January 24, 2014
I get a lot of people asking me what equipment I use, what my favorite lenses are, and what I recommend. I am in no way saying I know it all and everyone should do what I do… but I figured I’d write a little blog sharing what my favorite pieces of equipment are and what’s in my arsenal.
First of all, I bring all of my equipment to every wedding in my Think Take Photo Airport International V2.0 Rolling Camera Bag. It has customizable compartments inside the bag to fit every photographer’s needs. It rolls (thank God because with all of my equipment in there it is HEAVY), and is carry-on size so I never have to worry about checking my camera equipment when flying. I love that I can carry all of my equipment in one easy to move bag rather than carrying multiple bags or pieces around with me all day. Photo credit (below): taken from Think Tank Photo
When I’m actually running around shooting, I usually park this bag in a safe corner of the room and load up my Shootsac Lens Bag with whatever lenses I see fit (depending on the size room, what I’m shooting, lighting situation, etc.). While it does get heavy and puts strain on my back/shoulders carrying all that weight around (each lens weighs 3-7 lbs and I usually have 3 in my bag, plus carrying my camera + lens + flash sometimes) it pays off because I have everything I need in the moment and never need to run back to my bag. For example, if I had the 70-200 f/2.8 on my camera body and a guest asked me to take a photo of them (and the room is small/there isn’t enough space to back up far enough), if I didn’t have my lenses to switch out I would have to run back to my bag to get it. Totally convenient to have my lenses on me at all times, and the shoulder strap actually makes it a little more comfortable and I’ve gotten used to shooting with this bag slung over my body. Photo credit (below): taken from ShootSac
Now to the meat and potatoes. What do I actually fill these bags with? Here we go:
Canon 5d Mark iii: My primary camera. Top of the line, incredible quality, great in low-light. It’ll set your bank account back a little (okay, maybe a lot) but definitely worth working it into your budget.
Canon 5d Mark ii: My backup camera in case anything happens to my Mark iii while on location (God forbid). Also a great camera. It was my primary for a while until I upgraded to the Mark iii. I don’t use it that often anymore but it’s always nice to have a backup in your bag (I recommend ALWAYS keeping a backup camera – you never know what can happen on a shoot)
Canon 135mm f/2.0: Great lens. Honestly, I bought it to fill the long distance range lens spot until I could afford to get the 70-200 f/2.8 IS (which I now rent for every wedding, but will be purchasing this spring before my 2014 wedding season). I use it mostly for wedding ceremonies, sometimes for reception shots. Since I’ve been renting the 70-200 more often though I usually lend this one out to my second shooter to get some tighter shots. I recommend purchasing it as a placeholder until you can add on the 70-200 permanently. Once I do, I’ll probably sell this lens. But here’s the great stuff it’s gotten me so far…
Canon 85mm f/1.2: My FAVORITE portrait lens. I’ve been using this a lot more lately and paired with the Mark iii – it’s incredible. I highly recommend this lens if you’re shooting with a full frame camera body. The bokeh is insane when you shoot wide open, and it helps being able to open up to 1.2 in lower lighting situations, too. Here’s a few samples of shots taken with the 85mm…
Canon 35mm f/1.4: This lens is great for wider shots without distorting around the edges too much. It lets you shoot a little bit more of the environment and surroundings, and gives the photos a little more ambiance feel. It’s also a must have for tight spaces. This is currently the widest lens I own, but I plan on purchasing the 17-40mm f/4 lens this season to be able to shoot a little bit wider when it comes to room and ceremony shots. Here’s a few photos shot with the 35mm…
Canon 50mm f/1.2: This used to be my go-to lens for portraits until I started shooting with the 85mm more. I still think it’s beautiful and use it when I want to get closer to my subjects but don’t have a ton of room, or I use it for details a lot. It’s also sort of my safety lens… If I’m not sure what I’m going to be shooting or what the space is like, I’ll most likely start with my 50mm on my camera body and go from there. It still gets a little of the environment around the subject but also gets closer than the 35mm. Here’s a few samples…
Canon 580ex Flash: Since I specialize in natural light photography, I really only use flash when I absolutely have to (mostly during receptions). I can’t really complain about the 580… it does it’s job when I use it and haven’t had any issues with it.
Canon 420ex Flash: This is sort of my backup flash in case anything happens to my 580 on a shoot. I also use this flash for off-camera lighting at receptions or for certain portraits. It connects easily to my trigger kits and does its job. Here’s a few samples of off-camera lighting I’ve done with the 420…
Calumet Wireless Trigger Kit: see above.
Calument 8′ Flash Light with Flash Bracket: see above.
Vivitar Series +1, +2, +4, +10 Close-Up Macro Filter Set (72mm): I actually really love these filters. They cost me under $20 and shoot beautiful detail shots. Some people use the 100mm Macro Lens, but right now I can’t justify spending $1,000 on a lens that I would only be using for close-up details like rings, shoes, decor, etc… when the macro filters do a great job. I will definitely add the 100mm to my arsenal eventually, but right now it’s got a few other lenses ahead of it in line (70-200mm f/2.8, 17-24mm f/4, and maybe a new flash). Here’s what I’m talking about…
Sanyo Eneloop Rechargeable AA and AAA Batteries
8GB, 16GB, and two 32GB Compact Flash Cards
Four Canon LP-E6 batteries (for Mark iii and Mark ii)
Being that all of my equipment is laid out on the table I had to take the above photo with my phone. The quality difference is killing me but I really wanted to show everything I had laid out at once. Anyway, hopefully this helps anyone looking to venture into the photography world. You’ll also notice that I shoot mostly with prime lenses. While some might argue that it’s not the most convenient style… constantly having to switch out lenses depending on the focal length I want and actually use my legs to zoom in and out (walking) instead of just turing the ring… I’ve found a HUGE quality difference when using prime lenses and I prefer the crispness of my primes. That being said, there’s TONS of other pieces of equipment that I don’t use that others probably find essential, but like I mentioned in the beginning of this blog… this is just how I do it (for now, too. If you read through everything you’ll see that I’m always adding more equipment to my bag and my want list is always growing). If you have any questions on anything, feel free to shoot me an email – I’m always down to chat photog 🙂