DIY Photography Gear Buying Guide

DIY Photography Gear Buying GuideThis short buying guide presents my recommended list of photography gear. Does it include everything you’ll ever need? No. It does include a range of cameras that can get you started and what I think is a great start when it comes to “on location” lighting modifiers.

While this list is pretty much prefect for me (almost all the items on this list are owned and used by me on a regular basis, has a high spot on my wish list or is an equivalent of the “other” system), you may need to adjust or select from it to meet your needs.

You can always come back to this list by clicking the buying guide banner on the right.

Hot Shoe Flashes

DIYP Gear Buying Guide - Strobes

This is my bread and butter. It is rare that I take big strobes to an indoor location, or use them in my studio. For small spaces they do extremely well and have more than enough modifiers to choose from.

1. Nikon SB900 – The king of flashes – the most powerful strobe I know, with a completely tillable and swivalbe 200mm zoom head. Also featuring easy access for CLS menu, thermal control and 200mm zoom.
Available at B&H, Amazon.

2. Canon 580EX II – Canon’s biggest canon (sorry, could not resist). Featuring Canon’s regular goodies + can control other flashes + has an external pc-sync outlet.
Available at B&H, Amazon.

3. LumoPro 160 – A good solid manual flash without all the bells & whistles of iTTL or CLS that the big names have. It will sync via pc-sync, 3.5mm jack and optical slave.
Available at MPEX.

4. Nikon SB600 – a small brother to the SB900. Not as big and powerful, yet great as a low cost strobe for manual/CLS work indoors.
Available at B&H, Amazon.

On The Go Lighting Gear

DIYP Gear Buying Guide - Lighting Modifiers

The lighting modifiers below are my go to modifiers when shooting at my home studio or on location. If you are a long time readers to DIYP you’ll most likely remember them being used quite a lot.

1. Manfrotto 5001B 74-Inch Nano Stand – while in full length this stand provides good height to position a strobe for a portrait. It folds to a mere 48 centimeters pack to be carried without braking your assistant’s back (If you are doubling as your assistant, you’ll definitely appreciate this).
Available at B&H, Amazon.

2. Honl Speed Strap System – Probably the most versatile strobes modifiers system around. With a grid, 2 snoots, flags, small softbox and gel pack, it contains almost everything you’ll need for an on location portrait session.
Available at B&H, Amazon.

3. Westcott 43″ Collapsible White Umbrella – This umbrella acts both as a shoot through and a bounce umbrella and collapses to a size of a small salami. Perfect for travel and on location portraiture.
Available at B&H, Amazon.

4. Photex 46″ Softlighter II – One of the most versatile modifiers I have used. Acts as a 46″ shoot-through and bounce umbrella. It doubles as a 46″ Octabank for great portraiture.
Available at B&H.

5. Strobist Gel Pack – This gel pack has every relevant gel you can think of. Correcting white balance for tungsten & florescent, creative effects and skin tone enhancements.
Available at B&H, Amazon.

6. Westcott Apollo 28 x 28″ Softbox – I love this softbox for its portable design and quick setup/tear-down time. It give beautiful light, and is great for indoor use.
Available at B&H, Amazon.

Camera Bags

DIY Photography Gear Buying Guide - bags

When going on location, I try to bring no more than one bag (not always possible, but I try), those are the two that fit smallish and biggish assignments.

Lowepro Fastpack 250 Backpack – My day to day travel bag for small assignments. Carries a SLR with 24-70 lens, and extra lens, 3 strobes 3 Pocket Wizards, a laptop and some more. And it has convenient side access.
Available at B&H, Amazon.

Think Tank Photo StreetWalker Hard Drive – The big gun when you have to haul more than just a lens and a strobe. Carries your biggest lens (70-200+hood) a few strobes, lenses, laptop and more and more.
Available at Amazon, ThinkTank.

Entry Level dSLR

DIY Photography Gear Buying Guide - Entry Level dSLR

While considered entry level those cameras pack some of the features we could only dream of in a dSLR just two years back. They will all work great for indoor studio usage, and they all include 1080p video if this is something you care about.

1. Nikon D3100 – 14.2MP, 1080p HD video, EXPEED 2 image processor.
Available at B&H, Amazon.

2. Canon EOS Rebel T2i – 18.0 MP, 1080p Video, DIGIC 4 Processor.
Available at B&H, Amazon.

3. Canon EOS Rebel T1i – 15.1 MP, 1080p video, DIGIC 4 Processor.
Available at B&H, Amazon.

Mid Range SLR

DIY Photography Gear Buying Guide - advanced SLR

Those cameras have lots of the features like the high-end cameras, yet slightly less control. The image quality is great and they offer a very good balance between features and price. If it is video you are seeking note that the D300s only offers 720p.

1. Nikon D300(s) – This is the Camera that I use – 12.3 MP, HD Video, Self Cleaning Sensor, Dust and Weather Resistant
Available at B&H, Amazon.

2. Canon EOS 7D – 18.0 MP, 1080p Video, Dust & Weather Resistant, 100% Viewfinder
Available at B&H, Amazon.

3. Canon 60D – 18MP, 1080 Video, Flip-Out LCD, DIGIC 4 Processor
Available at
B&H, Amazon.

Advanced Point and Shoot

DIY Photography Gear Buying Guide - advanced P&S

There is only one camera here, and is my favorite as all the G series cameras Canon released. It has a hot shoe for strobes and is great as a travel camera.

1. Canon G12 – 10MP, DIGIC 4 Processor, 720p HD Video, Vari-Angled LCD
Available at B&H, Amazon.

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