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Of all the hobbies you could ever pick up, photography is without a doubt one of the most expensive. There are ways to reduce how much it’ll cost you, of course, but there’s no doubt about it: you’ll need to buy a lot of stuff eventually.

However, that doesn’t mean you need to buy all of that stuff right away. In fact, many photography accessories are situationally useful, meaning you may only need certain things for specific types of photography 5 Most Lucrative Careers for a Budding Photographer 5 Most Lucrative Careers for a Budding Photographer Want to make money with photography? There are a lot of potential career paths before you. Here are a few considerations to help you make the right choice. Read More . 80% of the time, you’ll only need the essentials.

But what are the essentials? We’re going to assume you already have an entry-level DSLR camera The Best Entry-Level DSLRs For New Photographers The Best Entry-Level DSLRs For New Photographers If you want to take your photography skills to the next level, or you know someone else who does, then there's no better way than to enter the world of DSLR cameras. Read More (save money by buying a used DSLR Why You Should Never Buy a New DSLR Camera (And Always Buy a Used One) Why You Should Never Buy a New DSLR Camera (And Always Buy a Used One) Here's why DSLR camera bodies and camera lenses should always be bought used -- especially if you're a newbie shopping for your first entry-level DSLR or a hobbyist replacing your first model. Read More ). Here’s what you should buy next no matter what kind of photography you intend to do.

1. Tripod

Few camera accessories are as versatile and necessary as a tripod. Whether you’re thinking of landscape, portrait, night, street, or even wedding photography, you’re going to need a tripod at some point or another.

Tripods are extremely useful for low light settings An Illuminating Guide to Low Light Photography An Illuminating Guide to Low Light Photography If photography is about capturing light, how do you take photos when light is scarce? Read More , as the stability of the tripod allows you to take longer-exposure shots without any blur. This stability is also crucial for things like night sky photographs Take Better Night Sky Photographs By Getting The Basics Right Take Better Night Sky Photographs By Getting The Basics Right Tired of taking night-time photos that come out dark, empty, and boring? Read More and even proper selfie shots This Is How You Take Self Shots This Is How You Take Self Shots There's nothing vain about taking photos of ourselves. In fact, we can often be our best subject. Read More .

AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod with Bag AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod with Bag Lightweight tripod with adjustable-height legs and rubber feet Buy Now At Amazon $19.97

As a newbie, your first tripod should be cheap — one that you can mess around with without having to worry about breaking it or getting it dirty. The AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod is perfect because of its low price and portability.

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If you want more tips, check out our newbie’s guide to buying tripods The Camera Tripod Buying Guide For Beginners The Camera Tripod Buying Guide For Beginners Tired of camera shake ruining your photos? Want to take time-lapse shots or long exposure photos? Tripods allow for all of these, so if you don't have one, why not? Read More .

2. Remote Shutter Release

A remote shutter release is important in two ways: it lets you “take a shot” without physically touching the camera body, which also eliminates any potential for shaking and vibration 4 Common Shutter Speed Mistakes That'll Ruin Your Photos 4 Common Shutter Speed Mistakes That'll Ruin Your Photos When learning photography, you need to understand the essential rules of exposure. Here are some common shutter speed mistakes and how to overcome them. Read More . It’s most often used in conjunction with a tripod.

There are two kinds of remote shutter releases — wired and wireless — but it doesn’t really matter which one you get. More advanced remotes will have extra features like half-press support, built-in timers, and LCD screens.

Neewer LCD Timer Shutter Release Remote Control for Canon 700D/T5i, 650D/T4i, 550D/T2i, 500D/T1i, 350D/XT, 400D/XTi, 1000D/XS, 450D/XSi, 60D, 100D, and Pentax Neewer LCD Timer Shutter Release Remote Control for Canon 700D/T5i, 650D/T4i, 550D/T2i, 500D/T1i, 350D/XT, 400D/XTi, 1000D/XS, 450D/XSi, 60D, 100D, and Pentax Full functions supported as the camera shutter switch (with halfway or complete pressing) Buy Now At Amazon $20.50

This Neewer Shutter Release Remote Control provides a lot of bang for the buck, but do note that you’ll usually have to buy a remote that’s compatible with your particular brand of camera, whether that’s Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony, etc.

You can also try making your own remote shutter release Make Your Own DSLR Remote Shutter Release Make Your Own DSLR Remote Shutter Release One accessory you'll no doubt be after is a remote shutter; this allows you to place the camera on a tripod or rest it somewhere and trigger the shutter without the chance of shake that... Read More but it may be tough if you don’t have any previous DIY experience.

3. 50mm Prime Lens

As you progress in your photography skills, you’ll end up amassing plenty of different lens types 5 Common Photo Lenses & When To Use Them 5 Common Photo Lenses & When To Use Them Though there's no photographic rulebook when it comes to focal length and aperture, there are a few best practices to remember. Read More that let you take all kinds of shots, but there’s only one lens that’s so fundamentally important that all newbies should get: the 50mm prime lens.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens 50mm focal length and maximum aperture of f/1.8 Buy Now At Amazon $110.00

For those who don’t know, a prime lens is simply a lens that doesn’t zoom. Check out our overview of the differences between zoom and prime lenses Zoom Lenses vs. Prime Lenses: What's the Difference? Zoom Lenses vs. Prime Lenses: What's the Difference? After graduating from a kit lens, you’ll need to decide between a prime lens and a zoom lens. But what exactly is the difference? Which one is better for you? Read More .

Why a 50mm prime? Not only does a 50mm lens best replicate how humans see with their eyes, but the inability to zoom can also teach you a lot about proper composition techniques How to Compose a Photograph: 5 Essential Rules to Follow How to Compose a Photograph: 5 Essential Rules to Follow If you want to get really good at photography, there are some vital rules around image composition that you should consider. Here are five of the most important. Read More . But most of all, no lens is cheaper than a 50mm prime.

4. External Flash (Speedlight)

Every photographer is going to need flash at some point, even if you never take shots in the dark. Indeed, there are many reasons to use flash even when you have a lot of ambient light! A photographer without flash is a gimped photographer.

But don’t use the built-in flash on your camera body. It’s simply no good. Instead, spend a little bit of money on an external flash unit (sometimes called a speedlight or flash gun).

YONGNUO YN560 IV Wireless Flash Speedlite Master + Slave Flash + Built-in Trigger System for Canon Nikon Pentax Olympus Fujifilm Panasonic Digital Cameras YONGNUO YN560 IV Wireless Flash Speedlite Master + Slave Flash + Built-in Trigger System for Canon Nikon Pentax Olympus Fujifilm Panasonic Digital Cameras YN560 IV=YN560III+YN560-TX, Supports Wireless Master Function. Buy Now At Amazon $63.51

You’d be surprised how much more you’ll be able to do, even with a single external flash unit. Check out our newbie tips for speedlight use 5 Flash Tips for Speedlight Newbies 5 Flash Tips for Speedlight Newbies At its core, the camera flash is a simple piece of technology that's deceptively hard to use well. Read More to get a glimpse of the possibilities. You won’t regret it, I promise.

The Yongnuo YN-560 IV Wireless Flash is an inexpensive off-brand flash unit that’s cheap enough to be affordable but still powerful, feature-rich, and stays useful no matter how skilled you become.

5. AA Batteries + Charger

Once you start using external flash units, you’ll be going through batteries like crazy — and that’s why you should invest in rechargeable batteries as soon as you know that you’re going to be serious about photography.

La Crosse Technology BC-700 Alpha Power Battery Charger La Crosse Technology BC-700 Alpha Power Battery Charger Battery charger for 4 rechargeable NiMH and NiCad AA and AAA batteries; with 4 modes: charge, discharge, refresh, and test Buy Now At Amazon $33.30

I personally use these AmazonBasics AA Rechargeable Ni-MH Batteries and have never been disappointed by them. And don’t forget to buy an actual charger, like this La Crosse BC-700 Alpha Charger.

6. Memory Cards

In photography, it’s better to have a handful of smaller SD cards than a single big SD cards. That way, if a card ever gets corrupted, you still have others you can use. There’s nothing worse than being unable to shoot because your only card died.

Transcend 32GB SDHC Class 10 UHS-1 Flash Memory Card Up to 90MB/s (TS32GSDHC10U1E) Transcend 32GB SDHC Class 10 UHS-1 Flash Memory Card Up to 90MB/s (TS32GSDHC10U1E) UHS Class 10 and SD 3.01 compliant, a speed of 10 MB/s is guaranteed Buy Now At Amazon $12.99

Make sure you buy the right kind of SD card for photography How to Pick & Buy the Best SD Card for Your Needs How to Pick & Buy the Best SD Card for Your Needs What kind of SD card is right for you? Not all of them are the same, after all. Here are the minimum specs you should aim for depending any given activity or need. Read More , which will differ depending on what kind of photography you’re shooting. You can’t really go wrong with a handful of these Transcend 32 GB Class 10 Memory Cards, which are big, fast, and cheap.

You should also consider getting a Water-Resistant SD Card Holder Case to keep your memory cards safe, both for storage and for travel.

7. Cleaning Kit

Photography gear is expensive. Dirt, dust, and moisture can get into the nooks and crannies of camera bodies, lenses, and accessories — and in the worst possible case, can cause permanent damage.

Neglecting camera maintenance can be the most expensive mistake you make in the long run. Plus, dirty sensors and dirty lenses make for ruined photos.

Altura Photo Professional Cleaning Kit for DSLR Cameras and Sensitive Electronics Bundle with 2oz Altura Photo Spray Lens and LCD Cleaner Altura Photo Professional Cleaning Kit for DSLR Cameras and Sensitive Electronics Bundle with 2oz Altura Photo Spray Lens and LCD Cleaner Kit includes: Altura Photo Lens Cleaner 2 oz. Bottle + Lens Cleaning Pen + Lens Brush + Air Blower Cleaner + Altura Photo 50 Sheets Camera Cleaning Tissue Paper + 3 Pack Oversize and Original Premium MagicFiber Microfibers Cleaning Cloths Buy Now At Amazon $10.48

Unfortunately, taking your gear in for a professional cleaning is also expensive. That’s why you should learn how to properly clean your camera gear yourself. Of course, when there’s a serious issue, you should take it to a professional.

The Altura Photo Professional Cleaning Kit is the best-selling kit on Amazon and for good reason. It comes with all of the important bits — e.g. cleaning solution, microfiber cloths, air blower, etc. — and it’ll last you a long while.

8. Camera Strap

Your camera probably came with its own branded strap, but you probably never use it. Maybe it’s too small, too weak, too worn, too ugly, or too uncomfortable. Straps are important though, both for safety and for practicality.

BlackRapid Cross Shot Sling Camera Strap (Black) BlackRapid Cross Shot Sling Camera Strap (Black) Non-slip molded rubber shoulder pad Buy Now At Amazon $52.00

As soon as you have all of the other stuff listed above, you should spring for a quality camera strap. The difference between a kit strap and a quality strap is like night and day, and you really won’t regret it.

The BlackRapid Cross Shot Sling Strap is one of the best in its price range: comfortable, adjustable, and durable. But if you can pay a little more, you might want to look into the Peak Design Slide Camera Strap, which is a little more robust and professional.

9. Photography Bag

The last essential item that photographers should have is a high-quality bag. After all, once you’ve bought all of the aforementioned items, it’s going to be a pain in the butt trying to carry it all without a properly designed bag for the job.

If there’s one thing you learn from this article, let it be this: camera gear is only useful when you have it on you when you want to take photos! What good is a camera if it’s too heavy to take with you? No camera, no photos. Yuck.

AmazonBasics Large DSLR Gadget Bag (Gray interior) AmazonBasics Large DSLR Gadget Bag (Gray interior) Store, carry and protect your camera equipment Buy Now At Amazon $24.99

I have this AmazonBasics Large DSLR Gadget Bag and I’m extremely happy with it. For the price, you won’t find another bag that feels this robust and durable. Plus, it’s roomy enough to hold a lot of gear (several different pockets, pouches, and compartments).

AmazonBasics DSLR and Laptop Backpack - Gray interior AmazonBasics DSLR and Laptop Backpack - Gray interior Backpack holds and protects 2 SLR camera bodies, 3-4 lenses, 17 inch laptop and additional smaller accessories Buy Now At Amazon $39.99

If you intend to carry a laptop around with your, for post-processing or what not, then you may want to consider this AmazonBasics DSLR and Laptop Backpack instead.

Skills Are More Important Than Gear

The most important thing to know is that better gear won’t make you a better photographer. Don’t buy these things because you’re tired of sucking and you think these will help. The only answer to that is to learn, study, and practice How to Improve Your Photography Overnight with Lynda.com How to Improve Your Photography Overnight with Lynda.com Lynda.com is great for online learning. Of the 546 photography courses available, here are some of the best ones for sharpening your skills in just a few hours. Read More .

That being said, if you’re curious about what kind of camera gear the pros use, check out these sites that show the insides of professional camera bags What's Inside Their Camera Bags? These Sites Will Tell You What's Inside Their Camera Bags? These Sites Will Tell You When it comes to learning about a photographer there is no better place to start than what equipment they use. Peek inside a photographer's camera bag and find the equipment they're using. Read More . It’s a great way to get inspired and find new photographers to follow.

Which photography items are you hoping to buy next? Which items do you consider absolute essentials for all photographers? Share your thoughts with us down in the comments below!

  1. Tabbatha
    May 13, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    I don't have a new camera strap or spare memory cads yet. I really want a small bag to put on my backpack for hiking.

    • Joel Lee
      May 25, 2016 at 2:35 am

      Thanks for sharing, Tabbatha. I really recommend getting spare memory cards! You'll be kicking yourself if your card ever gets corrupted and you don't have any backups to use. :(

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