Nobody starts with the best gear, it’s almost a rite of passage. I spent countless hours reading and swooning over photographer gear blog posts, waiting for the day I would have a full frame body of my own. The day I would have prime lenses (before I even knew how much I loved them). The day I would have luxury glass from Canon.
Well, my setup is far from perfect (everyone’s is, and that’s okay!) but I have learned a lot about my shooting style with which lenses I’ve grown oh so fond of. Hopefully, this info helps you in your quest as you grow!
Keep in mind, we shoot very “guerrilla” style, in the fact that we like to keep light weight bags, minimal gear, almost always use natural lighting, and natural. We consider items like weight and versatility to be higher on our priority list when buying new gear, than many other photographers may. And that’s okay! You’ll notice that’s why we have the lighter camera bodies, lighter telephoto option, and small flood lights vs. OCF that may require softboxes, stands, and multiples.
To start off with, I am a firm, firm believer that it’s not about what gear you have, but how you use it. I follow a handful of amazing, jaw dropping photographers on Instagram who shoot with a 5 year old Canon Rebel. Any excuses you are making for yourself about “my gear isn’t good enough to do what she’s doing” is majorly your mind tricking you.
We have two of these bad boys, and I sure love them. Austin shoots with one, I shoot with the other. This year, we plan on adding a 5dmiii to the lineup since we have transitioned into prime lens shooting in the last few months. Once we switch, I still anticipate I will use my 6d as a second body with a longer prime lens (or, to be honest, probably my TS), while my primary body will have a 35 or 50 on it almost always. I’ve avoided this upgrade for a while mentally, but it’s finally time to make that final jump body wise. Many photographers don’t like the 6d, and they say it’s lacking compared to the 5d, but in side by side comparisons, especially if you’re early on in your journey or you care about the financial aspect of things, the 6d produces gorgeous images.
Canon 35mm f/1.4 L
I’m obsessed with this lens. It’s magnificent. This was our first canon luxury prime glass purchase, and it instantly got us hooked on the quality. I rented this lens in Seattle for a wedding, with the sole purpose of using for a sparkler exit. I ended up leaving it on my camera the whole day, and shooting the entire wedding with it, aside from a few details and telephoto shots. This puppy skyrocketed to the top of my wish list and I don’t regret a penny of this purchase. The bokeh, the depth, the color profile, everything that Canon is known for is showcased flawlessly in this lens. I considered the more affordable Sigma Art option, but ultimately, I’m a Canon girl at heart, and I will always save that little extra for the Canon gear. I haven’t used Sigma in years, so I’m not able to personally compare the quality, but I can vouch for Canon’s unparalleled customer service & support (which means the world to me with any big purchase), and the colors in this lens are amazing. 1.4 is perfectly fast, and gives me flexibility for nearly any scenario. Whenever a photographer asks me which lens I would recommend most, it’s this beauty.
Canon 50mm f/1.2 L
Our newest addition, and a rival to the 35mm. I have only shot with this beauty a few times so far, as it’s Austin’s go-to lens, but every time it’s made its way onto my camera, I’m hesitant to give it back. My first real prime experience was with its predecessor, the 50mm 1.4 which I wanted to love, but the chromatic aberration all the way open at 1.4 was awful. The effect was so bad that I was against any prime lenses for a long time (until renting the 35mm and falling in love). Canon’s 50mm is pure perfection, even all the way open at 1.2! We hardly ever leave it wide open, but when we can, the effect is just unbelievable. Our first real trial run with this lens was during a long indoor church ceremony with only candle light, and a few small windows. This lens performed amazingly with no flash (no flash allowed). I have had many photographers ask me if I prefer this lens over the 35, and it’s a really hard comparison for me. I think the 35 and 50mm length differences all comes down to personal preference. I live in a small city, so renting from a camera rental company is more difficult than I care to explore (they make online ones now!) but I highly recommend renting a handful of lenses you are considering, as that’s the best way to test different focal length’s out for yourself.
Canon 135mm f/2.0 L
Many photographers consider this an equal alternative to the 70-200 2.8 (many even prefer it). Of course, that 2.0 aperture is great compared to the 2.8 on the 70-200, but the weight and size difference is an immediate winner in my book. We usually only bring this lens out for proposals, long wedding aisles, and misc other needs, but when we need that distance, it’s perfect. The sharpness, crazy fast focusing speed, and clarity this lens provides (to me) seems much better than what we got with the 70-200, so we decided to stick with this, and have been very happy. Even if we bring this lens along to a shoot and don’t need it, it’s light and small enough that it’s not an inconvenience at all.
Canon 45mm f/2.8 TS
This lens is magical. I have wanted it ever since I saw my first TS photo. When I began shooting, I expected to go into large weddings, seniors, etc. A more “standard” path, I guess you could say. Looking back, if I had this lens in that project base, I wouldn’t have used it. Shooting a majority outside, shooting in gorgeous landscapes (hello Big Sur, you have my heart forever), and having clients who request that artistic influence instead of all traditional portraits, it makes it worth having. When I first got this lens, I didn’t take it off my camera. I shot everything in TS. I got to know it very well. It’s a finicky little thing but I sure love it. The initial lust did wear off a bit, but I still love this for the occasional artistic wide portrait. I’d say if you’re considering buying it, rent it for a few days and see if it has a place in your day-to-day shooting style. If not, it may be worth considering investing elsewhere in your business first.
Video Flood Light
I am really not a fan of un-natural light. But sometimes, it’s necessary. We picked these up for an indoor wedding. I was determined to not only spend hundreds on an OCF setup. I’m also “click happy” and flash needs time to charge. That’s a huge risk for my shooting style- if I have everything set for OCF and my flash is charging while a perfect moment happens, there’s nothing I can do. That’s a risk I didn’t want to take, so we gave these dimmable flood lights (they have filters to diffuse the light too!) a try. They were all of $30 on Amazon, and have the option of using a spare Canon battery, or 6 AA batteries. The light also shows the battery level, so you’re never in the dark. I was immediately happy with them for my shooting needs on the first use, but what really sold these for me was after the wedding, when the Videographers came up to me and profusely thanked me for having these lights. Not only was I (and Austin, second shooting with me – who would otherwise need to work with our OCF setup) able to reliably use a consistent light source, but the videographers didn’t miss a moment of footage the entire day due to a photographer’s flash going off. I know there are some of you that will never leave OCF, but for those of you like me who are anti-OCF (or if it’s intimidating, expensive, or plan annoying to have), give these a try. $30, and you’ll surprise yourself with how much you love them.
Manfrotto – Veloce V Backpack Camera Bag – Black
We just picked this bag up before our Hawaii trip, so we could carry both bodies, our laptop, and all lenses in one compact solution that was easy to travel with. Previously, we each had a smaller messenger bag that carried 2-4 other lenses on us while shooting. Not the most efficient, but it worked. I have a “bag problem” but so far, I really love this bag. Austin carries it most of the time, but it can fit as much or as little as we need. I consider it a great buy.
24-70mm f/ 2.8L
This lens was our primary, until switching to prime. This hasn’t been used in a long while but is great for personal photography needs. I’ll likely sell this lens soon, as the 35 and 50 accomodate the focal range with better aperture.
A great starter lens, and the first lens I ever got (with my Canon 60d nearly 7 years ago!) I’ve sent this lens into Canon for refurbishing, and it hasn’t been used since.
Canon 85mm f/1.8
A great lens all around. I noticed the colors feel a little muddier than the L glass, so eventually I may upgrade this lens to the 85mm L version, but for my personal shooting style, the 85mm focal length is not one I readily grab. It’s great to have around, and I always keep it in my bag just in case, but I hardly ever use it.
Canon 24mm f/2.8
I thought I’d really love this lens, and it’s great, but I hardly ever grab it. It’s a tad slow, and a little wider than I ended up liking (especially in comparison to the 35mmL) If you’re looking for a wide lens that isn’t hard on the wallet, this is a great option and very useful to have around.
Our Wish List
We still have a wish list as well! Like I said, our gear setup is far from perfect, but we love what we have and have learned the ins and outs as much as we can. In the future, we will likely be looking for…
- Canon 5dMkiii
- Canon 100mm f/2.8L (macro as we get into more big weddings!)
- Canon 85mm f/1.2L