Welcome to a guide and recommendations on the equipment for cosplay photography. Whether you are a casual cosplay photographer or an expert ninja photographer, I am sure all of us need some gear in the world of photography.
But looking back at my beginner days, I have surely made quite a lot of regrettable purchases… So here it is, I have compiled a list of equipment recommendations for your consideration, so you hopefully don’t have to make the same regrettable choices – Read on!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|Casual Photographers||Beginner Photographers||Advanced Photographers|
|Expert Photographers||Affordable Extras||The End|
CASUAL COSPLAY PHOTOGRAPHERS
Just doing cosplay photography for fun? Don’t want to break the piggy bank and spend too much money? Here are a few affordable gears you can check out.
- Basic: Use your smartphone
- OR compact camera: Get a simple compact camera with a 1″ sensor – Panasonic Lumix ZS100 | Canon G5X | Sony RX100
- Lights: Godox LED64 | LED Ring Light | 5 in 1 Reflector
NOTES & SUGGESTIONS
If casual photography is your thing, just keep things simple and enjoy the process. Most smartphone cameras these days are good enough, but that tiny little built-in LED is horrible for portraits. Do consider getting yourself a mini LED video light or any generic LED ring light, they don’t break the piggy bank anyway.
If you want better photo quality, a better camera is the only option. For those who are uninitiated in the world of photography – It is not the number of megapixels that determines the picture quality, but the image sensor itself. If you don’t mind pre-owned, you can still get a rather decent compact point-and-shoot camera within the $500 range.
Just started with photography? Not quite sure what to get, or if cosplay photography is your “thing”? Here are a few gear recommendations.
- Entry-Mid level Camera
- Lens (Remember to search for the correct mount that fits your camera, or use an adapter)
- Basic kit lens: 16-55mm or 18-55mm (don’t need to get this separately, find one that is packaged with the camera).
- OR better zoom lens: Sigma 17-50mm f2.8
- OR if you have money: Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 Art
- Flash: Godox TT600 + X1T (Make sure you get the set of flash plus wireless trigger. Also, the correct one for your camera – Sony, Canon, Nikon all have different mounts)
- LED: Yongnuo YN-300 Air
- Reflector: 5 in 1 Reflector
NOTES & SUGGESTIONS
A BETTER CAMERA FROM THE START
As you can see, I have suggested affordable entry-level and mid-lower range mirrorless cameras above. Here’s the thing, you decide your own comfortable starting point and budget. But personally, I started with a humble entry-level Nikon.
It took me less than one year to hit the wall – Hey, I can’t do high-speed sync with it. I can’t do burst shots fast enough for action shots. The ISO performance and image quality are lacking, etc… So yep. If you are serious about photography, consider the long term and skip the entry-level cameras.
I ended up wasting money upgrading the camera in a short span, and trying to get rid of an entry-level camera was quite a challenge. But if you are all right with staying with an entry-level for a few years, then go ahead.
CHOICE OF LENSES
Good glass will last longer than the camera body. That is true, but the problem is, do you have deep pockets and money to burn for expensive lenses? So yes, I recommended getting the “default” kit lens from the start… Those are usable, but not fantastic by any means. Good enough for most beginners, and for figuring out how photography works.
For you guys with money to spend (envy), go ahead and skip the kit lens. Get yourself a better zoom lens right from the start, that will serve you well for the years to come.
Flash, LED, reflector, or all of them? Here’s the thing, lighting in photography is complex, and every photographer has their own lighting preferences. It is kind of difficult for beginners to really grasp what they want from the start. So here’s a quick tip – Don’t splurge a thousand bucks on lighting and regret later.
Start small and simple instead. A single Godox flash or LED panel is a good start, plus a reflector to boost the lighting a bit. Either option can be “expanded” in the future by buying more lights, or should you decide to just use natural light – Just sell the flash/LED and stick with using the reflector.
Well met, fellow cosplay photographer. Here is a quick sharing of my “ideal target equipment”.
- Crop: Nikon Z50 | Canon M200 | Sony A6500
- Full-Frame: Nikon Z6 | Canon EOS R | Sony A7R III (might be able to get a pre-owned mark IV for a good price if you are lucky)
- Zoom – Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 (better than the kit lens) | Sigma 24-105mm f/4 Art (very decent zoom) | Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 Art (good workhorse)
- Prime – Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art
NOTES & SUGGESTIONS
DSLR VS MIRRORLESS
Yes, I have suggested mirrorless cameras only… I suppose that we can safely say DSLR is in the “sunset” phase of the product lifespan. Not that they are bad, you still can get very good deals if you are lucky. So here goes, if you are interested – Nikon D850 | Canon 5D Mark IV
CHOICE OF LENSES
I am quite a nut for the Sigma Art series. For you guys who are still thinking “third-party lenses are bad”, go check out all the reviews on the Internet and YouTube. The Sigma Art series is easily one of the best alternatives – They cost only a fraction of the “original”, and they sometimes even outperform the “original” counterpart. Who can hate that!?
Over here, I have to give some credits to the Godox AD200. It is a flexible gadget with an exchangeable head – You can configure it to be a flash, LED, or strobe. It simply just makes more sense to shell out a bit more money to get one of these lights, they are not excessively heavy either, just a perfect alternative for the “traditional” flash.
Also, if you are looking for a good LED panel without breaking the piggy bank, check out the YongNuo Air II. This one is interestingly RGB and Bluetooth enabled – It can be controlled via a smartphone app.
Ah, a master ninja cosplay photographer. Only the best can bring out the maximum potential of master-class equipment… Just kidding, kind of. Here is actually a list of my “dream equipment”, but be warned of the crazy price tags.
- Top of the cream camera: Nikon Z9 | Canon EOS R5 | Sony A9 II
NOTES & SUGGESTIONS
Yep, these are what I will probably buy if I have all the money in the world to splurge. Don’t think they need a lot of introduction. These are simply the top-of-the-cream product lines, extremely good workhorses… The only problem is with the price tag.
Want to spice up your cosplay photography? Here are a few more ideas and affordable extras.
Yep, props are not only meant for cosplayers. Regardless of your current skill level, photographers can also use a couple of small props to spice up the photos.
- Flower petals
- Artificial Flowers – Sakura | Maple | Flowers
- Bubble Gun
One bright backlight behind the cosplayer creates a lot of drama, but that is not enough. Spray some water behind using a Supersoaker Scatterblast, or a pressure watering can for that epic shot.
Have a busy background that you don’t like? Or want to convert a room into a studio? Get a cheap backdrop… The only problem is where and how you hang it up though – If all else fails, get a backdrop stand kit.
We have come to the end of this guide, and I hope that this has given you an idea of what to get for cosplay photography. As a final piece of sharing – Cosplay photography is not all about the equipment, but more about creativity.
Use a flashlight with color gels to add colors to the background. Top it up with a cape flip, spray some water with a bottle, and that is an epic photo without requiring all those “expensive explosive equipment”. Good luck, and happy shooting!