I often receive emails from photographers asking what kind of gear I use.
With Christmas around the corner, it’s the perfect time to share my equipment recommendations with you so you know what to get the budding photographer in your family.
Or if that photographer is you, this will help you decide what to ask Santa to bring you, or perhaps buy for yourself, this season.
Point and shoot and compact cameras are good for what they are, but if you are serious about your photography you are going to want a camera that has interchangeable lenses and gives you the ability to make all sorts of manual adjustments so you can be as creative as you want. You can only do so much when everything is automatic.
DSLR’s are made by many different manufacturers, but my suggestion is to go with either Canon or Nikon. They are the leaders in the field and have the widest variety of lenses to go with the camera bodies.
My very first SLR was a Canon and since I got used to the way they work I have always stuck with Canon.
My first DSLR was a Canon XSI. Since that is a bit outdated now, my recommendation for an entry level DSLR is a Canon T3i. Check Amazon for current the price.
After my XSI I upgraded to a Canon 7D which has a better focussing system, it does 8 frames per second (great for wildlife), and is weather sealed. Check Amazon for the current price.
The entry level DSLR usually comes with a kit lens that is in the 18-55mm range. You might want to replace that lens with a better quality lens eventually but in the beginning you will get more bang for your buck by extending your range with a wide angle and a telephoto lens.
Wide angle lenses are excellent for city scenes and landscapes. My recommendation is the Sigma 10-20mm. Check Amazon for the current price.
Telephoto lenses are great for landscapes, portraits and are a must-have for wildlife photography. My recommendation is the Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6. Check Amazon for the current price.
Or, if you can afford the L glass, Amazon has an excellent deal on the 70-200mm f/4L. The last time I checked it was $629!! Check Amazon for the current price.
If you are ready to upgrade your kit lens, my recommendation (and my favourite lens) is the Canon 24-105L. Check Amazon for the current price.
First a warning: this is purchase where everyone seems to make the same mistake. Buy cheap, buy twice. Seriously just don’t bother with the $50 el-cheapo tripod. It’s not strong enough to hold your camera when the telephoto lens is on it. It’s not strong enough if there is any wind. It’s a waste of money. If you just get a decent quality tripod you will have it for many years.
The other thing to keep in mind is that if you tripod weighs any more than “super light” you are going to end up leaving it at home where it is totally useless. Buy a decent quality carbon fiber tripod that is light, strong, and fits in your suitcase.
My recommendation is the Gitzo Traveller Tripod. Check the current price on Amazon.
4. Circular Polarizing filter
There are many different kinds of filters you may choose to add to your equipment in the future, but the most essential filter is the polarizer. It brings out details in the clouds, takes the glare off of water, and removes reflection from all sorts of surfaces as well as saturating colour.
The circular polarizer allows you to change the amount and direction of polarization by turning the filter. Check the diameter of your lenses (they will say right on the outside ring of the lens) and get a polarizer for each size you require. My 77mm polarizer fits on my wide angle and mid-range lenses and I have a 58mm for my telephoto lens.
My recommendation is the B&W polarizing filter. Check the current price on Amazon.
5. The Anti-Camera Bag
Ok, it’s actually called a Cotton Carrier, but this thing is a life-saver for me! I have a really bad back and it is hard for me to carry a camera bag on my back. This vest type unit allows me to carry my camera on my chest, it is extremely comfortable, and the camera is locked in place yet comes out quickly and easily with one hand. I love this thing!! Check out the current price on Amazon.
6. Pelican Case
You might know that I’m a traveller. I travel in an RV on roads that are sometimes very bumpy. Sometimes dishes get broken things strewn about inside the RV. I am also a boater and my camera goes with me in some rough seas on a little boat. So how do I keep my camera safe and dry? With a pelican case. They are waterproof and shockproof. Check the current price on Amazon.
7. Shutter Release / Timer Remote
This is my latest purchase. I just received it last week and I love it already. It allows me to set the shutter, the interval between images, the number of images I want and even a start delay. So when I just tried my first time lapse I could program the Shutterboss to start in one hour, take a 15 second image every 60 seconds for 4 hours. Cool! Check the current price on Amazon.
8. Pen Tablet
I didn’t know how bad it was to use a clunky old mouse to process images. Even a cool mac air mouse doesn’t have the fine touch of a pen tablet. I have the little Bamboo Fun Tablet and I would never go back. Check the current price on Amazon.
Finally, my most used and least expensive little gadget that I never leave home without. My lens pen. A little brush on one end gets rid of dust and a little carbon pad on the other gets rid of any smudges or fingerprints on your lenses or filters with no fluid. You can pick up one of these now for only $6! Great stocking stuffer. Check the current price on Amazon.
I couldn’t leave out my book recommendations! Here are some fantastic resources any photographer would love to own (each of which I can personally recommend):
So, what will you ask Santa for?
This is what is on my Christmas list: the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L lens. I think the price is a little steep even for Santa though so it might have to be combined with my birthday present. (We December babies can do that you know.)
I would love to know what is on your Christmas list. Hypothetically speaking, if you had $500 – $1,000 to spend on camera gear for yourself this Christmas, what would you buy?
Click here to look around on Amazon for ideas and then let me know. I’ll put in a good word for you with Santa.
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