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MCP’s Camera Bag: Equipment and Pictures from Past to Present

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MCP’s Camera Bag: Equipment and Pictures from Past to Present

As a follow up to last weeks post on “how expensive equipment alone does not make a great photographer,” most people were in agreement that just because you have expensive gear does not make you a better photographer.  Once you learn the fundamentals and build up experience, better equipment can further enrich your photos.

Basically your camera, lenses and other equipment are the tools. If you hand me the most expensive gardening tools: top of the line shovel, perfect soil and some flowers and bushes to plant, they probably will die left in my hands. Same goes for photography…

From this article, I still got a lot of questions on what equipment I own.  Readers wanted to know what gear I started out with in photography, what I use now, and where I shop.

When I started shooting, my 1st camera was a Canon Rebel 300. My 1st lens was a 50 1.8.  I loved it and thought my photography was amazing.  Looking back now I laugh – I had so much to learn.  Here are 3 of my 1st photos ever from when I got my SLR – note that I had no clue how to focus – and used the portrait and running man auto modes.  Oh, promise you will not make fun – I am really exposing myself here…


Once the Canon 20D was announced and I sold the Rebel and bought the 20D.  I still have this camera – now for my 7 year old twins to learn using a camera.  When I purchased the 20D, I got the 17-85mm lens with it. I used this camera for many years. For low light I ended up getting the Tamron 28-75 2.8.  This is a great starting out lens.

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Next up I bought the 40D. By this time I had started upgrading lenses.  I had a 50 1.4, 85 1.8 and got my 1st L lens – a 24-105L. I have bought and sold a number of lenses over time -so I may miss a few in this post.  Good lenses hold value well  (around 80-90% often times) and so when I decide to try something different, I sell and buy…  Kind of an endless cycle. These shots below were using 50 1.4.

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Now for my current gear…  Over the past few years I have added to my L lens collection.  And mainly focused on primes. I now have the Canon 5D MKII (kept the 40D as a backup).  For prime lenses I have the 35L 1.4, 50L 1.2, 85 1.2, 100 2.8 macro, and 135L 2.0. My most used of these is 35L for street photography and general walk around lens (though the 50L gets used a lot for that now that I have a full frame camera).  I love the 85L for portraits and 135 2.0 for outdoor shots (LOVE this lens).

As for zooms, I recently sold my 70-200 2.8 (it was super heavy and it just did not get used).  I still have my 17-40 for wide angle.  Though I keep wondering if I should sell it and get the 16-35L.  Anyone have opinions on that?  And I have the 24-105L – This lens was my most favorite until I become a primarily prime shooter. And I just ordered the Canon 15mm Fisheye last night – this will be my fun times lens.

Here is a quick collage of pictures from 2009 using my most current set up of L primes, a macro and the Canon 5D MKII.  I see definite improvement over the years in my photography, understanding of light, better grasp on focusing and post processing.  The better equipment… well it helps – but only because I know what to do with it.  I assure you if you handed me this gear when I got my 1st camera it would have been a waste.  I would have had no “running man” to use – and would have wondered why the camera has no flash on it…

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What else do I currently have in my camera bag?  I have white balance lens caps, lastolite ezybalance, Sekonic light meter, business cards and a pack of mint gum. Depending where I will be shooting, I carry the 580EX II and a Gary Fong Lightsphere too. Currently it is housed in my newest Camera Bag – the Jack by Jill-e rolling bag.

Where do I shop? My preferred stores are: B&H Photo and Amazon.

*** Now your turn: tell me – do you feel over the years you have improved?  If so, do you feel it was more the equipment or your skills – or a mix of both?  If both, I would love to hear what % you feel of each…

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  1. June 10, 2009 at 11:05 pm —

    Beth – I wanted more control and less surprises 🙂

  2. June 10, 2009 at 11:58 pm —

    Thanks so much for sharing – this is such an interesting topic.

    I have been shooting with an SLR for about 1.5 years. Thanks to books, the internet, photographer friends, and experience, I think I have learned quite a bit. Not just about actually composing and snapping the photo, but also about editing.
    I’d have to say it’s been about 5% equipment and 95% skill improvement. I started with a camera and two lenses. I have the same camera and lenses. I now own a remote shutter release, but it is not used all that often. Very handy, though.
    I feel like I have so much to learn. Thanks for providing a resource to further the learning process!

  3. June 11, 2009 at 12:06 am —

    It’s great to see how your photography and equipment has progressed over the years; very interesting for those of us not as far along the path as you.
    I got my first DSLR in March 2008 – a Canon Rebel XTi with kit lenses and loved it! It was like a whole new world opened up and I learnt so much on that camera. I am trying to use manual mode more and more, but I need to get quicker, particularly when shooting kids. (Any tips for how to handle a fast paced shoot in manual mode?) I shoot in Av modes at high apertures 90% of the time at the moment – I love it for portraits.
    A month ago I upgraded to the 5D Mark II which was a big leap from the XTi but I figured I should get a camera I could grow into rather than grow out of. I’m nowhere near doing it justice yet, but it’s inspiring to learn more and practice more and I already see an improvement in my shots. Some of that is probably to do with the news lenses I got (Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 and Canon 70-300) which are much better quality than those old kit lens. Plus I LOVE my 50mm f/1.8 that I’ve had for a while. Once the finances allow I’ll upgrade to some L lenses…the wishlist is never ending! First thing on the list though is an external flash that I’m getting for my birthday (today!). I just have to decide between the 430exII and the 580ex.
    Thanks for posting this – always good to see how others have progressed. 🙂

  4. June 11, 2009 at 2:40 am —

    HAH! I am just beginning, and am still using full auto mode, but for the most part a, pretty happy with the photos that I am getting. (probably just as you were back when you started!) I know there is huge room for improvement, but I’m learning 🙂

  5. June 11, 2009 at 6:40 pm —

    I loved this! Thank you! Do you keep your white balance lens cap on all the time? The man at my camera shop told me I should. I just wondered.

  6. June 11, 2009 at 6:42 pm —

    Yes – WB lens cap is on my lenses that have one all the time. I own 3 now – so if it is one of the three it is on – yep 🙂 Bad for me is that I keep buying more lenses – hard to keep up and justify that many caps.

  7. June 24, 2009 at 11:51 pm —

    Beautiful shot! They were truly remarkable. You actually made the color come alive.

  8. July 10, 2009 at 8:39 pm —

    Thank you for sharing your gear! I’m a gear freak although my bank account does not allow me to indulge very often. I love seeing what lenses “pros” use and learning why. Thanks!

  9. July 14, 2009 at 12:24 pm —

    i love this blog.. thanks for sharing..

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MCP’s Camera Bag: Equipment and Pictures from Past to Present