Gear isn’t everything, and this is not one of those ‘look at all the cool and expensive stuff I have and how professional I am’ posts. These tools alone do not make a great photographer. These tools alone do not make great photographs. The best camera or lens is the best one you can comfortably afford, and as I mentioned in an earlier post, it is better to buy plane tickets than new camera equipment.
You’ll notice that even though my bag contains some pretty neat stuff, much of it is at least a few years ‘old.’ It makes more business sense to hold onto equipment for long enough for it to pay for itself (if not in paychecks, then at least in hundreds of great images). Work your equipment hard, wear it out, then replace it. It is much more practical than trading in last year’s camera for the newest slightly-different model.
Despite what I said above, good gear does make a bit of a difference to the serious or working photographer. However, most of the gear in my camera bag does not require going into debt to purchase. Without blabbering on, here’s my current gear list:
Gitzo Mountaineer Series 2 6X Carbon Fiber Legs w/ Manfrotto Panhead/Ballhead
Sirui T-025X Carbon Fiber Tripod with C-10 Ball Head
Cleaning cloths, Q-tips, Domke lens wraps, waterproof hard case for memory cards, extra batteries, battery charges, protective UV filters (Hoya and B+W), shower caps for rain covers, headlamp, multi tool, rocket blower, etc.
My New favorite Travel Tripod:
The Sirui T-025X Carbon Fiber Tripod with C-10 Ball Head is awesome. It’s one of the cheapest carbon fiber tripods you can buy, and despite being produced in China, it is very well made. It weighs practically nothing and is perfect for travel when I really need to save space. It supports 13 lbs and only weights 1.9. It folds up to 12 inches and has a removable center column so I can get really low to the ground when I need to. It’s foot print is very small, which was great during my last trip to Iceland. It really only has one drawback for me. Once you remove the pesky center column (I don’t like center columns and have never used the one for my Gitzo), it doesn’t extend very high. This tripod combo can go nearly to my eye-level with the center column, but only chest level without it. That’s not a huge deal. It’s actually pretty rare that the best composition is at a human’s eye-level standing. If you’re looking for a handy carbon fiber travel tripod that is of high quality, then this is it! My big Gitzo is still my go-to for the most part, especially for landscapes; it supports a whole lot more weight, but it is also bulky and cumbersome in travel situations. If weight and space are an issue (as it always is when flying Wow Air), then the Sirui is what I use- just check out the size difference between it and my Gitzo in the photo above.
Where to Buy Camera Gear**
Everyone has a store they trust for equipment purchases. I actually have several. I always shop around for the best deal possible and it's rare that I buy new stuff. Over the years I've had lots of stuff...I shot Canon for 7 years and switched to Nikon in 2015. I've had everything from a Canon Rebel to a 20D to a 50D and 7D. I believe I've even used most of Canon's pro lenses. On the Nikon side, I've owned the D90 and various DX and FX lenses. I'm pretty set with my current line up for the foreseeable future, however. So, where do I get my gear? Over the years I've learned who to trust and who to be cautious with. Before relocating to Canada, I purchased used gear from KEH (based in Georgia). They have great customer service. It's easy to buy and sell gear with them and customer service legitimately cares. I also like Roberts Camera (based in Indiana); they have an online store called "Used Photo Pro." I actually bought a Canon 30D from them back in 2009 and have been a pretty dedicated customer since. Both KEH and Roberts have outlet stores on eBay where you can actually bid or make offers on their used stock. I bought the Nikon 28-105 AF-D from Roberts eBay store in excellent condition for only $100 (I've recently sold it since moving to Canada). KEH also has pictures of the actual items on those listings, but not typically on their official website like Roberts does. Amazon is always a good source for new gear, of course.
As far as buying used gear on eBay goes, you have to use common sense. I only buy things from sellers with great feedback and a return policy. If they don't offer returns, I don't even consider it. They also have to have detailed descriptions and lots of sharp pictures of the actual item (no stock photos). A lot of photographers avoid eBay altogether. That's a mistake considering all the best camera stores (including the big NYC dealers like B&H and Adorama) have outlet stores on eBay where you can get the same gear listed on their official websites for less (often with longer warranties). Just use your head when buying from individuals. Other photographers may bash eBay, but I've had no issues so far when buying gear and I've saved a lot of money.
**I am part of ebay's partner program and Amazon's Associate network. The links to items for sale on eBay and Amazon provide this blog with residual income if you choose to buy the item after clicking the link. This helps support what I do and helps keep this blog going, but by all means shop around for the best deal from a seller you trust.