The more you are progressing in your photography career the higher your needs become when choosing the right tools for the job. Essentially, these tools will help you become more productive and efficient. You can build up your setup at a low cost, maybe under $500, or you can possibly spend more than $5000 for the whole setup. It all depends on your preference and needs.
We have prepared this article to help photographers get a clear view of what’s required in a professional studio setup. Whether you need support with photo editing services or a guide for the best photography techniques, we have everything. We won’t be suggesting any expensive items here, but won’t even be a DIY tutorial. Every piece of equipment you read about in this article can be purchased in both expensive and cheap alternatives. Hopefully, you will get a clear picture of how to plan for your own photography equipment.
Doesn’t matter how top-notch equipment you have, the camera is the essential and most important one in the whole setup. That being said, you don’t need to break the bank to get the best camera that’s out there. But you need one that serves your purpose just right.
Don’t think about smartphone cameras if you intend to get professional in this field. Surely, smartphones nowadays can take pretty good snaps but aren’t comparable to that of a professional camera. Also, these don’t offer full manual control, in fact, the control is mostly automated, so there is little chance of customization.
Regarding cameras, you will have to choose between DSLR and Mirrorless. Both do the same thing, it’s just the way they are built is different. Just keep in mind not to buy the cheapest ones that are out there in order to save money. Buying the mid-range cameras will be sufficient.
For any beginner, lens choosing can be an overwhelming process. There are many variants that you can choose from. Generally, there are two types of lens, that are zoom lens and prime lens. It can be broken down furthermore. Essentially, you can choose from a telephoto lens, wide-angle lens, and macro lens.
A prime lens is fixed focus, meaning the lens can’t physically change its movement for zooming into a subject. You will need to use the camera’s software for that. And a Zoom lens will alter its physical behavior to zoom into a subject without looking quality.
For shooting portraits, product photos, fashion photos, model photography, etc. you will need a telephoto lens. For shooting wildlife, or landscapes primarily wide-angle lenses are used. And finally the macro lens, this one isn’t that necessary but does some visually appealing photoshoots. Usually, for closeup shots such as zooming into an ant’s nest, these are very useful. Macro lenses are also used in product photography for smaller products.
Keep in mind, all these lenses can be either a prime lens or a zoom lens.
For a beginner, it is recommended to go with a telephoto zoom lens. The reason being is that, as you will be progressing with your photography skills, you will need to work with more types of lenses. And a telephoto zoom lens will serve you for quite some time before needing to switch. You could also use the kit lens that will be provided for free. But keep in mind those kit lenses are not that great in terms of anything, except for the fact that they are free.
Consider lens filters as just an add-on. These are by no means necessary for your setup but is a nice to have tool. Some might argue with it, as some filters are used for protection. While that’s true, there are many professional photographers who prefer to shoot without any filters.
If you intend to use lens filters, then there are a few you might consider looking into. These are UV filters, Polarizers, Neutral density filters, and color filters.
These are the most common filters purchased by photographers. UV filters protect from harmful sunlight rays and dust from getting into the lens. Without altering the quality of the images, it only acts as a protection for the lens.
Polarisers are the second most recommended after the UV filters. These lenses are very useful for shooting in sunny environments. You could adjust the lens to dim down the sunlight and make it look as if the image was shot in the late afternoon. It also helps to reduce reflections fairly easily.
Neutral Density Filter
An ND filter will reduce the amount of light that gets into the lens. This is helpful if you want to shoot photos at a slower shutter speed. The lights will appear to be very calm, close to evening light. You can achieve amazing motion blur pictures during the mid-day time without waiting for the sun to come down.
Interesting visuals can be achieved using color filters. Normally, photographers use these filters for adding cool or warm colors effects in photos. Also on some occasions, different colors are added for uniques visuals.
There are numerous other types of filters that you can buy. But the ones listed above are the common ones recommended by most photographers. You will need to use these yourself to see which ones serve your need.
Tripods can also be considered to be a “nice to have tool”, but depending on what you do, these can become something that’s essential for your work. For product photographers, having a tripod is a must. It will provide the maximum stability that you can possibly get. Also, you will be able to angle your tripod at a fixed location for consistent shots.
The background is another important part of photography. Unless you are doing any lifestyle or outdoor photography, buying products to act as the background won’t be that necessary. Again, if you are doing product photography or indoor studio photography, you will need a specific background for it.
Tables are important for product photography. It will act as the base for your product to rest on. But along with the table, you will need a white paper or cloth sweep. Sweeps are basically seamless backdrops, used for providing undivided black space behind the product. You could either use any random table found in the house or use a dedicated table that you will find on sites like Amazon.
Lightbox is another very useful tool for product photography and is recommended by most professionals. These are cheap and very diverse. You can position these anywhere you like, and that’s due to the size and foldability. With a bit more price, better versions with more functionality equipped can be purchased. For photographers doing large scale product photo shooting, it is recommended to invest in buying one. It will be a very wise investment.
Lights shape the environment and looks of any photo and are a crucial part of photography in general. Lights can be either artificial light or natural light. We won’t be going into very details in this article, as it is about equipment and not a theory on how lights work.
There’s nothing to talk about flash. Most people are familiar with what it does and are aware of its importance. But still, flash can be broken down into further details. You can choose from studio strobes or continuous lights. Studio strobes are more expensive and are only recommended for professionals. These are harder to operate and the output will be very unpredictable for any beginner. Continuous lights are easier to learn and produce exactly what you see on the camera screen. You can get full sets for each on Amazon and some other sites.
Reflectors are essential tools for studio and also often in outdoor photography. These help to redirect lights from one place to another. The three popular colors for reflectors are white, silver, and gold.
Umbrellas are used to dim down the lights and spread evenly on a particular side of the subject. Commonly used in professional studios. You can find both cheap and expensive variants of these online. It is recommended to use at least two umbrellas for both sides of the frame. Otherwise, the lights will not reflect evenly and there will be a shadow casting in the photo.
Often times in professional studios, you will see umbrella lights are used in front of the subject and is placed right beside the camera for better light projection. The fourth light will be placed on the above subject; although probably not an umbrella, but is mostly dimmed using a cloth or paper.
As you progress in your photography journey, you will automatically need to upgrade your equipment based on your needs. So, don’t worry about buying everything right away. Just start with the basics, and when you get the urge to upgrade, buy those tools gradually. And remember, you don’t need to buy the most expensive tools. Cheaper ones are also great, the only thing you will be losing out on is the premiumness and probably some convenience features.