Thoughts on photo gear

canon 5dI’m a Canon man – through and through!

Nothing wrong with Nikon, or any other make for that matter, it’s just that I like Canon gear and have used it for years. It suits my needs and fits my hands perfectly.

My basic walkabout set up is a 5D with a 24-105 f4 on the front. For architecture and interiors I use the 16-35 f2.8 wide-angle a lot, and for portraits and people I use the 70-200 f2.8 tele. All lenses are L-series.   

The main flash is a 580EX II, with a couple of cheaper Yongnuo units as fills/slaves. I very rarely have the flash on-camera and they are all fired by either radio triggers or their own optical sensors.

A word on radio triggers. There are hundreds of forum posts and blog posts about which is best, worst, most reliable, cheapest, dearest, prettiest, ugliest, etc, etc. Go read them all if you want but here’s the general concensus: Pocket Wizards are the best, cheap Chinese ones from ebay are the worst.

Basically you get what you pay for! PW’s are around £150 each and you’re going to need one for the camera and one for each flash. For me that would mean 4 units – a total of around £600. Personally I would rather buy something else for that sort of money – like a new lens!

What do I use then? Cheap Chinese ones from ebay!! Well, mid-range iShoot ones actually. The thing is, you can buy a transmitter and three receivers for around £35 and in my experience they work just fine for most applications. Yes, there are reliability issues (although I haven’t had any yet) but the simple solution is… buy two sets! For £70 you’re pretty-much covered – plus you’ve still got £530 in your pocket to go and spend on something else.

I use Billingham bags, a Sekonic light meter, a Slik tripod, various lighting stands, reflectors and modifiers (umbrellas, softboxes, etc.) and I’ve got a bagful of ‘grip’ stuff to position everything just where I want it.

So with a camera bag and a lighting/grip bag I can load up the car and be on my way to a location with everything (most of the time!) I need.

Edit: I wrote the above a while ago for my previous blog, but since then I have changed my gear a little. I have a bad habit of not having a camera with me all the time, the 5D plus lenses can be a bit weighty (and a bit OTT!) when you’re just going out for a coffee. So I decided I “needed” a point-and-shoot. But the point-and shoot I wanted was a Canon G10/11, because as a pro you can’t compromise on quality and control.

So here’s what happened: I sold my 16-35 f2.8 and bought the 17-40 f4. I use a tripod nearly all the time for interior architectural shots and f2.8 is not an aperture that I use much. I usually shoot very wide and around the f5.6-f11 mark as depth of field is not much of a problem when shooting wide-angle. So why do I need the expensive glass?

This left me with a nice little cash balance to buy a used G10 off ebay. So for a very small outlay I ended up where I wanted to be: basically the same lens selection but with a G10 that I can take with me everywhere.

Think about this the next time you’re hankering after the next piece of ‘must-have’ gear. It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune.

As we go along I will be reviewing many more bits of exciting photo gear, but in the meantime below you will find Amazon’s online bargains for all the photo gear I’ve just mentioned, check them out, shop in complete safety at Amazon and save money!

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