Equipment

“What kind of camera do you use?”  It’s a good idea to have quality equipment, but the question to me is akin to asking a writer what word processing program he uses.  It doesn’t matter, but people want to know anyway.  I know I’m always interested in what the other guy has around his neck.

Cameras:

I’ve used mostly Nikon and Minolta cameras since I started shooting.  Times change though.  I just traded my aged (circa 2005) Nikon D200 and a host of Nikkor and Sigma lenses and purchased a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the 24-105mm f4 L series lens to go with it.

Additionally I have a Canon EOS Rebel T2i.  I acquired this camera on a whim and it is what convinced me to buy the 5D Mark II.

Lenses:

It will take me some time to build up my Canon lens collection. For now though:

These are EF-S series lenses, designed for APS-C sized sensors.  Canon full frame bodies cannot use them.
Canon 18-55mm f3.5-f5.6
Canon 55-250mm f4.0-f5.6

Full frame:
Canon 24-105mm f4 L series

Other essential gear:

Camera bags, you can never have enough camera bags.  Most of mine are from Tamrac or LowePro.

If you want to take good, sharp, pictures, you must have a tripod.  They are inconvenient to carry around, inconvenient to set up sometimes but they are essential.  Some places, most museums come to mind, won’t allow you to use them, but if you can use one you should.  Mine is from Manfrotto.

Filters. It’s the age of PhotoShop, but filters are still important.  The ones I use most are polarizers, ND and split ND.  Most of the effects you get using filters can be achieved in software, but it’s better/easier to get it done when you are shooting I think.  One thing you should have screwed on the front of all your lenses is a UV filter to protect the front element of your lens. (Not everyone agrees with this…)  I probably have more Cokin filters than others, but I use a number of different brands.

Speedlight/Flash.  I think all consumer/pro-sumer level digital SLR’s has one of the little popup flash units, and they’re ok.  But if you need to use flash, you’ll be much better off using a speedlight for a number of reasons.  Two big ones are, more power, generally speaking.  The light from them will reach farther.  Second and probably more important, you can move the flash off the camera for better creative control.  I have a Nikon SB-600 and a couple of Lumopro LP-120’s.  These won’t work in my Canons’ hot shoes, but I use them off camera in manual mode anyway and trigger them with wireless remotes, Cactus V5’s specifically.

Software.  Gotta have it, especially if you shoot RAW, which eventually you will want to do. Currently I use Adobe Photoshop Elements; I just upgraded to version 10.  Also, Adobe Lightroom.  Great organizer and lots of editing tools.  Enough in fact that you may not need to bring you photos into Photoshop for final processing.

Photography can be a very gadget intensive endeavor.  This isn’t necessarily bad; it’s fun to buy and try new stuff, but be careful not to let the pursuit of gear get in the way of taking pictures.  (I don’t always follow that dictum.)