• Kurt McManus


1) Canon 6D - I've been using this full frame DSLR for almost a year now and it has been a great upgrade from my Canon 600D which introduced me to photography a few years back. Moving into the wedding photography business and wanting to take my photography to the next level, the 6D was the best value for money. I have very few complaints about this camera and I'll be writing another blog entry detailing it's pros and cons instead of cramming them in here.

2) Battery Grip - This is a 3rd party version of the Canon BG-E13 battery grip which allows you to double your battery capacity and have better control over portrait orientation of the camera. You can get the 3rd party version for about 1/3 the price of the Canon version on Ebay and it does the same job.

3) Canon 17-40mm F4/L Lens - A popular wide angle lens in the Canon range, the 17-40mm balances quality and price and is a solid performer for landscape photography on full frame cameras. Canon have recently introduced a 16-35mm F4/L IS Lens which has improved on sharpness (especially in the corners), but for $500 less the 17-40mm is still a great option.

4) Canon 50mm F1.4 USM Lens – I recommend everyone has a 50mm lens in their kits, and thankfully Canon has a very cheap 50mm F1.8 available to beginners. This lens will transform your photography with its ability to create a very small depth of field (F1.8) and give you high quality photographs for the low price. I upgraded to the 50mm F1.4 USM version which is a more solid lens with a better focusing engine and this lens is often on my camera when I’m shooting groups, kids, weddings and even panoramics.

5) Tamron 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD Lens – Moving into wedding photography I really needed a decent telephoto lens for the ceremony and reception duties. Unfortunately the king of the 70-200’s, the Canon 70-200mm F2.8 USM II is about $3000 so I looked into the Tamron version which was half the price and couldn’t be happier. The quality of this lens is superb and the money I saved means I can hopefully add the Tamron 24-70mm lens to my kit in the near future.

6) Kenko Extension Tubes – Extension tubes allow you to perform macro photography without the need for purchasing a dedicated macro lens. The hollow tubes are placed between the camera body and lens which increases the distance the light has to travel to the sensor, therefore reducing the minimum focusing distance of the lens you have attached. You get a 12mm, 20mm and 36mm tube, each of which reduce the focusing distance as their size (mm) increases and they can be stacked to multiply the effect. You can see a shot of some wedding rings using the 20mm tube with my 50mm lens in this gallery.

7) MeFOTO Globetrotter Tripod – This is the latest addition to my bag as I decided I needed a better quality tripod with better panning ability. The MeFOTO Globetrotter is the one of the most affordable carbon fiber (lighter than Aluminium) tripods available and ticked all my boxes. It can be raised to about 1.63m which is above my eye level and folds up to a tiny 41cm while weighing in at only 1.7kg with head included. It can also hold up to 12kg of weight and after using it for a week or so, it’s very solid with a smooth feel to its operation. A great addition to this tripod is the ability to unscrew one of the legs and use it as a monopod which is certainly a handy option to have. I highly recommend spending a little more initially and investing in a tripod like this.

8) BlackRapid Camera Strap – This BlackRapid Curve (RS-7) camera strap is a far better option over the standard straps that come with your camera. Instead of hanging the camera around your neck with an awkwardly short strap, these BlackRapid straps hang over your shoulder. They have a sturdy shoulder pad and the camera sits alongside your hip, secured strongly by an attachment pin that’s screwed into your tripod mount. I’m more than comfortable using this with my camera and heaviest lens for things like weddings or when I’m walking around without my tripod.

9) Headtorch – Ideal for landscape photography which often gets you up early or late, this head torch from Kathmandu is always with me when I need extra light.

10) Extra Storage – I have a few extra SD cards for when I’m in need of extra storage or if one malfunctions. However, at 32GB each, they can usually hold more photos then I’ll ever need before offloading onto a computer. When you’re shooting such big files and sometimes in rapid succession, it’s important to get a fast SD card such as Class 10 (UHS-1) cards with a read speed of at least 30mb/s. I’ve always used Sandisk cards and have no complaints. I buy them for far cheaper on sites like Ebay, but beware that some are fake, so make sure you read the sellers feedback carefully.

11) Lee Big Stopper Filter – This is a 10 stop glass filter which, when placed in front of the lens, reduces the amount of light by 10 stops and therefore allows you to lengthen the shutter speed. This can allow you to create the effect of smooth water for example, which allows the eye to be drawn to the subjects of the photo and is generally more pleasing. This 4 inch square filter opens the photographer up to more creative photography.

12) Lee Foundation Kit – This is the holder used with the Lee 4 inch filters such as the Big Stopper mentioned above. An adaptor ring is screwed onto the front of the lens and the holder can then clip over the edge of the ring. There are then three slots which can be used to stack three filters in front of each other. Common filters other than the Big Stopper are Graduated ND’s which reduce the amount of light over half of the lens. This is mostly used to reduce the brightness of the sky in a scene to bring balance between the contrast with the foreground.

13 & 14) Sudio Stand and Umbrella Holder – These items are a recent purchase for a fashion shoot I had to do and in conjunction can provide a stand and holder for a speedlite flash and umbrella. What I haven’t included in this photograph is the softbox umbrella (due to windy conditions) which is mounted through the adaptor and surrounds the flash. This set-up provides a softer light for portrait and fashion photography.

15) Yongnuo Speedlite Flash YN565EX – This flash by Yongnuo is very similar to the top of the range Canon speedlite flashes but at quarter the price. They are a must for anyone considering wedding or portrait photography, and I highly recommend the quality of this brand. The only downfall to this model is it doesn’t support high speed sync, which means the flash can't be used with faster shutter speeds, however the simlarly priced Yongnuo 568EX II model does.

16) Yongnuo RF-603 Wireless Triggers – These triggers can be used in conjunction with the Yongnuo flashes to trigger the flash off the camera. These triggers are very effective but still require a cord between the camera and trigger, which is why I intend to upgrade to wireless versions in the future.

17) Cleaning Tools – These are essential for any photography trip, especially a microfiber cloth, which is ideal for wiping down the lens to remove dust or water spots. I can’t think of any time I haven’t needed this nearby and it often ends up in my jacket pocket so it’s always at the ready.

18) Remote Shutter Release – A very simple shutter release cord which when plugged into the camera can trigger the shutter without bumping the camera. This was a huge part of my landscape work originally, however now I usually use the 2s delay or my Canon EOS app on my phone to trigger the release.

19) Extra Batteries – I always have far more batteries than required in my bag just in case. I usually carry 4 spare batteries for my camera and an extra set of rechargeable batteries for my flash. The batteries I get for my camera are third party batteries from Ebay which are considerably cheaper than the originals. They won’t hold the charge as well as the Canon versions, but they’re worth it for their value. I don't opt for the cheap AA batteries for the flash though, having as much power as I can for those is important.

20) Lowepro Flipside 300 Camera Bag - I got this bag before travelling overseas as the Flipside range has the unique design of opening the bag from the rear (which sits against your back). Therefore there's no way that anyone can open it while it's on your back, a thing I was concerned about with carting expensive equipment around unknown places. I also use it when I head out on landscape shoots as it fits all the gear I may need and is comfortable on the back. The bag itself is quite compact, but can fit a DSLR (with grip if need be), a wide angle lens, a 70-200 lens, a smaller lens like my 50mm, a speedlite and an extra compartment for all my accessories. I can even fit my 13 inch laptop (must be quite thin) on top of all of this gear for when I travel around NZ, and there's a clip on the front for a tripod (although I don't use this much).

#equipment #review #canon6d #tamron #7020028 #MeFOTO #Globetrotter #Kenko #Lee #BigStopper #Yongnuo #Lowepro #Flipside300

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