I originally posted this on my other site, iteachphotographers.com but thought a good old cross post wouldn’t hurt at all 🙂
Imagination is key for creatives, and I like to think I have my share. So I thought I would shed some of it working up my dream photography kit. In this particular fantasy, money is no object. The goal is simply to put together a digital slr photography kit based on my own needs and interest that would have me drooling with joy. This of course would be my dream kit, not yours. I’m not going to go into medium format or anywhere else, just 35mm digital slr. And I’m not simply just buying the most expensive gear out there (though it’s certainly not the cheapest); this would be the gear I would like to buy personally.
Let’s start with cameras. I’m not going to be too greedy. I am going to choose 3. A main body, a backup and a compact scouting camera.
The flagship DSLR in the Canon EOS range. Why the hell not. All the reports and reviews I’ve read say this in simply an amazingly good camera. 18.1 Megapixels, ISO to 51,200, 61 point AF, full HD video, 12 frames a second… enough said. If you use Canon, I’m sure this would be on everyone’s list.
I am a proud owner of the original 5D. I skipped over the 5D MkII, which while being a really great and popular camera, it had some issues. From all reprts it seems they have really nailed it with the Mk III. The focus system addresses lots of old issues, and again, from the reviews, there’s not a lot wrong with this camera.
Zack Arias raves about this camera. And I mean raves. He says: “Fuji is the new Leica and the x100s is the greatest camera I’ve ever owned”. That is a BIG statement. In any case, I love the idea of your walk-around being good enough that if you get a great shot, there’s no compromise on quality.
OK. That was fun, Now some glass. L series, of course. Some zooms, some primes and some specialty lenses. And perhaps something a bit more exotic…
Ultra-wide, F/4. Sounds like fun to me. I probably wouldn’t use this much, but there would be certain things it’d be awesome at. And I tend to gravitate to longer focal lengths, so this would be a challenge.
This would be my standard landscape lens, plus my go-to lens anytime I needed wide angle and flexibility. I already own the original (just cost me $350 to repair!). Has a great range for landscape and basically a very versatile, good quality wide angle zoom.
This is a very nice lens. I have it on my camera unless I want something else. It’s versatile and the quality is good. Covers a lot of options, from wide to semi telephoto. Not my favourite portrait lens, but it works well with editorial work and any time flexibility in the middle ranges is required. I use it a lot in the studio.
The first prime lens. Canon have 4 tilt-shift lenses, and it’s hard to choose. There’s a wider one – 17mm and a 45mm and a 90mm. I figure I’d use this more for architecture than anything else, so 24 was my pick. I’d probably like the 90 for some quirky portraiture but I won’t get greedy. The kit bag’s going to be heavy enough as it is.
A beautiful bit of glass. Prime lens, f/1.2, amazing quality. This would be a joy for portraiture and anytime you wanted the discipline of a prime, the flexibility of a 50mm and the possibilities of f/1.2. This lens would get a serious workout.
For much the same reasons as the last. Quality, beautiful glass, f/1.2 – this would be my favourite portrait lens. It’s already widely used by wedding and portrait photographers and the II version is looked upon very positively. I’d probably keep this on one camera so it was readily available.
Another prime, this time a Macro. Again, Canon has a variety of macros, and I’ve only chosen this one because I’ve used it and I like it. Some of the others might be a better choice, but it would depend on your subject matter, and being not so experienced with macro photography, I figure this would be a great place to start.
If this is better than its younger brother as they say, this must be an awesome lens. It’s lighter than the original, so that’s a good thing. I love this lens. A real workhorse, great quality as usual, and both f/2.8 and IS. That’s very useful for a telephoto.
Finally, you need a big gun. This would be big enough for me. A good one for nature, surfing, cricket etc. Gotta have lots of money to entertain the thought, but this is a fantasy, right…
One of the most important accessories for a photographer is the humble tripod. Not so humble these days with aircraft grade aluminium and carbon fiber, but nice nonetheless. Then of course there are bags and straps and lighting and filters and on an on it could go…
Really Right Stuff
These guys make some amazing gear, and I’ve had the pleasure of inspecting one of these close up. To date, it’s the best ball head I’ve ever encountered. In combination with the next two pieces, it would make one hell of a tripod, certainly all the tripod I think I’d ever need. This ball head is called the BH55LR and it’s made from aircraft grade aluminium. A seriously beautiful bit of kit.
With the addition of the BGE11L L-Plate, this one made for the 5DMkIII, the ball head becomes even more useful, An awesome idea and great implementation leads to very fast shifiting between landscape and portrait orientation.
These are $1000+ carbon fibre legs. Why not. If you’re going to have a really good ball head, it’s got to sit on some quality legs.
Obviously I’d need a few bags to carry all this. Trouble is, there’s so much choice out there. Pelican bags, backpacks, roller bags… The Think Tank Airport Takeoff bag looks pretty good. But if I was actually the owner of all this kit, I’d probably start with Joe McNally’s extensive gear pages, and specifically the Camera Bags one and do my research a bit more thoroughly. At present I own a LowePro Trekker AW which is awesome, but new gear is always nice 🙂
I could keep going for weeks, but I think I’ve covered the essentials. I haven’t talked about lights, or triggers or filters etc but that has to be left to another post…. That’s the thing with photography. It can become a very gear heavy and expensive hobby or career. Particularly with the explosion of digital photography and the rapid release of new models. Which brings me to a rather unusual conclusion perhaps. This was a fantasy exercise, one in which I looked at my favourite current gear. If I won the Lotto tomorrow, I’d probably even buy all this stuff. But back in the real world, I’m reminded that gear, while it IS a great enabler in photography, is not everything, and that people with the right skills and knowledge take great photos and it generally doesn’t matter too much about what gear they are using. So if you only own a D3200 or 60D with a kit lens or two, fret not. Master the art and craft of photography, and don’t think you NEED any of this nice gear to get you where you want to go…
Hit me in the comments with your favourite current gear, or the stuff you really lust after…