I’ve gotten a reputation as a “photography gear guy”, and many people write me on pretty much a daily basis to ask me questions about gear. This page will be an updated log of what I’ve currently got in my kit…and why. For your convenience I am also embedding buying links so that you can go out and do further research for yourself. In some cases I have reviewed the gear that’s in my kit, and I’ll also embed links to those reviews where they exist.
My buying philosophy is that I look for the best “bang for my buck”. I want high quality gear, but I don’t have a “cost is no object” kind of budget. Sometimes that means making compromises. But I have learned both as a photographer and a reviewer that most expensive doesn’t always = best.
If you want to watch a series of videos where I detail what is in my personal kit and why, take a look here.
In the video below I detail what camera bodies I have right now and why I own them:
At present I have a variety of different camera bodies, including the full frame Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and EOS 6D bodies. I also own the Canon EOS 80D APS-C camera, along with a Sony a6500 mirrorless for when I want a compact body and for help with my video work for my YouTube channel.
Wide angle lenses are pretty key to what I do. In this video I break down the wide angle lenses that are in my kit; both current and vintage lenses:
My current wide angle choice is one of my overall favorite new lenses, the Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD. It is a masterful lens with amazing image quality and a great focal length. It is the new king for shooting the night sky, too. You can read my review here and might also enjoy a series of comparisons of the top wide angle lens that begins here. I use the Fotodiox Pro WonderPana filter system to further release my creativity with the lens. I have also extensively used the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Lens along with the Rokinon 14mm Ultra Wide-Angle f/2.8 IF ED UMC Lens For Canon in the past, and they are both good performing wide angle lenses at a good price.
When I want to go light, I carry the Voigtländer Color-Skopar 20mm f/3.5 pancake prime lens. It isn’t as sharp as the big Tamron, but has great color rendition and is extremely portable.
Another great choice in the category for Canon users is the new EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM. It improves on nearly all of the shortcomings of earlier Canon wide angle zooms. It is not cheap, but it is reasonably priced for its performance. You can read my review here:
Finally, I own and use the astoundingly good Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS wide angle prime for my a6500. This little lens rivals the optics of the full frame equivalents in a beautifully made, nicely compact package. It can use traditional filters and produces amazing images. I reviewed it here. I also own the Sigma 19mm DN f/2.8 ART lens for Sony mirrorless that provides a moderately wide angle of view and produces nice images.
If you are not familiar with the term “prime” as applied to lenses, it refers to a fixed focal length lens. Primes have no zoom range, and so newer photographers frequently overlook them. And in all fairness, modern zoom lenses are often very, very good. You will find still find prime lenses in almost every pro’s bag, though, because of a few reasons. First, the current largest aperture of any full frame zoom lens is f/2.8. Prime lenses are frequently f/2 or wider (Canon has a 50mm f/1.2L). This may not seem like a big deal, but take a look at this chart (courtesy of Ryan Hulse)
An aperture of f/2 lets in twice as much light as a lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8, and four times as much as a lens with a maximum aperture of f/4. A lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.4? It can let in four times as much light as that f/2.8 zoom at its maximum aperture. This means two things: first, in very low light a prime lens becomes a very important tool because ISO can be kept lower and/0r a higher shutter speed can be achieved to stop action. Secondly, a large aperture prime has greater latitude for “melting” backgrounds and allowing for that rich, creamy bokeh look. I currently have a number of prime lenses in my kit, including the aforementioned Rokinon wide angle and:
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DN Contemporary – this compact wide aperture lens is for Sony’s APS-C mirrorless, and is one of my favorite general purpose lenses on that system.
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM. This is my favorite lens at the 35mm focal length, though I do love the Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4, too. It is optically superior, has great autofocus, and is beautifully built. I no longer carry a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens because of the 35L II. You can read my review of it here:
I also us the new Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD prime lens. It has pro grade build and optical performance at a reasonable price, and also allows you to focus down more closely than any of its rivals. It produces gorgeous bokeh and is my new 50mm(ish) pick. You can see my review of it here.
If you want to go budget at this focal length, I also own Canon’s Ef 50mm f/1.8 STM lens, and it is a nice optic at a very inexpensive price. My review is here.
Another of my favorite primes is one I’m privileged to own – the Zeiss Milvus 2/135mm. It is one of the most superb performers in the world, and, while manual focus only, a joy to use. My review of it is here.
If cost were no object, the finest prime lens that I have ever used is the absolutely incredible Zeiss Otus Planar T* 85mm f/1.4 lens. It is at the very top of my personal wish list. You can read my review of this amazing optic here.
I also own the Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DN ART lens for Sony mirrorless. It is a nice compact little portrait and general purpose lens.
A good macro lens is a great choice as a third (or even a first) lens. The best new macro lens do a little bit of everything, and nothing else really allows you to get close enough to really magnify the amazing tiny world that is out there. Some of the most amazing photos are produced by a good macro lens.
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens. This is one of my favorite lenses, as it features a great build quality, awesome IS system, but above all it has truly superb optics. It produces wonderfully creamy bokeh, is very sharp, and doubles as a great portrait/event/general purpose lens. It is a true 1:1 macro, and I actually use it handheld the majority of the time. There are just so many times where the more deliberate shooting with a tripod isn’t an option. The color rendering from this lens is particularly nice.
If it’s price is a little rich for you, I also recommend the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 SP Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD Lens for Canon It is also a very strong option, and you can read my review of it here:
Everyone needs some decent reach at times. In this video I detail the telephoto lenses that I own and use:
I have a number of telephoto options for different purposes.
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 VC G2 Zoom Lens: You can read my review here: Tamron’s second generation of this lens has produced a lens truly competitive in every way with first party lenses at a price that represents a strong value.
The new Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM II is a stunningly good lens and is my new top pick in this category. I added it my kit in 2015 and thoroughly enjoy it. My review of it can be found here: I frequently will use a Canon 1.4x teleconverter when I need a little more reach.
Although I no longer own it, I highly recommend the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM Lens: You can read my review here: I really love this lens. It is fairly heavy, but is nicely compact and travels nicely. It is built like a tank, has great sharpness and color, and is very consistent throughout its focal length. This is one of Canon’s hidden gems, and rewards every one who owns it. I had a hard time parting with mine…
Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 VC USD G2 – Tamron’s second generation 150-600 is an improvement in almost every way and is now the most balanced package of these relatively inexpensive ultra-telephoto lenses. Read my review here:
The Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sport lens has a pro-grade build and great optics. It is more expensive than the Tamron, and is pretty heavy, but it is a valid choice if you need something sturdier and you shoot off a monopod or tripod frequently. You can read my review here.
I also own the Sony 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 telephoto lens for my a6500. It provides a light telephoto option when I don’t want to carry a bigger, heavier lens.
In this video I detail some of the little things that help me be successful as a photographer:
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