Posted on by Tycho Smith

Where to Buy Photography Equipment without Breaking the Bank


At the beginning of August, Tech Radar released their list of the best DSLR cameras, ranging from $500 to over $3,000. Let’s face it: you can easily empty your savings account on fancy pieces of photography equipment.

Cameras and gear like that may grab all the big tech headlines, but fortunately for the rest of us, buying photography equipment doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

For people who are on a budget or just getting started with photography, you’ll find resources and tips in this article about how you can achieve amazing photos by using a collection of camera gear without breaking the bank.

Your Essential Equipment

A good DSLR camera, tripod, lenses, and an external flash are your essential photography gear. Depending on what you want to achieve, you may be debating whether to invest in a mirror-less camera or not.

If you are looking to keep the prices down, a DSLR would be the best bet. One of the main reasons for this is that DSLR cameras have been around for a lot longer so there will be a much higher supply of various gear to choose from.

There are lots of other options for someone just starting the photography game than buying one brand new from a store. A good resources is to start by looking for some on sites like Craigslist or Letgo.

Camera Body

Keep in mind a classic saying in photography “Invest in the glass, not the body.” This means that it’s generally a better idea not to go all out on the base of the camera body, but instead to invest more money into different sizes and qualities of lenses.

This is because the body of the camera, like a Canon 5D MIV or Canon 60D, will always become outdated, and newer, better ones will come out, but you will still be using the same lenses across all of the different bodies you end up using (assuming you stick with the same brand).

So start out with a lower level body - you can always upgrade later!

Lens

Let’s talk lenses.

There are a lot of reasons to put on different lenses for taking pictures - other than just getting extra zoom. Things like using a telephoto lens to compress a shot, or a fisheye lens to exaggerate the features of a subject.

Most major brands have their own lens mount styles that are not readily compatible with other brands. So, when you’re looking to get additional lenses for your camera, make sure that they are the same mount connection before purchasing.

Used lenses can also be found without much trouble, because other photographers will upgrade over time to get the newer faster ones and not have a need to keep the old lenses around. If you’re interested in saving money, but still want a fancy piece of glass, keep an eye on this important secondhand market!

External Flash

A flash is the next piece of gear that really separates your camera from basic smartphone picture taking. External flash options are drastically more powerful and versatile than any on-camera flash is.

Like lenses, there are lots of options for these too - as far as price ranges. Ranging from the name brand official ones like Speedlight to the cheaper 3rd party one like Yongnuo. Regardless of the model, a good flash will allow you to light your subject in ways that a built in flash can’t compete with.

Another additional item to consider with an external flash is a remote sensor to allow the flash to be triggered by the camera when it’s not mounted on it. This gives you a lot of control over your shadows and lighting needs.

Tripod

Lastly, there is the trusty tripod. Like other equipment, tripods range all over the place - from a little $10 one up to tripods that cost in the high hundreds.

From experience, it’s not a good idea to hit the bottom of the barrel when it comes to tripods. This is because you’ll have your *large* investment sitting on top of it, and you’ll be spending lots of the time be using it to take pictures when you’re not holding it.

It is a true shame when that cheap tripod you got breaks on you, or the wind blows it over since it is so flimsy. It’s a mistake that you only need to make once to learn your lesson.

Generally, it is a good idea to get a nice sturdy tripod a step or two from the very bottom of the price range for a starter tripod. It is also a bit harder to find a good tripod used because most people tend to use their tripod until it starts to have issues before getting a new one.

Think of it as investing in an insurance policy for your camera!

Additionally, when starting out don’t worry about what kind of tripod head it has either. Tripod heads aren’t something that most people need to worry about, until they’ve become more experienced photographers who already know what they’re looking for.

As long as it has a solid mount for your camera, you should be good to go with any type of tripod head.