Photography and Video Gear
In the past couple of years, I have collected numerous amounts of gear, tools, and programs to help enhance my photography and film making. What’s important, though, is to first prioritize your skillset. Gear is just the next step into enhancing your talents! As you continue down your journey, you will understand which products are worth investing into in order to maximize your workflow.
I’m still just a beginner in this industry. I started taking photography seriously for the past two years and started my Youtube channel three years ago. My collection is a work in progress and it will continue to evolve as I test out new products and figure out what I need for my creative purposes. (Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to update this list for you as that happens!)
In the mean time, I want to go over all the things I use when it comes to photography and film making along with my reviews of each product.
Going over this list, remember that you don’t need everything below to be “successful”. A great starting point is to research and invest in a camera body and lens. It doesn’t have to be the expensive ones yet, either!
Ever heard of those Youtube challenges where professionals use cheap cameras to make incredible photos? The takeaway is that it’s not the gear you use, it’s you. Gear is just a tangible extension of your creative photographic imagination! And it can definitely help you to enhance your storytelling and problem solving.
Below is my list of all the gear, tools, and programs I currently use. My hope is that my list can guide you in a certain direction for the things you might want to have in your collection!
Canon 5D Mark IV: I purchased this camera this year and I am absolutely, hands down, in love with it! I was desperately wanting my photos to be more sharp and to have such high quality that when you zoom in, you could see every tiny little detail in focus. I also wanted a camera that was versatile. Something I could use for landscapes, portraits, products, in low light, with astrophotography and with video. This is the camera and I adore it!!
What’s different with this camera in comparison to the Canon 80D is that this is a 30.4 Megapixel full-frame sensor camera (aka it has amazing image quality!) It also has 4k video. I also love using the live view mode as well as the touch screen. My only complaint is that the touch screen isn’t a flip screen! This camera is harder to take self portraits on because of this!
Canon 80D: I’ve had this camera for a couple years and absolutely loved it, and still do! I think it’s a great quality camera for those who want to upgrade, but can’t quite afford the Canon 5D Mark IV. It is a 24.2 Megapixel crop-sensor camera with Full HD 60p for video.
What I love about this camera is that it has a flip screen that is a touch screen! This makes it super easy for taking self portraits as well as filming Youtube videos!
Pentax k1000: This is my favorite film camera so far (though I haven’t tried many!) I bought this for my film class and developed my own film in the darkroom. I’m really impressed with how sharp the photos came out, especially with how low the F-stop can get. I’m a sucker for the little dust imperfections that come up here and there on my photos, too.
If you ever get the chance to get your hands on a film camera, I encourage you to take that opportunity. Photographing with a manual film camera fosters a special kind of relationship between you and your camera. It slows everything down and you get to spend more time deciding what to capture and how to do it.
Sigma Art 35mm 1.4: Yep, it’s as amazing as everyone says it is! This is a great lens for portrait photography, but it’s my go-to for basically everything. With a 1.4 aperture, you have the ability to get very blurred backgrounds which is great for taking photos of people or highlighting certain aspects in your composition. It’s also very sharp. Lastly, this is a fixed lens, which means you can’t zoom in or out - it’s always at 35mm.
Canon 50mm 1.4: This is my latest purchase and while I don’t use it regularly, I’ve been using it more often lately. It’s a very light-weight lens which makes traveling with it much more bearable than the Sigma one. It also has a low aperture but what I especially love is all the beautiful bokeh in the blurred background. Bokeh is basically how the camera renders out-of-focus light which we can generally see in photos when light sources, like city lights, become blurry colorful circles. It’s also a very sharp lens!
*One thing to note: if considering this lens for vlogging or for filming, be sure to get the Canon 50mm 1.8 instead! It has a motor that’s very quiet when autofocusing! Look for “STM” next to the name to be sure. The Canon 50mm 1.4 and the Sigma 35mm 1.4 are very loud when autofocusing in video which basically ruins all your clips! So annoying! Once I purchase the 1.8, I will add it to this list with a review for you! P.S. The lens is more than half the price of the 1.4 so it’s more affordable and versatile!
MeFoto A1350Q1K: I use this tripod mainly for self portraits and for making Youtube videos. My favorite features are the ballhead, which allow for flexible camera positions and panoramas, the ability to make it a monopod, the durability of it, and that I can use it in many weather and environmental conditions.
Quick release plates: While my tripod comes with a quick release plate, I always like to have a few spare. Basically, one time I traveled with one of my cameras and my tripod, only to find out that my quick release plate was attached to my other camera in a different state. Needless to say, I won’t make that mistake again.
I just got this backdrop stand and I’m happy with it (for now!) I’d say it’s more on the affordable, beginner side since I’ve noticed professionals use heavier duty stands. When I extend the side stands really high, I notice that it isn’t entirely sturdy so I get a little nervous around it when using it for full body photos. Thankfully, I mainly use this backdrop stand at a short height for product photography in which case, it is way more sturdy!
I use this backdrop paper which is a game changer! It’s a lovely neutral shade that goes with just about everything. It’s pretty thick and holds up for many uses, too. Thankfully, if it gets messed up, you have 12 yards of it! What I also love is that it is non-reflecting so it’s very compatible if you’re using artificial light. Lastly, this paper comes in an infinite amount of colors which gives you room for achieving so many creative ideas.
I purchased these lights when I first started with my Youtube videos. They are definitely at the low-end of the spectrum and I hope to upgrade to higher quality stands and lights in the future. But until then, these lights do the job! These neutral-toned lights are also energy saving, which I really appreciate. They come with a white fabric diffuser to turn the lights into softboxes, too. (This makes the light softer, instead of being really harsh.)
One of my favorite uses for these lights are using them with colored light gels to put over when doing a studio photoshoot. However, I have learned that these kinds of lights are not best suited for gels (something I quickly learned when I tried it for the first time. See ‘colored light gels’ below.) For these lights, while I do encourage you to get creative, I highly recommend these lights for traditional studio lighting for sit-down film making or studio photography with the diffusers attached.
As a creator on the go, it’s always important to have spare charged batteries available at the ready. Canon batteries are insanely expensive on their site so I found the same ones for a cheaper price here. Protip: If you’re going to spend thousands of dollars on your camera, it’s worth your money to invest in camera batteries that aren’t knock-offs or off-brand batteries. These will only fall short in their lifespan causing you to spend more money in the long run.
Colored Light Gels
I bought these colored light gels hoping to use them with my soft box lights in a creative way because I couldn’t find gels big enough to use with my lights. Reasonably so. Like I mentioned above, the lights I own are not suited for colored light gels. However, I got creative and attached four gels into a square with tape and attached them to my lights. Definitely a DIY approach but the result was wicked cool - multicolored shadows and highlights!
I will update my lights and gels when I do more research and when I’m able to upgrade.
External Hard Drive
ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL. All of my photos are kept on my external hard drive for many reasons. It’s a home for all my media, it stores everything in an alternative place instead of taking up space on my computer, and personally, they serve as little yearly holders of visual content for me. The one I have is 1TB which is necessary for the huge dimensions of my photos and the size of my video clips.
Ilford HP5+ black and white film is what I use in my film camera!
I use these clamps mainly to secure my backdrop so it doesn’t continue to unravel! What’s great is that they can be used for so many different things so I find them important to have around me when I’m doing photoshoots.
If you’re taking photos indoors or in tricky lighting outside, I highly recommend getting a 5-in-1 light reflector! The colors in this reflector include: gold, silver, translucent, white, and black. The gold is used to warm up the photo. Silver is used for brightening purposes. White is to bounce light into shadows. Translucent acts as a diffuser. Lastly, black blocks out unwanted light. The best part? This is only $12!
One of my favorite ways to take self portraits is with a wireless remote that releases the shutter! I can’t tell you how long I used to spend running back and forth from my camera into my position for every. single. photo. Talk about a freakin’ workout! This little guy is a life changer and definitely increases your workflow productivity. (Another option if you don’t want a remote can be to just set your interval timer in your camera settings!) The sad news is that I don’t recommend the remote I have so I picked out some other options for you to check out. Be sure to check if it’s compatible with your camera!
You need SD cards to store your images somewhere while taking photos. My tip? Get one that has a ton of GB (Gigabyte). I use a 128 GB SD Card which gives me room to take well over 4,000 photos! It also gives me room to take plenty of video clips without my card running out of storage. And just like batteries, I think it’s very important to have backup SD cards. Sometimes, you won’t have enough time to import your photos from one SD card to your computer before your next photoshoot. Having backups will save your butt!
SD Card Holder
Because having backup SD cards are crucial, it’s important to be able to keep track of them all, too, instead of just tossing them in a random pocket in your camera bag. They are really small and can get lost easily that way. Stay organized and get an SD Card Holder! My sister got this one for me which I love. It holds 12 SD cards, 6 mini SD cards and 6 micro SD cards!
Procreate: I use this program on my iPad and I am utterly obsessed!!! I’m convinced this program elevates your work no matter what skill level you are because of how much it has to offer. My favorite feature is that it has over 100 in-app brushes to create with (and you can purchase more all over the internet, too.) I also love how you can create your own color palettes, insert text, use the Apple Pencil, and implement all their creative shortcuts to maximize your workflow.
I absolutely adore Adobe Cloud Cloud programs (and highly recommend checking out their collection for students and teachers to save money!)
Adobe Lightroom: This computer program is an absolute must for me. Not only do I edit all my photos in Lightroom, but I also sometimes edit my video footage in there too. This program is so powerful in that it allows you to adjust the tiniest details of every aspect of your photo - highlights, shadows, blacks, whites, the tone curve, color saturations, luminance, and hue, contrast, exposure, sharpness, grain, white balance…the list goes on. This is essential for any photographer!
Adobe Photoshop: I don’t find myself using Photoshop as much as Lightroom but I find it equally important. Lightroom doesn’t have the best tool for correcting imperfections, but Photoshop does which is why I pop my photos into the program if I have to remove certain blemishes in a photo. I also use Photoshop for when I am doing graphic design or need to prepare many photos for printing purposes.
*Protip: Check out the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan. This is the plan I use!
Final Cut Pro: I use this program to edit my Youtube videos and I’m really fond of it. I’ve had my fair share in trying many different kinds of video editing programs - from iMovie, to Premiere, to Avid. I think what I like most about Final Cut Pro is not only its interface, but how easy it is to understand where everything is. That being said, I currently don’t do advanced filmmaking, and if you do, I would suggest looking into Premier or Avid because I think those programs are more suited for handling a ton of overlapping and complex footage!