Photography Equipment

Whether people are capturing the memories of a moment or making a new piece of art, photography is an important aspect of modern life. As such, many find it useful to learn how to improve their pictures through new equipment and different techniques. However, no matter what techniques you want to try (or improve upon), you will likely need the right equipment.

In general terms, a camera can be broken down to five core parts as follows:

  • Body: chassis for camera body that must be lightproof
  • Diaphragm: the opening that controls the amount of light entering the camera
  • Lens: a camera part made of glass or plastic that focuses light passing through to reproduce an image
  • Shutter: an adjustable feature that controls length of time that the film is exposed by limiting exposure to light
  • Viewfinder: special lens for preview.

When considering types of cameras, lenses and other special photographic equipment, consider the following:

  • Are you going to be primarily taking professional or amateur shots?
  • How much can you afford to spend on your camera and other photography equipment?
  • What kinds of pictures will you be taking with your camera (i.e., primarily family photos, artistic photos, portraits, etc.)?
  • Where will you be taking your camera (i.e., are you mainly taking pictures indoors, outdoors, etc.)?

As you answer these questions, you will start to narrow down both the types of cameras that will work best for you, as well as the types of photography equipment that you will need. Keep reading to learn more about how various pieces of photographic equipment are for amateurs versus professionals.

Photography Equipment Essentials

Without a doubt, the most essential piece of photography equipment is the camera. Here is a rundown of the four basic camera types, along with the pros and cons of each:

  • Digital Cameras: These cameras are extremely popular today with both amateurs and professionals alike. Not only are they affordable, but they come with a variety of features, allowing you to shift color tone (from sepia to black-and-white, etc.) as well as to zoom and focus. Because these cameras produce digital images, you can easily edit images, e-mail them to friends or print out paper copies.On the downside, the images these cameras produce are comprised of many pixels (computerized dots). As a result, if you don”t find the right focus for a frame or if you are trying to enlarge an image, you may end up with grainy pictures in which pixels are highly visible.
  • Medium-Format Cameras (35 mm): Medium-format cameras have many features and consistently produce crisp, sharp pictures. Consequently, they are one of the most popular cameras among professional photographers.The disadvantage to these cameras is that they tend to be pricy. Amateurs should not get these cameras until they are committed to the hobby of photography.
  • Point-and-Shoot Cameras: Not only are these cameras generally the cheapest option, but they are also one of the easiest to transport, making them a standard option for photographers on the go.The downside of the point-and-shoot cameras is that they don”t have many features, meaning that they tend to produce lower quality photos. Similarly, because these cameras are very practical, you won”t be able to produce pictures that are more artistic.
  • SLR (Single Lens Reflex): Because this camera operates with a single lens, the way a scene looks through the lens is basically how it will appear on film (i.e., the same size, composition, depth of field, etc.). SLR cameras are also durable and easy to use. On the downside, because SLR cameras have one interior mirror (to correspond with the single lens), attaching any heavier lens, such as a telephoto lens, causes the mirror to shake, resulting in blurry photos.

Actual accessories, such as film, memory cards, batteries and lenses are also essential. Keep in mind, however, that these accessories are camera-dependent, meaning that the particular brands and sizes of these accessories depend on the type of camera you select.

Along with the camera, the other essential piece of photography equipment is a camera bag. Not only does the camera bag protect your camera, but it also helps you store other camera accessories, such as film, memory cards and batteries, so that you can have them on hand whenever necessary.

Photography Equipment: Helpful, Yet Less Essential

Depending on your needs and the level at which you practice photography, some photographic equipment may or may not be essential. Here is a run down of optional accessories, along with the circumstances in which each piece would be more useful:

  • Cable Release Bulb: This piece of photographic equipment allows the photographer to trigger the camera to take a picture without having to hold the camera in his hand. The cable release bulb consists of a cord that plugs into the camera and a bulb that the photographer holds. When the photographer presses a button on the bulb, the camera takes a picture. Photographers who need to set up a shot or who for some reason can”t stand next to the camera (because they are manipulating props, etc.) benefit from the cable release bulb because it allows them to control the camera from a distance. Portrait and nature photographers are most likely to use the cable release bulb. If you are interested in the cable release, you should also get a tripod.
  • Filters: A filter, a piece of photography equipment that alters the way in which light enters the camera, can actually change details on the frames or create new images, such as stars or haze, on photographs. To use filters, insert them into the optical path. While filters are a professional equipment must-have, they can be fun for an amateur. However, amateur equipment doesn”t require filters.
  • Special Lenses: Professionals and amateurs alike can get a wide variety of lenses to enhance their pictures. Depending on the type of photography you are involved in, you can get lenses as varied as a telephoto lens, a fish-eye lens, a wide-angle lens, a zoom lens, etc. While professional equipment will likely include a range of special lenses, amateur equipment needs only a few, if any, special lenses, depending on the photographer”s budget and range of practice.
  • Tripod: This piece of photographic equipment is a three-legged stand that elevates and stabilizes the camera. While those who practice portraiture should invest in a tripod, others who are involved in action photography probably won”t need (or want) this piece of photography equipment.

Professional Photography Equipment

Professional photographic equipment tends to be more expensive and will often demand a stronger sense of technical know-how and comprehension. If you are looking to refine your photography skills and learn how to use new pieces of photography equipment, consider taking photography courses, signing up for an online seminar or reading a book on photography techniques.

Of course, your needs will determine the actual photographic equipment you will ultimately buy. Here is a list of some professional photography equipment:

  • Filters (explained above)
  • Fish-Eye Lens: wide-angle lens that bulges in the center for special effect
  • Flash Attachment: a piece of photographic equipment that adds extra control even if the camera comes with a built-in flash
  • Macro Lens: a piece of photographic equipment that enlarges small objects in photographs.

Along with these professional equipment accessories, you can get a number of other refined pieces of equipment, depending on your personal preferences. If you are interested in a unique accessory, talk to an expert at your local camera shop.

Darkroom Equipment

While a darkroom is far from necessary for an amateur, some professionals may want to consider building their own darkroom to further their careers. Here is a basic list of some of the items you would need to stock a darkroom:

  • camel”s hair brushes
  • chemical baths
  • dry tabletop or film clips for drying photos
  • enlarger
  • filters
  • film squeegees
  • negative sleeves
  • processing sinks with hot and cold water
  • safe lights
  • scissors
  • sponges
  • tank-roll film processor
  • thermometers
  • trays.