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  • Writer's pictureSandra Duran

My 5-year-old Photography Equipment and Why it's Great For Beginners (Like Very-Very Beginners).

I still remember when I had my first digital camera, I believe it was the Kodak Easyshare, in pink obviously. I remember it like it just happened yesterday, back in the days of Fotolog and MySpace (RIP) when my friends and I used to discuss how we didn't have any pictures to post during the middle school break. We used to arrange mall trips so we could take cool photos in the mall bathroom or the parking lot. Good times.

But, it was not until I moved to NYC and after getting inspired by all it's art that I wanted to know more about photography beyond the photos I could take with my iPhone 7. That's when I purchased my first DSLR.

The next camera equipment really helped me to figure out what photography was for me and to feel motivated to know more and get better. I knew NOTHING back then, but I got slightly better every time I used my camera. And I think it would do that for you too...

So here is a list of my most used lenses, my camera body, my tripod, extra cameras and more for you to check out and see if they might be useful for you, especially if you are just starting with fun and casual photography, or you just want to upgrade your "Instagram Game".

Camera Body

My camera honestly is very old and I probably should update soon. But cameras are EXPENSIVE! At least the one I want to upgrade to... Anyway, I bought my Nikon D530 in 2015 (wow, 5 years ago!) back then this camera was around for a while already (it was released in 2013) so I paid probably around $450 and I bought it USED through eBay because I wanted to save and I just didn't want to invest too much in something I was still learning about. Now, since it's been a lot of time since its release date, you will find it to a very similar price and new. I think this camera is great for starting photography or just having great pictures for Instagram or travels. Mine came with the 18-55mm lens which is a moderate wide-angle lens great for any type for photography and for beginners. You can also get the camera body only and invest in a different lens separately.

My favorite features about this camera are:

  • Wifi, so you can transfer your photos straight to your phone by connecting the WMU Nikon App to the camera using the wifi connection. You can use this app too as a Shutter Remote Control.

  • Flip Screen, so I see myself when I'm taking "selfies" or when I doing a self-portrait.

The only reason I want to upgrade, it's because I really want to try out Canon and challenge myself to be a better photographer. But overall, I love this camera and I'm grateful for all the adventures we have lived together. Ok, I'll move on before I get all emotional...


Moving on... I've had this camera for 5 years, so I've invested in a few lenses to make the most out of my camera body. I will list my two favorite lenses, besides de 18-55mm lens which came included with my camera body.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm

I'm not an expert in equipment, but I consider this Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm lens a must-have for standard portraits and product photography. It captures stunning images with a shallow depth-of-field which allows the subject to be really the center of attention. I use this lens when I'm taking a portrait, product photos, and when I'm in low-light situations since it does a great job sharpening the images.

This portrait photo was taken with this lens.

Tokina 11-16mm for Nikon

This is my most used lens and it was definitely an investment. The price point was as much as the camera itself ($400) BUT, it just the best lens I own. This Tokina 11-16mm for Nikon is an ultra-wide lens perfect for when you don't have a lot of space to move around and still want to capture a lot in the frame. It's very useful for real-estate photography. I personally bought in first place for my Walt Disney World trip last year, LOL. Since I wanted pictures for my outfits and I knew how crowded Disney can get, I wanted to still be able to get a good shot with the limited amount of space around me. The results did not disappoint! Since then, I use it in prob 85% of my pictures on Instagram. But again, it's an investment, so choose wisely.

This wide-angle photo was taken with this lense. Note that the camera was very close to my face and still capture a lot in the frame. That I later cut because nobody wanted to see my stinky slippers on the side haha.


This ZOMEI Tripod is probably the best buy I've made when it comes to camera accessories. I bought it back in 2016 before going to my solo-trip in The Netherlands. Before meeting my boyfriend Tom, I used to solo-travel a LOT. So, I needed a companion to get pictures, especially in countries where I don't speak the native language and can't ask strangers for a photo. Plus, when it comes to DSLR cameras, you don't want to shoot all in "Automatic". I want to be able to play with the light and focusing properly, which a total stranger might not do for you (unless you run into a professional photographer and you're lucky to have him/her to take your photo...).

With that being said, I really needed a tripod to get good pictures alone. This one has lasted all these 4 years, it had come with me to The Netherlands, Thailand, The Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Miami, Paris, England, Los Angeles, and it's still INTACT. It's very lightweight, my back and I can assure you that after backpacking with it in Thailand... I highly, HIGHLY recommend this brand!

This photo was taken "almost" at the edge of the cliff at the Grand Canyon in 2017 using my tripod.

Wireless Remote Control Shutter

This Wireless Remote Control Shutter is another MUST-HAVE for self-portraits and solo-traveling. The Nikon app has a function that works as a remote control, but sometimes I was in the situation when my phone battery was almost dead and I needed to get a shot. That's when this little guy came to the rescue, it's faster to get the shot, wireless and it's smaller than a phone. So it is definitely easier to hide when I'm taking self-portraits. I have like three of these since they're very inexpensive and it comes in a little, tiny and cute velvet pouch to keep it safe. I love it!

Ring Light

This 8'' Ring Light is a very recent purchase but I couldn't be happier with it! It truly helps to get crispier photos even using my phone and it super helpful while recording video. The tripod holds an iPhone or Android (which is a double win for me since I don't have an iPhone tripod) and it's under $50 dlls. I highly recommend it, especially if your place doesn't get a lot of natural light during the day!

Other fun cameras

The next two cameras are definitely not everyday use or essentials, and they are definitely not 5 year-old cameras, but they are so fun to experiment with to get different effects and very easy to use. They are great to just have fun memories from my travels or events.

Instapix Mini 9

I remember I initially bought this Instapix Mini 9 for my 27th birthday. I really wanted some fun pictures from my party and the feeling of having a "physical memory" is incredible and even better if I can give some to my guests. I truly love its nostalgic-modern vibe!

GoPro Hero5

I probably have used this GoPro Hero5 around 6 times and all of them were on my Thailand trip (the main reason why I bought it in the first place). It's waterproof and captures motion very well. It has a wide-angle lens so it's great for recording videos. My favorite thing is probably that it works great at night. I recorded my favorite moment in life so far with it: The Lantern Festival "Yee Peng". I will always always be thankful for having this little guy with me and treasure this memory forever. See the video below.

Video Recorded with GoPro Hero5. BEST DAY EVER. I literally cry every time I see this video. 🥺

So there you have it... Although my photography skills and my equipment are definitely not the best and I'm not an expert whatsoever, I enjoy photography so much and I have fun with it. I love being creative and this quarantine has brought my creativity to a level that was hard to reach before. Remember that you don't need the most expensive equipment or major skills to create something amazing. Just have fun and create memories, that's all that matters!

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