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Photography Equipment Basics:  What You Need to Know

This is a pretty comprehensive list of the basic equipment you use in photography.

DSLR Camera

A digital single-lens reflex camera (also called a digital SLR or DSLR) is a digital camera combining the optics and the mechanisms of a single-lens reflex camera with a digital imaging sensor, as opposed to photographic film. The reflex design scheme is the primary difference between a DSLR and other digital cameras. In the reflex design, light travels through the lens, then to a mirror that alternates to send the image to either the viewfinder or the image sensor. The alternative would be to have a viewfinder with its own lens, hence the term “single lens” for this design. By using only one lens, the viewfinder of a DSLR presents an image that will not perceptibly differ from what is captured by the camera’s sensor.

DSLRs largely replaced film-based SLRs during the 2000s, and despite the rising popularity of mirrorless system cameras in the early 2010s, DSLRs remain the most common type of interchangeable lens camera in use.

Camera Strap

A necessity, this item connects to the camera and allows for the camera to be worn around your neck or preferably, across your shoulder.

Camera Bag/Case

Another necessity, a bag specifically designed to hold one or two cameras, lenses, flashes, batteries, cleaning supplies, and other items.

Memory Card

This small card, which comes in two formats (SD or CF, depending on the camera) is inserted into your camera in a slot and stores the photos you take, much like a CD Rom stores files on your computer.


What gives your camera power.  It is imperative to have and carry extra batteries with you.

Battery Grip

An optional addition, it connects to your camera and allows it to use two batteries as opposed to the usual one.  It is also helpful in taking photos with the camera in the vertical position, as it has a shutter button on its side.

Pop-Up Shade

This item fits on the back of the camera, providing shade so that you can see the display better.

Remote Shutter Release

Either wireless or wired, this item is plugged into the camera and allows you to depress the shutter button without touching the camera.  It is particularly good when using slow shutter speeds.


A stand with legs on which to attach your camera allowing you to keep the camera still.  Especially good for low light photography.

Camera and Lens Cleaning Supplies

It’s always good to carry with you cleaning supplies to clean your lenses or camera (with care).  A cleaning kit may include the following:  lens cleaning solution; lens brush/pen; air blower cleaner; and a lens cloth.


A camera lens is an optical lens or assembly of lenses used in conjunction with a camera body and mechanism to make images of objects either on photographic film or on other media capable of storing an image chemically or electronically.  A lens may be permanently fixed to a camera, or it may be interchangeable with lenses of different focal lengths, apertures, and other properties.  There are different types of lenses.  These are the main types:

Wide Angle

A wide angle lens is a lens whose focal length is substantially smaller than the focal length of a normal lens for a given film plane. This type of lens allows more of the scene to be included in the photograph, which is useful in architectural, interior and landscape photography where the photographer may not be able to move farther from the scene to photograph it.

Another use is where the photographer wishes to emphasize the difference in size or distance between objects in the foreground and the background; nearby objects appear very large and objects at a moderate distance appear small and far away.

This exaggeration of relative size can be used to make foreground objects more prominent and striking, while capturing expansive backgrounds.


A telephoto lens is a lens with a longer focal length than standard, giving a narrow field of view and a magnified image.


A macro lens is a lens suitable for taking photographs unusually close to the subject. Popular macro subjects: insects, flowers, abstract images.


A fisheye lens is an ultra wide angle lens that produces strong visual distortion intended to create a wide panoramic or hemispherical image. Often, these lenses give a circular effect.


Camera lens filters can serve different purposes in digital photography. They can be indispensable for capturing scenery in extremely difficult lighting conditions, they can enhance colors and reduce reflections or can simply protect lenses. Filters are widely used in photography and cinematography and while some only use filters in rare situations, others rely on filters for their everyday work. For example, landscape photographers heavily rely on various filters, while street and portrait photographers rarely get to use them. Since digital photography is all about the quality and intensity of light, lens filters are often necessary to modify the light before it enters the lens. Many photographers think that some of the built-in tools in Lightroom and Photoshop can simulate filter behavior, making filters redundant in the digital age. The most popular lens filters are circular, screw-on filters. Those mount directly onto the filter thread in front of a lens. They come in different sizes, depending on the lens filter thread. The standard and the most common size of screw-on filters for professional lenses is 77mm.

Lens Hood/Lens Shade

In photography, a lens hood or lens shade is a device used on the front end of a lens to block the Sun or other light source(s) to prevent glare and lens flare. Lens hoods may also be used to protect the lens from scratches and the elements without having to put on a lens cover.

External Flash

A separate unit from the camera that is either placed on a camera’s hot shoe or is held or placed on a light stand. Effective for bouncing light and provides better results than the on-camera flash.

Light Meter

An instrument that provides a measurement of the exposure, tells users exactly what shutter speed/aperture combination to use based on the 18% gray standard, and can even provide detailed charts and graphs on the quality and color of the lights one is using. Generally, it will be seen as a tool to check exposure settings for perfectly balanced images. Additionally, some models can provide other exceptionally useful capabilities, such as flash metering, color temperature readings, and more.


A device used in the studio to produce regular flashes of light. It is used in lieu of hot lights, and is placed on a light stand. Used most often in glamour photography.

Continuous (Hot) Lights

An alternate to strobe lights, hot lights are always on.


A soft box with a cover of material/fabric used to diffuse light. It spreads out the light and makes the light on the subject softer than the light resulting from a light without a soft box.


Like the softbox, a photographic umbrella is placed in front of or behind studio lights in order to diffuse and soften the light falling on the subject.

Light Stand

A stand that sits on the floor which holds strobes, hot lights, flashes, softboxes, and umbrellas.


A cloth sheet/muslin that is placed behind the subject, either on a wall, or a stand, that provides a solid or patterned background for studio photography. It comes in a variety of colors.


A reflector is a device made of reflective material (typically silver, gold, or white) used to reflect or bounce light. They are made so they can be folded and placed in a camera bag for use in off-site or studio photography.


A piece of fabric placed in front of a strobe or hot light that diffuses the light.

Egg Crate

A soft grid placed on the front of a softbox that allows the light to be directed more easily.

Foam Core

Hard posterboard with a foam center that is used to block or direct light.


A piece of black fabric used on a stand in the studio to block light.

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SkyPotatoFire Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2017
Good stuff.
cjheery Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2017  Professional Traditional Artist
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Submitted on
July 24, 2017


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