While the world is looking for bargains today, we thought we’d look at the opposite end of the spectrum, the most expensive gear we could find on the B&H website this Black Friday. Our plan was to produce a setup that, if you won the lottery, you might actually consider buying. Gear that should work well together, and costs a ludicrous amount of money.
Can we actually spend $1,000,000 on photography gear? On a kit that could actually serve a useful purpose? I mean, sure, we could spend $233K on just one lens and adapt it to a Sony, but where’s the fun in that? Ok, scratch that, it does sound kinda fun, but it’s not exactly practical, is it? And that’s what we’re trying to look at here.
We’ve tried to organise this into logical sections, so, let’s take a look at what we could if we had a million dollars to spend.
- Hasselblad H6D-400c ($47,995) – 100-megapixels, 16-Bit RAW, 15 stops of dynamic range, and a 400-megapixel “super-resolution” mode. You’ll need two of these, though, as you can’t do serious client work without a backup body
- Hasselblad X1D-50c ($8,995) – You’ll want something small for when you’re packing lightweight, too
- Hasselblad HC 50mm f/3.5 II ($5,150) – You’ll need lenses, of course, although 50mm is a little wider on the H6D than it is on your “full-frame” DSLR or mirrorless camera
- Hasselblad HC 50-110mm f/3.5-4.5 ($5,850) – Zooms are versatile, too, especially if you plan to cover events or weddings
- Hasselblad HC 300mm f/4.5 ($5,980) – Of course, you’ll need a telephoto for those headshots with the “creamy bokeh” backgrounds
- Hasselblad HC Macro 120mm f/4 II ($5,890) – And you’ll need a macro lens for those ring shots and the bugs your kids bring in from the back yard
- ASUS 17.3″ ROG GZ7200GX 2-in-1 Gaming Laptop ($6,499) – If you’re going to shoot tethered, you’ll want something you can use on location
- ASUS ProArt PQ22UC 21.6″ HDR OLD Portable Monitor ($3,999) – For real, who can really use a laptop with only one screen? And this one is sexy!
- Linhof Heavy-Duty Pro Tripod ($3,102) – You’ll need something to rest that camera on during downtime
- Linhof Precision Micro Cradle Head ($8,757) – And, of course, it needs a head. Might as well stick with the same manufacturer as the legs
That’s barely 10% of our million dollar budget, though, so let’s have a look at what else we can buy. We’ll need lights, of course, so how about…
- Broncolor Move Outdoor 1-head Para Kit ($10,157 each) – This is one light, one pack, one parabolic softbox. You’ll want three of these, of course, so you can do the traditional 3-light Key/Fill/Rim lighting setup. Actually, should probably get four so you have a spare for the background. That adds a nice $40,628
- Broncolor RFS 2.2 transceiver ($112) – Well, you need to be able to fire them! You’d think if you’re spending $40K+ in lights, though, they’d just throw one in
- Broncolor 30x180cm strip softboxes ($263 each) – You’ll want a pair of these for when you want that dramatic action movie poster look
- Broncolor 150cm octabox ($313) – In the studio, this may become your best friend for portraits
- Avenger 18.7ft Long John Stand ($7,086 each) – You’ll need four of these, of course, one for each light for a total of $28,344
- Broncolor Mini Flamingo Wheeled Boom Stand ($2,770) – For those times when you need to stand right under your on-axis key light
- Matthews Trio C+ Traveler Kit ($849) – You’ll need some stands you can take out onto location, though, too
- Kupo Big Boom with Four-Way Geared Control ($999) – And a location boom arm
That should cover you for most photography lighting situations you might find yourself in. Drone shots seem to be becoming more important to clients these days, particularly for weddings and events. So you might want to think about how you’re going to get that camera in the air. The DJI Matrice 600 with the Hasselblad A5D-50c is no longer available, so we have to look at other options.
- xFold rigs Dragon X12 U11 Drone with 3-axis gimbal ($31,599) – This features a built-in gimbal for DSLR or cinema cameras. It’ll probably have enough space for the Hasselblad
- xFold rigs 21K mAh Lipo battery ($649 each) – You’ll probably want to pick up at least a couple of these, just to ensure you have plenty of flight time while you line up your shots
- xFold rigs 2000W Dual Power Lipo Charger ($1,999) – Well, you do need to be able to recharge those batteries when they die
The drone has put us over the quarter of a million-dollar limit, once we factor in tax. For the purposes of this post, I’m assuming we’re walking into the place or ordering from somewhere in New York, where B&H is located. Right now, the final figure stands around $283K, including around $23K in tax. If you are having it delivered, though, that’ll only cost you $523.85, which is a bit of a bargain. That price doesn’t include the special delivery items that will come straight from the manufacturers and carry a slight extra cost. Let’s call that another $500 to be safe.
It’s not a million dollars, though, is it?
We’ll need a decent computer to be able to process all those massive images from those Hasselblads, so let’s look there. Yes, we added a laptop earlier, but that’s just for when we’re out and about shooting tethered or editing on location. You can’t exactly carry your desktop with you everywhere, can you? And we’ll need one of those for working at home.
The desktops on the B&H website look pretty weak, to be honest, so let’s build our own from scratch.
- ASUS ROG Zenith II Extreme motherboard ($849)
- AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970x 3.7Ghz 32-core CPU ($1,999)
- OWC 128GB DDR4 (2x64GB) ($1,475) – You’ll want four of these kits to full up all 8 RAM slots
- WD 2TB NVMe M.2 Internal SATA ($580 each) – The Zenith II supports five of these, but B&H will only sell me four, so, OS & software + Backup, current projects + Backup and…
- WD 1TB NVMe M.2 Internal SATA ($250) – This one can be a scratch disk for Photoshop
- Angelbird ED381 7.68TB SSD ($6,399 each) – Eight of these should fill up the SATA slots on the Zenith II nicely to suit your file storage needs
- MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics card ($1,249 each) – You don’t need to go overboard on the graphics. I’d only get a pair of these
- Cooler Master Cosmos C700M Full Tower Case ($500) – A big case will be required to fit all this. Might as well get one that looks pretty sexy, too
- EVGA SuperNOVA 1600 T2 PSU ($449) – And you’ll definitely need a beefy power supply for all that lot
You’ll need a way to communicate with your computer, so naturally, you’ll want…
- ASUS ROG Claymore Keyboard ($240) – I’m quite partial to my ASUS Strix Tactic Pro keyboard, but they don’t sell it anymore
- 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Enterprise Kit ($415) – I’ve heard good things about these, but I haven’t tried them myself. If we’re trying to spend our budget, though, we might as well give it a try
- Wacom Cintiq Pro 32 ($3,299) – With the number of video outputs we’ll have, we might as well go for a Cintiq
- Loupedeck CT ($549) – This is definitely going to help speed up your workflow efficiency in Photoshop and Lightroom. We’ll have a review of this one coming soon.
And even though we have the Wacom Cintiq in there, we can’t really rely on that as our main monitor. So, we’ll need some better displays.
- Eizo ColorEdge CG319X 31.1″ Hardware Calibrated IPS monitor ($5,739 each) – A lot of people prefer those single ultra-wide curved screens, but I’d rather have a pair of individual monitors myself.
Our computer, though, has only cost us around $84,000, bringing our total to $367,609.25 (including tax and shipping). Let’s say we add about another grand for cooling and miscellaneous cables to the computer.
Oh, it always seems to happen, doesn’t it? I forgot memory cards for the cameras, and card readers. The Hasselblad H6D-400C takes CFast 2.0 and SD cards. The X1D-50c also takes SD, so that’s a fairly easy list…
- Angelbird AV Pro CFast 2.0 4-pack ($3,499) – That’s one for each H6D and a spare for each in the bag when you fill them up.
- Angelbird 256GB AV Pro UHS-II SDXC 2-pack ($795 each) – Three pairs of these. One card to go in each camera, and spare replacements for each in the bag
- Sonnet SF3 Series CFast 2.0 Pro Card Reader ($195) – You can transfer both cameras at the same time with this one
- IOGEAR Thunderbolt 3 6-slot SD Card Reader ($150) – That’s one slot for each of our SD cards at full speed
- Glyph Technologies 7.68TB Blackbox Plus portable SSD ($2,799) – You’ll probably want to pick up an SSD as well, so you can backup those cards in the field from the laptop
Ok, now we’re up to almost $380K (bearing in mind some of these items are actually on sale for Black Friday!), and this is where I’m now stumped.
We’re $620K short of spending our million dollars. I really thought it’d be quite easy. Even if we add a few more lenses to the Hasselblad, and an extra light or two, we’re still probably adding less than another $100K. Even if we added those extra lights and lenses and then bought double of everything, so we had backups, and backups of our backups, we get close, but we still fall just a little short.
So, while we have failed to spend it all, it is an impressive looking list. And it’s nice to know that even if you did win the lottery, you could pretty much buy all the photography gear you ever dreamed of and still probably come home with some change. We did miss a few little things, though, like polarising and ND filters, bags to carry it all in, and other miscellaneous items.
If we expanded the criteria to cover video production, though, and not just photography, I’m pretty confident we could easily top the million-dollar mark. I mean, the Sony F55 alone is $83K + Tax. But maybe we’ll do that list another day.
What would you add to this list? What would you swap out for something more expensive?