What's in My Gear Bag (2016 Update)

Since I last wrote about my gear over half a year ago, I thought it was time to update my blog on the gear I use now. One of the most common questions I get is, "What'd you shoot that with?" Although it's true that your gear is only part of the picture (ha!), I think it still helps to know what camera bodies and lenses are used to achieve certain shots. So here's an updated list.

I'll start off by saying that I'm a Canon shooter. I don't think Canon is any better or worse than Nikon, or any other manufacturer for that matter. The Canon T3i just happened to be my first DSLR so I've stuck with Canon glass ever since.

Camera

Canon 6D

This is Canon's entry-level full-frame body. I've contemplated many times upgrading to Canon's flagship model, the 5D Mark iii, but haven't pulled the trigger yet. The biggest reason being I'd rather invest in better lenses before upgrading my camera body. It's true that the 5D Mark iii is superior in many ways -- with more megapixels, autofocus points, dual card slots, and probably a bunch of other features I've overlooking at the moment. But from what I've read, when it comes to image quality, there isn't that much of a difference. I've been quite impressed with the images I've been able to capture with my 6D, so I'll be sticking with it until I have enough saved up to comfortably afford to upgrade. (And when I do, I'll likely keep my 6D as a backup.)

Lenses

Canon 24-70mm Mark ii

The biggest drawback about this lens? It's quite expensive, retailing at $1,799.99 on Amazon as of this writing. The biggest benefit about this lens? It's the best freaking zoom lens you'll ever use. I suppose that's a bit unfair for me to claim, as I've only used a couple. But read any review about this lens online and you'll discover I'm not alone. The image quality this piece of glass delivers is quite a dream. Prior to owning this, I had probably what 95% of professional photographers have in their bag, the Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4. While the Sigma produced images that were quite dreamy, I found myself limited by the fixed focal length. 35mm was a bit too wide for the work I was doing (mostly portrait and editorial) and shooting my subjects up close caused quite a bit of distortion. Ultimately, I opted to sell it so I could put the money towards something that had both versatility and superior optics. The 24-70mm doesn't fail to deliver in both those categories.

Taken with the 24-70mm

Taken with the 24-70mm

Canon 135mm f/2

I bragged about this lens in my previous gear post, and my feelings haven't changed. If anything, I'm even more in love with this lens since I got it. The images it delivers are the sharpest I've seen. If you want beautiful bokeh and nice image compression, this is the lens to get, especially if you're a portrait photographer. Because it's a prime lens, you do have to "zoom with your feet", but that's an inconvenience that's easily forgotten once you see how beautiful and sharp your pictures are.

Taken with the 135mm

Taken with the 135mm

Lighting

I'm primarily a natural light photographer, but last year I shot exclusively natural light mostly because I was intimidated by strobes and speedlights. I had no idea how to use them, so naturally, I avoided them. But that changed when I was booked for a wedding in September and the reception was going to be held indoors. Cranking up the ISO on my camera wasn't going to cut it. It was time to step my game up and learn how to use off-camera flash.

After doing lots of research, I stumbled upon a super helpful Facebook group that taught me the basics I needed to know. Ultimately, I ended up buying three different flash units, the YN565, YN568, and Canon 580 EX ii. Because I wanted the ability to operate all the flashes remotely (meaning I could adjust the power from my camera instead of having to manually adjust each flash unit), I went ahead and bought a wireless controller and set of triggers, along with some light stands, flash brackets, and a reflective umbrella that I could use for portrait work. (Note: the above links are affiliate links for the exact products I purchased and still use today.)

I still have a lot to learn when it comes to using artificial lighting. But one thing is for certain: it completely changes your world. Being able to shape light takes your game to a different level. Suddenly, you aren't limited to only shooting around sunset. You don't have to cater to the whims of mother nature! If it's sunny out, you can bring your lighting gear to add some fill light. If the weather isn't cooperating, you can shoot indoors. No matter the conditions, you can get the shot you need.

Taken using a single speedlight diffused by a reflective umbrella.

Taken using a single speedlight diffused by a reflective umbrella.

Final thoughts

That's a basic rundown of the stuff I use. I'd say right now my 24-70mm stays on my camera about 70% of the time. I use the 135mm whenever I want to do headshots or get some heavy background blur. These two lenses complement each other very well and I highly recommend them both.

As always, if you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment or email me at info[at]kevintitusphoto.com. Thanks for reading!