When I’m teaching photographers how to get better pictures with the photo gear they have, I use a range of photo gear. So in this Christmas season here’s my list of seven top photo essentials.
Everybody needs one to take photos, or make movies. I’ve been a long time Canon user, since the EOS 650 film camera, and my current choice is the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. If your budget doesn’t run that far then the Canon EOS 650D is incredibly capable for not much money.
Cameras change every couple of years, but lenses are a long lasting purchase so buy the best you can afford. If I could only have one; it would be the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM. I thought long and hard about this, and in the end the 50mm won out, but it was close for the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM and the EF 135mm f/2L USM.
I love shooting with flash, and with the Speedlite 600EX-RT Canon have delivered their best ever flash. It’s transformed my shooting; if it’s dark then I use higher ISO on the EOS 5D Mark III and if it’s bright sunny and contrasty then it’s time for off-camera flash with the radio controlled Speedlite 600EX-RT. Get a Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT to control it too.
4. Off-camera flash support
Since the Speedlite is mostly off-camera for me then I need a good reliable support. The best purchase this year was the Manfrotto 5001B Nano stand. It even folds small enough to go in a wheelie bag on aeroplanes. However to hold the flash you need something between the flash and the stand. I’ve been loving the combination of the Manfrotto 014-38 adapter, Novoflex Neiger 19 ballhead and the Frio coldshoe.
5. Camera bag
This year I have used the Vanguard Heralder 38 as my main camera bag. I still don’t think there is a perfect bag, but the Vanguard Heralder has been the most used this year. Though for overseas day trips with a laptop, cameras, lenses, Speedlites, plenty of flash modifiers kit and that Manfrotto nano stand then the old faithful LowePro Stealth backsack has been called in to service.
6. Macbook Pro
This is probably the most used bit of kit I have. My i7 powered MacBook Pro has been wrapped in a Speck case since new and has been running virtually non-stop since I first got it. Using it I have processed pictures, edited video, written blog posts, run the business, delivered presentations and workshops plus plenty more.
No matter what you receive or give for Christmas, the key is making the most of it. Don’t forget to get in touch in 2013 for training to help you take better pictures. There’s a few days left to sign up for a studio lighting workshop at Green Lens Studio in North London on 9th December and I’ll also be running some Speedlite flash training and DSLR movie courses with EOS Network in January, February and March next year.
It’s only four weeks to the big day too… 🙂