The Essential Budget Portrait Kit: Nikon Photographer

Similarly to Canon, Nikon has been near the top of the photography market for some time and as such, it’s always a popular choice for new photographers. The plethora of options in terms of accessories and lenses makes building a budget kit in the Nikon system really doable.

We will 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

Nikkor 85mm F1.8G

As with Canon, 50mm could be a great choice, but in the case of Nikon we have decided to go with the classic 85mm focal length on this one. This lens will give you some gorgeous bokeh and tack sharp portraits that will do you proud. The 50mm can be had for about $200 less if you prefer to save some money and get a more versatile lens.

Nikkor 85mm F1.8G: [amazon_textlink asin=’B006TAP096′ text=’Get It on Amazon’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6cd7881d-3403-11e7-b21e-a1bee7d39378′] (Cost: [amazon_textlink asin=’B006TAP096′  template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’812ee687-3403-11e7-943c-7508f8577ed9′])

Cactus Wireless Flash Transceiver V6

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

Cactus V6: [amazon_textlink asin=’B00KYFPLDC’ text=’Get It on Amazon’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d9487fca-3404-11e7-9f1a-0f556659e823′] (Cost: [amazon_textlink asin=’B00KYFPLDC’  template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ea9e5d8c-3404-11e7-8c04-578c83adcddc’])

Cactus RF60x Wireless Speedlight

You probably could have guessed a speedlight recommendation was coming, and as noted above, if you have some Canon/Nikon/Pentax units already you can skip this. But if you don’t, these RF60x units are a great third party option for the Nikon system, and can be controlled wirelessly by the Cactus V6 thanks to their built in receivers.

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’])

Don’t be afraid of shooting at night. Get your light out and give it a go! City lights make for great bokeh.

The Accessories

Impact Light Stand

Since we are introducing lights into this kit, we need some stands to put them on. These Impact light stands are solid and relatively affordable. There are definitely much cheaper alternatives out there, but any cheaper than these and you start to run into 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’])

Phottix Luna Folding 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 33″ folding beauty dish from Phottix. This will give you some beautiful light on your subject while remaining compact and easy to transport around.

Phottix Luna Folding Beauty Dish: [amazon_textlink asin=’B00SX7661E’ text=’Get It on Amazon’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7bb270d8-31b6-11e7-a766-eb336cc8e45e’]  (Cost: [amazon_textlink asin=’B00SX7661E’  template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’86edce9b-31b6-11e7-93e4-3b1070c034fa’] )

Glasses can be great accessories and props. Don’t avoid them because you’re afraid of a little reflection.

Godox S-type Bracket Bowens Mount Holder for Speedlite

In order to use the beauty dish above we are going to need a Bowens Speedlight mount so that you can use your speedlights with the beauty dish. It’s a small, but essential piece to this kit unless you want to use duct tape, which for obvious reasons we don’t recommend.

Godox S-type Bracket Bowens Mount Holder for Speedlites: [amazon_textlink asin=’B0188PA3Q4′ text=’Get It on Amazon’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2a190bf6-31b7-11e7-b407-33c67acad575′] (Cost: [amazon_textlink asin=’B0188PA3Q4′  template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’38b3c097-31b7-11e7-8b6d-7b88878dd2de’])

JOBY GorillaPod Focus with Ballhead

Tripods are pretty options these days in the portrait world, unless you are doing something static that needs repeatable or consistent camera positions. That said, you never know when you might need a place to put your camera down in a pinch. 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’])

Total Damage: $946.83

(at time of writing)

So there you have it. A killer budget Nikon portrait kit all ready to go, and just under our $1,000 cutoff. If you are looking to get your portrait kit in the Nikon system started this isn’t a bad 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.