Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I can talk about camera gear all day long. It is only one element of photography, and definitely not the most important, but it's something that my analytically driven self has really clung onto, and something that I'm always researching. Great camera equipment is just a set of tools and won't ensure the best photos, but as I've invested into myself and my photography, upgrading the tools I use is an important way to do that.
Like all tools, different camera equipment fits different circumstances and fall into varying degrees of specialization. Some lenses I have only come out a handful of times a year, only for personal use, only for professional use, or whatever it may be. Since neither I nor my photography fit neatly inside a single box, different tools are used all the time for different tasks and environments.
I don't have everything I own included in this post, just what is used consistently enough and that I would recommend to other people. As far as gear is concerned, I could also write an entirely separate post each item here, on old film cameras and lenses, gear I've sold and on lighting. If anyone wants me to talk about that let me know.
I use both the Canon R5 and R6. Both are incredible cameras that are very trustworthy and take incredible images, but with different specializations.
Canon EOS R5
The R5 is my primary camera for portraiture, weddings, and personal use. The main differentiator from the R6 as a photo camera is that it has a 45mp sensor, so it can take incredibly detailed images that provide me a lot more flexibility for cropping, and for delivering photos that that can be delivered and printed at an enormous scale.
I've been using this camera since September 2021, attached below is a photo taken on it.
Canon EOS R6
The R6 was my first mirrorless camera and was my primary camera November 2020 - September 2021. It's the camera I use for all of the action that I shoot, as well as my secondary camera body for things like weddings where I may be shooting on two cameras.
It functions essentially identically to the R5, but at 20mp, which is still more than enough for most uses. For reference, every iPhone since the 6 is 12mp. Because of the lower resolution, it can perform considerably better in low light scenarios, which is why I still use it for all of my action work.
I use a lot of different lenses for different circumstances. They can be further categorized as either Zooms and Primes, and each is used for different circumstances. Typically I use my Primes for things like portrait sessions, weddings, and personal work because they provide better bokeh (background/foreground blur) and usually take sharper images. My zoom lenses are used when I have less control on what is happening in front of me, when I don't need a fast aperture, and when I need a focal length that I don't have a prime lens for.
Canon 70-200L f/2.8 IS II
The workhorse king. This is the lens I use most frequently, being the lens used nearly exclusively for action photography, and also a very reliable lens for so much more.
Definitely the heaviest and largest lens I own, so I hardly ever use it for anything casual, but when he comes out I know it's going to be a good time.
Tamron 24-70 2.8 G2
Probably my most versatile lens. The expression 'jack of all trades, master of none' applies to no lens better than the 24-70. It's medium but broad range and relatively fast aperture granted its spot as the first professional lens that I ever bought.
The 'master of none' part of that expression shows up in that I don't use it for as much of my professional work recently since many of my prime lenses are more specialized. Only one of the below images was taken in 2021.
Canon 16-35 f/4L IS
This is the lens listed here that I probably use the least, simply due to its slow aperture and that I don't often need a super wide range. It's a great lens for video, landscape photography, and real estate, I just don't often do those things.
I recently purchased the RF 16mm 2.8 prime, and due to that being considerably smaller and lighter it has currently replaced this lens in my camera bag. Still a great lens when the need arises, however.
From widest to tightest, here are some of the prime lenses I use.
Canon 16mm f/2.8
This small but mighty lens is the most recent addition to my camera bag, and has only made its way out to one wedding. At that wedding, however, it took one of my favorite images of the day.
A perfect size for a lens that I won't be using often, but is important to carry with me for the occasion where it may be needed.
Tamron 35mm f/1.4 G2
The prime lens that made me fall in love with prime lenses. A great medium-wide angle lens to capture the beauty of a subject as well as their environment.
Beautifully sharp, and considerably cheaper than the Canon-made equivalent. I have had some communication problems with this lens on my cameras due to it being third-party, and while those are few and far between it might be the reason I end up upgrading from this lens in the future.
Canon 40mm f/2.8
As little as they come from Canon. This is my ideal lens for daily life and documentary work. It's the lens that is usually attached to my camera when I'm with family.
The size of this lens helps when I'm hoping to keep a lower profile and be less intrusive with my camera, and is especially nice when I may be doing something else but want my camera to fit in a hoodie pocket, or on a strap hanging loosely.
This is the lens I'm most hoping for an RF upgrade to. Since it now has to be used on an adaptor to my cameras, it isn't quite as compact as it could be. I do still love the range of 40mm, so it will probably still be used more going forward than my 16mm or 50mm.
Canon 50mm f/1.8
This specific 50 is a newer addition to my collection of lenses, but previously I owned the EF 1.4 and the EF 1.8 versions. I ended up settling on the RF 1.8 version for the size and convenience of it, and since it was a relatively affordable switch to make.
50mm is a hard focal length for me to shoot at. Neither tight nor wide enough for my preference, I struggle to feel comfortable using it. The photos feel too medium in their range to stand out to me in any profound way, which I can't always wrap my head around. This ends up being both a good and bad thing while shooting, but nonetheless I have taken some photos with it that I do really love.
Canon 85mm f/1.4L IS
The portrait beast. I upgraded my 85 1.8 to the 1.4L in summer 2021 and have been scratching for every chance to use this lens since.
85 is a comfortably tight range for portraits and the aperture of 1.4 makes for stunningly soft backgrounds. I have no real complaints about this lens except of the overly technical variety.
Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro
If the 24-70 is the lens that I would call 'jack of all trades, master of none' the 100mm macro would be lens furthest on the 'master of one' side of the spectrum.
Macro lenses are designed to get incredibly close to detail and capture from inches away. This lens is great at doing exactly that, and for every other photo I may need to take, there is a lens better suited for it.
Lights and lighting is another topic I could probably do a whole post on, even though I still consider myself to be relatively new to using artificial light and the studio environment. If anyone wants to know in more detail about my full studio setup, I'm happy to oblige but it's definitely a separate post. For now I'll just hint at the speed light that I use.
I own two of this exact flash and it nearly always does exactly what I need it to. It is the light that I used for each one of these little gear photos for each item, and for all indoor and outdoor lighting.
I usually use this light off camera because I prefer the look of it, but the advantage of having the V1 is having a light that can work equally well both on and off camera.
If anyone actually made it this far, I firstly wanted to thank you! I'm currently in the middle of a large time investment into my website to catch it up to where I currently am. If any photographers have questions about gear let me know, I can talk at length about anything listed here and so much more.
If you do really enjoy reading my thoughts about equipment, let me know and I can write more of these. I have a few more blog posts planned about some of the more fun parts of photography, so keep your eye out for those to make their way out!
- Tony McCrackin