in case I need them while I'm out taking pictures.

Editing and Printing Images from Home

If you are like me, I take a thousand pictures, come home and put them on my computer right away to sort through and pull out my best shots. Some of my photos are amazing without editing them (which is always a huge bonus).

To edit my pictures I have been using some free online programs. There are a lot of free online editing programs that can help you edit your pictures into almost anything you want them to be. Some of these programs are: BeFunky, picMonkey and Pixlr. Greatstuff (a fellow hubber) wrote an article on BeFunky that is amazing. The article really walks you through on how to get started with BeFunky and how to edit your pictures. It also has many pictures to help you visualize what your photo will turn out like.

For storing my pictures after they are on the computer and gone through, I put them on my external hard drive. I've had my computer crash way too many times with all my pictures on it and lost everything! So I have learned that the external is the best way to store them. This way is also excellent for when I am going to visit family and want to show off my pictures, I just take the hard drive and cable and hook it right up to their computers. I don't have to worry about the laptop or anything like that. Makes it quite nice!

If you plan on printing pictures at home there are several things you should consider when choosing a printer. Most office inkjet printers are fine for printing out your images. Consider the paper size, printer resolution and the cost of replacement in cartridges. When choosing the right paper to print your photos on you should know the difference between them.

  • Glossy paper has a shiny surface, similar to normal photographic prints. They are great for bright, punchy and colorful prints, but they show up marks such as fingerprints easily and can suffer from reflections.
  • Photo matte paper covers a wide range of paper types including silk, lustre, pearl and semi-gloss. All of which vary slightly in texture and finish but all of them give photo-quality results. The lower contrast and color saturation suits more subtle images and doesn't suffer from reflections as much as glossy paper.
  • Fine art paper is the general term for specialist media with textures and surfaces similar to traditional artists' materials such as watercolor paper. Surface textures and finishes can give your images a more artistic appearance. This paper can be expensive.

Some other items you might want for your photography that can be acquired over time are:

  • Macro Flashgun
  • Circular Polarizer
  • GPS Module
  • Spare Batteries
  • Spare Memory Cards
  • Sensor Cleaning Want
  • Remote Control Handset
  • Travel Tripod
  • Underwater Housing Unit

Tricks I have learned

I have learned a lot in the past 3 years just playing with my camera. Here are a few of my tips and tricks when it comes to taking pictures.

  • To slightly change the color of your photo, use a rubber band and some tissue paper. Wrap the tissue paper around the flash and secure with the rubber band. It doesn't have to be super tight, just enough to hold it in place. Take the picture with the flash on and your picture will come out a slightly different color.

Red, blue, green and purple tissue paper on the flash.
Red, blue, green and purple tissue paper on the flash. | Source
  • To take pictures that turn out a certain shape, use a thick piece of black paper (construction paper or poster board) and use any kind of punch to put a hole in the paper. Cut a circle a little larger then the diamater of your camera lens. Tape the circle with the punched out center onto the end of your lens and take pictures. I have not perfected this technique yet but I have played with it a little. Here are some of my first photos taken using a punched paper.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Using a heart looking at the back patioUsing a heart looking at the skyUsing a butterfly looking out my front doorUsing a butterfly with a picture of my oil painting
Using a heart looking at the back patio
Using a heart looking at the back patio
Using a heart looking at the sky
Using a heart looking at the sky
Using a butterfly looking out my front door
Using a butterfly looking out my front door
Using a butterfly with a picture of my oil painting
Using a butterfly with a picture of my oil painting


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    • CassyLu1981 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      j-matlock - I hope you can use all this in the future :) Thanks for the comment!

    • j-matlock profile image


      7 years ago from Somewhere.

      Awesome, thanks for the advice.

    • CassyLu1981 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      suzettenaples - Thanks for the votes, sharing and the comment! Being a beginner photographer I have learned a ton of skills and tricks to make my photography more interesting :) Thanks again!

    • CassyLu1981 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      fcmosher - Thanks :) I'll be posting more photography hubs soon, stay tuned!

    • CassyLu1981 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      lindacee - I'm so glad you were able to learn a thing or two from my hub. It's always good to know what equipment you should have. I didn't realize there were so many different things you could have to get the perfect picture. Thanks for stopping by and the comment :)

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      7 years ago from Taos, NM

      You really have a great article here. I am interested in photography and I appreciate all your information. Your ideas with the tissue paper and the cut-outs are unique and creative. I'll have to try that sometime. For photographers, this article is jammed packed with great infor and ideas. Thanks so much for sharing! Voted up!

    • fcmosher profile image


      7 years ago from near the Equator

      You are a good writer and I like the subjects you choose. Thanks!

    • lindacee profile image

      Linda Chechar 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      I feel so inadequate with my Fuji Finepix J20! However, it does the trick for me. I took a photography course way, way back in college, but I remember very little. You've written a very comprehensive Hub. I learned a great deal about equipment and techniques. Thanks for sharing your knowledge! Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • CassyLu1981 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      teaches12345 - you don't have to be a photographer to take incredible pictures :) If you are ever in my neighborhood I will be more then happy to let you play with my camera for a bit :) It is a lot of fun, and very stress releaving for me!!! Thanks for stopping by and the comment ;)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 years ago

      I am not a photographer but would love to have the ability to use a camera like a professional. Great hub topic and useful information for those who need the advice.

    • CassyLu1981 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      leahlefler - Lenses are always a must but don't go broke trying to make sure you have them all. The best part about DSLR's is they take great photos without all the massive upgrades. The massive upgrades are just a bonus :) I don't have a white-balance adjuster, might have to invest in one of those next! Thanks for stopping by and the comment :)

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 

      7 years ago from Western New York

      Wow, CassyLu - what great techniques! I never thought of using tissue paper over the flash! I'll have to try that soon. We have a polarizer and my husband also got a white-balance adjuster (a white disk - you shoot a picture into the disk and it sets the white balance for you). I love both things - just want more lenses!

    • CassyLu1981 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      greatstuff - My dad has a bunch of his old photos on reels I guess, I'm young enough to not really know what he means by that but I do know that they will one day be mine along with his super old camera and lenses :) I too still have my compact digital camera I take around with me but normally the kids are the ones using it. You are welcome for the link to your BeFunky article, I couldn't pass it up. Thank you for the comment, votes and sharing. It's all greatly appreciated!!!

    • greatstuff profile image


      7 years ago from Malaysia

      During my student days, I used to lug around all these stuffs but now I am down to a compact digital camera that I can easily slip into my shirt pocket. I guess it must be old age!

      Loves your article and it reminds me of the good old days in the 70's. I took mostly in slides, which I bet, not many of you may have tried before!

      Thanks also for the link to my BeFunky article and your nice comment. I really appreciate it.

      Voted useful and Shared.


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