Recommended Gear

All affiliate links are completely non-biased. Camera companies all have their pros and cons, and it’s my goal to match you with the right gear for your needs. My recommendations are based off of products I’ve used and believe in!

DSLR Cameras

Beginner:

GOOD – Sony Alpha SLT-A65

a-6524 MP, 10 FPS, 15 AF points, and ISO of 100-1600. Sony is a big up-and-comer in the photography industry. They are pushing the heavyweights like Nikon and Canon to make serious improvements and additions to their beginner models. In my opinion, don’t go by the standard perception that Sony can’t hang with the big boys because they certainly can. The only downside is that the ISO for the A65 is disappointing. For all beginner cameras, I recommend getting a kit that includes a lens or two. They are almost always great deals. This kit comes with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens to get you shooting right away!

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BETTER – Canon Rebel t6i

t6i24.2 MP, 5 FPS, 19 AF Points, and ISO 100-12,800. Canon has really upgraded the most recent Rebel model (the t6i) to compete with the Nikon D5300 (see best option…). The t6i and the Nikon D5300 are very similar and rival one another. Either camera is going to be a great option for a beginner. The only reason the D5300 beats the Rebel t6i is because the t6i only has 19 AF points. That may not be an issue if you casually shoot. However, if you’re trying to track moving objects, the 19 AF points are really going to be an issue.

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BEST – Nikon D5300

24 MP, 5 FPS, 39 AF points, and ISo 100-12,800. Nikon has always been a power house in the camera world. This camera is no exception. Now, I’ve always felt they are a little confusing when trying to locate things in the menu, so I have never been a Nikon user. However, people who are can figure Nikons out say they would never switch to anything else! For a beginner DSLR, the D5300 has an unbelievable number of AF points and a huge ISO range. That’s a great feature to have. This one has a great kit deal that comes with a better lens than the Sony Alpha SLT-A65. The 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 lens will give you more zoom at a fair price.

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Hobbyist

GOOD – Nikon D610

24 MP, 6 FPS, 39 AF Points, and ISO 100-6400. Once again, Nikon makes killer cameras. Not only have they been around for decades, their products stand the test of any hobbyist photographer. If you’re willing to spend the cash to upgrade, I would approve this purchase. However, I’m not impressed with the ISO. I wish they would have at least matched the ISO of the D5300.

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BETTER – Sony a6000

a600024 MP, 11 FPS, 179 AF points, ISO 100-25,600. Am I crazy to put such a small mirrorless camera this high in my rankings? Some might think so. However, you should not be fooled by the stature of the a6000. If you’re looking at the size of the camera to determine how good it is, you’re looking at the wrong thing. Yes, the a6000 is small, but it shoots images that rival some of the expert cameras! Plus, if you’re switching from landscapes to wildlife, the 11 FPS and the 179 AF points (which Sony states as being the fastest AF detection system on the market) are going to allow you to shoot unrivaled photos. This is an amazing camera. Size doesn’t matter, results do.

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BEST – Canon 7D Mark II

81nBcchm9uL._SL1500_20.2 MP, 10FPS, 65 AF points, ISO 100-16,000. It’s official. I’m obsessed with the 7D Mark II. I’m often upset when manufacturers roll out a second edition of a camera model because it disappoints me a lot, however the 7D Mark II is a different story. Packing 65 AF points, an outrageous ISO range, and 10 FPS into a crop sensor camera is unheard of, but Canon pulled it off! Don’t let the 20.2 MP scare you. Yes, it’s no 36 MP sensor, but it will give you images just as clear. The new APSC sensor allows for a wider ISO range for optimal low light performance. It’s crazy that a crop sensor takes the top spot for the hobbyist category, beating out a full-frame DSLR, but the FPS and the overall quality of the 7D Mark II shines brightly.

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Expert

GOOD – Sony A7II

710k6C9nCeL._SL1200_I might be the only photographer who recommends buying a mirrorless camera so highly on their recommended gear page. That might be because photographers are cautious about switching to mirrorless, but don’t be. This camera has an amazing specs list with a 24.3 MP full frame sensor (yes, I said full frame), an incredibly fast AF system, and a 5 axis image stabalization system (the only of its kind in a full frame camera). I was even extremely tempted to put this camera as the best option. Truth be told, it can easily compete with any expert camera on the market. Sony mirrorless systems also allow photographers to constantly have WiFi and even download some photography apps to their camera. That’s amazing!

Amazon

BETTER – Nikon D810

36.3 MP, 5 FPS, 51 AF points, and ISO 64-12,800. The D810 is a fantastic buy. 36.3 megapixels, people. It could probably tie for the top pick in the expert category. It is loaded with megapixels and has tons of features. Landscape photographers, welcome to camera heaven. I love the fact that the D810 has an ISO range that goes below 100 (64-12,800 and expands to 32-51,200). The 810 also takes 5 FPS and has 51 AF points. Great, GREAT camera.

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Better (It’s a tie!) – Fujifilm X-T1

xt116.3 MP, 8FPS, ISO 200-6400. OK, I know what you are thinking. You saw the MP count and you saw the ISO range and you immediately passed over this option and thought I was insane. I put this camera on the list for all of the landscape photographers out there. I talk to a lot of landscape and nature photographers on my podcast and the majority of them say this is a killer camera. Fujifilm makes some of the best lenses on the market and this camera is completely weather sealed (water resistant, dust proof, and freeze proof). You also might see the 6400 ISO and think it’s not that good, but some of the best night photographers use this camera. Don’t write it off.

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Best – Sony A7RII

81-rf9B7cML._SL1500_

42.4 MP, 5-6 FPS, ISO 100-102,400, 399 phase detection AF points. The Sony A7RII is the best camera on the market right now. It doesn’t matter what type of photography you shoot, the A7RII will allow you to shoot it better than you ever have before. Just looking at the specs that are listed for this camera, you can tell that it’s at the top of the list on almost all of them. It could have a slightly faster FPS count, however focusing on just that would be very nit-picky. It will cost you, though. Starting out, this camera will run you about $3,200. That’s still a good deal for the amount of features that you get with this camera. Sony is doing some great things for photography, and this camera features everything they are doing.

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Lenses

Canon

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 Wide Angle Lens – If you are looking for a relatively inexpensive wide angle lens for your Canon DSLR, this is the one to get. The great thing about the EF 24mm f/2.8 is that it is as cheap as some EF-S lenses and works on both crop sensor and full-frame models (what’s an EF and EF-S lens you ask? Click the links to find out).

There are a couple negatives about the 24mm f/2.8, though. First, it is a prime lens and has no zoom capability. Second, 24mm is really not the ideal prime for landscapes. I would much rather have a 14mm. Keep that in mind for the next prime wide angle, Canon.

 

 Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens
Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about my crop sensor friends! The 10-18mm is a great option for crop sensors because a distance as low as 10mm will make up for the reduced field of view you get with a crop sensor DSLR. Not to mention this lens is only $299. If you never want to upgrade to a full-frame DSLR, get this lens.

 Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 – Don’t forget about the telephoto lens either! Telephotos are great for details and should always be in a photographer’s bag. Yes, there is a f/2.8 version of the 70-200, but you will save $1,000 by going with the f/4.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens – This won’t take long. This lens takes unbelievable detail shots with huge depth of field capabilities. It’s only $125. Every Canon user should have one.

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens – If you can afford this lens, you will not be disappointed. Yes, the 11-24 f/4 is super expensive, but it is literally unrivaled on the lens market. This might be the best wide angle ever made, and I’m not being dramatic at all.

Nikon

 Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Wide Angle Lens – Countless photographers who shoot with Nikon rave about this lens. It provides a super wide shot that will include tons into a frame.

The detail that will be in your shots is great too. The 14-24 f/2.8 will take incredibly sharp photos. This is one of the best wide-angle lenses on the photo market.

 Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 – This lens will cost you a pretty penny, but if you can afford it, it’s worth it. If you are a wildlife junkie as well as a landscape junkie, or even a portrait shooter, you will benefit from the f/2.8. I think Nikon makes better lenses than Canon so if you are a Nikon user, your 70-200 option is better than a Canon user’s options.

Nikon 50mm f/1.8G Fixed Lens – Much like the Canon version of the 50mm, the Nikon version is cheap and provides a great lens for details with large depth of field. It’s just over $200, so it’s a very accessible and diverse lens.

Other Lens Manufacturers

Keep in mind that you should be looking into other brands as well. You can often get a much cheaper lens with the same quality by shopping for Tamron or Sigma lenses. Here are a couple for both Canon and Nikon.

Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Zoom Lens – You want to talk about a beast of a lens? This is it. I’ve talked to the people at Tamron about this lens specifically at photography shows and they’re very proud to show it off, and with good reason. This would be a perfect wildlife and sports photography lens that’s a fraction of the price as a Canon or Nikon lens would be. Here’s the Canon Version and the Nikon Version.

Tamron 10-24mm f/3.4 – 4.5 Aspherical Lens – Here’s the Tamron version of a wide-angle lens. It’s right at $500 and gives you a great range of zoom for any situation you might find yourself in. I would honestly buy the Tamron over the name brand guys based on the price alone. Here’s the Canon Version, and here’s the Nikon Version.

Sigma 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 Lens – Holy zoom! This Sigma lens has HUGE zooming capabilities! This lens could be used for every field of photography. If you need a zoom, and you don’t want to pay the big bucks for a name brand lens, this is your option. Here’s the Canon Version, here’s the Nikon Version, and here’s the Sony Version

Sigma 12-24 f/4.5-5.6 DG II HSM Wide Angle Lens – I really like what Sigma has done recently with their new lenses. As you can see, it doesn’t have the best aperture, however, I don’t think that’s a huge deal. Not to mention, the 12-24 focal length is huge! The difference between a 12mm and a 14mm distance is really significant when you are using a wide angle lens. It’s half the cost of a Nikon or Canon version, but a little more than some other brands (it’s worth it though). Here’s the Canon Version, here’s the Nikon Version, and here’s the Sony Version.

Flash

Yongnuo YN-560 IV

The Yongnuo YN-560 III is the flash to get right now. I’m all about getting gear that is cheaper than normal. That means getting things that don’t have Canon or Nikon written on them. This flash is cheaper than the rest and will deliver the same quality if not better quality that any other flash out there right now.

Buy on Amazon

Top Three Laptops for Photographers

1The best laptop for photography hands down is the MacBook Pro. It has all of the screen clarity you will ever need to make your photographs crystal clear with its retina display. I know a lot of Apple products get knocked for being difficult to use, but they are perfect for easy organization. Most of the applications on Macs are just one click away. I’ve used Macs and Windows and I’d much rather use a Mac. 100%.

3The second best laptop for photography is the ASUS Zenbook. This is about as close as you can get to a MacBook without actually owning a MacBook. The Zenbook is compact, light, you can easily take it anywhere, and the screen’s display is amazingly sharp. I use an ASUS personally and the screen is very clear and easy to see. I’ve even been able to see a few details I missed on my older MacBook.

2The third best laptop for photography is the HP ENVY TouchSmartThe HP ENVY is slightly bulkier than the MacBook and the Zenbook, however, it’s still a great option for photography. Once again, it has one of the top screens you can get on a laptop for all of your editing needs. The only reason it’s third on the list is because it’s built primarily as a touchscreen. If I’m editing photos, I don’t want a bunch of fingerprints on the screen. That’s just me though…

My Favorite Bags

Lowepro Event Messenger 250

EV250I’m a big Lowepro fan, I’m not an affiliate! I’ve used a few of their bags and have yet to be disappointed. This bag is great for trips to work, in the airport, or around a city. It’s great for carrying your camera, a couple lenses, and your laptop so that you can shoot and work out of one bag!

Buy on Amazon

Lowepro Flipside Sport 10L AW

indexLike I said, I’m a big Lowepro fan (once again… not an affiliate). If you’re active outdoors then look no further. This bag is awesome for hitting the trails or or riding your bike. The feature that sold me on this bag is that you never have to take it off to get to your camera and lenses so that you can focus on shooting instead of your gear falling out of your bag!

Buy on Amazon

Holders, Clips, and Straps

61YVEVU4SYL._SL1000_Peak Design CapturePro Camera Clip

Whether you’re an amateur shooter or a seasoned professional photographer, CapturePRO lets you take your camera everywhere and never miss another shot. The CapturePRO Camera Clip is our flagship, pro-quality camera carrying solution. Carry your DSLR or compact camera directly on any backpack strap, belt or bag. The quick-release lock keeps your camera rigidly secure, yet instantly accessible. With an all-aluminum, extra-durable construction, CapturePRO can actually be used as a tripod head itself. This version of CapturePRO comes with PROplate, which is compatible with ARCA-type tripod heads and includes easy-to-install adapters to fit most Manfrotto RC-2 tripod heads. PROplate fits into Capture in 4 directions without the RC-2 adapters and 2 directions with the RC-2 adapters installed. PROplate also features a widened grip surface area for better anti-twist protection and an adjustable slotted connection screw to prevent blocking your battery compartment.

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51RFIWxVsbL._SL1000_Peak Design Leash Camera Strap

The Peak Design L-2 Leash Camera Strap is the most versatile and quick-connecting camera strap in the world, Leash can adapt to any camera and any shooting situation. Easily configure Leash as a sling strap, neck strap, safety tether, video stabilizer and more. When you dont need a strap, Leash quickly disconnects and stores in your pocket, purse or camera bag. Leash uses our patent-pending Anchor Link connection system and comes with 4 Anchors for attachment. The anchor attaches to camera via a cow hitch-two half-hitches looped in opposite directions. The two pieces can be separated with a one-handed push of a button. The strap is made from seatbelt-style webbing and is adjustable from 19 to 60″ for shooting and comfort preferences. This strap has stronger anchor system to support 200 lbs.

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51xy4XqpsfL._SL1000_Peak Design Slide Camera Strap

The Peak Design Slide Camera Strap SL-2 (Black) is the most versatile professional camera sling strap in the world. Wearable as a sling, neck or shoulder strap, Slide is made of 45mm tubular seatbelt-style webbing with internal padding. Slide has aluminum quick-adjusters and our patent-pending Anchor Link quick-connectors. It comes with 4 Anchors and 1 Standard Plate for attachment. The SL2 has an improved stronger anchor system which indicates when it is time to replace your anchors. To wear the Slide as a sling-style strap, one side of the strap attaches to the Arca-type compatible QR plate on the bottom of the camera, and the other attaches to the standard strap loop on the top. The Slide is compatible with all versions of Peak Designs Capture camera clips.

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717FfOjcUGL._SL1500_Peak Design Cuff Strap

Total security for the true minimalist. Cuff is a camera wrist strap that uses the Anchor Link Quick-Connection System and comes with 2 Anchor Link connectors. Cuff attaches quickly to any camera, giving you an instant security from accidental drops. Cuff releases with one hand and can be connected to your camera in a variety of positions. When not in use it can be worn around your wrist like a bracelet.

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