Yes, you can always "get by" with tools and equipment that are not top shelf, but the right tool for the job, whether it's hairstyling, home improvement, or cooking, makes a world of difference. It almost always impacts the quality of the finished product, not to mention the level of aggravation, time and skill required to do a job right. So it is with canning equipment.
Canning is a relatively low cost hobby. After you establish your set of tools, all you are buying is produce and sometimes replenishing your stash of jars, lids, and rings. I find that a lot of people give me back empty jars after they've finished the goodies (in hopes they will be returned full of something else yummy!). My only other expense is labels. I usually design my own labels and print them on full sheets of sticker paper, then cut them out individually for the jars.
Here is the canning gear I recommend for starting out:
Boiling water canner with rack. Yes, you can get along with a big stock pot with a dishtowel in the bottom of it, but you might want to use that stock pot to make a brine or something else to put in the jars.
jars, rings, lids
It's really not expensive. Well under fifty dollars for this entire batterie de cuisine. Other items I find helpful are lots of wooden spoons, ditto for clean dishtowels, saucers for the freezer, and wide, deep, heavy bottomed pots. Mostly, I use my 6 qt copper dutch oven and 12 qt stockpot. An inexpensive splatter screen is also useful for jam making.
I've also purchased a couple of books, Well Preserved , Perfect Preserves and the Ball Blue Book of Home Canning. Yes, you can get fun recipes from blogs and articles, but for a foundation, it's really essential to read beyond that. There are also always trendy new canning books on Amazon that I am usually able to pick up at my library.
Your next decision is jars and lids. I like to put jam in half pint jars because you gets lots of them out of a batch and they make a nice, small gift. If you are making big batches of something, consider 12 oz jars, or pints. I use pints for pickles and pickled fruits. Ball makes a beautiful new line called "Elite" but they are cost prohibitive for me. Also, if I were more skilled and money was no object, I might opt for the Weck jars, which are just beautiful.
I have not dipped my toe in the world of pressure canning, which is for low acid foods. Maybe next year.