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5 must-have equipment for Long Exposure Photography

Photo by Siebe Warmoeskerken on Unsplash

Long exposure photography is fun, especially when you start to get results like the images below.

photo of light trail - Long exposure school
Photo by Mattias Diesel
photo of waterfall - Long exposure school
Photo by George Alexandru Novac

I’ll argue that it is one of those kinds of photography that is much more fun inducing than any other kinds.

Well, while it is fun to do, long exposure photography is not done by general method like point and shoot.

The ‘secret sauce’ for that gorgeous long exposure photograph is the equipment used to shoot it.

Here I present 6 must-have equipment for long exposure photography.

Pro-Grade Camera

So, it is pretty obvious that you need a pro grade camera for long exposure photography.

By pro-grade, I mean the camera that allows you to manually control basic camera funtions such as shutter speed, ISO and aperture.

Almost all DSLR and Mirrorless camera have manual mode and some high end point-and-shoot cameras also have it.

Even almost every mid-tier and high end smartphone like Galaxy and iPhone have it built in.

So, for the camera department, you can get away with any one of those that have manual mode.

Also, DSLR and Mirrorless cameras have another mode called Bulb Mode which allows you to open shutter for way more than manual mode would allow.

So, if you’re really focused on long exposure photography, I would recommend a DSLR or a Mirrorless camera for you.

DSLR Camera

Tripod

So, the tripod is considered literally the must-must have for long exposure photography.

And, there’s a reason for that.

As long exposure photography is done by opening the camera shutter for a certain amount of time so that light keeps on hitting the sensor.

While the camera sensor is receiving light, a smallest of a shake could result in a horrible looking photo.

So, there’s no way you’re going to shoot long exposures only using your hands.

That’s why there’s a tripod for the win.

Generally, tripods come in different sizes. Ranging from ground-chest level to mini tripod, you’ve to choose according to your usage.

Here I recommend some good value + good quality tripod on the market.

Lightweight 55 – Inch Aluminium Tripod

USD 19.97

Torjim 60” Camera Tripod

USD 37.99

ND Filter

Neutral Density (ND) Filter is another must-have equipment when it comes to Long Exposure Photography. Especially if you shoot a lot of daylight long exposures, it’s a life saver.

Long exposures are taken by opening the camera shutter for a certain amount of time. 

In a situation where there’s already enough light available, opening shutter and letting light to hit the sensor for more than a fraction of second would end up with an overexposed image.

So, that’s when the ND Filter shines

ND Filter is basically a sunglasses for your camera.

It filters out a portion of light and feeds your light-hungry sensor slowly that will result in proper exposure after your shot.

ND filters come in different variation. Generally they are indexed by the number of shutter speed stops they drop.

You have to use it according to the situation of lighting.

If you’re shooting a long exposure in a situation where there is already pretty good amount of light, then you’ve to use more dense ND filter or the ND that drops more stops of shutter speed.

If you’re shooting at night sky, you might not need to use ND filter as that’s already a lowlight situation.

Here’s an in-depth article about ND filter if you want to know more about it.

CC Cinema5D

Remote Shutter

So, it is a tool that I would say is a bit underrated.

It makes a huge difference in shots you take when it comes to stability and shaking.

It is what its name suggests. Basically you can emulate the camera’s shutter press but without touching the camera.

Handheld long exposure shots will be terrible, using a tripod will make drastic difference and by also using a Remote shutter it is almost assured that you’ll get the best possible results. Again here are some of the best remote shutters available on market.

CamKix Camera Shutter Remote Control with Bluetooth

USD 7.99

NOTE: Bluetooth shutters need to be configured from Mobile app of your camera.

Cannon Remote Switch RS60 E3

USD 28.58

Exposure Calculator

Now it is also a tool that will come handy if you’re not just playing around with long exposure photography.

If you’re willing to get really serious results with long exposure photography then you’ve got to use the exposure chart (a.k.a long exposure calculator).

There’re lots of Apps and websites that will do the hard work for you.

They provide results based on your camera hardware, configuration, filters, etc.

This site may help you.

Exposure Calculator

BONUS: Lens Cleaner

Ok there’s an extra one for you.

The lens cleaner may seem like a pretty unusual thing to be called as an equipment, but it is.

Only I know how many times I’ve messed up the photograph just because of the dirty lens.

Clean lens means there’s no chance you’re messing up with something that is almost impossible to fix later.

Here are some of the best lens cleaning kits available on the market right now.

Altura Photo Professional Cleaning Kit for DSLR Cameras

USD 11.99

Camkix Lens and Screen Cleaning Kit 

USD 7.79

Conclusion

So, that’s about everything you need to get started with long exposure photography.

And also something you’ve to understand is, those gears are gonna make the results better BUT that doesn’t mean not having those equipment will stop you from getting started.

If you don’t have a camera, smartphones nowadays shoot long exposures as good as pro cameras shoot. Here’re some examples:

CC Photos with Phone

If you don’t have a tripod, you can get away with adjusting your camera on some objects like bricks or stones (make sure you’re doing it safely).

Conclusion is just do it.

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3 Comments

  1. Osaka

    I was unaware about this equipment till today..you are such an great photographer.. I really like your article..the way you express everything is interesting to read..I have learnt much more about photography after reading this blog..want to read more articles soon

  2. Pingback:How to shoot Long Exposure in Daylight? - Long Exposure School

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