New kit never made a photographer better, only our own imagination and creativity can do that..
I don’t like to make a virtue of kit, but as a commercial photographer I rely on the best equipment I can lay my hands on and so in the spirit of sharing things that work for me, here is an ongoing list of the stuff that I use most regularly
Canon 5D Mk III
Canon 5D Mk IV
Canon 550D with 720nm Infrared Filter
Insta 360 One X
Go Pro Hero 6
DJI Pocket 2
So I’m a DSLR guy. I’ve nothing against mirrorless cameras, in fact I’d love to have one. I just can’t justify the expense as the 5DS in particular offers pretty close resolution and given that my audience is primarily on the internet I can’t see the upgrade making any significant difference.
The Canon 550D has the same 18 MP APS-C sensor as the 7D. Although it lacked the dual processor of the 7D it is still a decent camera. In fact when I opted to upgrade to full frame it was the 7D that I sold. I had my 550D converted to infrared a couple of years ago and its given the camera a new lease of life.
360° Cameras were fascinating when they first appeared and I as well as the gimmicks I found ways to use the video capability creatively in ordinary video. You’d never know that we didn’t hire a crane or a helicopter in those sequences!
Action Cameras – the GoPro Hero 6 is practically antique at this stage but I’m getting some use out of it still in the videos I’m making in Andalucia. The DJI Pocket 2 is an astounding camera. Not really an action camera as its quite fragile but in terms of documenting some of my location scouting expeditions its a marvel.
Canon EF 8-15mm L
Canon EFS 10-22 mm
Canon EF 17-40mm L
Canon EF 24-70 mm L
Canon EF 70-200mm L
Canon EF 70-300mm L
Canon EF 100-400mm L
Rokinon SP 14mm F2.4
Canon TSE 24mm L
Canon EF 35mm L
Canon EF 50mm L
Canon EF 85mm L
Canon TSE 90mm
Canon EF 100mm L
Canon EF 135mm L
Lenses and Lights
As a commercial photographer I picked my lenses on quality for the job at hand. Now that I’m focusing more on landscape work I’ve no doubt that some will seem superfluous. I’ll probably swap the 17-40 out for a 16-35mm at some point but other than that I’m pretty happy that I’m covered for most eventualities.
Lights are really for studio work and I got great value from my Elinchrom kit. The LumeCube lights are great for lighting video, getting light into places you struggle with.
100mm Filter System
ND Filters 0.6, 0.9
Little Stopper 6
Big Stopper 10
Super Stopper 15
Soft Grads 0.3, 0.6, 0.9
Hard Grads 0.3, 0.6, 0.9
Reverse Grads 0.6, 0.9
The only filters I absolutely have to have are the circular polariser, the Stopper series and the ND Filters. Pretty much everything else can be done on Photoshop these days. Of course you have to shoot for the edit and that might mean bracketing to capture the entire dynamic range in a scene. I’ve been a Lee Filters man since day one and I would only change if something a little less fragile and more glove friendly became available!
Tripods, Heads, Gimbals and Drones
I’ve recently acquired a Feisol tripod and absolutely love it. The Giottos MTL was a great studio tripod that served me well for ten years. The Vitruvium was the innovative tripod in its day and both of these have lasted me ten years. The Bushman I bought for 360 shoots and the Gorillapods for just in case scenarios. I’ve actually redeployed the Gorillapods now for video. They suit the DJI Pocket perfectly, really opening up the range of viewpoints quite dramatically.
The Drone is a glorified gimbal at the end of the day. The Phantom 4 has the best camera outside of the Mavic Pro 3 and I haven’t seen the need to upgrade, though the size factor is a slight problem.
You need decent heads for stability. In the studio, my three-way Giottos Head was perfectly acceptable, but outside is a whole different ballgame. I bought Acratech heads recently for my landscape and panoramic photography and although they were expensive, it’s money well spent. And half the time fiddling about. I also bought some Kirk Photographic base plates and an L Bracket that fits the cameras like a glove. By far the best design I’ve seen.
DXO Photolab 5
DXO Viewpoint 3
DXO Filmpack 6
This section should also include the Photographer’s Epherimis and Photo Pills. two apps that are indispensable for landscape photography. Adobe still lead the way in post production and with techniques like luminosity blending and masking they are consolidating their position as essential creative tools.
That being said, I’m a big fan of DxO Pure RAW. It’s the best pre processing software I’ve found in terms of camera/lens corrections and noise removal. Viewpoint is better than anything in the Adobe stable and the Nik Collection also has much to offer – I haven’t found anything as good as Silver Efex Pro. It would be interesting to do a side by side edit DxO vs. Adobe. Look out for that in the future!