The Essential Photography Equipment Checklist in 2022

A photography equipment checklist is the best way to stay organized. Whether you're a beginner or professional, it can be difficult to keep your photography equipment in order. There's a lot of information out there. And you need to stay focused on what's important.


Our photography equipment checklist guides you through the confusing photography world. We'll give you all the photography equipment you need know. And you'll be able to build your equipment base without wasting time and money on useless camera gear.

Photographer using camera and tripod next to a pond© Fai Tiera


The Essential Photography Equipment Checklist

Our photography equipment checklist has all the essentials. We start with the most important pieces of kit. Then we go through the additional pieces of gear that'll build your equipment base, so you can survive as a photographer.


You don't need to buy all the equipment on the list immediately. But this equipment checklist will help you plan your strategy, helping you build your equipment base. And step by step, you'll be prepared for any photography scenario.


The Camera

You can't take any photos without a camera. It's the most important part of a photographer's kit list. And it's the best place to start any photography equipment checklist. But there are different cameras out there. So you need to find the one that suits your needs as a photographer.


There is a range of camera comparison websites you can try out to help you narrow down your options. To help you start, we’ll give you the basics on what to look out for:


Type of Camera


There are different types of cameras to choose from. And it can be confusing at first glance. But when you know what's available, you can find the type of camera you need.  


We'll start with compact cameras. They have a fixed lens, often with zoom capabilities. They are small cameras, as the name suggests. And they are easy to use. They are also known as point-and-shoot cameras.


You also have interchangeable lens cameras. These have lenses you can detach from the camera bodies, allowing you to change lenses at any time. There are different types of interchangeable lens cameras.


You have DSLR cameras that have a mechanical shutter system. They are reliable with excellent photography specifications. Then you have mirrorless cameras. These have an electronic shutter instead of a mechanical one. They often have a smaller and lighter camera body than DSLRs. And they have impressive specs for photos and videos.


Sensor Size

The size of the sensor says a lot about the camera. It gives you an indication of the camera's capabilities. It gives you an idea of the user level of the camera. And it can even give you clues about the price.


Compact cameras often have a 1-inch sensor. Interchangeable lens cameras have three common sensor sizes. There are micro four thirds, which are the smallest of the three. Then there's the APS-C sensor in the middle, which is the most common sensor size. And then there are full-frame sensors, which are the biggest of the three.


To get an idea of the image quality you can expect, compare sensor size and the megapixel (MP) count. While this is only a general rule, the higher the MP count, the better the image quality. And larger sensors tend to have more MP.


You also have medium format cameras. Their sensors are larger than full frame. They have very high MP counts and produce high-quality images. But they are specialist machines. They are expensive, professional-level cameras.

Man in rain coat taking a picture with a Nikon camera © Vincent Riszdorfer


Camera Lenses

If you're working with a compact camera, you don't need to worry about additional lenses. But if you have a DSLR or mirrorless camera, lenses are something you need to think about.


You have prime and zoom lenses. Prime lenses have a fixed focal length. For example, a 50mm prime lens has a fixed focal length of 50mm. The level of magnification doesn't change. Zoom lenses have a changeable focal length that magnifies the image through the lens. With a 24-100mm lens, you can adjust the focal length between those limits to zoom in and out.


Zoom lenses are more versatile and give you more shot options without changing lenses. And prime lenses tend to have better optical quality, featuring less aberration and distortion.


A wide-angle lens has a short focal length, giving you a wider view of the scene. A telephoto lens has a large focal length and gives you incredible levels of magnification. They're popular with wildlife and sports photographers.


You can get lenses for macro photography if you like shooting things close up. And fisheye lenses give you an ultra-wide-angle view.

Silhouette of a photographer using a telephoto lens  © Jonathan Mabey


Camera Cleaning Products

Camera and lens maintenance is an essential part of being a photographer. It isn't glamorous, but keeping your camera clean is vital to your success as a photographer. Unclean camera equipment can affect your work. And it can even ruin your gear.


Don't be tempted to clean a camera lens with any old cloth. You'll do more harm than good. You need a special camera cloth for wiping the lens glass. Normal fabrics will scratch and smudge your lenses, ruining the quality of your images.


You can also get air blowers to clean dust from the sensor. The sensor is incredibly sensitive, so you should never touch it. A professional camera might have a built-in sensor cleaning system. If not, you can use an air blower to remove dust without causing any damage.

Camera body and visible sensor © Alexander Andrews


Camera Bags

A camera bag is just as important as the photography equipment you put inside it. And as soon as you start shooting outside your house, you need a good camera back. They keep your camera safe and protected when you're on the move.


Many photographers use camera backpacks. They strap onto your shoulders like a normal backpack, but they have padded pouches that protect your camera gear. A good camera backpack will have enough space for two camera bodies and at least two lenses.

Messenger bags are also popular. They're stylish and strap over one shoulder. And they give you easy access to your photography equipment. They're not as spacious as backpacks, but many photographers prefer messenger camera bags.


Hard cases are another useful type of camera bag. They're ideal if you're flying and need to travel with your camera equipment. Professional photographers need a hard case if they travel for work.

Camera backpack full of equipment © Robin McSkelly


Memory Cards

All digital photographers need memory cards. Professional photographers might carry dozens at a time. But even amateurs won't get far with only one memory card. They fill up fast on a photo shoot. And you'll always need spare memory cards. That means you also need a memory card case.

Open memory card case with memory cards © Erik McLean


Editing Software

Photographers of all levels use editing or post-processing software. Some use them for touch-ups and adjustments. And other photographers make large, sweeping changes to their work in post-processing.


Adobe is the big name in photo editing software. Adobe Lightroom has become a must-have for amateur and professional photographers alike. And Adobe Photoshop is the industry-leading software for image editing. You also have AI-powered editing software like Luminar Neo from Skylum.

Man using photo editing software on a laptop

 © Igor Lypnytskyi


Tripod

Not all photographers use tripods. But for some, they're a vital piece of equipment. And that's why a tripod should be on your photography equipment list. Landscape photographers always use a tripod. And they're also popular with portrait, product, and food photographers. You can't do long exposure photography without one.


Big tripods take up a lot of space. And they can be heavy too. But there are plenty of excellent travel tripods available for photographers who move around a lot. And there are mini tripods for tabletop photography.


Sports photographers often go for a monopod. You still have stability when shooting, but you have more freedom to move with the camera attached.

Silhouette of photographer with camera on a tripod at night © Saajithan Thayaparan


External Flash

Photography is all about light. And sometimes, there just isn't enough. That's when you need a flash. Some cameras have a built-in flash. But many cameras don't have one, so you need an external flash.


External flashes connect to your camera using the hot shoe connection. Once fitted, the external flash will sync with your camera to give you a flash of light at the perfect moment. You can also sync several external flashes to one camera for more effects. They're important camera accessories to have on your list.

Man holding camera to his face with a flash © Luciano Zanollo


External Hard Drive

An external hard drive might not sound like photography gear. But when using a digital camera, you need digital storage for your images. You'll find your memory cards, pen drives, and laptop filling up fast. You need extra digital storage so you don't have to delete photos to make room.


There are large hard drives for your home office. And there are tough and durable portable options, so you have extra storage when you're out in the field. You won't regret the investment. Hard drives are definitely an important piece of modern photography gear.

Woman working on a laptop with external hard drive attached © Andrew Neel


Reflectors

Reflectors give you more control over light when taking photographs. You can create a brighter scene by reflecting light onto your subject. You can remove unwanted shadows in portrait and product photography. And you can create more contrast in black and white photography.


Not all photographers use reflectors. They don't have much use in street and landscape photography. But reflectors are essential in fashion and portrait photography. They are vital pieces of photography equipment in a studio setup. And there are portable reflectors for photography shoots on location.

Studio photography of wedding couple and assistant using reflector 

© I. Schukigor


Conclusion

A photography equipment checklist helps you plan and prepare. Whether planning your path into photography or your next big shoot, a photography equipment list can help. You'll have the essential camera gear without being weighed down by unnecessary camera accessories.


We started our list with the must-have items on a photography equipment list. The main ones are the camera and lenses. And you also need cleaning tools. Then you have additional items like camera bags, tripods, and flashes.


You can slowly build your equipment base, checking things off as you go. Once you have a full photography checklist, you'll be prepared for any photography situation.


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“I’m really loving how I can turn into a background, use it to fill shadow or add more shadows, and also as a changing room lol. I’m loving it.”

Jefferson L.