By far the most common question we’re asked by people who are starting a photography business is what camera gear we use for shoots.
Let’s just get this out of the way. It’s not about our camera gear. It’s about our vision, our understanding of how to use our gear to get amazing shots, and it’s about light. You can buy yourself the most expensive camera you can find and you’re still not going to take amazing photos if you’re shooting in auto mode.
That being said, your gear does matter immensely when you know how to use it. You simply can’t shoot a wedding with a camera whose ISO performance is lacking and expect to get the same results in a dark church as you would with a professional DSLR.
We mostly shoot weddings, so our kit is geared towards our needs for that. Much of this would be overkill if we were only doing portraits. Here’s a peek into our bags:
Our Wedding Camera Kit
Two Nikon D700 cameras and we’ll be adding a Nikon D7000 in the next two months. LOVE the D700, but I can’t wait for it’s replacement to come around with even more amazing ISO. At least that’s what we’re rooting for!
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 – Most versatile lens ever. My first Nikon lens and it’s a workhorse. If I could only keep one lens, this would be it (but I’d cry handing over the others).
Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 – Awesome for capturing emotion from a distance without being noticed and for using in churches. I also love how the compression of this lens really flatters the subjects faces. Good stuff. I just wish it wasn’t so huge.
Nikon 50mm f/1.4 – Another great lens, but it’s a bit slow to focus and not as sharp wide open at f/1.4 so I don’t use this one quite as much. It’s really great for getting ready shots in poorly-lit rooms, though. I shoot this at f/1.4 most of the time it’s on my camera.
Sigma 85mm f/1.4 – This is my favorite lens, although it can be too long for small rooms. I shoot this wide open at f/1.4 most of the time it’s on my camera, as the bokeh just rocks my world. It’s our only non-Nikon lens, and that’s because I sold my Nikon 85mm f/1.4D when the Sigma was released because it really is a better lens. It’s also about half the price of the new Nikon 85mm f/1.4G, and the performance is so close to the new Nikon that the extra money simply wasn’t worth it.
Nikon 45mm f/2.8 PC-E (Tilt-Shift) – This one is my toy. It’s an expensive lens that allows you to change the plane of focus in dreamy ways. It’s also a ridiculously amazing macro lens. It’s the sharpest lens we own, but it’s only manual focus, so that sometimes works against me. This is our newest lens and I look forward to using it more this year and using it to tell the story of the day even more clearly.
Nikon SB-900 – We have a few of these, and they rock the house. Awesome.
Two 60″ Photoflex Convertible Umbrellas – Great for large group family portraits. We also use this umbrella mount and cold-shoe adapter to attach them to our light stands when using the SB-900 flash units.
28″ Westcott Apollo Softbox – Gives beautiful light similar to window-light. Good for half-body portraits. It mounts to my light stands just like my umbrellas do, so no extra hardware is needed if you have an umbrella mount. That’s why I went with this one.
64″ Parabolic Light Modifier (PLM) – Similar to an umbrella, but with the front diffusion fabric it works much like a massive softbox but for a fraction of the cost. Amazing. I love this thing. Just don’t ever use it in wind or you’ll be losing some gear.
LumiQuest Softbox III – This is a teeny-tiny little softbox that attaches to your camera’s flash. It is really only useful when you can get really close to someone with the light. It’s really versatile at weddings when I want to take a quick portrait somewhere and can shoot tight but don’t have time/arms enough to pull out the big guns listed above. Folds up tiny and fits right into our Kelly Moore Bags, which is awesome.
Other Miscellaneous Gear
Think Tank Airport International v2.0 – This is our main haul-it-all bag that comes with us to every wedding. It’s awesome, and carries pretty much all our main camera stuff without fear of it breaking (although we’d never check it on a plane without removing all our gear and carrying it on our bodies if they absolutely forced us to!) Worth. Every. Penny.
Kelly Moore “Kelly Boy” Bags – These are the bags we wear while shooting. Brandon wears black, I got the mustard one. Brilliant bags, and unisex which rocks.
Manfrotto Tripod – We use this for table detail shots, outdoor night shots of the wedding venue and light painting.
Manfrotto Light Stands – Pretty self-explanatory. We’ve got a couple in a few different heights.
Photoflex Backdrop Kit – This is what I call my “Portable Backdrop Stand”. We use it for wedding photobooths and I use it on the road for newborn portraits. Simply attach blankets or backdrops with hand clamps and you’re set to go.
Westcott 6-in-1 Reflector Kit – I use this all the time to bounce light back onto my subjects. Love the variety you get with this kit (plus it’s great to have diffusers as well).
Radio Poppers JrX Studio – These trigger our flashes when they aren’t on our camera. LOVE them.
Sandisk Compact Flash Memory Cards – We have loads of these. You never want to run out at a wedding. Buy twice as many as you think you’ll need.
Eneloop AA Batteries – They hold their charge for months without use and are some of the best-performing rechargeable batteries I’ve found.
Maha Battery Charger – Does a discharge and charge of batteries in very little time. It also gives you an estimate of how much power you have remaining in the batteries. Worth the expense.
While I’m sure there are other little things I’ve missed, this is the main gear that we bring with us to weddings. Hope you find it helpful! And on a side note, I’d appreciate it if you use the links above to buy these things – I get a small referral fee for each purchase made that comes from the site, so it’s a great way to show your appreciation and keep this site up and running. 🙂 If you don’t like shopping at Amazon, which I am comfortable doing, you can also find most of these items at Adorama or B&H.
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