The things I never leave without!

A question I get a lot is

“What equipment do you use for your portrait sessions?”

So I thought I’d write out this blog so people can get an idea of what gear I use.

Firstly, the camera. I use a canon 30D that was given to me by my old man in exchange for a Canon G11. And it’s a brilliant little camera. The ickle 8.2 sensor does give good results, and can be blown up to A3 size easily so more than big enough for what I want. You never know maybe someday I’ll upgrade to a full frame camera like the 5D or maybe, if things work out, the 5D MkII. But for now I’m getting the results I want so why fix something that isn’t broken?

Lens wise I mostly use the nifty fifty (or the Canon 50mm f/1.8 as some of you may know it). When I’m out in the field this is barely ever off the camera. The bokeh isn’t the most fantastic or smooth, but for the £100 I payed for it (if you shop around online you will get it for sub £90, or if you don’t want to even spend that much if you look at them second hand they are available for less than £50) the quality of the image is fantastic. It has more than payed for itself. From f/2 to I’d say about f/16 the camera is pin sharp. So on the crop sensor of the 30D, the effective 80mm of the lens is absolutely perfect focal length for portraits. If I have a little more room to play with I’ll switch over to my Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6. Now this isn’t particularly light lens. The f/4 aperture won’t allow enough light in for low light situations. And it only gets darker, going up to f/5.6, as you zoom into the 300mm range. So this lens will only be used on bright days or when I will be using the off camera flash. The last lens I use is a Sigma 18-50 f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. Now im going to be 100% honest. This lens isnt brilliant. This one is only used when I want the wide angle effect and when I’m using off camera flash. I am hoping to have this one replaced with the tamron 28-70mm f/2.8 at some point in the future.

My flash is only something I’ve recently purchased. I am now the proud owner of a Canon 430EXii. It’s immense. I’ve lately become a mahoosive fan of the whole strobist style of photography. If I’m taking shots indoors I will almost always couple the flash with a shoot through umbrella which will give me nice soft shadows instead of the harsh light straight from the flash (although harsh lighting will creep into my togging every now and then). I use a pair of photoshot triggers to fire the flash off of the camera. They are only a cheap set but they work. I haven’t had them mis-fire yet! Result!

After you hear what I carry next you’ll be calling me a cheapskate because everything here will have cost me probably about 30 or 40 pence to make! kit will include flash modifiers. These are very VERY inexpensive pieces of kit. I carry a snoot which I made from black card and some gaffer tape. I also have a DIY grid, which is basically a snoot with black stuffed in the end of it. A bounce card is something that will never be far away too, this is basically a rectangular piece of card that i stick to the rear of the flash with an elastic band. No expenses spared here eh? With my sights set on a career in photography, something that can be done very cheap is always a good thing to hear!

Last but most definitely not least. I will have 2 x 5 in 1 80cm reflectors. Each of them has a white side, a black side (a little like “the force”) a silver side, a gold side and a diffuser. I think they cost me 8 or 9 pounds off eBay. A lot of photographers will tell you that, if you are going into portrait photography, reflectors will be one of the first purchases you should make. They are invaluable pieces of kit and you should definitely buy one. Now. Don’t wait. Ok wait till the end of the blog. Then buy one. Head over to eBay, find one, and buy it. You won’t regret it.

So that’s about it. My basic portrait photography kit. I hope this has been of help to you and give you a quick insight as to what I use. I also want to hear what you use. What equipment do you not leave without? What is your dream setup? Let me know with a comment below!

Ciao for now!

Andrew

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