My Equipment

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I’ve been asked by a few people who are interested in photography to recommend some equipment.

Let’s preface this with: I’m nowhere near an authority on equipment (or even photography)… I’m just trying to use correctly the equipment I already have, and have no real basis of comparison. But I’ll list out my equipment, and make some recommendations to novices below.

My equipment list:

  • Body: Canon EOS 60D — I believe it’s either the lowest-grade professional body or the best consumer grade body. Roughly $1000.
  • Lenses:
      • Canon 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 — Probably the lens I use most because it’s pretty utilitarian. It doesn’t do anything amazingly well, but it does everything pretty well. It has just enough of a wide-angle (18mm) and telephoto (135mm) to allow me to compose shots how I want. Mine was packaged with my camera body when I purchased it, so it was a no-brainer. This or something similar is probably a good lens for a beginner.
      • Canon 50mm fixed f/1.8 (~$200) — Awesome lens in low light and for portraits. Since it’s a fixed lens it’s very fast and can create some amazingly shallow depth-of-field shots. Also very small and easy to lug around without a long lens bumping things. But sometimes you really have to work hard to compose your shot how you’d like since the lens won’t do the work for you (telephoto/wide)
      • Canon 10-22mm wide-angle (~$500 ebay, ~$850 retail) — I love this lens for wide angle portraits or landscapes. It really distorts things interestingly around the edges. But I do find that I could use my 18-135mm for many things that I use this for, and wish I’d have spent my $500 on telephoto lens or lighting equipment instead.
  • Lighting Equipment:
      • Speedlite 270EX II (~$150) — Super small flash that I use wirelessly, and almost never on the camera body unless I’m bouncing flashes off of the ceiling. It’s quirky, and I wish I’d have bought the 430 instead of this flash.
      • Speedlite 430 EX II (~$300) — Much better flash, and you can rotate the head and bounce the light off walls, dial down the power when appropriate, add gels, etc
      • Strobist package that’s being shipped as I type, which I’m going to tout as necessary for good portraits even though I don’t have them yet (because my portraits lack due to less-than-stellar lighting, and I’m sure using this as demo’ed on Strobist will improve my shots) (http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101-traveling-light.html) (~$100)
          • light stand
          • white shoot-through umbrella & umbrella swivel
          • sync kit
  • Miscellaneous:
      • Photoshop Elements (~$199) — An absolute must is having some photo editing software. This one does everything I need it to do (no need for me to go to the full blown PS). Canon also has a software which allows me to edit my RAW photos and then import into PSE, though Lightroom may be an improvement.
      • Lightroom – Not as necessary as PS or PSE, but cuts time and certainly more recommended for the serious photog.
      • Tripod (~$50-90) — Simply necessary. Mine is pretty light and has a monopod I’ve used on occasion.
      • Camera bag ($$ varies) — I’ve got a sweet half-backpack sized, which fits my camera, 2 lenses, flashes, filters and a bunch of miscellaneous things, and I can swing it over my shoulder to bust out my camera pretty quickly. Mine was like $100.
      • Filters — I have a UV filter for every lens, mostly to protect the actual lens from dust/dirt/fingerprints/etc.
  • Wish List:
  • Recommendations for Novices:
      • Depends on how much time you plan to dedicate to photography. I’ve spent probably 1-2 hours per day for 10 months already. But that’s a commitment most people aren’t making, and thus please don’t spend that kind of money starting. Buy a camera body within your budget, a utility lens (18-135mm or something), and a flash… knowing you will have a big time commitment just figuring out how to use them. Especially the flash. Then upgrade as you realize you need something better. Also you’ll need a tripod and a bag. If you want to throw in $100 more, I’d go straight for the Strobist suggested lighting equipment (read the blog too).
      • You’ll certainly need some photo-editing software, Photoshop Elements or something similar. It’s more important than most any of the equipmnt.
      • Always ALWAYS shoot in RAW. File size is much bigger and you’ll need a bit bigger flash-cards, but it’s the only way to take full advantage of editing techniques.
      • Read and watch videos! Blogs, YouTube and web sites on how to compose photos, on how to light photos (strobist.blogspot.com is a favorite), how to edit your photos, etc., are the most valuable resource. YouTube has a ton of fantastic resource videos on how to do certain things.
      • Remember: It isn’t the camera and equipment that makes photos great… you can take great photos with an iPhone camera. It’s the person behind the lens and the editing.