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Top Five Beginner Camera Gear

Updated 2023

So you are becoming obsessed with this hobby huh?  Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me!  Why not take your obsession to a new level?  YouTube?  Instagram? The sky is the limit.  All you need is your smartphone and a good idea!

I started in this hobby with just my phone.  I filmed everything, all videos, all photos, with whatever the latest iPhone was.  I slowly started to upgrade and get additional gear.

I use the following five things on this list every week if not everyday!  Some of them I even own multiple sets of!

You don’t need fancy gear, really, you don’t.  But with each piece of gear your get, it will open up new possibilities for your creativity.  Tripods, camera filters, led lights, etc., these are my top items perfect for an aspiring social media guru!

5. SquidGrip Flexible Smartphone Tripod

I think the most famous handheld tripod is the Joby GorillaPod, and it’s a nice item.  It’s the one that Casey Neistat vlogs with, so you know it works.

But I like this one better!  The flexible legs can be bent into any shape, mounted on a tabletop, wrapped around a pole, you get the idea.

Now one word of caution: After about two years, one of the legs broke, which basically rendered the entire thing useless.  But, I liked it enough to get a second one!

This SquidGrip does come with a lifetime warranty, which I’m just realizing for the first time, so I could have gotten a replacement for free!  Oh well

This upgraded version is extra-awesome because it comes with an all-metal 360° ball joint which you can use to mount your phone at any angle, including upright for those all important Instagram Stories!

If you were to buy one thing on this list, get this tripod.  It’s awesome and sooooo flexible!

4. Neewer Camera Tripod

This tripod is the most expensive item on this list, but there is a good reason for that.  First off, it’s heavy duty, but light.  It’s made of an aluminum alloy, and can stretch up to 75″ (191 cm), which is great for anybody who is tall.

There is a detachable monopod (which I have never used!) for those who just want a steady pole during a hike!

But, are you ready for it?, here is the thing that sets this tripod above and beyond any other tripod I own (and I own six tripods!)

  • the center bar can be turned 90°, completely horizontal, which is perfect for those top-down unboxing shots!

It’s expensive, coming in at around $150, but I’ve owned mine for years and it works great.  It is not the most compact tripod though.  If you want a slightly smaller tripod, lighter, and that will fit in a backpack, check out this TYCKA Rangers 56″ Travel Tripod instead.

3. GEEKOTO 18" Dimmable Ring Light w/Tripod

I have owned several different ring lights, and none of them have been quite right.  This version comes the closest though.  Here’s why:

  • Dimmable – this ring light is completely dimmable
  • Color Temperature – you can easily change from cool to warm light
  • Tripod – it works, but it’s pretty crappy
  • Optional Batteries – while it doesn’t come with batteries, you can use them on this light to make it mobile.

A ring light is simply the best/least expensive light available to take videos of yourself or small items.  It provides an all-around light that will instantly upgrade your content from dim to bright.

I use the ring light anytime I film myself, and I also frequently use it when doing unboxing videos.  It is not great for filming fish, because the light will cast a huge reflection on the glass.  The best way to capture your livestock is to use your aquarium lights.

2. Neewer Dimmable LED w/Batteries & Charger

I own two of these kits.  One of the great things about this kit?  You can use the batteries for the ring light above!

This kit comes with a carrying case, charger, two rechargeable batteries, dimmable LED light, and two diffusers.  You can mount this to your camera using the hot shoe, but if you want to put it anywhere else, you’ll need a tripod.

I almost alway mount these to a tripod to give a bit more lighting to whatever I’m filming.  I use it to light up a background, or to remove shadows when doing some up-close filming.

These are small lights, but for their price, they add a lot of value and give you flexibility when shooting.  I use mine all the time!

1. Polyplab Coral View Smartphone Lens

The hardest thing about capturing great images of your saltwater fish and corals, is getting rid of the blue.  Since most, if not all smartphones have an automatic white balance, the blue spectrum on your aquarium lights just washes everything out.  You may have a stunningly bright coral to the naked eye, but every time you take a picture it comes out blue!

This is the easiest solution to this problem.  Whenever I am using my iPhone to take pictures of my tank, I either have to adjust my aquarium lights, or to make life easier, I just clip this on.

Yes, the photos look a tiny bit yellow/orange, but the improvement is drastic!  The vast majority of hobbyists just don’t know how to take good pictures of their tanks.  But if you buy this, you will immediately put yourself above 80% of hobbyists.  For around $20, you will be able to use this for years.