“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.”
It’s true. No amount of gear will ever replace a patient and considered approach. So, although this list exists, please don’t consider it a crib sheet on how to short-cut your way to good photographs. Practice, perseverance and patience will bring you greater rewards than new lenses. That said..
The list below exists, in part, because I’m frequently asked what equipment I use and so this is an easy reference guide. I have no strong allegiance to brands, gear has to do a job. It’s got to be reliable, robust and able to withstand challenging environments. If the gear doesn’t work on one shoot then it doesn’t find its way onto the list for the next job.
Gear gets upgraded when the need arises so this list changes periodically but the core elements remain the same. Different jobs dictate different gear so not every item comes on every shoot. Those in blue are part of my normal kit and fit inside the Pelican 1514. Everything else in purple will vary depending on the gig and fit inside the Pelican 1564.
I’ve been using Canon gear for several years. That’s not to say that other camera manufacturers are not just as good, it’s simply that I’ve been happy with Canon cameras.
- Canon EOS 40D w/BG-E2N battery grip
- Canon EOS Rebel XT w/BG-E3 vertical battery grip (w/Infrared Conversion)
- Canon G10
- Tamron AF 11-18mm f/4.5-5.6 Di-II
- Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L II USM
- Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM
- Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM
- Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
- 2x Canon Extensions Tube EF 12 II
- Canon 1.4x EF Extender II
- Lensbaby 3G
I regularly work with flash and these sources of light always accompany me on location, when you need them, you really need them. That being said, I also may carry extra sources.
- Canon Speedlite 580EX II
- Canon Speedlite 430EX
- 4X PocketWizard Plus III’s
- 4x Nikon SB28DX’s
- 5x Vivatar 285HV’s
- Honl 1/4″ Honeycomb Speed Grid
- Honl 1/8″ Honeycomb Speed Grid
- Honl 8″ Speed Snoot
- Honl 5″ Speed Snoots
- Rogue FlashBender Large
- Rogue FlashBender Small
- Rogue FlashBender Bounce Card/Flag
- Orbis Ring Flash
- 2x Photoflex Q39 XS LiteDome 12x16x9″ w/hacked Speed Ring
- Assorted Westcott Umbrellas
- Westcott and JTL Reflectors
- 4x Manfrotto 5001B Nano Light Stands
- Black Rapid RS4 Camera Strap
- Manfrotto 055X PRO TRIPOD w/804RC2 PAN TILT HEAD
- 3 x Cokin ND Grad filters, holder and case
Once you’ve got all that gear, you need something sturdy and reliable to transport it in. You need bags that you can depend upon to keep your gear safe. They’ve got to withstand harsh environments and yet be light enough not to carry for prolonged periods.
This isn’t an exhaustive list but it covers the essentials. It’s taken me many years to fine-tune the gear I carry, weeding out the things that don’t pull their weight and seeking out clever solutions for irksome problems. The list changes as the process of fine-tuning continues but I hope that this will give you a good place to start if you’re looking to compare what gear I use in order to get the job done.
Your list will inevitably be determined by your specific needs. If you’re a fashion or lifestyle photographer then your gear list will obviously be very different. However, if you’re a travel photographer or just somebody who likes to make the most of the opportunities that arise as you travel around then I hope there are some items on this list that will give you food for thought.