The Essential Budget Portrait Kit: Sony Mirrorless Photographer

You have your new Sony mirrorless camera and you are wanting to get into shooting better portraits, so what should you have in your kit? Let’s put together the essential budget portrait kit for Sony mirrorless shooters.

We will specifically not be promoting one camera or another (you pick your camera), but we will discuss the rest of the kit below. Oh, and since this is a budget kit, we are trying to keep the entire package, lens included, under $1,000.

Let’s do this!

The Main Components

Sony FE 50mm F1.8


Honestly it was a toss up on the lens between the 85mm F1.8 and the 50mm F1.8, but as we are trying to keep this kit under $1000, the 85mm made that prohibitive given its price point. So here we are with the 50mm, which is still a very usable portrait lens, and more versatile than the 85mm for other activities as well.

FE 50mm F1.8: [amazon_textlink asin=’B01DLMD5O6′ text=’Get It on Amazon’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’71b61639-3043-11e7-93ed-3b137c318578′] (Cost: [amazon_textlink asin=’B01DLMD5O6′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8757a6be-3043-11e7-a3c3-9930aff9117c’])


Cactus Wireless Flash Transceiver V6 II

If you wanted to go REALLY budget you could go natural light only and grab just a reflector. But we have room in our budget here, so we are going to have some lighting in this kit. The Cactus V6 II transceivers are great because they allow cross-brand control and HSS, so if you have Canon or Nikon speedlights you can use these and still control your lights wirelessly, which is SO nice when shooting on location.

Cactus V6 II: [amazon_textlink asin=’B01JNXM8OA’ text=’Get It on Amazon’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e7fe6401-3043-11e7-ad1e-d138cec5757b’] (Cost: [amazon_textlink asin=’B01JNXM8OA’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0b468619-3044-11e7-93cd-33890cbec0ae’])


Cactus RF60x Wireless Speedlight (x2)

Well, you probably could have guessed that a speedlight recommendation was coming, and as noted above, if you have some Canon/Nikon units already you can skip this. But if you don’t, these RF60x units are great for the Sony system, and can be controlled wirelessly by the Cactus V6 IIs thanks to their built in receivers. You could get by with one, but expanding your kit to a two light setup is a great idea and still keeps us under budget.

Cactus RF60X: [amazon_textlink asin=’B01N6U2PD1′ text=’Get It on Amazon’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0f2582e0-3046-11e7-8fde-5156242a003e’] (Cost: [amazon_textlink asin=’B01N6U2PD1′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’23638c84-3046-11e7-aaa8-09c3a66c5e8a’])

Portrait PRO TIP: When shooting outdoors in direct sunlight you can get better results by using your speedlights as your keylight and the sun as your backlight.

The Accessories

Impact Light Stands (x2)

Since we are introducing lights into this kit, we need some stands to put them on. These Impact light stands are solid and still relatively affordable. There are definitely much cheaper alternatives out there, but any cheaper than these and you start to run into big reliability issues with heavy use.

Impact Light Stands: [amazon_textlink asin=’B004U5F3R6′ text=’Get It on Amazon’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b08643b4-3052-11e7-ba6c-f3668277966e’](Cost:[amazon_textlink asin=’B004U5F3R6′  template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’bbe8ff6b-3052-11e7-8b6b-858b991b434c’])

Impact Folding 28″ Beauty Dish

We also need at least one modifier for our key light, so we decided to go with an easily portable option like this 28″ folding beauty dish from Impact. This will give you some beautiful light on your subject while remaining compact and easy to transport.

Impact Folding 28″ Beauty Dish: [amazon_textlink asin=’B014EGV2XO’ text=’Get It on Amazon’ Beauty Dish’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e31f9aa0-3052-11e7-bf22-8d777eac5480′] (Cost: [amazon_textlink asin=’B014EGV2XO’ Beauty Dish’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0756feb5-3053-11e7-b839-970236a86911′])

JOBY GorillaPod Focus with Ballhead

Tripods are pretty options these days in the portrait world, unless you are doing something relatively static that needs repeatable or consistent camera position. That said, you never know when you might need a place to put your camera down in a pinch, and that is what makes these Joby Gorilla Pods so perfect. Use them on the hood of your car, a table, an unused light stand: pretty much anywhere.

JOBY GorillaPod Focus w/ Ballhead: [amazon_textlink asin=’B06XWHYVB9′ text=’Get It on Amazon’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’5bd65061-3053-11e7-ad1d-6d8bd17537da’] (Cost: [amazon_textlink asin=’B06XWHYVB9′  template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’67bd2f98-3053-11e7-a730-3baf81d05adc’])

Portrait PRO Tip: Using lines in your frame to lead the viewer into your subject is a great way to make a portrait really work for you.

Total Damage: $937.84

(at time of writing)

So there you have it, a killer budget Sony mirrorless portrait kit all ready to go, and under our $1,000 cutoff. If you are looking to get your portrait kit in the Sony system started this is a great place to begin.

Anthony Thurston

Anthony is a Portland, Oregon based Boudoir Photographer specializing in a dark, moody style that promotes female body positivity, empowerment, and sexuality. Besides The Phoblographer, he also reviews gear and produces his own educational content on his website.