I often get requests asking what equipment I have and use. Here’s a quick rundown of everything I have, along with a quick review. I’ll try to keep this up-to-date as I add/remove hardware.
After selling my Canon Rebel XS, which included the standard kit lens, I was short a “walk-about” lens. After a lot of research, I ended up ordering the Tamron 17-50mm. So far, I’ve been really impressed with its shots; it provides a fairly sharp image, and very nice color in combination with the Canon 7D. For examples, see here, here, and here.
Wanting to further the quality of our photos, I started looking to prime lenses. After a lot of research, and considering small-to-medium sized budget, I settled on this lens. Being my first USM lens, I was blown away with how fast, quiet, and sharp this lens was.
In fact, this lens is starting to get me to consider switching to a full frame body to take advantage of the image area that’s being cut off from the crop sensor.
If you’re looking for a telephoto lens, it’s hard to beat this for the price. It takes excellent photos, and best of all, it is relatively affordable compared to higher-end lenses. As an added bonus, it does have a macro feature that’s fun for really up-close shots (though, its closest focusing distance is around 12″).
The “must have” lens in any photographer’s bag: the “nifty fifty”. While this is one of my favorite lenses to use since it provides a nice color tone and having a wide aperture, I find myself not using very often for portrait shoots (especially now that I have the 85mm lens).
It falls into an interesting middle-ground between a wide-angle and a shorter telephoto lens, so it works well for single or couple’s portrait, but not so well for families.
Honestly, I bought these because they were cheap and I wanted to experiment with using filters. I never use the FL filter, but I do on occasion use the CPL and UV filter. The CPL does give a neat effect, and probably makes the price of this set worth while.
For the price, this is a great filter. It lets you dial down 3 full-stops of light, allowing you to decrease your shutter speed. I’m still experimenting with it, but it could be very handy for portraits in very bright lighting.
Being a “strobist”, I’ve found that there are a few situations where balancing the ambient light and the strobe’s light can get a bit tricky. A recent example was for a family photoshoot during the “golden hour” on a clear day. The backing sunlight was so overwhelming that I either had to let the background get blown out to have the subjects exposed properly, or have the subjects too dark.
To get around this specific situation, I picked up this filter (specifically to be used on the 85mm f/1.8 lens). Combining this filter to lower the amount of ambient light, then powering the strobes higher to compensate and fill in the subject, I got an awesome sun-kissed look.
I do hope to use this in a few more situations; possibly doing long exposures.
A hot-shoe flash is something that you would never know you needed until you’ve used one. It has improved my photography ten-fold, if not more. If you’re looking to get a hot-shoe-mounted flash, I would highly recommend this one (do not get the 270 or 320 EX, for the price, start with the 430) or the model up (the 580 EX). It’s extremely versatile, and when used off-camera it can provide an excellent light-source.
Eventually being tied to your lighting rigs with a cable gets pretty annoying. I didn’t want anything high-end, just something that would bridge the wired gap with less, well, wires.
At $99 a unit, these are a great way to get into the PocketWizard line. They are very reliable, can be used as both a flash trigger, camera trigger, or just a hotshoe transmitter.
If you want a cheap way to get your hot-shoe flash off your camera, this is a great way to do it. It also has a tripod mount underneath, so you can attach your flash to a tripod and keep your camera in your hands (or on another tripod).
This prevents light from “spilling” out of the back of your White PLM umbrella; it helps create a nice concentrated beam of soft light. Great for the price, and can give you even more to be creative with. These photos were taken with it, as well as with the PLM White Front Diffusion Fabric.
Since we’ve built our home studio we wanted to upgrade some of our lighting. The first thing we looked into was moving away from the wide umbrellas and going to something that put out more light with a smaller footprint.
We use these strictly in-studio, leaving on-location to use the umbrellas. My only complaint is that these are much heavier than I thought they’d be, and pull our ceiling mounted arms down too far.
I grabbed this bag shortly after it dropped in price. I love this bag; it has adjustable velcro walls, and hold all of my portable equipment. I would highly recommend this to anyone with more than one lens, and a few extras to bring along.
After my last tripod gave-out, I needed a good-quality replacement. After a lot of research, and a lot of recommendations from friends, the number-one brand that stood out was Manfrotto.
I decided to go with one of their midrange tripods, the 190XPROB, based on its excellent reviews, as well as versatility. It stands about eye-level with the top-mount and camera on, and can go as low as literally inches from the ground.
Something that did take me by surprise with the new Manfrotto tripod is that they don’t come with top-mounts by default. While it is a bit inconvenient in regards to the overall price of your tripod setup, it is very convenient in that you can pick a mount based on your needs; not only that, but you could have multiple mounts depending on your use-cases.
I went with one of their mid-range ball mounts; it provides easy positioning and movement of the camera, and has a friction control knob to adjust how quickly your adjustments can be made. I decided against the next model up, which included a panning adjustment, since I already have a panning mount that can attach separately.
The main reason I bought this was for the stand, but the muslins were a decent bonus. As a stand, it’s relative sturdy, and had a better build quality than I thought it would have for its price. My only complaint: the muslins are tough to get wrinkles out. I would recommend buying some extra muslin clips and getting tablecloths or other textured/patterned backgrounds.
After reading this post on Phototuts+, I was intrigued to pick-up a camera remote. I opted against wireless, mainly because of the price-difference (double the cost). I haven’t done much with it besides play with some of the features, but it will come in handy from some fun photo shoots.
A phenomenal tool to have in any photographer’s tool chest, this colorchecker is very handy. I got this to replace a small set I had hanging on my camera strap; while this is a much larger card, it is a lot more accurate in color. Read my mini-review for more info.