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best camera gear iain stanley

My List Of Best Photography Gear

​This is ​an insight into what I think's the best photography gear​ and my thoughts on the ​photography gear you need to cover all situations, regardless of the type of photography you do. If you see some gear text ​coloured blue, it means it has a link you can click to get more info.

​Camera Bodies

​I am a Canon user and have been since the beginning. That's not to say Canon ​has the best camera bodies or the best photography gear by any means, it's just what I started with and what I continue to use with great success. But other brands such as Nikon, Sony, and Fujifilm are equally as fantastic in producing quality camera bodies. I have 3 bodies which I'll explain below.

​1. Canon 5D Mark IV

best photography gear canon 5d mark iv

​This is the camera I use about 90% of the time these days for almost all my photography work. The Canon 5D Mark IV is one of Canon's top of the line full-frame DSLR cameras and is very popular among all types of pro photographers around the world. It's called a workhorse because it covers just about every need you can imagine and I thoroughly recommend it, despite its hefty pricetag.  

​2. Canon 7D Mark II

best photo gear 7d mark ii

​I also use the Canon 7D Mark II. The biggest difference here is that the 7D Mark II is an APS-C format camera, which means it has a smaller sensor than the full-frame 5D Mark IV. You can see the difference in sensor size ​by comparing the 2 pics above.

​Why ​Use ​The 7D Mark II ​Instead ​Of ​The 5D Mark IV?​

​T​hree reasons:

1 - The price. At the time of writing this the 7D Mark II is almost 1/3 of the price of the 5D Mark IV. Almost all APS-C format cameras are cheaper because of the smaller sensor.

2 - ​However, the smaller sensor ​can be great for certain things like shooting sports and wildlife. Why? ​Coz when you put a normal lens on an APS-C format camera, the mm range ​of the lens is extended approximately 1.5x. ​So a 10mm lens becomes a 15mm lens. A 50mm lens becomes a 75mm lens. A 100mm lens becomes a 150mm lwens and so on. This is great for sports and wildlife photography.

​So if you're a long way from the action and you need to get closer but can't physically move closer or you simply don't want to, an APS-C format camera is perfect. For example, when I shoot surfing, I use the 7D Mark II and p​air it with my Tamron 150-600mm. So when I'm fully zoomed in at 600m. that effectively gives me 900mm because of the 1.5x lens extension. Amazing reach! 

3. The last reason is shooting speed. The 7D Mark II can shoot up to 10fps (frames per second). That's why it's a huge favourite with wildlife and action sports shooters. The 5D Mark IV, on the other hand, shoots at 7fps, which is still more than enough for the majority of situations. But at up to 10fps, the Canon 7D Mark II is gold for surfing and water shots.

​3. Canon EOS Rebel

best gear for photography canon rebel

​The Rebel series of Canon cameras are a favourite for those just entering the world of a higher end camera with an interchangeable lens setup. This was my first Canon and it sets you up to learn everything you need. If you want a get a more expensive camera down the line then this is a good apprenticeship. For many, these Canon EOS Rebel cameras are all they need. And they're especially good value at less than $500 when you get 2 lenses included. Be mindful that they are APS-C format cameras. 

​Lenses

​In the following section I'll discuss the lenses I use. The only thing to really pay attention to is which camera body pairs with the different lenses. To eliminate confusion I'll start with all the lenses I use on the Canon 5D Mark IV and then move on to the lenses I use with ​my APS-C format cameras. 

Lenses With Canon 5D Mark IV

​1. ​Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens

canon 16-35mm iain stanley

​The Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens is my go-to lens for almost all my landscape photography. It's a wide angle lens that's perfect for getting ​the maximum amount of the scene in the frame.  It's one of Canon's L series lenses (easily recognised by the red ring).

There's also a f/2.8 version available but for landscape photography you really don't need such a shallow DOF. If you're doing real estate work, on the other hand, you might think about the f/2.8 version so you can get lots of the ​interiors in the ​frame as well as really blur out any distracting background items.

​2. Canon EF 24–105mm f/4L ​IS II USM Lens

canon 24-105mm iain stanley

​The Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L lens is a really good all-rounder that's ideal for a variety of conditions. Like the 16-35mm, it's an L series lens so you're guaranteed quality. Because it has such a good focal range it's usually the lens I ​take with me as a walkaround lens on my travels. I also often use it when I'm out playing with my daughter at the park or the beach and I don't want to get too close to her. 

​3. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens​

canon 100mm macro iain stanley

​As the name suggests, the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro is a lens used for macro photography. This is the type of photography usually reserved for taking photos of flowers, plants, or tiny insects. But you can also use it for portraiture and for getting really great, close-up details of things.

I put it in the best photography gear list coz of its flexibility. I love using it with my newborns and getting intricate shots of hands, toes, nails, eyes and so forth. It shoots at 1:1 magnification which means you can fill the entire frame with the smallest details and they'll print perfectly at that size.

Like the other lenses, it's an L series lens though it's one of Canon's cheaper L series options, which makes it an absolute bargain in my eyes, considering its range of uses.

​4. Sigma 50mm F1.4 ART DG HSM Lens ​(Canon Mount)

sigma art 50mm iain stanley

​I'm not quite sure what Sigma was thinking when they decided to call this line of lenses ​"Art" lenses coz it's ridiculously pretentious and means literally nothing, but one thing's for sure, these Sigma prime lenses are fantastic. Almost every test out there shows that there sharpness throughout the frame is pretty much unrivalled - I've never experienced a lens that creates such incredibly sharp images and that's why it gets a run in my best photography gear list.

If you love 50mm prime lenses (especially fantastic for portrait and people photography, then I highly, highly recommend the Sigma 50mm Art lens. I have a Canon mount lens but it's also available in a Nikon mount and a Sony mount. For the record, Sigma also has a 35mm prime and a 85mm prime in its Art series of lenses.

​5. Tamron 150-600mm Telephoto Zoom Lens

tamron 150-600mm iain stanley

​The Tamron 150-600mm super telephoto zoom lens is an absolute whopper of a lens. It's one of those massive big things that looks like a mini bazooka attached to the camera. It gives you a real sense of power and professionalism and it sure does attract lots of comments and interest from passers by. 

I use it mostly for surfing and action sports photography where I need to get in close to my subject but I might not necessarily ​have perfect access. When you pair it with the Canon 7D Mark II with it's 1.6 crop factor APS-C sensor, it effectively gives me a range of 900mm. That is unbelievably brilliant for getting things 100s of metres away.

As you can imagine, it's also a brilliant lens for both bird and wildlife photography. There's actually a newer version available here, but I have the original, which is quite a bit cheaper.

​6. Canon 40mm Prime f/2.8 Lens

canon pancake 40mm iain stanley

​Affectionately known as the "Pancake 40" because of its small, flat appearance, th​e Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens is a great little walkaround lens that's pretty fast at f/2.8. It's a real cheapy at just over $100 but it gives such amazing quality for its low price.

I use this lens when I go out for a quick walk with my daughter or we go for a ride down to the beach and I can't be bothered taking my camera bag or attaching a big chunky lens to my body. This belongs in the best photography gear list simply because it's so beautifully lightweight and small you barely notice it's there. Perfect for little outings but don't be fooled by its price - it still produces wonderful images.

​Lenses With Canon 7D MKII

​You can use most of the lenses listed above with the Canon 7D MKII. If it's an EF mount, then you can use it with the 7D MKII. You just have to be aware that because the 7D MKII is an APS-C format camera with a 1.6x crop factor, the focal length of the lenses will be different.

For example, a 50mm will become about 75mm. A 100mm lens will become about 160mm etc etc.

However, there are some specific lenses designed for APS-C fo​rmat cameras like the Canon 7D MKII that will not work on full-frame cameras like the Canon 5D MKIV. I'll talk about a couple of those lenses here.

​Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM ​​(For Canon) ​

sigma 10-20mm iain stanley

​The Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens is an absolute steal for what it gives you performance wise. It was the first wide-angle lens I bought and I immediately fell in love with it. Absolutely perfect for huge, open landscapes, or for people taking photos of housing interiors like real estate agents, for example.

Just remember that coz of the APS-C format of the Canon 7D MKII, the Sigma 10-20mm is effectively a 16-32mm lens. That almost equates exactly to the Canon 16-35mm L Series lens I wrote about above. But the Sigma is almost 1/3 of the price. Bargain!

​Tamron 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3  ​(For Canon)

tamron 16-300mm iain stanley

​Before I bought my full-frame Canon 5D MKIV t​he Tamron 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3​ was easily my favourite lens paired with my 7D MKII. I could have had only this lens on my photography gear list and been happy. With such a massive zoom range from wide-angle to telephoto, the world's your oyster. Normally, with such a big zoom range the trade-off is sharpness. But this is remarkably sharp through the entire zoom range.

I used it for all my travels through Europe and my honeymoon to Greece, many photos of which were internationally published. It's also quite light and mobile, much more than other less flexible lenses. Massively recommend this lens, especially for travel photography.

P.S I'm currently the Top Viewed Writer on Quora for 'Digital Photography' and have over 3.5 million answer views. If you'd like to see more of my writing on Quora, you can click here

quora iain stanley

P.P.S I've built my 2 photography Instagram accounts to over 70,000 followers. If you'd like all the info on how I did it, you can get it all here

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About the Author Iain Stanley

Hi there Iain here. I made this site simply because I want to find ways of adding multiple income streams to my life so I can retire early and live the good life. Why rely on one income when there are so many ways out there you can earn, especially online? So as I learn about them all, I want to pass my knowledge on to you so you can do the same. Here's hoping we can all retire early and go travel the world or sit by the ocean sipping cocktails!

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  • Shy says:

    This is a lot of good information about the Canon camera.  I like the fact that it can shoot up to 10(frames per second), so that you can take plenty of action shots whereever you go.  I would love to take a lot of pictures of wildlife and other action shots.  I would take some pictures of my dog when she is running outside she is really fast and this sounds like a good camera to use for that.

    • Iain Stanley says:

      Yes the Canon 7DMKII is definitely good for animals running around your backyard or for action shots with wildlife or kids. It has a faster frame rate than some of its more expensive full-frame rivals such as the Canon 5DMKIV. And it’s half the price!

  • Neil Brown says:

    I love your post and found it to be very informative. I have always been interested in photography, but I never went anywhere with the idea.

    I really like the Canon 5D Mark IV, would this be a good camera for someone who is new at photography?

    I also thought the Sigma 50 mms lens is something that anyone who loves taking pictures  would love to own, because of its incredibly sharp images.

    I would love to follow more of your writing, as now I am getting interested again, thanks.

    • Iain Stanley says:

      Thanks Neil. The 5DMKIV is an outstanding camera, but it’s what’s known as a “prosumer” camera, which means it’s targeted at the professional consumer, or hobbyist who is quite good at photography without perhaps being a paid professional. If you want to start on full-frame cameras then I highly recommend getting the Canon 6D. It’s a very good camera and will serve you well as you improve.

  • Chrissie Spurgeon says:

    Hi Iain

    I found your post really helpful because I am looking for a lens to give my husband for `Christmas for use with his Canon.

    Will the lenses which you show fit all models of Canon? And could you advise me which would be the most useful lens to get as a first extra lens, if you see what I mean?

    I love photography too, but as yet I have not ventured into obtaining a good camera – I’m afraid that I take my photos on my iPhone X, which does actually take pretty good photos, although I hope that is not sacrilege to you?! The reason I mention this is that I was wondering if you are aware of any lens extensions which are obtainable for use with an iPhone? I do hope that you will not mind my mentioning this here.

    Having said that, I do like the sound of the Canon EOS Rebel, which you say was your first camera, which is a good recommendation, and I am seriously thinking of getting one of those fairly soon.

    I have also taken up your offer to get your Instagram training.

    Very many thanks for your really helpful post.

    Chrissie 🙂

    • Iain Stanley says:

      Hi Chrissie, thanks for the message. In terms of lens for your husband, it’s hard to give a recommendation without knowing what body he’s using. Lenses have different mounts (fittings) that slot onto the camera body and are sized differently depending on whether the body is a full-frame camera (like the 5D MKIV) or an APS-C format camera (like the 7D MKII and the EOS Rebel I spoke about). If you let me know what his body is I can give you a better answer.
      As for the iphone  X, my wife takes some stunning pics with it! You could try some add-on lenses from ‘Moment’ such as this wide angle lens here.

  • Evald says:

    Hello there,

    I found photography to be very exciting and calming activity, however I never had a proper chance to try it out until recently, when my friend introduced me to it. He dedicated his whole day to teach me the basics and showcase me what photography brings to the table and what it can offer to a person. What stood out for me the most was how calming and relaxing this activity is, especially when You are somewhere in the nature, where You can find peace and quiet. This article came just in time as I am looking for some great gear to start my photography journey, So far the camera body which stood out for me the msot was definitely Canon 7D Mark II, becaue of its price, smaller sensor and shooting speed. As far as lenses go, well the one which caught most of my attention was Canon EF 24–105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens, due to its ability to deliver great performance in a variety of conditions and being, like You’ve said- ”good all-rounder”. Thanks for such informative and helpful article, I really enjoyed reading it and learning something new today!

    • Iain Stanley says:

      Hi there Evald, yes you’re absolutely right, photography is incredibly calming, especially when you’re out in the mountains or down by the river or near the ocean watching the sun set with friends or alone. The 7D MKII paired with the Canon 24-105mm lens is a very good combination. Just remember that because of the Canon 7D’s 1.6x crop factor sensor, the 24-105 is effectively a 36-160mm give or take.

  • Dale says:

    Its kind of ironic that I would some how land on this site.  My wife and I were just having a chat the other night about cameras.  

    I told her that I can do everything I need with my phone.  She looked at me like I had just gone off the deep edge.  She started talking about how much better pictures can and are with proper cameras as opposed to phone cams.

    I think Im going to have to concede to her that she is right.  Im going to show her this post and Im sure shes going to say I told you so.

    This was very well written,  Thank you for taking the time.

    Dale

    • Iain Stanley says:

      Thanks Dale. Smartphone cameras these days are indeed quite fantastic but they will never reach the heights of DSLRs or mirrorless cameras simply because the sensors are so much smaller and they can’t retain as much digital information. Frame rate is also an issue for sports lovers as well as editing capabilities with compatible software so perhaps you can sit on the fence with her haha. But if you’re thinking of going down the road of a higher end camera then the ones here are great places to start.

  • Nuttanee says:

    Very informative post. Thank you for the reviews and the comparison between the 2 models. The price range and the reason is also a nice touch. Even though I am not that good with the camera but I will forward this post to my husband since we both are actors and he loves his camera lol As for me I am more of like people taking my picture aspect. 

    Thank you for breaking down on which lens is good for what purpose. Will study more. 

    Great post!

    • Iain Stanley says:

      No problem. Stay tuned because I will be soon updating with more suitable lenses for the Canon 7D MKII and the EOS Rebel series – both of which are APS-C format cameras as opposed to full-frame cameras.

  • Funshel says:

    I like Canon Camera because it is one of the leading product when it comes to image and optical products. 

    Canon 7D Mark II is a good product because it has some features that makes stand out. The image quality when processing raw image is excellent and it comes with detail, color rendition and noise control.

    It has 100 percent coverage and a good magnification for viewfinder, the brightness and clarity is awesome.

    • Iain Stanley says:

      Thanks Funshel. Yes you’re right, the Canon 7D MKII is a great camera and real value for money at the moment. It’s about half the cost of the time I bought it. If you’re set on using an APS-C format camera with a crop sensor, then I think the 7D MKII is a great choice, especially for sports and wildlife shooting.

  • Emmanuel Buysse says:

    Great post and good info.

    In my opinion, Canon is the best, for real.

    We want to make Youtube videos so we need a very good camera.

    I’m happy I came across your post because your info helps us, and we will check them out!

    Of course we will take a bit of time because to us it is important.

    Thanks for sharing with us!

    • Iain Stanley says:

      No problem Emmanuel. For video work you need stillness so whichever camera you decide to get for your YouTube work, make sure you have a tripod, or at the very least a very stable surface.

  • Daniel says:

    Thank you a lot for this quality article Lain! I must say that I like to take pictures especially outdoor but I am not a professional. I have old camera that my dad gave me and I think that it is good time to change it with the better one. I think that 7D Mark II will suit me well and what I like too is the price.

    • Iain Stanley says:

      Very true Daniel. The Canon 7D MKII is almost half price compared with when I bought it a few years ago. It’s fantastic value now I think and it’s still a great camera that I use every time I shoot action sports or surfing

  • Judy says:

    I had no idea a photographer could need so much equipment but I guess to be good at the art of photography you ned to be equipped with the best tools.. I checked up on the links and saw the prices and yes some are expensive but as they say you get what you pay for and to be professional and serious about what you do it will require a certain investment in appropriate and effective tools. 

    I am interested in your instagram program but today the bank locked my card due to suspected fraudulent activity so I have to wait for a new card.

    Thank you for sharing  your knowledge

    • Iain Stanley says:

      Hi Judy. To be honest, once the bug starts you kind of get addicted haha. Having said that, each lens and each body is better suited for certain situations and once you get to know the characteristics of your lenses it makes it much easier to get great shots because you know exactly what will work best in any given situation. As far as cost, yes photography is an expensive hobby. But my young daughter is now showing an interest so I see cameras and lenses as things I can pass down to my kids to give them something to enjoy outside rather than video games 🙂

  • Stratos K says:

    Awesome article. I like photography but being a complete amateur it’s difficult to distinguish the differences between photo cameras especially when some of them seem so close in specs to each other. I like that you compare the two as it makes it much much more easy to understand the differences. Also it’s amazing how important lenses are and how much they can change the end result. Giving various different options can definitely cover every situation. Thank you for the valuable information.

    • Iain Stanley says:

      You’re welcome Stratos. Yes there are 2 main sensors you have to think about – full-frame and APS-C. APS-C sensor cameras are much cheaper, but the quality you get is still absolutely fantastic. The prices of cameras has come down a lot in the last few years but you do need to know what you’re buying, and why. Happy I could help

  • Barry says:

    Hello there. I hope you are having a good time with photography. I love photography and graphics so much much. I am not that into photography tho. I am hoping to go into it someday as it is part of my dream Empire. Thank you for sharing your list of best photography gear. It will go a long way in helping me work this dream.

  • Ceertainly a very clear, consise presentation. Great formatting and descriptions. A pleasure to read a post with such professionalism.

  • j52powell says:

    Great post, Iain.  Your sophistication is far beyond my level. 

    I am primarily interested in underwater photography and video.  I have a website where I have made a few recommendations in all price ranges for scuba divers.  Will you be covering u/w photography later on? I’d be interested which cameras you like best, particularly at the lower price end of the range.

    Thanks.

    • Iain Stanley says:

      Whilst I don’t do u/w photography specifically, I do a lot of in-water photography when I shoot surfing. For both scenarios you’ll need a water-housing specific to your camera. I use Aquatech housings though I’ve had good success with SPL Housings in the past too. As for specific camera, it will depend on the light you’re dealing with and the depth you’re shooting at. If you’re just under the water’s surface with very good natural light, then I can’t go past the Canon 7DMKII I mentioned in this article. It shoots up to 10fps and is almost half the price of the 5DMKIV. If you’re shooting at depth, you’ll probably need a bigger sensor that handles high ISO and Noise a little better. There are some great deals on the Canon 6D2 at the moment, and it’s a very good camera.

  • Paul says:

    Dear Iain,

    Thanks a lot for the informative and helpful post on Best Photography Gear. I enjoyed reading your article because I am very much interested in Photography.

    I got new insights from your post and I am a fan of Canon. One of my friends is a professional Photographer I am going to share your post with him and for sure he gonna enjoy it and it will be beneficial for him.

    Great to know that you are a Top Viewed Writer on Quora. Very helpful post and wishing you great success! 

    Paul

  • Samson Oklobia says:

    Hi Iain, this article of yours is quite intriguing as it captures the basic specifications of these photography equipment. I do not have experience with wild life or sport photography but i totally agree with you on the mm range of lenses changing when used with an APS-C format camera like the 7D Mark II. Its a cheat that comes in handy even in event and lifestyle photography which is my forte. Thanks once again, i enjoyed every line you wrote. Cheers

    • Iain Stanley says:

      Thanks Samson. Yes event and lifestyle photography can benefit from APS-C format cameras most definitely. Especially if you’re unable/not allowed to get very close to the action. Having the extra magnification lets you sit back a little and still get the shot.

  • Cinderella says:

    Great to see them two types gears one can use regarding photography, I am a fan of Sony and I would really love to start taking pics as a hobby,  Can you recommend an easy to use gear for beginners?  I also see you listed 6 different types of lens to use, how does a begin learn which leans to use on what?

    Great article and very detailed. Thanks.

    • Iain Stanley says:

      Hi Cinderella, it depends on what you want as a “beginner”. If you’re happy just taking small photos with friends and family to share on social media, your iphone or similar is good enough these days. If you want a camera with interchangeable lenses, then you’ll need to buy a camera similar to the ones I mentioned in this article. For Sony, I’d say something like the Sony Alpha a6000 would be a great place to start, and very affordable.

  • Kenny says:

    Hi I have a canon at home. I know they are a trusted and very well Ade brand, but can I ask, is there other comparable brands that do just as well, or are we just paying for the brand name sometimes? Love to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks, Kenny 

    • Iain Stanley says:

      I think these days brand is pretty much irrelevant. If you look at Sony, Nikon, Fujifilm, Pentax, Olympus, or Canon they all make great cameras. It’s the specs and the sensor and the micro-computers inside the bodies that make the difference and determine price. But a Canon with X specs compared with a Nikon with X specs are similarly priced. Bodies are important, but it’s lenses that make the difference once you start delving into photography deeply. And in this department Canon are definitely ahead of most brands until you step right up into the stratosphere of lenses with glass like Zeiss etc.

  • Viljoen says:

    Hi Iain.

    I think my choice will be the Canon 7D Mark II. It is almost $1800 less expensive than the Canon 5D Mark IV and that is a considerable price difference.

    As you mentioned when you add a lens to the camera, you can extend the minimum range of it. Which lens would you recommend along with the Canon 7D Mark II? 

    Are there anything else a newbie photographer needs to take pictures of wildlife? Thanks

    • Iain Stanley says:

      Hi Viljoen. Actually I need to update this article to include lenses with the 7D MKII but my followers have been asking for my equipment for so long I wanted to get this out ASAP. For the 7D MKII it will depend on what you want to shoot. If you’re looking at landscapes and nature, for example, you want a wide angle lens and I think the best value one (and the one I use) is the Sigma 10-20mm. If you’re doing sports then the Tamron I mentioned in the article is great. I think the best overall lens, and the best travel lens for taking with you everywhere is the Tamron 16-300mm. Really good quality and so much variation with those zoom length capabilities.

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