On more than one occasion I’ve had people stop me and ask what kind of camera equipment I use or recommend and to be honest only some of the gear I use is really worth listing here.
Since I’m not a full time photographer I keep my budget strings somewhat tight until the expenses began to justify the costs. If I can get more than 20 uses out of a budget / no-name product while still achieving pleasing results then I feel my investment will have paid off with very little risk.
Sure some photo pros will tell you need to drop a few grand to invest in top of the line gear but when your just starting out the last thing you need is the stress of going broke. I will tell you this. I am a thrifty shopper but I did invest in a quality camera (Canon 5D Mark II) and I believe in investing in quality lenses. Your glass doesn’t have to be L-Lenses built to withstand damn near anything but quality glass will help you get quality shots.
If I were to start over I would invest in my lenses first and camera second.
I do a majority of my photography on-location which means I need gear that can easily pack and travel with me and this is my current setup:
I switched from a Canon Rebel T4i to my Canon 5D Mark II about two years ago and going from a crop sensor camera to a full frame tough-as-a-tank camera was a decision I’m glad I made. My 5D has survived all the seasons that Ohio continues to throw at it including 18 degree weather for extended use.
I like knowing that in almost any weather setting my current camera setup looks at mother nature and laughs as it snaps away without an issue.
The Tamron is my favorite walk around / video lens. The focal range it provides is extremely versatile and the VC which is Tamron speak for Image Stabilization is just fantastic. Plus with a 2.8 aperture I’m able to get shots in extremely dark and low lit environments that otherwise would require flashes or external lighting. Oh and it’s weather resistant as well!
At a $1,000 dollars less than the Canon 24-70 2.8 L Lens that doesn’t come with IS it’s easy to see why this lens is quickly gaining popularity among amateurs and pros alike.
The nifty-fifty is a fun little lens to own. It has a fixed focal range of 50mm and the large 1.8 aperture allows you to create dream like shots with its soft bokeh and depth of field. The 50mm’s price point is what really sets it apart from other lenses is that for a prime lens it can be had for about $125 dollars.
I picked mine up a few years ago on a Christmas special for around $80 dollars and its still one of my favorite prime lenses.
When it comes to portrait lenses the 85mm is where its at! The 85mm prime lens actually flattens out facial features giving the subjects in y our photographs a more aesthetically pleasing look. Because of the compression offered by this lens there is a lot less barrel distortion and with the 1.8 aperture you can completely put your subject in focus while leaving the background blown-out to again create that dream like setting.
I’ve had this messenger bag for over a year and it holds all my gear I need for on-site jobs which is typically loaded with my:
- Canon 5D Mark II
- Tamron 24-70mm 2.8
- Canon 50mm 1.8
- Canon 70-200mm 2.8
- CamRanger Wireless Camera Controller (CamRanger Mini Review)
- Android Nexus 7
- 2 CF Cards W/ 1 SD Adapter
- 8 SanDisk Ultra SD Cards
- 5D Battery Grip
- TT560 Flash Speedlites
- Remote Flash Trigger & Receiver
- Flash Diffuser
- Two spare LP-E6 Batteries and Wall Charger
- Gray Cards
- Cleaning Cloths and Pen Brush
- Two small screw drivers
- Lens caps
- Lens Hood
So after more than a year and the abuse I like to put my stuff through I’ve yet to see any actual wear on the bag. The only issue I have noticed is that I may be exceeding the weight capacity a little because I’ve had the shoulder clasp fail on me twice. I removed a few items that were key essentials and so far it seems to be holding up without any further problems.
Some of my gear is more studio oriented but such as lights and umbrellas but with a little creativity I have made myself a mobile studio that I can fit into one small little bag from a studio kit I bought and that equipment is:
- Neewer 180W Strobe/Flash Light
- 5 light weight tripods
- 4 white umbrellas
- 5 600W Continuous light bulbs
- 1 black reflector umbrella
- Tethering cable for the strobe light.
Is all this equipment necessary? For me some of it is but its also equipment I’ve accumulated over the years and not something I went out and bought all at once. I waited till my circumstances required the use of some of the specialized gear before I even considered purchasing it.
As you can see my gear is not considered “industry standard top-of-the-line” but you know what? Client’s don’t care. They care whether or not I have the creativity and skills they are looking for to get them the desired shots they want.
And that’s what should really matter. Not the gear you have but what you can do with it and how far you can push it.