Picking the right gear when getting into outdoor photography can be extremely overwhelming. Finding that perfect starter setup to fulfill your needs while on a budget is downright tough and takes time. A lot of people might think it should be simple, just pick a camera that can take quality pictures and get out and shoot! You and I both know that there is so much more to consider than that- there’s factors like DSLR or mirrorless? Used or brand new? Prime or zoom lens? With endless camera body options, lenses, and accessories, equipment research is exhausting.

There’s an ancient myth out there that says you need an expensive photography setup if you want to achieve amazing photos. Today we’re going to completely squash that myth and examine how pro photography can be achieved on a budget.

Budget Acceptable Photography

Before we get started, I want to ingrain a message in you that I hope you will revisit throughout your photography career:

Pro tip: the best camera is the one you have with you.

Photography at Joshua Tree National Park

It does not matter if you have a $12 000.00 camera or an iPhone camera, if your composition is garbage and you can’t adequately use the equipment you have then your photography won’t be solid.

With that being said, there is a way to achieve a quality setup on a budget if you are looking to begin your photography journey. I recommend starting out with these three basic pieces of equipment before delving into all the bells and whistles.

See: Outdoor Photography Fundamentals

Camera Body

For outdoor photography specifically, I am a huge advocate of mirrorless cameras. Imagine hiking up a mountain or rock climbing with a heavy 10 pound DSLR attached to you. Personally, that doesn’t sound like fun at all so I prefer shooting with a lightweight and compact mirrorless camera.

The best starter mirrorless camera on the market is the Sony a6000. For about $680.00 CAD, the a6000 is a small but capable machine. In terms of image quality, the a6000 is the best you can get at this price point. Similar to most DSLRs, the camera has a 24.3 megapixel APS-C sensor that produces quality images. The a6000 performs well in low lighting conditions and can go up to about 6400 ISO ,when shooting in RAW, before the image gets too noisy.

The Sony a6000 outperforms its’ competitors in the same price bracket due to the fact that it can shoot 11 frames per second on high continuous mode. Additionally, the AF is considered the world’s fastest autofocus. It’s fast and sharp which makes the a6000 a perfect option if you’re interested in shooting wildlife or action sports outside.

Photography in the Yukon

Lens

As you dive further into your photography journey, you’ll feel compelled to grow your lens collection. My suggestion is that before you start adding more glass, get comfortable with a solid all around lens. The Sony a6000 kit lens honestly gets the job done while still producing exceptional images. The kit lens is a Sony E 16-50 mm f/ 3.4-5.6 OSS which utilizes Optical SteadyShot image stabilization to prevent camera shake.

What’s amazing about this lens is that when bundled with the Sony a6000, the price is about $780.00 CAD.

It’s important to make the most out of your kit lens in order to really understand its’ limitations. Once you find your photography being held back by your lens, you will know it’s time for a new lens addition!

Tripod

No matter what level you’re at, a tripod is an essential piece of gear for any photographer. There’s so many situations in the outdoors especially where a tripod is absolutely essential. Long exposure landscape photography is among my favourite types of photography to shoot. Personally, there’s nothing better than backcountry camping in the mountains and shooting astrophotography.

In order to attempt long exposure photography, a solid tripod is a must. I recommend the MeFOTO Backpacker Travel Tripod. This was my first tripod and one that I still use all the time. The MeFOTO Backpacker tripod is durable, inexpensive, and incredibly lightweight.

I mention weight because it’s really important to consider your tripod’s weight depending on the type of shooting you’re doing. Again, it would suck to be caught multi-day hiking with a heavy camera and equally heavy tripod. Weighing in at 2.6 lbs, this tripod is one of the lightest tripods on the market.

Additionally, the Backpacker Travel Tripod costs around $185.00 CAD which makes it super affordable.

Final Thoughts

Coming in at $965.00 CAD, the Sony a6000, kit lens, and MEFOTO backpacker tripod is a budget friendly option if you’re looking to start your pro outdoor photography career. These three pieces of equipment will allow you to just get out and start shooting without having to break the bank.

Written by Hailey Playfair

Hailey is an accomplished adventure and outdoor lifestyle photographer, she is the Co-Founder of Life Outside Studio, and is wildly passionate about the outdoors. Her work has brought her all around the globe, specifically to some of the most remote places in Iceland and Canada's North where has been tested against the extreme elements. Hailey is an avid hiker, backpacker, and explorer. When she's not outside, Hailey can be found preparing for her next big adventure by beating herself up in the gym, dehydrating plant based backpacking meals, and spreading the message of living a vegan lifestyle while pursuing a living in the great outdoors.

Leave a Reply