As a photographer I am always wanting to upgrade my gear to have the best of the best for everything, but it can be a slow process. Here is a list of What’s In My Photography Bag and why I love it, or why I want to switch soon!
Canon 50mm f/1.4 – $349
I could honestly shoot everything with this lens if I had to. 50mm lenses have always been my favorite for shooting portraits and they are wide enough to where you can just back up if you do not have anything wider to shoot with.
I have had this specific lens for about 5 years and have never had a complaint. I was in college at the time that I bought it and my cheap $50 50mm lens broke after a few uses (I wonder why), so I really needed to get a new lens that wasn’t too pricey, but wasn’t a $50 piece of plastic that will break on me. I ended up getting the 1.4 and was so happy with my purchase. I will upgrade to the Canon 50mm f/1.2 – $1299 soon, but I have other lenses that are in more need of replacing!
If you are in the market for a 50mm (if you don’t have one, then you should be), and can swing for the 1.2, I would suggest going with it, but the 1.4 is still a great lens if you are starting out on a budget.
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 – $648
I have a strong love-hate relationship with my 35, if you have ever looked this lens up or heard of it, you probably know what I am talking about. The Sigma 35 is known to have focus issues, and it is not a lie. When I first got it about a year and a half ago I just loved the focal length, I had never used a 35mm before. For the first few months I had no focus issues, so I figured I was lucky and got one of the good ones. Nope! After a few months, everything I heard about this lens started to become a reality. It works, but it is not reliable. I would say about 10-15% of the time the focus is off now and it is not getting any better, though I am not sure if it is really getting worse either. It is not to the point where half or even a quarter of my images are not coming out, but it is a problem worth addressing if you are considering this lens.
I am not one to really look at the back of my camera during a shoot, but with my 35 I have started checking certain images to make sure we got what we needed with the lens.
The Canon 35mm f/1.4 – $1699 is going to be replacing this lens very soon and I am pretty excited about it. Like I said, I really love the length of the lens, but my 35 and 50 are the lenses I shoot with the most and have on my dual harness most of the time, so upgrading is a must for me.
Sigma 24mm f/1.4 – $650
After reading about my previous Sigma experience, you may be wondering why I have another non-Canon lens. I actually got this one shortly after I got the 35 so my husband and I could each have a wider lens at the same time at a wedding. The 24 is not one I use often, really only when we each need one, but it has been a lot more reliable than the 35mm.
This is my widest lens, and I love having it for certain situations. When I am not at a wedding and am shooting alone, I always keep it in my bag in case a situation arises where the 24 would be best. Like I mentioned earlier, I have a dual harness, so 2 bodies and 2 lenses at all times so I almost never switch lenses while shooting. This one would be the exception for a wider shot where I cannot back up enough.
I have not had focus issues with this one at all, and am not sure if others have experienced the same issues with it as the 35. I do not use it enough to want to upgrade, and have no complaints about it when I am using it.
Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 -$499
This lens is my only non-prime lens. I only bring it with me to weddings to use during a ceremony so I am not stuck with just 1 or 2 focal lengths. The one I have was a used lens and is pretty old, so it’s auto focus is a bit slow and I am not sure if that is because of the age or if that is just how this lens is. It gets the job done for what I need though.
I have heard really great things about the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 – $1799, and will probably upgrade to that one day. Again, it serves it’s purpose so I am not putting this lens at the top of my list, but I know it could be better. I am sure when I do upgrade to the 70-200 2.8 I will probably love it and regret not making the switch earlier, but for now it is what it is.
Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro – $548
This lens is awesome, but I rarely use it. I love the focal length for really small things, and the macro capability so I can just get real close to what I am shooting. I primarily use this one for product photography when I do that, and detail shots at weddings. Unfortunately a few months ago, I notices a tiny scratch on the lens when I was shooting real close product shots of jewelry, and it is not fixable. I use it still for some things that won’t show the scratch, but for the product photography I do on the side, it was not working for me.
I ended up buying a used Sigma 105mm f/2.8 – $357 so I can get by with what I was using it for at home. The Sigma version is also a macro and about the same focal length and is just fine. The odd thing about this lens is that when t focuses it is loud, but I use it at home on products so it is not a problem for me.
Both of these lenses work great but are a bit heavier than other lenses. They are physically longer lenses too and bulky. The Sigma is a little more heavy than the Canon, so ideally I only like using these with still subjects and/or with a tripod or with a strobe.
Canon Speedlite 430EX II – $249
I only use external flashes when I am shooting at a reception. I have two of these and my husband and I each take one at wedding receptions. I have a lot more experience working with strobe lights in a studio vs external flashes but these seem to work great for us! They are strong enough for what we need them for and don’t seem to drain our batteries as much as I have heard from other photographers that use external flashes.
We have two of the EX II version, which are both actually pretty old, but it seems like the EX III is the version on the market now. I am sure the newer version is the same or better than what we have. The price is also not going to break the bank, especially for something that you are not going to use often.
Canon 5D Mark III – $2799
This was my first full frame camera which I got about 5 years ago. I fell in love with it as soon as I got it and was so excited. I have never had a problem with this camera body and it is a very sturdy machine. It is larger than crop-sensor bodies, but I don’t have tiny hands so it felt a lot better for me when I switched.
One feature that was a game changer was having two memory slots! I did not shoot weddings before I got this camera, so it was not a big deal to only have one memory slot back then, but I sure was happy to make the switch.
Canon 5D Mark IV – $3399
This bad boy is my second body, which I have had for about a year and a half. Ideally when I am shooting with two bodies at the same time (which is 95% of the time), it would be best to have two of the same bodies; though I do not notice huge difference on the images with shooting with the two different bodies. I plan to get a second one of these soon and have my Mark III as a backup and the camera my husband uses when he shoots with me. Having the three cameras is ideal so I can always have two at a wedding, and so if one craps out on us then we still have 2 more so we each can have a camera.
A few weeks ago I had my first problem with this camera, and I am only mentioning it to tell my story of why backup cameras are a must. For some reason it was giving me err20 when I would take a picture and just continued to do so. So, I just let it hang on my harness for the rest of the shoot while I switched lenses on my mark III. What would have happened if I were at a wedding and only had one camera and this happened? Nothing good, that is for sure!
This problem randomly happened a couple times for the next 2 shoots I had that week, and has not happened since. This is just some fluke thing that happened to mine though, when googling about it I did not see people complaining that this happened to their Mark IV. Even though it happened, it will be solved, and I still plan to get another one in addition.
I hope that after seeing What’s in My Photography Bag helps you out with which lens or gear you want to buy next! If you are interested in more about products I love to use for my business, check out my blog Post 5 Resources I Could not Run My Business Without.