A Tour Through My Gear
I often get asked what gear I use or what gear I recommend for photography. In this post I will take you on a tour of the current gear I use to take my photos.
Canon EF Gear:
I've been using Canon DSLRs for 10 years now. I am very pleased with their camera and lens offerings, and for what they don't offer, there are third party lenses to complete the kit. I use my Canon gear for about 98% of my photography.
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV (3)
I purchased the 5D IV earlier this year to use as my main camera, replacing my 6D. Before that, I was using my 6D as my main camera and the old 7D as a backup. The 7D had a more robust autofocusing system than my 6D, making it better suited to wildlife and action shots, but it was a crop-sensor camera and I much prefer working with full frame. With the 5D, I get enough increase in resolution (from 20 megapixels on the 7D to 30 on the 5D), which compensates for the wider field of view where more cropping might be needed on tight shots, I get the robust autofocusing system, and I get my full frame. I haven't regretted the purchase one bit. The 5D has allowed me to get shots like this, of a puffin in Newfoundland. I was zoomed out to 600mm, but I still needed to crop significantly to get the composition I was looking for, and the 5D let me do that while still retaining a high resolution:
Canon EOS 6D (13)
The 6D served me very well as my main camera for a number of years before I finally purchased the 5D IV earlier this year. The 6D was my first full frame camera, and it really helped me push the limits of my photography. Now I only use it if I need a second body, especially if I'm using my telephoto lens on my 5D. The 6D has let me capture shots like this photo of Wendy on the Peter Pan's Flight ride at Disney World, using ISO 10,000:
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens (6)
This is my wide angle workhorse. It's not the widest lens on the market, but I find in the vast majority of situations, I don't need anything wider than 16mm. The main benefit of this lens over the 17-40mm f/4L lens I used to shoot with, is that the 16-35 makes stunning sun stars (read about my ode to sun stars here). Here is an example of such a shot captured in Bryce Canyon National Park:
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens (16)
The 24-105 is my workhorse lens for landscapes. I like how it has such a wide zoom range and a constant f/4 aperture. In the past I used a superzoom lens that had a much wider range than this but at its widest it wasn't as wide and the image quality wasn't nearly as good. This focal length range makes it versatile enough for hikes and treks around national parks where there are many different scenes to take in as well as just about any general situation where changing lenses is undesired. The 24-105 allowed me to captured both of the below images of sled dogs outside of Québec City without having to stop and change lenses in the freezing cold. The top one was taken at 24mm and the bottom one was taken at 105mm:
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens (4)
The nifty fifty is my go to lens whenever I want to capture up close portraits with a really shallow depth of field. Because of its f/1.4 maximum aperture, it's also great in low light. I love using it on people, pets, and horses! I used the 50mm to capture this portrait of my cat Franny in my Christmas tree:
Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM Lens (10)
This is my go-to lens when my portrait subjects are a little further away. It has a beautiful way of just making the background disappear. This is another lens I love to use on people, pets, and horses! It's also great for up close sports and action. I used the 135 to capture these polo players:
Zenitar MC 16mm f/2.8 Fisheye Lens (14)
This fisheye is great because it was super cheap (under $200 used) and it's super lightweight. The only drawback is it's manual focus, but that's really not a big deal. The fisheye is useful if you want a unique perspective or you need a really wide lens. I used the fisheye to capture the Gothic Room at Marble House in Newport, Rhode Island:
Tamron SP 150-600mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD Lens (15)
The 150-600 is my go-to lens to capture unique landscapes and far away wildlife. It's one of the lightest 600mm lenses on the market, making it manageable to use without a tripod. I used this lens to zoom in close on this sleeping lion on the Kilimanjaro Safaris ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom:
Samsung NX Gear:
Unfortunately, Samsung no longer makes cameras, and that's a shame because they had some really nice mirrorless offerings. I have a very small Samsung mirrorless camera that I throw in my purse (along with two pancake lenses) so that I can be ready at any time to take a photo.
Samsung NX 1100 (8)
Before, this, I used to use the NX 100 model, but the NX 1100 is significantly lighter and it has built in wifi, for those times when I want to send my photos to a friend or post them online right from my phone. I used this camera to capture this photo of a summer scene in Lake George, NY. Now, the purpose of this outing wasn't photography, but I was still prepared nonetheless:
This low-profile lens is perfect for when I need a wide shot. It's nice and small so it fits right in my purse. It came in very handy when I discovered this rainbow over the school where I teach one morning:
Samsung NX 30mm f/2 Pancake Lens (9)
This lens is perfect for portraits and mid-range landscapes. I use it a lot in my classroom. I used the 30mm to capture my dad's birthday cake:
Canon Speedlite 270EX (12)
This flash has been by my side for the last 10 years. It's a cheap little thing, and the recycle time's not fast, so you wouldn't want to use it at an event or a professional gig, but I love it for traveling. My cameras do not have built-in flashes so it's essential for fill-flash and it also bounces. It's small and easily fits in my bag to boot. I used the 270EX to capture this photo of Mickey Mouse at Walt Disney World:
Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT
I mainly bought the 600EX because my 580EX wasn't always functioning properly and I needed a more reliable flash. This flash has a lot of features, but the truth is, I don't use flashes that often anymore. I used the 600EX in conjunction with the Yongnuo flash to take this portrait of my cat Casey:
Canon Speedlite 580EX
The 580EX is a good choice when you a need a full-featured flash, although it doesn't have as many features as the 600EX-RT. I used the 580EX to capture this portrait:
Yongnuo 560 III Speedlight (11)
The Yongnuo is a really great, inexpensive flash, but it is manual only, and it can't be used as a master, so it's good as a second flash in situations where you have time to experiment. I used the Yongnuo to light the background in the portrait of my cat.
Fotodiox 6"x8" softbox
This small softbox helps me soften the light when I'm using a flash such as in the portrait of my cat or the senior portrait.
Manfrotto 190XDB Tripod (1)
This tripod has been with me through thick and thin. It's not light, but it's very sturdy. I've thought about getting a smaller, lighter tripod but I haven't found one that's as sturdy as this one. I remember needing the sturdiness of this tripod to capture these falls in Grand Teton National Park, as it was at an angle:
Manfrotto 804RC2 Pan-Tilt Head
This is the head that came with my tripod. It's very precise, but it's too bulky for traveling.
Manfrotto 496RC2 Ball Head (1)
This head is better for traveling, as it is more compact.
Lowepro Flipside 200 Backpack
This is the bag I use most of the time. It fits most of my gear, but my camera itself does not fit. That's usually not a problem, since I usually have my camera around my neck when I'm traveling. It does have a spot for your tripod, but with a tripod as heavy as mine, it's not too fun to tote along.
Lowepro Flipside 300 Backpack
This is the bag I use when I need to be able to fit my camera inside. I don't use it unless I really have to, because it's a lot bigger.
B+W 82mm Circular Polarizer Slim Filter
The polarizing filter helps cut down on reflections but it also enhances colors in nature. I used a polarizing filter to enhance the colors in the sky in this photo I took at Saratoga Performing Arts Center:
This neutral density filter blocks 10 stops of light from entering your camera. That means you can take really long exposures in broad daylight, such as this photo I took at Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park:
The 4 stop ND filter is for when you want to slow down your shutter speed, but you don't need 10 whole stops. Sometimes it's already a little dark out but you'd like to drag the shutter a bit more. This filter helped me take this long exposure at Disney's Hollywood Studios:
Opteka 82mm R72 Infrared Filter
Infrared filters are fun for experimentation, but it's not something I do every day. Here's a photo I captured at Epcot with the filter:
Off-Camera E-TTL Flash Cord
The flash cord helps me take the flash off the camera without the hassle of having to trigger it remotely.
Sensei Pro 77mm-82mm Step Up Ring
This contraption allows me to use my 82mm filters on my 24-105mm lens, which has a 77mm filter thread.
Sensei 58-82mm Step Up Ring
This contraption allows me to use my 82mm filters on my 50mm lens, which has a 58mm filter thread.
Rogue Colored Flash Gels
Colored flash gels help you correct for color temperature or create a unique look, such as the one I used for the background in the portrait of my cat above.
SpiderPro Camera Holster
The camera holster comes in handy when I'm using two bodies. I have one around my neck, and the other, usually with my telephoto lens mounted, on my holster. I can swap them out whenever I need to. You can see me with my telephoto lens on my holster in the below photo taken in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest:
ApeCase Purse Insert
I use this insert whenever I'm headed out with only a couple of lenses. It goes right in my purse and turns it into a camera bag.
ApeCase Telephoto Lens Case
This case is perfect for my telephoto lens. I fits it exactly with one body attached as well.
Altura Photo Rain Cover
It's probably not the best rain cover, but it's more durable than what I used to use. It has spots for both your hands to go inside, but the see-through material isn't really see-through, so that makes it a bit of a pain to use. It's better than your camera getting covered in rain, though.
Kelly Moore Crossbody Bag
I don't remember the exact name of this bag, but a quick look at their website tells me they don't still make it. The bag was quite pricey, and it's a very well made bag, but the thing is it is NOT comfortable to lug around 10-15 lbs. of camera gear over one shoulder. I once took this on a trip to Paris and I was very uncomfortable. It does look more stylish than a backpack, but I now only use it when I'm going to formal events.
These days, I'm using my phone more and more when I'm on the go. It will never replace my professional kit, but camera phones have come a long way. I took this photo of Frankie, one of the horses at Nipper Knolls Equine Center where I volunteer, with my iPhone:
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