Photography Gear: The Bare Necessities

By Jed Grant

Little GirlSo you want nice pictures. I don’t have incredible pictures yet, but I’m getting closer to taking pictures that I like. Here’s one I took last week, just trying out some of my new toys. I snagged my daughter and was able to get her to hold still for about 2 minutes.

It’s not exceptional, but it’s not half bad either. I’m going to tell you the gear I used for this. We’ll talk about settings and other details of setup later, but trust me, it’s not all that challenging, and that’s what makes photography exciting.


Pentax K-xThis is the camera I use. It works well, especially for the price tag.$500
Canon EOS Rebel T1iThis was the closest Canon model in terms of quality and specs to the Pentax K-x.$689
Canon EOS Rebel T2iWhile this model isn't as cheap as the T1i, it's specs such that I personally would buy this over the T1i.$969
Nikon D5000This was the closest Nikon model in terms of quality and specs to the Pentax K-x.$695
Lumopro LP160 FlashFull manual flash. Excellent quality, power and function.$160
YN-560 FlashFull Manual Flash. Good power and build quality. However there are sometimes manufacturer defects, but for half the price it may be worth it.$85
YN-460II FlashMake sure to read reviews here, there are some quality issues, but many people just getting into lighting with a flash find this acceptable particularly for less than $50.$56
Strobist Lighting KitI've purchased a few things from cowboy studio and found there products to be adequate, particularly when learning. This is a stand, shoot through umbrella, and a mount for your flash.$31 +shipping
Flash TriggersThese are used to get your flash off camera, which you will want to do asap. Another cowboy studio item, I've been quite pleased with mine. They also work across camera brands, which means you can use almost any flash you want with any camera and still get it to trigger.$23 +shipping

Total Cost for the cheap route (using a black sheet and GIMP): Less than $600. That’s cheap. In fact, that’s cheaper than the camera body of a Canon or Nikon of similar quality. It’s a pretty sweet deal and later I’ll tell you why it’s not the best idea in the world, but it’s still excellent as a learning or backup setup.

So for less than $1000 you can get everything you need and still have money for the movies… or some accessories. 🙂 Make sure to check prices on Adorama and B&H Photo they will sometimes offer better rates on shipping which can save you 20 bucks here and there.


40-inch 5-in-1 ReflectorDon't buy a reflector. It's not worth it. I did and I regret it. For almost the same price you can get a flash or a strobist kit and you need an assistant to use a reflector anyway.$30
GIMP: EditingIt's free, it's not nearly as good as Photoshop or Lightroom, but you can still do basic photo editing in it. Free
Paint.Net: Editing I prefer this one over gimp as it loads faster and has a slightly cleaner interface.Free
Eneloop Rechargeable AAsThese allow your flash to have faster recycle times and keep their charge longer than other rechargeable batteries.$18
Flash Gels & HolderThese can help you balance the color of your flash with the light in your environment so you don't need to color correct as much in a software application.$20
Camera BagI currently use this bag, my one gripe is that there are no dividers, so while things stay mostly in place, they can bounce around and hit one another. If you can find a bag with dividers, get it. Even if it's a little bigger.$33

Here’s a few other image taken with this setup.
Mom and Daughter
Little Boy

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