The Gear I Use

Lately I've been getting some questions on what equipment I use for my portrait and landscape photography. While gear is only part of the whole picture (no pun intended?), it certainly counts for a lot.

Here's some of the gear I've used since I started:

Camera Bodies

Canon T3i

When I was first researching which camera to go with, I eventually decided to go with the T3i. The reviews speak for themselves, and the price was affordable enough that I didn't have to break my bank to start learning digital photography.

The T3i takes amazing photos, and I didn't even utilize it to its full potential since I only shot JPEG when I started out. I had the camera for about six months before I upgraded to a full-frame body.

Canon 6D

While the T3i is an amazing camera, I eventually grew tired of having to work with the 1.6x crop factor it had. I wanted the ability to capture more of the scene without having to step back so far away from my subjects. Especially because I was also interested in doing landscape photography, I knew getting a full-frame was inevitable.

For me, buying the 6D was a no-brainer. The next step up (and considered by many to be the "top" Canon camera body), the 5D Mark III, was a whole $1,000 more than the 6D. The biggest advantages it has over the 6D was the number of autofocus points and its high-speed continuous shooting -- both features that, for me, didn't justify the extra cost.

I could write an entire series of posts on how amazing this camera is (and I probably will), but for now, just know that I couldn't be happier with it.

Lenses

Canon 50mm f/1.8

This was my very first prime lens. Like I do with almost anything I buy, I checked the reviews on Amazon first. This little guy had such great reviews, and it's a total steal at just a little over $100. The bokeh it produces is quite impressive and the focal length is so versatile that it makes for a terrific walk-around lens.

Taken with the 50mm f/1.8.

Taken with the 50mm f/1.8.

Taken with the 50mm f/1.8.

Taken with the 50mm f/1.8.

I finally made the leap and got this lens once my friend told me how astounding the photos he took with it were. $900 is a hefty price to pay for anything, but at $600 less than its Canon equivalent, it's a pretty great deal.

I fell so in love with the photos took, I used it for everything. Even portraits. In fact, it was the only lens I used for portraits. (This lens isn't optimal for portrait photography because of how it distorts the faces of your subjects if you're too close, but they still looked pretty damn good.)

Portrait taken with the Sigma 35mm f/1.4.

Portrait taken with the Sigma 35mm f/1.4.

Long exposure landscape taken with the 35mm f/1.4.

Long exposure landscape taken with the 35mm f/1.4.

After coming to grips with the fact that I had to have more lenses in my arsenal than just a 50mm and 35mm, I opted to go for my first telephoto zoom lens (and my first L-series too!). The 70-200mm focal range is amazing. At 70mm you can take beautiful and sharp portrait shots, and at 200mm you can take some pretty amazing shots of the moon.

There are several variations of this lens, with the f/4 non-IS being the most affordable (and the most lightweight!). Because I mostly used this lens with a tripod, I didn't have any issues with not having image stabilization like some of the other variations offer. No matter what kind of photography you're interested in, the 70-200mm has the versatility to serve your needs.

Taken with the 70-200 f/4.

Taken with the 70-200 f/4.

Taken with the 70-200mm f/4.

Taken with the 70-200mm f/4.

This lens. Oh my god, this lens! Because I wanted to have the best possible glass for the weddings I'll be shooting this year, I did my research to find the best prime lens alternative to the 70-200mm. Many of the wedding photography blogs I came across highly recommended the 135mm f/2, giving it amazing reviews. Seriously, I have never seen anything rated so highly on Amazon (Over 200 reviews and an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars, really?!) 

Even funnier, one of the "cons" that people listed for the lens was that some of the images were too sharp. (Some of the images it produces can actually look unrealistically sharp depending on the background and lighting, but that's easily fixable in post production.) Overall though, what a great problem to have!

Hands down, this is the sickest lens in my camera bag, and I look for chances to use it as often as I can.

Taken with the 135mm f/2.

Taken with the 135mm f/2.

Taken with the 135mm f/2.

Taken with the 135mm f/2.

While the 135mm takes amazing portraits, the crop can be a little tight. The 85mm is another must-have portrait lens, and is an absolute bargain at $350. In fact, there have been reviews comparing the 85mm f/1.8 with its f/1.2 L-series alternative, and the differences aren't as drastic as you might think. If you don't have the $2k to afford the luxury version, the f/1.8 is your next best choice.

Taken with the 85mm f/1.8.

Taken with the 85mm f/1.8.

Taken with the 85mm f/1.8.

Taken with the 85mm f/1.8.

I hope this post gives you an idea of the gear I work with and the kinds of images each lens can produce. If you guys have any questions about the equipment, ask me in the comments and I'll be sure to answer! Thanks for reading.