02 Jan 2019

DIY Hacks for Basic Recommended Photography Equipment

by Anthony Griffin (Course Tutor)

There is a lot of photography equipment you may be tempted to purchase that is not required for the course. Before you go ahead and start purchasing, my advice is to carefully consider your budget and where your interests in photography lie before deciding what to buy.

But if you are considering purchasing some additional photography equipment, I’ve put together a list of recommendations for some basic equipment to get you started. I’ve also included a few DIY hacks you might want to try before you part with your cash.


01. A lens

If it’s your first time buying a lens, I recommend starting with a 18-55mm lens which is a good general purpose lens for when you’re starting out.  

  • Tip for your research: The lens is a key piece of photography equipment. While I recommend buying the best lenses you can afford, my advice is don’t spend too much until your photography develops.

Generally, the more expensive a lens is, the better it will be. For example, buying a professional-grade lens, such as Canon’s “L series”, will usually give you higher optical quality, better build quality and faster and more accurate focusing compared to cheaper, consumer-grade lenses. Likewise, a 24-70mm zoom lens offers good flexibility but is an expensive option.

There are so many options available that it really depends on what you want to do with your photography.

  • DIY hack: Visit your local charity shop where you can often pick up lenses at a good price. This blog is worth a read for some tips on buying second hand lenses.


02. A tripod

A basic tripod is all you need when you’re starting out. I recommend Manfrotto for good quality, inexpensive tripods (e.g. a Manfrotto Compact Tripod with a three way head).

  • Tip for your research: As with other equipment, tripods can vary depending on the type of photography they are used for.
  • DIY hack: To eliminate camera shake, try placing your camera on a steady, sturdy surface and use the camera’s shutter timer or a remote release cable to take your shot. This video shows you how to make a substitute for a tripod.


03. A light modifier

I recommend getting something like a Flash Diffuser Speedlight Softbox Kit or a 5-in-1 Collapsible Triangular Light Reflector.

  • Tip for your research: Light modifiers can have a big impact on your photography, are inexpensive and will last you for years.
  • DIY hack: Try using strong white card or polystyrene to reflect the light. This video also includes seven easy DIY light modifiers to try out.


Tips for reducing the cost of the equipment

  • Remember your student discount.

Many photography equipment shops offer student discounts. Use your student card when you purchase photography equipment or add a comment to an online order letting them know you are a student and they may apply a discount. Wherever you buy materials, you should always ask if they have a student discount.

Don't have a student card yet? Just email us with a recent headshot and your student number and we will post one to you.

  • Keep in mind that it’s worthwhile shopping around for the best deals. It’s also worth considering buying equipment second hand, hiring it or borrowing it from a friend.

Remember, there are two reasons why you don’t need to spend a fortune on equipment:

  1. Great photography comes from understanding and applying the basic techniques, not from expensive equipment.
  2. As you progress through the course, you might discover that the equipment you’ve bought isn’t suitable for the type of photography you want to pursue (for example, portrait photography may require different camera equipment to still life photography).

Please note: The equipment I’ve recommended here is not required to complete your course assignments. For a full list of equipment that is required to complete the course assignments, please read this blog post.


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