Cosplay photography equipment! (5 Essential Items)

So you’re ready to start taking some photos of cosplayers and highly motivated to do so! But now you’re wondering, “What exactly do I need?” You see all those fancy cosplay photographers with their beautiful backdrops and tons of umbrellas full of lighting and you wonder, “Do I have to do all that?”

Well, the good news is that you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Depending on your cosplay photography skill level and preferences, your equipment can vary. But no worries; I’ll answer all your questions related to this.

In this article, I’ll give you 5 essential cosplay photography equipment you’ll definitely want in order to take part in this hobby. Contrary to popular belief, cosplay photography doesn’t have to be expensive if you don’t want it to be. At the same time, you can go all out with equipment if you wanted to.

Without further ado let’s get started!

1. Camera

Shield Hero cosplay
You’ll need something to take photos with, like a DSLR or smartphone.

The most obvious piece of equipment you absolutely need! Without a camera to take photos, there is no photography. I think that’s pretty straightforward. Of all the cosplay photography equipment in this article, only the camera is necessary. The rest of the photography can be optional.

In terms of camera choices, well that is completely different because the sky is the limit with the options you have! We will keep things simple though.

We can separate the 3 main types of cameras you can use for cosplay photography:

  • Smartphone. Yes, you can use your smartphone as your cosplay photography camera, especially if you’re new! There’s no need to fork out a bunch of money on a fancy camera if you’re just getting started. As I mention in my cosplay photography beginner guide, you should use what you got first and only upgrade when you feel it’s necessary. You won’t be getting a lot of cosplay clients with a smartphone. But if you’re a beginner, you probably are trying to learn stuff anyways.
  • DSLR camera. The standard for most cosplay photography. DSLR cameras have been around for the longest time. They’re fun to use and they take high-quality photos. Of course, there is a big learning curve in how to use them; there are many options you can use on a DSLR camera. But that is the fun of learning cosplay photography! Despite mirrorless cameras seemingly taking over, DSLRs are still a popular option and the standard for now.
  • Mirrorless camera. Mirrorless cameras have been the biggest trend in photography today. Although it seems like they will replace DSLRs in the future, the truth is that many people are still using DSLRs. Mirrorless cameras do have advantages over DSLRs such as being lighter and better for videography, but also disadvantages such as shorter battery life and fewer choices of lenses. I myself haven’t used a mirrorless camera yet but definitely want to. They look sleek and modern, and they’re definitely the future of cosplay photography.

As long as you use one of these three, you can start cosplay photography!

Let’s move onto the next cosplay photography essential.

2. Camera lenses

Photo of me taking a photo of the photo!
Both DSLR and Mirrorless cameras use a variety of different camera lenses!

This mainly applies to DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, as for smartphones, you cannot adjust the lenses (unless you simply buy a phone with more megapixels).

You can take a lot of great photos with the right lens. Although the standard/default 50-55 mm lenses is more than good enough to meet your cosplay photography needs, you can always use different ones depending on what you want to do. For example, if you wanted to do landscape photography, you would opt for a lens around 25-35mm because you can fit more into the frame of the photo, and that would be great for scenery.

You don’t need to go overboard with camera lenses, unless you really want to. Because lenses can get really expensive; I’m taking hundreds if not thousands of dollars! Again, you should only buy different lenses if you feel is necessary. For most people, you’ll get to a skill level where you’ll feel like you can do better with different lenses.

3. Lighting equipment

The next piece of cosplay photography equipment is lighting. As I mention in my photography lighting guide (click here to read), lighting is absolutely essential when it comes to taking cosplay photos. It can make the difference between a good or bad photo.

Here are some examples of lighting you may use:

  • Internal flash. Every camera has an internal flash built inside for whenever you need it. However, I wouldn’t recommend using it. The internal flash is pretty garbage and you’ll never get optimal lighting with it.
  • External flash. This is a flash where you mount it on top of your camera. Now this is MUCH better than an internal flash, as the lighting is much more powerful and you have more control of the positioning of the lighting.
  • Lighting umbrella and soft boxes. These cool accessories are used to reflect and bounce the lighting to make it softer. They’re fun to work with and they’re great for studio.
  • Strobe lighting. These are portable gadgets that produce a lot of lighting in short bursts. They are great for taking action photos in cosplay.
  • Ringlight. I’ve seen them used mainly for smartphone lighting. They make a huge difference for them.

As you can see, there is lots of different lighting equipment you can use. With that said however, you don’t necessarily need them. You can always just use the natural sunlight to get some nice lighting, especially during Golden Hour.

4. Tripod

Another type of cosplay photography equipment you may want to use is a tripod. If you don’t know, then a tripod is basically a stand for the camera to hold it in place.

If you’re going to be staying still for long periods of time, then I highly recommend bringing a tripod with you. This is especially true if you’re using a DSLR, as your hands will probably get tired from the holding the camera after a while. On top of that, a tripod is incredibly helpful if you’re taking photos with slow shutter speeds.

I suggest buying a tripod for your camera if you have the money to do so. It’ll make your life a lot easier when you have to take photos for a long period of time. And you don’t have to worry having shaky hands that can make your photos blurry; the tripod can take care of that issue!

5. Backdrop

Last but not least, we have backdrops. You can easily change the background of your photo by adding some cool backdrops behind the cosplayer. This is especially useful with indoor photos, as it’s much easier to change the background than outside. You might think that backdrops will cost a lot of money. But surprisingly, they can be cheap as well! So while backdrops are not required to do cosplay photography, they can be really useful in getting the right vibes for your photos.


To summarize, here are the 5 cosplay photography equipment that will help you take better photos:

  1. Camera
  2. Camera lenses
  3. Lighting equipment
  4. Tripod
  5. Backdrop

And there you have it; 5 cosplay photography equipment essentials for you! I hope you found this post useful.

Don’t blow all your money on these things though; it can get really expensive. Only buy what you need. 🙂

Which of these cosplay photography equipment is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!

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