Welcome to a new series on the blog! After reviewing the results of last month’s blog reader survey we decided to introduce a new series on the blog called “What’s in Our Bag?” This post will introduce you to all of our gear and subsequent posts will spotlight individual pieces of our gear and will be accompanied by the sample shots taken with each piece of equipment. The idea came from several blog readers who asked about our gear. Maybe you’re into photography, or maybe you’re just curious about what we shoot with. Either way, we’re excited about this new series in which we’ll be talking about all of our gear, including cameras, favorite lenses, and more!
Ever since we started our business we’ve always believed that it’s important to invest in equipment that will produce the best quality images for our clients. Of course, we didn’t have the money to invest right away so we rented what we needed for a long, long time. We’re happy to say, though, that as of last year, we are no longer renting and we own all of the gear listed in this post! Yipee! We purchase most of our gear at The Photo Center and we highly recommend them for their personalized customer service and knowledgeable staff.
To start, we shoot Canon. Our first DSLR was a Canon Rebel and we loved everything about it. When it came time to upgrade, we purchased the Canon 7D and also loved it but quickly outgrew it. Enter the 5D Mark IIIs.
Canon 5D Mark III
We both shoot with the Canon 5D Mark IIIs. Pictured above on the left are our babies, all three of them. Why three? Well, in case one of our cameras malfunctions on a wedding day, we need back-up! The Canon 5D Mark III is simply amazing. It is a full-frame camera that works extremely well in low light, which is especially important for church ceremonies because most churches prohibit the use of flash during most of the ceremony. Our favorite feature is the dual card slots which allow us to have a back-up to our images right in the camera! One slot holds a memory card to record one copy of the image and the second slot holds another memory card to record a second copy of the image simultaneously. So if we ever get a corrupt card, which is a possible although extremely rare occurrence, then we have a second one with the same exact images on it. This gives us such peace of mind on a wedding day!
And now, for the rest of our gear!
This camera is not pictured above because we used it to take the photo. We don’t actually get much use out of this camera anymore except as a secondary video camera but we keep it on our bag as a back-up to the back-up! So on a wedding day we always have back-up cameras for any situation, whether we’re doing photo or video. A professional photographer can never be too safe when it comes to being prepared for a wedding day!
Sigma Art 35mm 1.4
This is a recent addition to our collection of lenses. We had every intention of purchasing the Canon version of it but when we tried out the Sigma we fell in love! It is amazingly sharp and the focal length is perfect for tight spaces during getting ready photos. We also use it during the processional when the bride walks down the aisle, during family formals, and on the dance floor when we want to capture lots of people in the frame. It’s also my preferred lens for newborns.
Canon 50mm 1.2L
This is my favorite lens, although the Sigma 85mm 1.2L comes in at a close second. It was our first L series prime lens and it was love at first click. I use this lens primarily for portraits and love the sharpness and bokeh that it produces. Plus it is amazing in low light. It is definitely my go-to lens for both weddings and newborns and we could shoot a whole wedding with it if we had to. But luckily, we don’t have to! :-)
Canon 85mm 1.2L
Updated in May 2015: Not pictured here is my recently purchased Canon 85mm 1.2L. This lens is my fancy lens! It has creamy bokeh and is tack sharp at f/1.2! It comes out for portraits and I’m always so sad when it’s time to put it away. It’s a dreamy lens!
Canon 85mm 1.8
This lens has gorgeous depth of field but it never comes out anymore now that we have the 85mm 1.2L. We just keep it as a back-up.
Canon 100mm 2.8L Macro
This is the lens we use for close-up shots of engagement and wedding rings and we use it for jewelry as well. It’s a must-have for both photo and video even though after bride and groom prep, it spends most of the day in our suitcase. I also use it for close-ups of newborn baby lips and toes!
Canon 15mm Fisheye
We don’t always get to use this lens but when we do, it’s a fun one! We bring it out when the dance floor is really crowded and we want to capture tons of people in the frame.
Canon 16-35mm 2.8L II
This is a wide-angle lens that Jay often uses for the photojournalistic style that complements my images when I’m shooting with portrait lenses. It’s great for wide angle shots of the ceremony, reception dance shots, architecture, and churches as well as tight spaces during other parts of the day. Jay loves to use it for overhead shots of the ceremony.
Canon 24-70mm 2.8L II
This is Jay’s favorite lens but I have one, too, because it’s just that great! (Only one is pictured above because we used the other one to shoot the image.) This is definitely Jay’s workhorse. He loves it for its versatility, performance in low light, and sharpness. It’s great in tight spaces, but it also allows us to zoom if we need to. It also comes in handy for large group shots when the 35mm 1.4 isn’t wide enough. I use it mostly during the reception for dancing shots because you can fit so many people in the frame.
Canon 70-200mm 2.8L IS II
The 70-200mmL 2.8L IS II is such an amazing lens that we had to have two of them! These lenses allow us to get close-ups of the bride and groom at the altar and during portraits, of their family members in the church pews, of the first dance, and so much more.
Canon 600EX-RT Speedlites
These flashes are amazing. They have wireless transmitters built into them so we can control both the flash on our cameras and the one on our light stands right from the flash we place on the camera. We have five of these so that we can both shoot with off-camera lighting at the reception and still have a back-up flash.
Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter
This transmitter comes in handy when we want to trigger our off-camera flashes without using an on-camera one. It’s not really necessary since one of our 600EX-RTs can be used to trigger the off-camera flashes but it’s a nice lightweight alternative.
Canon 580EX II Speedlite
The fact that this flash is not pictured above goes to show exactly how neglected it is. Ever since we purchased the 600EX-RTs we really don’t have any use for this flash but we keep it for back-up just in case.
Canon CP-E4 Compact Battery Packs
We use these battery packs for the reception so that our on-camera flashes recycle quickly. These are what we wear on our belt and plug into the flash.
Nissin Power Pack PS 8
We use our Nissin Power Packs to provide extra power supply to our off-camera flashes during church portraits and reception. These are what you would see hanging on our light stands, plugged into the off-camera flashes.
Earlier this year I decided I needed a cuter camera strap to…well… look cute… and also to tell my camera apart from Jay’s. I just love my Fotostrap! The strap is the color of our logo and the shoulder pad even has our logo on it. Plus Fotostrap donates 10% to Fotolanthropy, a wonderful non-profit organization.
The rest of these items are not pictured above but they are must-haves for us!
Manfrotto Light Stands
These guys allow us to use off-camera flashes during family formals and reception.
I was introduced to these at a workshop by Robert Harrington and we love them for our church formals.
Canon Gadget Bag 1EG
This is Jay’s bag. He uses it for photo or video because it fits two bodies, four lenses, and accessories.
Lowepro Pro Roller Lite Suitcase
This suitcase fits so much yet it is light enough for me to carry up and down steps when I can’t get to an elevator, even when it’s packed with gear.
We have an endless supply of accessories such as rechargeable batteries, memory cards, lens cleaning supplies, etc. and even though they are essential, they aren’t as exciting as some of these other items. So, we’ll tell you more about our main gear first, and eventually our accessories later.
We hope this post was interesting and helpful to new photographers, or even experienced ones who are looking to add a new lens to their arsenal. In future posts in the series we will be giving more details on how and why we use each piece of equipment and Jay will post on all of his video gear, too. If you have any questions please leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more posts in this series please click here: What’s In Our Bag?
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