Our Complete Gear List
Hello friends, thank you for taking the time to check out our complete gear list. We’ve added descriptions and our reasoning behind why we ultimately use and or purchased the gear mentioned below.
Hopefully, these descriptions help you get a better understanding of what we use, and why.
Sony A7 Mark I
We shoot with the A7 Mark I because it remains a competitive and cost-effective option even in today’s market, following six years after its initial release. It delivers a 24.3-megapixel CMOS sensor, which allows ample freedom for post-production cropping or reframing and excellent resolution for large format printing. It also features 1080p 30 fps recording, which is perfect for YouTube content creation. Its main drawback, however, is miserable battery life. Nevertheless, for the price and the selection of lenses available for use, it’s an excellent working platform. (Read the full review here)
Sigma Mount Converter MC-11
The reason we use the Sigma MC-11 adapter, of the available adapters for Sony E-mount bodies, is the flexibility and capabilities it offers. The reality is that every manufacturer doesn’t build a lens adapter equally, and many of the lower cost adapters come bundled with restrictions — for example, limited autofocusing capabilities. Considering the MC-11 adapter is both budget-friendly and one that offers virtually no reductions to existing lens performance, it’s the best choice.
Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art DG HS
When looking at 50mm prime lenses, there’s quite a large selection of options that support the Sony E-mount. However, of these choices, the best options ultimately came down to Sony Zeiss FE 50mm f/1.4, Canon’s 50mm f/1.2L, and Sigma’s 50mm f/1.4. When deciding between these lenses, we did extensive research, comparing each at a pixel level to assess their resolving power. While Sony’s lens is technically the sharpest of the three, the Sigma was a close second. And, considering the price difference between the two lenses, it made for a better choice for our budget. (Read the full review here)
Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM
Our decision-making process here follows the same reasoning as to why we purchased the Sigma 50mm f/1.4. Our options at the time were Sony’s native FE 85mm f/1.4 GM, Canon’s 85mm f/1.2L, and Sigma’s 85mm f/1.4. Again, the native Sony lens proved to be the sharpest of these lenses. However, still considering the Sigma was a close second here as well, it made for the better budget-friendly option.
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM
We chose the 100mm f/2.8 Macro strictly because we needed a budget-friendly telephoto macro lens. Unfortunately, our options here are fairly limited. Sigma doesn’t offer any macro lenses at this particular focal length, so the other alternative is the Sony native 90mm macro, which was significantly more expensive. The caveat with this particular lens, however, is that it doesn’t work well with the MC-11 adapter, and forces us to use strictly manual focus. Nevertheless, it’s still sufficiently sharp and comfortable enough to handle.
VG-C1EM Battery Grip
The reason we use an aftermarket battery grip instead of the official Sony-branded grip is 100% due to their price difference. Considering this grip doesn’t have any drawbacks or compromises in performance, it makes for the better choice for us.
Paul C. Buff Einstein E640
When it comes to studio lighting and strobes, there’s quite a vast selection in the market today. However, every manufacturer has a different philosophy on how they create lights. When deciding between professional-level lighting, the main distinguishing characteristics are consistency, accuracy, total output, and flexibility of the mounting system. Of course, we can also assess build quality, durability, and how easy it is to replace damaged or worn parts. And all of these areas are strengths for Paul C buff and where a lot of other manufacturers struggle in one way or another. For us, picking up the Einstein 640 was a no-brainer, as they deliver ample power to overpower the sun in a compact and easy-to-use system.
Savage Seamless Background Paper – #1 Super White (86 in x 36 ft)
When it comes to deciding between seamless paper, moleskin, or fabric, it ultimately comes down to home much time you want to spend fixing imperfections in post-production. For us, seamless paper delivers the most consistent texture, color, and ease of use. It also significantly reduces the amount of time it takes to fix imperfections and discrepancies in the background during post-production. And when it comes to seamless paper, Savage Universal are the leaders in our industry in this regard. From there, we determined the proper size to use. In this case, we use the 86″ papers, as they’re large enough to accommodate multiple subjects for full-length portraits. But, not too large that they become cumbersome and difficult to set up.
Manfrotto 2961D Deluxe Autopole Expan Kit
There are many options on the market when it comes to backdrop systems. After using several standard backdrop systems, which used light stands with a central pole, we decided to explore more compact alternatives. The options are mounting a dedicated backdrop holder into the ceiling or finding a hybrid that melds conventional backdrop standard with the ceiling mount. And in comes the Manfrotto system. This backdrop system is different because it supports itself through the ceiling without the need for installation. It also supports the use of three different seamless rolls simultaneously, allowing for quick background changes without too much hassle. And it’s also compact enough to travel with to new locations and easy to set up. Though this system isn’t particularly cheap, the value provided here is worthwhile.
Saramonic Wireless Microphone Kit Blink 500
The reason we ended up going with the Blink 500, over the Rode Wireless Go, is this kit offers better value in the form of added accessories. Firstly, it provides two transmitters, instead of just one, and a full suite of extra cables for added versatility. Considering both kits sound nearly identical in quality, this made the better choice.
Zoom H1N Field Recorder
The reason we use the Zoom H1N, is primarily because it’s a high-quality, yet cost-effect field recorder that makes an excellent option when we’re doing interviews with multiple guests. We were using the Zoom up until the point when we purchased the Blink 500 kit, and from audio standpoint, both devices sound virtually indistinguishable when configured correctly. The main drawback with a dedicated field recorder is that it uses a micro SD card, which requires offloading the files as it fills. It adds an additional step to the workflow, that makes it a bit cumbersome but it removes any hiss from the camera’s pre-amp. So there’s a trade-off there.
Apple MacBook Pro (Space Gray)
We use the MacBook Pro for both editing photos as well as videos. Surprisingly, we downgraded, in many respects, from the 27” iMac to this particular model primarily for better portability and versatility. The iMac, while excellent, is rather inconvenient to move and it doesn’t lend well to reviewing images on set, comfortably, with clients. Not only that, the ability to shoot tethered right to the computer on set is invaluable to our workflow. And, considering, this model has much of the same processing performance as the iMac, without the bulk, it makes for a capable option.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Headphones
When it comes to monitoring captured audio, the quality of the headphones you use are vital to the quality of your audio. In the beginning, we knew very little about properly capturing and gaining audio. However, with time, we quickly realized that hearing the minute and subtly details we’re the key to better audio capture. The M50x headphones are pro-level headphones used in music production and mastering. Of the headphones available around this price–point, it delivers the best audio playback and most true representation of high fidelity audio.
Video Lighting: Newer SK300 Strobe
The reason why we ended up keeping and still use the Sk300 is because of how quiet the light is during operation and the mount it uses. Surprisingly, we use this strobe as our dedicated video light when filming YouTube content. Of the light we’ve used, the SK300 has virtually an inaudible fan and it uses the very common Bowen’s mount to attach modifiers. In place of the standard 50W LED modeling light bulb, we use a 150W bulb and it delivers enough light to easily shoot at f/4.0 when filming, even following diffusion. Overall, while not the official way to use this strobe, it makes an excellent impromptu video light.
Note: These are the LED bulbs we use
LANGRIA Laptop Rolling Cart
When it comes to shooting in a studio environment, portability is key. We ended up going with a rolling desk with a flexible angle base because it provides more flexibility when we shoot tethered to the computer. It can also be conveniently stored away when not in use. This particular model supports heights as low as 3′, and as high as 5′, which helps for both low and high-angle shooting. Overall, it’s a great addition to the studio, and the dedicated mouse platform is the perfect fit for resting the camera.
Manfrotto Compact Advanced Aluminum 5-Section Tripod
We use this tripod because it supports weights up to 5 lbs with ease, and it’s incredibly compact. By default, it comes with a handy carrying pouch, which allows for convenient traveling without too much bulk. The 3-way head also allows for smooth and gentle pans or tilts. And it’s knobs are easy to turn, but are completely sturdy.
SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I Card
A lot of new photographers often get confused when it comes to finding the right SD cards for their cameras. To make it as simple as possible, get this SD card if your camera supports only UHS-1 type SD or SDXC cards. While this particular card is a complete overkilling of the card your camera probably requires, it will make the process of upgrading to a new camera easier. The reality is that most cameras only need Class 10 UHS-I cards with speeds up to 50 MB/sec; everything after that is usually unnecessary. But, considering, most users will eventually upgrade to a more capable camera, it makes it easier to spend the extra $10 and get the right card from the beginning.
Wacom Intuos Pro Medium
Ah, the infamous Wacom tablet. These are the tablets that most photographers and retouchers use when editing photos. Why? Well, the main reason is because of the excellent pressure sensitivity these tablets offer. And when editing photos in Adobe Photoshop, having sensitivity when smoothing transitions or only a little amount of effect is required is key. Doing this with the mouse alone is quite challenging. In comes the Intuos Pro, in this case, the medium size. The medium size offers a bit more room during use than the small, and it’s about the same size as the Macbook Pro’s keyboard, handy for traveling. While we don’t use it as much as we used to, since we mostly use Affinity Photo on iPad, it’s a life saving when editing on MAC or PC.
WD 3TB My Book Desktop External Hard Drive
We’ve used several WD file storage devices for years now, without a single drive failing or losing data. Thus, if you’re looking for a reliable, compact, and long-lasting file storage platform, WD is a good option here. A 3 TB drive is more than enough storage for most users, with the exception you shoot medium format or with high-resolution sensors. If that’s the case, a 5 TB drive