12 Things Every Beginner Needs to Get Started in Photography

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Are you interested in stepping into the wide and wonderful world of photography? Well, you’ve certainly come to the right place! This short checklist of a dozen items is designed to get you started and headed in the right direction!

1. Interest

The first thing you need is an interest in photography. If you are reading these words, you likely already checked that box. If you are debating whether to take the dive into photography, you might want to give it some careful thought, or cater your purchases toward your level of interest. Photography, both digital and film, can represent a large investment in time and money. Know this before you make the plunge.

2. Camera

Sorry again to state the obvious, but unless you are doing alternative forms of imaging, you likely will want to create photos with a camera. When entering the camera market, your first consideration will be what to explore first—digital or analog film. The vast majority of us reach for digital cameras these days; once you choose that path, there are three basic options: point-and-shoot, interchangeable-lens mirrorless, and digital single-lens reflex (DSLR). We have a good breakdown of the types of digital cameras in this article and a similar breakdown here. In the realm of 35mm film cameras, you have the option of SLRs and point-and-shoots.

3. Lenses

If you get a DSLR or mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera, you will also need a lens. Many cameras ship with one or two “kit zoom” lenses that range from wide angle to telephoto. The verdict is still out (and will always be out) on whether your first lens should be a zoom or a prime lens. A prime lens has a fixed focal length, which requires the photographer to move to frame a picture rather than the lens doing the work by zooming in and out. We are not going to settle the zoom versus prime argument here, but be sure to buy a UV filter and lens cloth to keep your optics clean, for whatever lens or lenses you choose.

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