First off, thanks for all your kind comments regarding my photography lately.
It’s super encouraging to hear people responding to your work in a positive way, and it’s definitely motivation to keep putting images out there. Many of you have been asking about the gear I use, so this post is for you. Hopefully, learning about my set up, and how/why I use the equipment I do, can help you navigate your own purchases.
But, first, a disclaimer! This list is by no means what you need to take a “good” photo nor is it anywhere close to what you could add to a fully stocked professional kit. But, it’s what I’ve accumulated slowly and it works well for what I need right now.
Let’s jump right in!
- Sony α7R II (camera body)
- Sony 16-35mm f/4 lens (wide angle)
- Sony 55mm F1.8 prime lens (portrait)
- MeFOTO Carbon Fiber Roadtrip Tripod/Monopod (pick a color!)
- GoPro Hero 3+Silver (for underwater shots)
- DJ Mavic Pro Drone
- MacBook Pro
- JOBY smartphone tripod
- Sony Wireless Remote
- Lens Pen
- Diffusors/Filters and Filter rings (still searching on best recs)
- Sony 70-200mm f/4 lens or Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens
A lot of people shoot with DSLRs, and I have, too, in the past. But when I looked into investing in my own camera, I took into consideration first when and where I would be using it. Mainly, I would be using the camera when I travel, so I wanted something light, packable, and easy to hold as I hiked or climbed to a perfect, sometimes, hard-to-get-to shooting vantage. This is why I opted with a mirrorless camera, the Sony a7R II.
What is the difference? DSLRs—like Canons or Nikons—are pretty big due to the fact that, well, it has more guts. There are more mechanisms inside—like a mirror and its housing for example—which the body has to accommodate for, resulting in a larger and heavier product than the mirrorless. Some photography conspiracy theorists also say that another reason they’re larger is that companies think bigger cameras sell better, due to the consumer mindset that a bigger investment should equal a bigger camera should equal better images.
That’s just not true.
While DSLRs are perfect for a lot of people, (especially if you’re not packing a bag based on weight or are set up in a studio or something similar) you’re seeing a surge in the use of mirrorless cameras due to the smaller size, lightweight body and the fact that it can shoot just as good, if not better, than any DSLR out there. All of my favorite photographers shoot with either mirrorless only or a combo kit of mirrorless and DSLR, depending on the occasion.
Lenses—aka glass—can get really expensive but are so important. The lens you use should be based on the type of shot you want. For example, if you shoot mostly landscapes, you’re going to want to invest in a wide-angle lens like the 16-35mm f/4 lens I use and listed above. If you shoot portraits, you’d invest in a lens with a focal length geared towards that, like the Sony 55mm F1.8 prime lens I mentioned earlier.
Lots of people who are just getting started will invest in a camera kit that comes with a box lens and a few other things that sweeten the deal. That’s absolutely okay, but if you can make it work in your budget, I recommend buying the camera body separately and invest in a quality lens that will be best for the subject matter you’re shooting.
Picking out a tripod should be based a lot on what I talked about with the camera. Where are you using it? Do you need to pack and unpack it regularly or will it be living in a studio? How heavy is your camera/lens combo that it needs to support? Will you be panning or moving the camera while anchored to the tripod? How tall are you? What’s your budget?
For me, again, it was all about transportability. The MeFoto Carbon Fiber Roadtrip tripod was the best all-around answer for me to the questions above.
Again, here’s a reoccurring theme with the portability. Dji has the best suite of entry level drones out there, in my opinion, starting with the Phantom then the Mavic Pro then the Mavic Air (which was just released on 1/28!) We (Laura mainly) has been using the Mavic Pro since Christmas, and we are loving it so much we named it Kevin. That’s right. Kevin.
Today, I think there’s more interest in photography than ever before, really due to the accessibility of social media. You get instant feedback on your images and are able to consume a lot of content by a variety of awesome photographers really quickly—especially on Instagram.
But, there’s more to great photographs than just taking the shot. A lot of it is in the editing. A lot of it is in the actual showing up (sunrise isn’t easy for a lot of folks, myself included!) I’m not talking about severe photoshopping, but the right corrections can take a viewer from just looking at a view to actually experiencing it—almost as closely as you did in the moment you were there. That’s the goal.
I use Lightroom to do 90% of my adjustments and use Photoshop 10% of the time if I’m going to spend a little more time on it. I also have a MacBook Pro that I bring along with me on trips to do any light touch up work on the road. Everything else I edit on a Mac desktop in my home office… the bigger screen is helpful!
I don’t really consider myself a photographer in my heart of hearts. I know, like many of you, I enjoy it. Learning about both the technical and artistic possibilities of a photo is very satisfying for me. But, it’s not as easy (or cheap!) as picking up a pen and writing, or rearranging a room. I have to work at it a little more, and maybe that’s exactly why I enjoy it so much.
Another Disclaimer! Some of the links used above are affiliate links, which essentially means if you place an order through those links, I get a teeny percentage of the order amount (this won’t cost you any extra, it just helps support my blog and the habit—thank you!). This is not a sponsored post; all opinions are my own.