Okay, so this post has been... oh, like... A YEAR? in the making. If there are some awards for the laziest blogger ever, please do let me know! But better now than never, right? :)
“I love your pictures, what camera do you have?”
You have no idea how many message I receive every week, asking me the same. And it is actually very flattering :). So I decided to write down my list of camera gear once and for all. I will be slowly adding some other great photo gear I've tried, including some spectacular (and cheap!) vintage lenses I own, so be sure you have signed up for getting my newsletter, and you don't miss any updates.
For the beginning, I would like to say, that camera of course is very important to bring you some breath taking shots, but at the end you are what matters.
You'll be the one taking thousands of pictures to improve your eye, you'll be the one waking up at 3 am to catch the best light, you'll be the one standing hours in freezing night waiting for northern lights, you'll be the one scrambling up to the dangerous ridge to get the best view. Any camera won't do that job for you. I know a few people with an expensive full-frame camera and set of lenses worth of thousands of dollars, but some owners of iPhone would kick their ass in terms of results.
I am a self taught photographer and I purchased my first DSLR - Canon 60D - in 2010 before my first big trip to USA.
And I sucked in photography. Believe or not.
I thought if I bought a good camera, I would make good pictures. But the reality was different.
If I look back now and see pictures from my first year of pursuing the photography, I blush. I blush a lot. No sharpness, over-processing in Lightroom, weak compositions, no knowledge about the light etc.
But you know what? It's absolutely OK!
Every single photographer I know went through this stage and the best way to become a better photographer is to take pictures. Actually tons of pictures. So often as possible. Educate yourself. Experiment with different lights and settings. Watch youtube videos. Play around in editing programs. Read interviews with photographers you admire - I did one with great Canadian photographer Paul Zizka.
And if you are resistant, sooner or later, you will see the results, I promise.
Lenses, lenses, lenses.
When people ask me what camera I recommend, I start my typical speech on lenses.
If you have a limited budget, buy a cheaper body and invest at least into one good quality lens. I've seen people to buy a top camera body and put a cheap lens on it. When I bought my Canon 60D, I was using it with a cheap kit lens Canon 18-55mm for a year. And I wondered why my pictures are far from looking even a bit professional (and of course it wasn't only lens fault).
If you can't afford a good body and a good lens, you can try vintage lenses which you can buy on Ebay. Obviously you'll have to use manual focus and will need to purchase an adapter (I use M42 for my vintage lenses which is only around $4 ), but the cost is multiple times less than buying a new lens of the same quality. Some of my favourite lenses are more than 50 years old vintage lenses (like Tair 11a 135mm f2.8, Pentax Supertakumar Asahi 50mm f1.4) and I love them to the moon and back.
Cons of vintage lenses is their weight - their built quality is amazing but it's usually lot of metal you have to carry around. So if you are planning backpacking around the world, I would leave these at home.
Now let's get back to the article:
Finally after five years of shooting with my lovely Canon 60D I decided it's time to get a full frame. Full frame allows me shoot landscape much wider and because I love the mountains and landscape photography in general, I really needed one. I miss a flippable screen I had on Canon 60, but overall it's a great camera with better low light performance and one of the cheapest full frame cameras on the market. I love and use this babe for astrophotography as well!
This camera has been traveling with me since 2010. I love its flippable liveview screen and I feel it's almost undestroyable - it went through so many adventures with me, through the deserts, oceans and freezing polar places, yet besides of some decent scratches it never failed on me. If you are starting with photography, 60D can be a great choice.
Recently I was getting more and more gigs as a portrait photographer and decided it was time to invest some money into a portrait lens and purchased this beauty. It is an incredible lens and now I never go anywhere without this one. It's quick, easy to focus, sharp as a Swiss knife and has a gorgeous depth of field. The image quality it produces blows me away again and again. Absolutely dreamy bokeh that looks like smooth velvet with your subject popping off the background.
If you are starting with photography and you should have just one lens, this would be the one. It was my favourite for a long long time. Super cheap lens ($100) with a nice depth of field and reasonably sharp. It is also very light, hence great for traveling.
OK, so I never thought there are any zoom lenses with the same quality as prime lenses. First time I got to try this gem in 2017 and since then it never leaves my camera bag. The contrast and sharpness is just incredible! With it's 790g it's a heavier piece, but the I don't mind for sake of the crips landscape pictures. I also love it for shooting night skies.
Hands down the best landscape zoom lens I've ever had, so if your budget allows, go for it and you won't regret!
Just before getting the 16-35mm above, this was my main lens for landscapes. I bought it used when I was living in New Zealand in 2011 and wanted a good walkaround lens for landscape photography. The lens itself is small and light enough for traveling around the world. The quality is just great - the pictures jump out at you for their color, contrast and sharpness. At the $600 range this lens offers an incredible value. No other lens in that price range offers the same quality build, distortion control, and image quality.
Long time I was craving to buy a telephoto lens before I got this baby in 2018. I was afraid I won't be using it enough and it will only gather dust on the shelf or I will be carrying it to the mountains for nothing. But gosh, was I wrong! I would miss this lens so much now when I know what it's capable of! It's a great tool especially in the mountains when you want to capture all their majesty but the wide lenses make them flatter than they actually are. This lens is also a must for wildlife photography. Especially if you have full frame camera and deciding between 70-200 or 70-300mm, believe me, get this 300 and you can thank you later.
If you are into landscape photography, polarizer filter should be one of the first things you should buy. Bluer skies and oceans, richer colours. This one always go with me.
Without a doubt, this is the best tripod I have ever had. I constantly travel, live out of my backpack and scramble dozens of mountains. I need a lightweight but stable tripod, easy to use, and versatile as can be tripod, that will last me for many years. If you feel the same way, stop looking, and get this one. You can thank me later. For it's price (around $220) you will get the best value you can get among tripods for travellers. It only weights 1 kg, but is extremely stable and you can fold it to incredibly small package.
Are you traveling with another photographer? Many people asking me. Most of my photos are self-portraits. I take these "selfies" just because I often travel alone and therefore there is no one to take a picture of me. This wireless remote can reach up to 100m and now I can't imagine my photography without it.
Do you want to do astrophotography? Self portraits? Long-exposure? Timelapses? Then you probably need one of these. It is cheap, small and light. Your camera also allow you to keep the shutter open for maximum of 30 seconds. But this magical machine will keep it for you open much longer. When buying these, make sure that it is the right one for your camera model.
Yes, although most of my photos I edit in Adobe Lightroom and sometimes I go to Photoshop especially when I need to blend exposures or just clean the photo.
In Lightroom, love to play with the colours, curves and tones and always trying new editing styles.
Some photos are the matter of minutes to edit, while others might take a few hours until I am happy with the result.
I pay $9.99 monthly for my Photography Creative Cloud, which consists of Lightroom and Photoshop.
*Advice for the very beginners: If you start with photography, I very recommend you to shoot in RAW format (if your camera support it) and start with editing in Adobe Lightroom. It is a very user-friendly software and allows you to do lot of great adjustments.
If you have a question about any of the product I mentioned, please don't hesitate to send me a message.
Wanna see more pictures of mine? Feel free to follow me on Instagram.
*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to the products I love and therefore recommend. If you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a small percentage of the payment which will help me to keep running ths website. Thank you!