My Photography Gear

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.

Canon 7D

This is the work-horse of my camera setup. I absolutely love this camera! Great low-light performance, good AF options, weather-sealing, three custom presets, and a lot more.

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Tamron AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di-II LD SP Aspherical (IF) Zoom Lens

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.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

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.

For some example taken with the lens, see here, here, and here.

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Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG APO Telephoto Lens

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″).

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

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.

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Zeikos ZE-FLK58 58mm Multi-Coated 3 Piece Filter Kit (UV-CPL-FLD)

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.

Hoya 58mm HMC ND8 Multi-Coated Neutral Density Filter

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.

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Tiffen 58mm Variable ND Filter

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.

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AlienBees B800

The B800 is my primary strobe. If I only take one with me (which is often), this is the one I grab.

AlienBees B400

I’m a huge fan of AlienBees, and their lower-power model is no exception. I own two of these units and use them for fill and background lights.

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Vagabond Mini Lithium Battery

After experimenting outside with the AlienBees, I finally made the leap and picked up some portable power for the strobes. I would definitely recommend this to anyone that wants to leave the outlets behind.

Canon Speedlite 430EX II

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.

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PocketWizard PlusX

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.

3.6M /10 FEET E-TTL Off-Camera Shoe Cord

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).

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Soft Silver PLM

I have the 51″ Soft Silver PLM, and I’m loving it. It puts out a nice, crisp light, and is perfect for fills. I’m currently using this with the AlienBees B400.

White PLM

I have the 51″ White PLM, and I love it. It puts out a nice, soft bounced light (or shoot-thru), and is perfect for a main light. I’m currently using this with the AlienBees B800.

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PLM White Front Diffusion Fabric

This adds an excellent diffuser over the PLM umbrellas, giving a much softer 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 Black Front Spill Kill Fabric.

PLM Black Front Spill Kill Fabric

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.

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30″ x 60″ Softbox

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.

UMF LiteMod System with Gels

Description coming soon.

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43″ 5-in-1 Collapsible Multi-Disc Light Reflector

For the price, this is a really handy thing to have. The 5-in-1 makes it really versatile, using it as either a reflector, a bounce, or a diffuser.

Rogue FlashBender

Description coming soon.

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Canon Deluxe Photo Backpack 200EG

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.

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Manfrotto 190XPROB

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.

Manfrotto 496RC2 Ball Head Tripod Mount

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.

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13-foot Heavy Duty Light Stand by Paul C. Buff

Excellent construction; can hold a good amount of weight (I’ve tested with the AlienBees strobes and a PLM umbrella attached). Pricey, but worth it.

Two Prism 10×20′ 100% Cotton Muslin Backdrops and The Ravelli Full Size 10×12′ Background Stand Set

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.

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Black Rapid RS-7 Camera Strap

Description coming soon.

Vello ShutterBoss Timer Remote

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.

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Panamatic PMTC-1 Head

I love panoramas. This mounting-plate adapter makes it a snap to create panos. For example, this one was created using it. Might be somewhat novelty, but its cheap enough to where it doesn’t hurt to have.

Giottos AA1900 Rocket Air Blaster

This isn’t directly photography related, but it’s great to keep in your bag. It puts out enough force to clean off lenses and inside your camera.

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X-Rite M50103 ColorChecker (Grayscale)

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.

Spyder4Pro

Description coming soon.

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Adobe Creative Suite

Description coming soon.