How to Obtain the Right Gear for Shooting an Eclipse

The stages of the solar eclipse are edited together into a curving line against a black background.

The great solar eclipse of 2024 is less than a month away. For those planning to photograph the event, now is the time to figure out what gear is necessary and order any missing equipment.

Full disclosure: This sponsored article is brought to you by MPB.

While April 8 is quickly approaching, there’s still time to pick up essential gear to capture epic eclipse shots. However, we recommend making some decisions quickly as time is running out.

Buy Used

Buying new may be the first option that comes to mind, but that comes with a higher price tag, potentially putting new gear out of reach. Purchasing used equipment is a fantastic way to save money, which may be even more important for last-minute shoppers picking up essentials for eclipse photography. For example, purchasing used from a company like MPB, the largest global platform to buy, sell, and trade used photography and videography gear, offers prices, on average, one-third less than new. Plus, buying used keeps existing products in use, reducing consumption and making purchases more eco-friendly.

A screenshot of the MPB website homepage.

Buying pre-loved gear doesn’t have to be a risky, awkward endeavor of meeting strangers from online marketplaces and hoping for the best, either. No one wants to spend hundreds of dollars on a lens only to discover it’s broken when they try to use it. Instead, purchasing from trusted resellers, such as MPB, can provide peace of mind and overall better gear. MPB also offers a six-month warranty on gear, so if something goes wrong early on, you’re not out the money for your purchase.

MPB recirculates more than 485,000 pieces of equipment every year, so you will likely be able to find what you need there. Trained specialists thoroughly inspect every camera and lens with an 8- to 10-point inspection to verify its condition. It is then rated on a scale of Like New, Excellent, Good, Well Used, or Heavily Used. Heavily Used will be cheaper with primary functions still working, but will show significant signs of wear and tear. Like New is reserved for mint condition equipment with only minor wear, which will command a higher price. This system gives you more control over the price you pay.

Essential Gear for the Eclipse

Most of the gear needed to shoot an eclipse isn’t highly specialized, so it will also work well beyond the eclipse. That means equipment picked up for the eclipse won’t sit on shelves gathering dust or need to be sold after the big day. Not much is required for photographing the solar eclipse, making it relatively approachable.


Of course, the first step to photographing anything is obtaining a camera. For best results, you’ll want a mirrorless or DSLR camera with complete manual control. Which particular camera is best depends on your goals, where you’ll be photographing, and budget. Sensor size is the main factor to consider, as it impacts low-light capabilities, field of view, camera size, and price.

Full-frame cameras are the preferred tool of nighttime photographers because the larger sensor can capture more light to produce better exposures. They also typically result in lower noise at high ISOs than APS-C or Micro Four Thirds cameras, which is beneficial when shooting in low-light situations. Parts of the eclipse will result in night-like conditions, so a full-frame camera has advantages.

The Sony a7, a7R, and a7S | Image Credit: Henry Söderlund. This image is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

For specific full-frame cameras, look for options with excellent dynamic range and low-light performance. The Canon EOS R6 and R6 Mark II, Nikon Z7 II, or Sony A7R V are all great choices. The downside to full-frame is that they are expensive and larger than APS-C, which could be a disadvantage if you’re hiking into a location for the eclipse. They also require longer telephoto lenses because of the wider field of view than they offer, which means more expensive lenses.

For a more affordable option, APS-C (also called crop sensor) still offers plenty of quality for most people. They are smaller bodies, making them easier to travel with as well. Plus, due to the crop factor, you can get away with wider lenses and still achieve a tight shot of the sun during the eclipse, saving you money and space in the camera bag. The Sony a6700, Nikon Z fc, Fujifilm X-T5, or Canon EOS R7 are all fantastic choices.

Micro Four Thirds (MFT) offer even smaller sensors, thus smaller bodies and more reach with lenses. OM System and Panasonic are the two options for MFT cameras, and both offer a range of models for different needs and price points.


Shooting the solar eclipse requires lenses that are a bit more specific than camera bodies. An ultra-telephoto lens is necessary to capture the eclipse details. Otherwise, the sun will look like a tiny blip in the sky rather than the star of the show. A 200mm focal length (on a full-frame camera) is the minimum we’d suggest, with longer being better, for the most part. Certain parts of the eclipse, such as when the Sun’s corona is visible, extend beyond the sun, so too tight of a focal length (such as 1,200mm) will result in parts of that phenomenon being cut out of the frame. Depending on the type of shot you are aiming for, 400mm to 600mm is likely the sweet spot, making it easier to track the sun through the sky without cutting out anything important.

Two telephotos lenses are placed against a white background.

Of course, those long telephoto lenses are expensive and less versatile than other options. Unless you regularly shoot wildlife or sports, an ultra-telephoto is likely unnecessary at different times. Instead, you may want to consider using something more versatile, such as a 70-200mm, and purchasing teleconverters to provide more reach. A teleconverter paired with a compatible lens will be significantly cheaper than ultra-telephoto lenses. Just be aware that not all lenses are compatible with teleconverters, so double-check that first.


Those long telephoto lenses amplify any movement of the camera, so a tripod is essential for getting sharp, blur-free images. Be sure to opt for a sturdy tripod over a budget option; otherwise, it won’t do you much good.

A tripod holds a camera in a green field.

Solar Filter

The solar filter is the one piece of highly specialized equipment necessary for photographing the eclipse. These filters are extra strong neutral density (ND) filters, offering anywhere between 16 and 24 stops of light reduction. Without a solar filter, a lens acts like a magnifying glass, amplifying the sun’s strength as it hits the camera’s sensor. That intense energy could lead to permanent damage to the sensor. Plus, looking at the eclipse through a camera without a solar filter could damage your eyes, so a solar filter is vital for multiple reasons.

Unfortunately, MPB doesn’t have any used solar filters (though you could keep checking back), so that is the one piece of equipment you will need to purchase new. Luckily, they are relatively inexpensive and are easy to find in most places where you would buy new equipment.

Save Money While Picking Up Gear for the Eclipse

Whether you are picking up gear just for the eclipse or using the eclipse as an excuse to get something you’ve been eyeing anyway, MPB’s wide selection of used gear can be a fantastic way to save money. New-to-you is still new, after all. Plus, should you also realize you have some gear that you no longer use, you can take advantage of MPB’s trade program and potentially earn money on purchasing new-to-you gear. No matter what, make sure to get your orders in soon since the big day will be here before you know it.

Full disclosure: This sponsored article is brought to you by MPB.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.