I’ve been asked many times about the equipment I use in and out of the studio. So, to provide an easier way to answer these questions, I’m offering a more visual approach for you to see and read some info on the equipment that I use and why I use it.
All of my equipment is a personal choice and I have nothing against other camera and lighting manufacturers, but I’ve always been a Canon type of girl. I’ve chosen these products after a great deal of careful research and comparison.
On a side note, and I cannot stress this enough, expensive gear is not a necessity if you are just beginning in photography. The greatest advice I received when starting my journey in professional photography was NOT to go out and buy the most expensive equipment that I could find. Be patient, hone your fundamental skills, then let your advancement tell you what equipment you need and when.
If you have found this article on My Gear helpful then I couldn’t be happier and this article has served its purpose. If you still have questions about why I chose this specific equipment, though, please don’t hesitate to contact me through the Contact Menu found at the top of the page. I’m always glad to help another photographer!
1. Tamrac Adventure 75 Digital Backpack in Black/Gray:
- WHY I LIKE IT: This was actually my first “real” camera bag and I can’t stress enough how great it is. It has plenty of room to house 2 DSLR’s and many lenses. It has a multitude of pockets to store memory cards, batteries, manuals, flashes and even a padded pocket to slip a small laptop in.
- INFO: This lightweight, high-mobility pack provides foam-padded protection and quick access to multiple SLRs, lenses, flash and accessories. The interior lid of the main compartment features Tamrac's patented Memory & Battery Management System" that uses red flags to identify available memory cards and batteries. Windowpane-Mesh" pockets organize filters and other small accessories. The QuickClip" Tripod Attachment System accommodates a tripod centered and balanced on the pack. An outer vinyl-reinforced mesh pocket and bungee cord tie downs provide quick access to other gear. A comfortable, foam-padded backpack harness and adjustable waist strap provide easy carrying comfort. Other features include a front pocket to hold a light jacket or accessories and an EasyGrip" carrying handle. The Adventure 75 can be fully customized using Tamrac's optional Modular Accessory System" (M.A.S.") and Strap Accessory System" (S.A.S.") products.
2. Pilican 1604 Waterproof 1600 Case with Dividers in Desert Tan:
- WHY I LIKE IT: I purchased this hard case to house my DSLR bodies, lenses and batteries only. I sadly outgrew my first camera bag and upgraded to this hard case. It not only keeps all of my expensive toys safe, but has many little divider slides so you can customize the space to fit your needs and not the manufacturer’s.
- INFO: The Pelican 1604 Waterproof 1600 Case with Dividers (Desert Tan) is an unbreakable, watertight, airtight, dustproof, chemical resistant and corrosion proof hard case used to carry any kind of equipment that needs protection and organization. It is made of ultra-high impact structural copolymer that makes it extremely strong and durable. It has a 0.25" (6.4 mm) neoprene o-ring, 4 easy-open double throw latches that seal perfectly. It has a built-in automatic pressure equalization valve for changes in altitude or temperature. The case uses stainless steel hardware and has padlock protectors to provide added strength and extra security against cutting and theft. It is carried by a comfortable rubber over-molded handle.
3. Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital Camera Body:
- WHY I LIKE IT: Or as I like to call it…My Baby! I’m glad to report that all the raves are true about this DSLR body. It truly is superb in quality and noise control. I actually dragged my feet for a while before upgrading my DSLR body, and actually upgraded all of my lenses first, but was so glad when I finally ordered it.
- INFO: The Canon EOS 5D Mark improves upon the EOS 5D by increasing the resolution by about 40% to 21.1 megapixels and adds a Live View feature that allows users to preview shots on the camera's high resolution 3.0" LCD display. It even incorporates the ability to record full motion HD Video with sound, so you can capture the action as well as superb images.
4. Canon EOS 7D Digital Camera Body:
- WHY I LIKE IT: My NEW backup DSLR. We recently upgraded from the trusty Canon 50D to the improved Canon 7D model DSLR. The Canon 7D is a true high performance workhorse in and out of our studio. Not only does this DSLR capture high definition images, but it can also capture true HD 1080p video at 30 frames a second.
- INFO: The Canon EOS 7D SLR Digital Camera features a Canon-designed 18.0 Megapixel APS-C size CMOS sensor that captures such a high level of resolution it's easy to crop images for enlargement without concern of losing detail. A major factor in reducing noise, the CMOS sensor assures that images shot at highest sensitivity will be remarkably smooth. Dual DIGIC 4 Image Processors ensure that images are captured, processed and saved with remarkable speed. The EOS 7D's ability to capture and process data of images shot at 18.0 Megapixels at 8 fps, as well as Face Detection Live Mode, Full HD video recording, Auto Lighting Optimizer and Lens Peripheral optimization are all possible thanks to the Dual DIGIC 4 Image Processors.
5. Canon Speedlite 580EX II Flash:
- WHY I LIKE IT: It’s always good to be prepared and that’s why I have this fantastic flash for my DSLR’s. Every once in a while I’ll find myself in a situation that needs a bit more light and this particular flash has not let me down once.
- INFO: As the Canon top-of-the-line flash for the EOS-system, the Speedlite 580EX II takes the best features from existing models and adds functionality that enhances digital photography. A more powerful flash with a maximum guide number of 190' (58 m) at ISO 100 (at 105mm focal length), faster recycling, more consistent color and enhanced controls are among the improvements that all photographers, especially those who shoot digital, will find useful.
6. Gary Fong Lightsphere Universal Inverted Dome Cloud Diffusion System in Frosted:
- WHY I LIKE IT: If you own a flash, like the Canon Speedlite 580EX II Flash, then this is a MUST! If you’ve ever used a flash indoors you may notice some nasty harsh shadows lurking behind your subject(s) portraits. Have no fear! All you need to do is strap this baby on your flash and then those harsh shadows disperse into softer shadows that are more pleasing to the eye.
- INFO: The Gary Fong LSU-CLOUD Lightsphere Universal Inverted Dome Cloud Flash Diffusion System is a large, round, soft and flexible diffuser that slips over the front of any standard shoe mount flash unit. The inside of the Lightsphere is completely textured to make the light dispersion even more "soft" than it would be otherwise. And because of this design, it is possible to make the material more translucent, keeping the unit from losing a lot of light while actually increasing the diffusion and softness of light.
7. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens:
- WHY I LIKE IT: This lens is simply superb! It’s the newest addition to my lens family, but I’ve had the absolute pleasure of using it many times in the past. With its wide open aperature of f/2.8 to make those backgrounds just melt away, telephoto zoom capabilities, and image stabilization it’s like the perfect storm! I simply LOVE IT!
- INFO: The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens improves upon its predecessor, one of the most acclaimed lenses in the Canon EF line, with superior performance, increased speed and optical quality. This lens is constructed of 23 elements in 19 groups (including 1 Fluorite and 5 UD elements) which help deliver the sharpness and reduced aberration which professional photographers rely upon from Canon. The IS II Optical Image Stabilizer provides up to 4 stops of correction at all focal lengths.
8. Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Autofocus Lens:
- WHY I LIKE IT: This is my widest lens and it is wonderful to use with those large group portraits. It also acts a bit like a macro because it can capture those up close details when you want them to be a little bigger. This is another superb lens from Canon that I’m happy to own.
- INFO: The Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Autofocus Lens is a high performance, water-resistant, and ultra wide-angle L-series lens. The optical design has been improved to offer better edge-to-edge image quality. In addition, it features 3 high-precision aspherical lens elements, each of a different type: ground, replica and GMo. Improved AF algorithms will help the lens to focus faster and quieter. All of the "L" lenses deliver optical performance equal to similar fixed focal lengths lenses, and the USM lenses do this with silent, high-speed focusing. Distortions and aberrations are remarkably small for a lens of such amazing capabilities.
9. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Zoom Lens:
- WHY I LIKE IT: This is a beautiful portrait and wedding lens and you will find it on my 5D Mark II most of the time. With its wide open aperature of f/2.8, it just melts the background away to focus the attention onto the subject(s). Again, this is another superb lens from Canon and I’m so happy to have it part of my lens family.
- INFO: This redesigned EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Zoom Lens from Canon ups the ante for optical performance for a professional standard zoom lens. It has one Super UD lens element and two UD lens elements that minimize chromatic aberration in the periphery at wide-angle, as well as reducing color blurring around the edges of the subject. In addition, two types of aspherical lenses are combined to help reduce spherical aberration over the entire image area, as well as through the full zoom range. Optimized lens coatings help ensure exceptional color balance while minimizing ghosting.
10. Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM Lens:
- WHY I LIKE IT: This lens quickly became my new favorite when introduced into my camera family during the summer of 2015. In fact, you will probably find this new 85mm beast on my camera most of the time during my location sessions. For me, its best use has been for portraits, and with that wide open aperature of f/1.2 it can produce some amazing bokeh.
- INFO: The Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 II USM Lens from Canon is a fast, medium telephoto lens that delivers superb optical performance. A maximum aperture of f/1.2 makes it the professional's choice for shooting without flash in low light conditions. The large aperture also provides fine control over depth of field for compelling portrait photography.
11. (2) AlienBees B1600 Flash Units:
- WHY I LIKE IT: I actually spent a lot of time researching and comparing strobe unites, and after seeing them in action I decided on these Paul C. Buff AlienBees. They were extremely easy to set up and use with their sync cables that are sold separately. They are both great in the studio and on location with the Vagabond Mini battery packs that attach right on the light stand. I can honestly recommend these AlienBees strobe unites to both beginner and seasoned photographers.
- INFO: The AlienBees™ B1600 is a powerful, self-contained studio flash unit with adjustable output from full power (640 Ws) down to 1/32nd of the total power (20 Ws). This flashpower is adjusted on the back control panel with a slide fader, capable of adjusting in whole f-stop increments and everywhere in between. When adjusted from a higher to a lower setting, the unit will automatically dump the excess power for accurate output.
12. (2) Foldable Giant Softboxes 30” x 60”:
- WHY I LIKE IT: There are a few different sizes of softboxes for the AlienBees strobe units that are offered. It just all comes down to personal preference, and mine just happens to be the giant size.
- INFO: Our rectangular softboxes provide a soft, diffused output that evenly covers your subject with a gorgeous wash of light. The interior is a highly reflective silver surface that bounces the light evenly through the translucent white front diffusion panel. Each box additionally arrives with a second internal baffle for double-diffusion, attaching inside the box to create even softer results. Each foldable box is crafted with an opaque black exterior shell having a recessed front lip where the white diffusion panel attaches. This recessed lip helps minimize lens flare and is additionally designed to hold a grid (grids sold separately, available for each foldable softbox, octabox and stripbox).
13. (2) Vagabond Mini™ Lithium (120VAC model):
- WHY I LIKE IT: If you have studio lighting and want to make it mobile, then this is the way to go. These battery packs are lightweight and easy to attach onto your lighting units and light stand. They work great and help make any location photo shoot more unique.
- INFO: The Vagabond Mini™ Lithium is a third generation controlled-current pure sine wave power source for operating AC powered studio flash units in the field from its built-in battery. Both small and lightweight (weighing just 3.5 pounds, including quick-change high capacity lithium battery), the Vagabond Mini™ Lithium is designed to operate from one to four Paul C. Buff™ self-contained flash units.
14. (2) Westcott Spiderlite TD6 Daylight Light Units with (36”x48” & 48”x60”) Shallow Softbox Kits:
- WHY I LIKE IT: Like I did with my AlienBees strobe units, I spent a lot of time researching continuous lighting solutions and finding out what would be best for me. Then after seeing the Westcott Spiderlite TD6s in action, my decision was made and I was happy to add these to my studio lighting family. These continuous lights mimic window lighting perfectly with their large/shallow softboxes and really give a nice natural look for those photo sessions with the little ones.
- INFO: Building upon the design of the well-received TD5 the Westcott Spiderlite TD6 adds another socket for a total of 6 for increased light output. This light fixture accepts optional tungsten halogen (3200K) lamps as well as fluorescents (3200 - 6000K) and screw-mount flash. Three separate controls allow multiple combinations of bulbs together with no color shift. The TD6 has all-metal construction with 4 built-in receptacles for direct attachment of a 4-sided softbox without an adapter ring.
15. Lastolite ExyBalance Gray Card:
- WHY I LIKE IT: If you’ve ever talked shop with me then you know how important this Lastolite Gray Card is to me! If you want to get that perfect exposure with your subject(s) in camera then learn how to custom white balance your camera with a gray card! This specific gray card is a pop-up, so if folds down into a little pouch and can be placed in your camera bag without taking up too much room. I have the 18” but could only find the link to this 12”, but it will work just as well. Again, if you’re serious about your photography and want to take it a step further, then buy yourself a gray card and learn how to custom white balance your DSLR!
- INFO: The Lastolite EzyBalance Gray Card is a revolutionary tool ideal for adjusting color balance and exposure settings in both digital and film format cameras, as well as DV cams. The EzyBalance gives accurate color rendition to cameras by providing a pure white surface upon which the camera can perform a white balance.
16. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens:
- WHY I LIKE IT: We were thrilled to add this beautiful Macro Lens into our lens family. The Canon 100mm Macro is a perfect lens for all of those close and tight detailed images that everyone loves. Whether it's a beautiful engagement ring, or even the eyelashes of a new baby, this lens mounted on any of our DSLRs will capture those close-up detail images flawlessly.
- INFO: The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens features Hybrid Optical Image Stabilization with up to 4-stops of shake control for effective low light capture and with the vibration gyro and acceleration sensor it compensates for both angular and shift camera shake during close-up shooting. An ultrasonic focus motor (USM) provides quick and quiet auto-focusing and full-time manual focus override enables precise manual focus even in AF mode.