In Part 1 of our photography class, “A Focus On Gear”, we discussed many different products and how to evaluate what will work best for your needs. As promised, here are a list of products and brands that I’ve used over the years, and some comments on each.

A Good Tripod (doesn’t have to be expensive)

Your class discussed the trade-offs of features-vs-price for a new tripod. You can buy a very light tripod that is very sturdy, or one that is useless. The only
way to know if a tripod will work for you is to read the specs and try the tripod out yourself. Here are several brands I have used.

  • Manfrotto – One of the tripods I currently use. Typically higher quality brand, sells complete kits or legs and head separately.
  • Slik – Many years ago, I had one similar to Slik Pro 500HD. Was very happy with it, but the kit did not come with a “ball head”. A good budget tripod if you get one of their good models, they also sell “cheap” pods too.
  • MeFoto – Fairly light, decent tripod. Folds up for travel.

A Trigger / Remote

Triggers allow you to fire the shutter w/out touching the camera and causing unwanted camera shake. Triggers can be complicated or extremely simple.

These triggers are examples for CANON. Triggers are camera-specific, make sure and get one for your specific camera manufacturer and model!

A Good Lens

In class, we talked about “fast lenses”, lenses that have extra-wide apertures to allow in more light. There are several very expensive models on the market, but
a good place to start is the 50mm Prime (in one of our other classes, the 50mm is listed as “a lens everyone should own”). Here are several options.
Note, these are Canon lenses, but all other makers have similar 50mm options.

  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L
    ($1,500) Canon’s best 50mm option, an “L” series professional lens.
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
    ($350) This is what I use. It is preferred by many hobby and professional photographers. A workhorse lens for lowlight and wide apertures photography.
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
    ($100) A reasonable option for low light photography, however it does not feature the better glass and build quality of the other two lenses. The
    lens body is plastic, making it lighter — but also makes it prone to breaking.
Joe Lippeatt is a User Experience Engineer, Front End Specialist and Application Developer for 24Moves Consulting. He is also the organizer of HoustonPhotowalks.com Photography Club. When not working, he's enjoying planning photography trips and helping his wife and son work in their gardens.