My Kit

It’s pretty obligatory these days for a photography website to reveal what equipment is being used. Maybe it’s bragging, maybe it’s just a courtesy so someone in the market for some new hardware can see what results certain gear can get. For me, however, I find that a full and accurate model number appeals to my obsessive compulsive nature, so I like writing them down. There is also, I suppose, also an element of the former in there as well.

To that end, below is a list of the equipment I currently use to take the images you’ll find on this site – and at the bottom, an archived list of the kit I used to use, because I would have definitely linked to it in the past and if nothing else, this is a site charting my development as a hobbyist photographer.

Shooting

Canon EOS 60D

I’ve been shooting with the Canon EOS 60D since summer 2011, and I continue to love it. It’s rarely let me down, any time I’ve missed a shot it’s been due to my own stupidity. It’s decent in low light with a top ISO of 6400, has a pretty respectable 18 megapixel sensor (certainly not the highest these days but plenty high enough for my uses), and a burst mode that captures five shots a second, great for when things are happening so fast that even the seasoned pros just have to spray and pray.

It also has a fold-out LCD screen for those times when the perfect shot requires the camera to be in a position where a human’s head (especially one as amusingly-sized as mine) can’t fit, or so save my back from bending down.

Prior to the 60D I owned an EOS 400D, which was a great starter getting me into DSLR photography, but after a few years I felt I had outgrown it. For reference, any pictures taken before late July 2011 were shot on the 400D.

Sony DSC-RX100 IV

An inheritance from my late father-in-law, for when I need to travel really light, the DSC-RX100 is a highly portable little point-and-shoot with a f/1.8 aperture and a 20 megapixel sensor which gives some great results. It can focus really close as well, making for some interesting close-ups of my cats. I’ve not had much occasion to use this camera a huge amount, sitting as it does between my DSLR and my iPhone means I more often use one of those when shooting.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens

This is my work-a-day lens, that replaced the 18-135mm EF-S I originally got alongside the 60D. Much like the 400D that came before my 60D, I was beginning to feel I was beginning to feel a little frustrated with the quality of the 18-135 with its chromatic aberrations and lack of pristine sharpness when I needed it, and was toying with the idea that I should have a far better lens for the one that is on the front of my camera 70% of the time. When I found a Groupon offer of this lens at a decent discount, I jumped at the chance.

With my old 400D I had an 18-55mm lens and a 55-250mm lens, and the lack of crossover between the two lenses’ focal lengths and the relative lack of zoom on the shorter lens meant I was swapping lenses frequently, and could almost be guaranteed to never have the right lens on my camera at the right time.

When I upgraded to the 60D I realised I needed more than a standard kit lens, and I decided to get a decent lens with as big a zoom range as possible, giving me a nice wide focal range and minimising the need to swap out lenses any time anything happened more than a few yards away. The 24-105 has Canon’s really quite effective Image Stabilization technology, which allows me to get pretty good results without a tripod (which is a piece of kit I rarely carry).

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM Lens

An inheritance from my father, the 70-200mm is my go-to lens when I need some extra zoom, but not that much zoom – mainly because it’s an L lens and so generally of better quality and faster at focussing. The 70mm lower end crosses over nicely with my 24-105mm daily driver so there’s less occasions that I find myself with completely the wrong lens. That said, when I’m packing my stripped-down, lighter camera bag, this is the lens that usually gets left behind, mainly because both this and my longer telephoto won’t both fit and I’d usually rather not be caught short with only 200mm of focal length if I see something far away I want to take a photo of.

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens

For the times when 200mm is still not enough, I have this lens. Unlike my last set of equipment, the lower focal length of this one crosses over with my ‘main’ lens so I less frequently find myself with the wrong glass. The 300mm top end, meanwhile, can get pretty close to wildlife or aircraft. Many of the closeup photos of planes in the Bournemouth Air Festival megapost were taken with this lens. I’m not sure if it’s the fault of the lens or the camera body, but the autofocus can tend to hunt around quite a bit at times, and there is no full-time override of the focus ring to correct this.

I do sometimes find myself desiring something with a bit more zoom to it, but the difficulty here is I wouldn’t want to lose too much off of the bottom end of the focal range that I enjoy with this lens. That said I’d love the EF 400mm f/2.8 L if anyone reading this is feeling particularly generous. I’d find some practical way of carrying it, don’t worry.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens

Beyond my two main lenses, I have a couple of other more specialised lenses that allow me to play about and get some interesting results. This one is a macro lens, allowing me to focus on items only about 15cm in front of the glass, great for insects or extreme closeups. It has 1:1 reproduction, meaning whatever you’re photographing can appear up to life-size on the camera’s sensor, leading to some incredible closeups. The lack of Image Stabilization can be an issue in lower light however, and when you’re focusing really close with the widest aperture setting, the depth of field is millimetres thin – this lens, thankfully, has full-time manual override on the focus, so you can easily adjust if the autofocus hasn’t quite got it right. That said, the depth of field at f/2.8 is so tiny that your breathing and natural body tremors can cause the subject to sway in and out of focus. I call it ‘macro sway’ and the best thing to do is hold your breath and try to time firing the shutter to the right moment. The autofocus is also really fast. For times when you can lock off the camera and use a longer exposure, the aperture closes all the way in to f/32.

The lens also focuses to infinity, and its big aperture allows for a nice shallow depth of field, which means I also intend to use it for some portrait work. It’s also useful for mid- to near-range wildlife photography, as you won’t have a problem with animals getting too close to be able to focus on them, unless they are actually intending to steal or eat you or your camera.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens

My most direct upgrade, I replaced my 50mm f/1.8 “nifty fifty” with the 50mm f/1.4 USM in January 2015. I’d hired it for a while to play around with and decided that its superior image quality, faster autofocusing and bigger aperture was worth the cost of upgrade. I love images with ultra narrow depths of field and great bokeh, and this lens is great at both. If my cats are being cute, this is the lens I go for.

I have lens hoods for all of my lenses, but only the one for the 24-105mm comes with me everywhere as the others are a bit big to fit in my camera bag. Only the hood for the former is an official hood; the others all came very cheaply from China via eBay for less than a tenner for the full set – a fraction of the cost of just one official hood.

Canon Speedlite 430EX II Flash Unit

A rarely used part of my kit bag, I nevertheless have two of Canon’s midlevel flashgun. It’s reasonably powerful (I’ve taken photos in near-completely dark rooms that look brightly lit) and more importantly for me can be fired wirelessly using the 60D’s built-in remote trigger so I can get a side-lit subject. It has seen action in this set of practise images, as well as many of the images on this page, and saw use as a fill flash in some of the images in this post.

To complement this flash and get the most out of it, I’ve got a few accessories for this accessory. I have a plastic diffuser to soften the light a bit, a ring flash adapter, and a Lastolite Ezybox softbox which diffuses the light even more and gives a great, natural-looking soft light for portraits and the likes.

Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW II Kit Bag

For the longest time I used a Crumpler New Delhi as my go-to kit bag for storing and carrying everything. I loved having the over-the-shoulder camera bag for providing quick access to the kit I needed without needing to find somewhere to set it down and have a rummage. However once I got into the latter half of my mid-thirties I realised that having a single-strap bag was doing what was left of my spine no favours and decided to switched to a more traditional backback. After much research and indecision I went with the Lowepro ProTactic 450, because it has two side pockets allowing me quick access to my camera and my telephoto without taking the bag off my back, and for everything else, it fits everything else, including lenses, charger, batteries, SD cards, and my laptop.

Canon RS-60E3 Remote Switch

With my occasional experimentation with night, macro and astro photography (well, by ‘astro photography’ I mean ‘the moon’ and ’Jupiter, once’), I needed to invest in a remote shutter release so I could fire the camera without jogging it. This remote, a steal at only a tenner, replicates all of the function of the 60D’s shutter button, with the added bonus of a lock so if you’re using bulb mode at night you don’t have to stand around like a lemon during long exposures.

I’ve also got a cheap Amazon wireless shutter release but I haven’t had much occasion to use it yet.

iPhone 13 Pro

The iPhone gets a special mention because, as of 2022, it’s probably my most-used camera. It’s always in my pocket when I’m out or within arm’s reach when I’m at home, so it’s usually the camera I have when something happens I need to capture quickly – usually, these days, it’s my kid or my cats being cute, and there’s no way they’ll ever hold the pose for me to nip upstairs and grab my big camera, so without the iPhone those moments would be lost.

Although most of the photos I take with my phone are of my kid and so don’t get shared online, anything else worth sharing will end up on my Instagram account, on one of my Instagram roundup posts on this site, or even on a dedicated post.

Editing

iMac

Most of my editing is done on a 2015 27” 5K Retina iMac. The large high-resolution screen is great for picking out little details when editing – when I blow up images to full resolution, they don’t actually get much bigger than the screen. When I bought it (technically I bought it in 2012, but that’s a long story involving it being replaced under warranty when it was 3 years old) I maxed out most of the specs, so it has 3TB of storage, something that’s taken me 7 years to fill without deleting that many photos. It also has a 4GHz Intel i7 processor and 32GB of (admittedly third party) RAM.

That said, this machine is seven years old at time of writing, so it may well be replaced at some point in the not-too-distant future.

11” MacBook Air

For editing on-the-go – which usually means once a year when I go on holiday and expect to take more photos than I can comfortably fit on my SD cards – I have an 11” MacBook Air. It has 256GB of storage so I can comfortably shoot thousands of images without filling it up, and it has Thunderbolt to quickly and effortlessly transfer those many gigabytes of data over to my iMac when I get home.

I bought this laptop in 2012 however, so at ten years old, it is getting quite long in the tooth. The battery lasts for less than an hour, it’s slow, and the screen is non-Retina, so pretty low resolution by today’s standards.

iPad Pro (with Magic Keyboard)

As an experiment in replacing my 11” MacBook Air with something a bit more modern, at the start of the covid lockdown I bought myself an 11” iPad Pro with a Magic Keyboard. Clearly iPadOS is not as versatile as MacOS for what I need to do, and I can’t run the full-fat Lightroom I like to use for edits on it, but I can do many on-the-go edits using Lightroom CC (which syncs via Creative Cloud), and of course with a decent web browser and the WordPress app combined with the great keyboard means I can easily write a lot on it (indeed, the words you’re reading now were written using that setup). With as much on-board storage as the MacBook and the files app, in theory I can back up images to it whilst on holiday, but I’m sure that I will continue to bring the MacBook with me for now.

Software

Since around 2014 I’ve been using Lightroom Classic to edit my photos. Whilst I’m sure that Adobe would probably like me to move to Lightroom CC – and so would I, frankly, as I can use it both on desktop, phone and iPad – it just simply isn’t fully featured enough yet for me to do the edits I want to do. Lightroom allows me to keep all my images in one place, with a series of non-destructive edits to RAW files, and export them easily, watermarked and appropriately resized for web consumption. It also does a good job of combining images automatically, either in panoramas or HDR exposures, without leaving the app – and it also makes roundtripping to Photoshop a doddle for when I need to do something more creative than what Lightroom can offer (which, admittedly, is not that often).

Previously I used to use Aperture to edit my photos, and indeed still have over 30,000 images in my Aperture library. Unfortunately when Apple stopped supporting it the writing was on the wall and I made the switch to Lightroom. I elected to not bring the images I had in Aperture with me, as I’d not be able to bring all the edits, only the RAW files and some of the Aperture-based metadata, and the idea of losing or having to redo the edits on thousands of images is entirely unappealing to me. Unfortunately, I’ve now reached an impasse in that if I upgrade my primary desktop computer to the latest MacOS, Aperture will cease functioning, so I’ve found myself sitting a few versions behind until I can implement a better long-term solution (which involves importing all of the images into Lightroom and accepting the loss of edits, but keeping a backup of my Aperture library that I can open on a different computer running a version of MacOS old enough to still run Aperture).


Retired Equipment

On top of all of the gear listed above, there’s a few bits of equipment that I’ve since upgraded. However, since I’ve linked to them over the course of writing this blog and I think it might be of interest for people to see the progression of my equipment, you can still read about them below.

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens

Despite replacing this lens with the EF 24-105mm f/4 L I still keep it around to cover the 18-24mm wider angles that the newer lens can’t achieve, but for space reasons it will only come with me in my kit bag if I think there’s a decent chance I’m going to use it (which, in practise, is basically never). Somewhere down the line I’m thinking it would be great to fill the gap with a 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 or a 17-55mm f/2.8 or something along those lines but to be honest, most of the time 24mm is plenty wide enough.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens

I’ve seen this lens dubbed the “nifty fifty” in reviews, and that sums it up perfectly. It is a very cheap lens – about £80 at time of writing – but has a big aperture for a very narrow depth of field, and the results are stunning for such a cheap lens. Sure, the autofocus is a bit loud, and it feels like a lens that costs £80, but the results punch far above its weight. Compared to the rest of the lenses in this lineup it sometimes lacks sharpness, but it’s plenty good enough for most people.

If you’re interested in expanding your DSLR photography beyond your kit lens, get this immediately. It has a big aperture and a fixed focal length, and so will let you get some great shots and teach you a fair amount about composing and considering your shots along the way.

Crumpler New Delhi

When I upgraded to the 60D, I also needed to upgrade to a bigger camera bag, my old Crumpler Pretty Boy not really being big enough for camera and all my lenses (I do still use the Pretty Boy, however, when travelling light, as it is the perfect size for the 60D and my two main lenses). After a bit of searching, and even one returned alternative, I finally settled on the Crumpler New Delhi. I decided against a ‘backpack’ type bag like a Lowepro in order to be able to quickly grab my camera without having to remove a backpack and find somewhere to set it down. The bag can get a bit heavy when fully loaded, but if you have a lot of gear to lug around, you need something big. It also has space for a 15″ laptop, but if you add that to all your camera kit and walk around for any length of time, it will redefine pain for you in a very real way.

My choice in this bag was justified only a few weeks later when, whilst in Bournemouth photographing the annual Air Festival, we got caught in torrential downpours that caused flash floods and washed bits of the town into the sea. When I say ‘caught in’, I do mean we were outside in the rain at one point, getting completely and totally soaked through. The Crumpler, however, proved to be completely resistant to mother nature. Even the event programme, which was in the bag but outside of the ‘inner’ bag that contains my kit, didn’t have a drop of water on it. Since then I now proudly describe the bag as “more waterproof than Bournemouth”.

TriggerTrap

Although sadly out of business now, Triggertrap produced some very handy smartphone/SLR accessories that allowed you to trigger your DSLR or flashgun with various triggers from via your smartphone (such as noise, movement, time intervals etc). I have used it in the past for accurately timing long exposures, as well as using the noise trigger to snap some party poppers firing.

Unfortunately, with the company’s demise and the lack of headphone jack on the latest iPhones, I find myself using it less and less in favour of a more traditional cable release. In my mind the reason I keep an old iPhone 6 around is to use TriggerTrap, but ultimately I think it’s because I’m a bit of a hoarder.

Joby GorillaPod

I loved this Gorillapod, but unfortunately I seem to have completely lost the camera connector and so it’s retired until it shows up. In its place, I tend to use a proper, traditionally-sized tripod with me nowadays, but only if I have some sort of expectation that I will be going to use it.

 

iPhones

Technically amongst my retired equipment is a litany of iPhones, as I tend to update them every year, chiefly for the camera upgrades on offer. At the time I started this site in 2011, I was using an iPhone 4, and since then I’ve owned and used the iPhones 5, 6, 7, X, XS, 11 Pro, 12 Pro, and am currently using the 13 Pro.


Images of iPhone 13 Pro and iPad Pro from Apple. Image of Lowepro backpack and Crumpler New Delhi from Amazon. All other images are original content and released under the same CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license as most of the other images on this site.

10 thoughts on “My Kit

  1. Yay another Canon. Nice to see.

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    1. I do see quite a lot of Canons when I’m out and about. They make nice cameras!

      Like

  2. Nice list of kit there. U’ve given me some ideas. Nice blog by the way 🙂

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    1. Cheers, thanks for following!

      Like

    1. Thank you, it is my pride and joy (even when some of my non-photography friend mock the size of the bag it all comes in…).

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      1. I can understand. Well you have reason to be proud 🙂

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  3. Hi, Rob. Thanks for putting up this useful page! 🙂

    I am planning to invest in a DSLR but have not been able to pick one and I am secretly looking at Canon 60D as well! Haha 😀

    Any suggestion for a first DSLR perhaps?

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    1. The 60D isn’t going to be terrible as a first DSLR, as it has the same auto modes as any of its lower-end siblings in the Canon DSLR range. It won’t really be worth it, however, if you’re not intending to expand beyond the simple capabilities, when the 1100D or 600D will do the same for cheaper. That said, if you are planning on expanding and learning all of the intricacies of digital photography, buying the 600D only to outgrow it in a year’s time is going to be a waste of money if you then end up wanting the extra features in the 60D.

      Ultimately it comes down to your budget and your expectations. The best thing I can suggest is getting out to your local camera shop and actually playing with some DSLRs and seeing what feels right.

      Like

      1. A good thought on that. Thank you so much for the advice, Rob! 🙂 I guess it’s really time for me to get down to the store itself.

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