People often want to know what camera or lens was used to take a photograph. The type of equipment you use depends on the type of subjects you shoot, your budget, and how much weight you want to carry. I have always used Canon gear, but there are many other manufacturers who produce excellent equipment. It is important to keep in mind that no matter what kind of equipment one has, it is the person, not the equipment, who makes the artistic and technical decisions that lead to compelling images.
I use the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, a full-frame, 30.4 megapixel camera. I previously used the 5D Mark II, and the improvement is amazing. Aside from the increased megapixels, the 5D Mk IV provides a significant improvement in digital noise. With the 5D Mk II, I typically shot at 200 ISO or lower to keep noise to a minimum and using an ISO above about 800 was something I avoided at all costs. The 5D Mk IV handles noise so well that my general ISO setting is now around 400, and I have little concern with using an ISO as high as 1600 to 3200, perhaps even higher if the situation calls for it, which provides me with much greater low-light capability.
I use Canon’s L-series lenses in both fixed and zoom lenses from wide angles to telephotos. These lenses are not inexpensive, but they are top of the line. If you want the best image quality possible from your camera body, I recommend buying the best lenses your budget allows.
Wide Angle Lenses
Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L
These two lenses provide excellent clarity and sharpness. I previously carried the Canon 24-105mm lens, but the 24-70mm appears to be a little sharper lens. Of course, I have given up the 71-99mm range, but when I went back and looked at the focal lengths I tended to shoot, only a very small portion of my shots were within that range.
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II
This is one of Canon’s newest lenses. It replaces the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L and Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L lenses I carried. The shots I have taken with this lens have been incredibly sharp, and I am extremely happy with the performance of this lens.
A tripod is probably the one piece of equipment everyone hates to carry. Without a doubt, they are a burden to carry and a hassle to set up. But, if you want to get consistently sharp images, a good tripod is an absolute necessity. It is very rare for me to take a picture while handholding a camera. I almost always mount my camera on a tripod. By using a tripod and the mirror lockup and self-timer features on my camera, I am assured of getting the sharpest pictures I can possibly get.
I use the Gitzo GT3541XLS Carbon Fiber tripod with a Really Right Stuff BH-55 LR ball head. The tripod is relatively light yet is very sturdy. It is quick to set up and to take down. It can also go almost to ground level, which is an important feature in the tripod you choose. The ball head is smooth and easy to operate. I also attach a Really Right Stuff L-bracket to the camera body which makes switching the camera from a horizontal position to a vertical position quick and easy.
Finally, there is one other item that is extremely useful to have. It’s an item that is free and comes with every camera sold. What is this particular piece of equipment? It’s the instruction manual. This one simple item can tell you everything you need to know to use your camera to its fullest potential. I carry mine in my camera bag and reference it all the time. I highly encourage you to do the same.