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From my first camera and lens to my current photography gear…

Updated: Aug 5, 2023

Where to start?

Camera kit, overwhelming much?! There’s so many items out there (and most of it costs a fortune). So, where do you start? Google. It’s great, right? Yes, but be prepared to sift through every person and their dog arguing over why their choice of brand is the best and god forbid they have to use a crop frame sensor or a kit lens. I’m pretty sure that’s how all of us started, so tone down the crop frame hate please people.

Nikon Z5 camera manual sit on a dark wooden desk. The lens cap sits on top and there's a computer mouse and bee coaster in the background

I did in fact start with a crop frame and kit lens. My beloved Nikon D3500, bought second hand from eBay and it served me incredibly well. I remember picking up this camera with zero idea of how to use it, feeling overwhelmed and regretting my choice to pursue my photography interest. ‘Let’s just box it up and send it back?’ ran through my head a few times after producing some out of focus, grainy photos (we've all been there, right?).

BUT I carried on, I YouTubed, I Googled, I practiced (my dog has developed some excellent modelling skills in the process) and I found myself wanting to photograph anything and everything. I wanted to understand how my camera worked and the importance of getting out of shooting in auto. I really wanted to be able produce photos with gorgeous bokeh backgrounds. So, the obvious next step was to buy a second lens (second hand, of course). The ‘nifty fifty’. I loved it and went through a phase of shooting everything at F1.8, just because I could. It felt like such a step up from learning with a kit lens and this is when I think I caught the photography bug once and for all.

A woman's hand holds a nikkor 50mm prime lens, she is wearing blue nail varnish and there's a green leaf table in the background

Current Kit

After a year with my D3500 I started to think about upgrading. The D3500 was great and I recommend it as a starter DSLR for any beginner, but I needed something that would work in low light conditions and it just wasn’t cutting it. After a lot of researching and reaching out to fellow Instagram photographer friends for advice (thank you!), I decided to go mirrorless. I traded in my D3500 and lenses and now my kit bag looks like this:

· Nikon Z6ii body

· Nikon Z5 body

· Nikkor 24-70mm F4 lens

· Nikkor 50mm F1.8 lens

· Godox TT685ii flash

· 2 x hard drives (download, upload - you know the drill)

· Multiple memory cards – SD 64gb and CF Express Type B

· 2 x lens hoods

· Travel friendly tripod

an array of camera gear is placed on a green rug. It includes a Nikon Z5 camera and lens, multiple SD cards, a Godox flash, green memory card holder and two black hardrives

It’s difficult to not fall down the rabbit hole of thinking you need the best lens/camera body AND lots of kit to produce good photos. You really don’t. Taking the time to understand your camera settings and understanding why that photo didn’t turn out quite so good is far more beneficial, especially in the beginning. I bought second hand to start with and some of my kit now is second hand. is a photographer’s best friend for buying and selling camera gear.

So, if you’re just starting out take the time to research and ask the questions. Stick with it, you got this! We’re all still learning.


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