I often get asked about photography equipment and all the other tools that I personally use and recommend. So in this roundup, I’ll give you a full list of all the camera gear, computers, software, and accessories that are in my arsenal.
Where applicable, you’ll also find links to reviews and tutorials related to certain items. I am a Fuji user, but I will try and find equivalent items for other camera brands as well.
*Note: If you shoot Panasonic, Olympus, Pentax, or something else – you can likely find similar lenses and accessories for your camera as well. I simply cannot link to all the possibilities here. My apologies!
I’ve broken it down into categories so let’s look at them one at a time, starting with actual cameras and lenses!
The most important choice any photographer has to make is which camera to buy. So the first thing you need to decide on is which camera manufacturer is right for you. Read more on that here: How to Choose the Best Digital Camera for You.
I chose Fuji when I went mirrorless and switched from Canon because at the time Canon didn’t have any good mirrorless options. Now I have three Fuji camera bodies:
- The Fuji XT3 is my main camera
- Fuji X100F is my choice for street photography and short trips.
- My old Fuji XT1 which I had converted to shoot infrared.
I tend to skip a generation when upgrading my camera bodies. Notice I went from the XT1 to the XT3. I will likely do the same again and skip the XT4 and wait for the next one.
You can quickly end up spending a lot of money if you upgrade every time there is something new. So I suggest bypassing one and upgrading every second one.
Here is where the lenses I have will be specifically for my cameras, but the kind of lens is what you want to make note of here. Pay attention to what focal length of zoom and primes lenses I have, and why. Then look for similar options for your camera if you shoot something other than Fuji.
NOTE: Lenses get upgraded too and honestly, I’ve never upgraded a lens to version 2.0 or whatever. Unless there is something majorly wrong with the lenses I have, I do not upgrade them – ever. Spend your money on good glass (lenses) and consider it a lifelong investment if you treat them right and take good care of them.
This is my current lineup of lenses:
- Fuji 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 WR lens (this is the kit lens that came with my XT1). I may sell it and upgrade to lenses with larger maximum apertures soon – see my wish list below. This is a weather-resistant (WR) all-purpose lens. It’s been great for traveling.
- Fuji 35mm f/1.4 lens – this is a fast (large aperture) prime lens that is great for street photography and low light conditions.
- Sigma 56mm f/1.4 Contemporary lens – this is the perfect portrait lens for crop sensor cameras like mine. Sigma has other similar lenses for most camera brands as well. *Note: if you have a full-frame camera, take a look at their 85mm lens instead). I got this one as soon as it was available because it was one-third the cost of the Fujinon equivalent 56mm lens.
- Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 fisheye lens – this is not a lens you’ll use a lot but it’s pretty fun to play with to add a different look to your images. Read more here: Rokinon 8mm F2.8 Fisheye Lens Review.
- Lensbaby Composer Pro II with Sweet 50 Optic – another fun lens for creating unique looks. Read more: Venice Carnival – Photography and Adventure (I used this lens in Venice you can see some examples in that article).
- Fujinon Telephoto Conversion Lens for X100F – this lens screws onto the front of the fixed lens on my Fuji X100F camera to make it into a slightly longer telephoto lens. I did an entire trip to NYC with just this lens and the X100F camera. It’s so light and liberating, I love it!
NOTE: WR means weather-resistant and with Fuji lenses that means I can pour water over it with no issues! That is not the case with other manufacturers so make sure you read the documentation carefully – not all weather resistance is equal! My Canons couldn’t handle even a few drops of water. I’ve drowned my XT3 and WR lens with ocean water and it was 100% fine.
My lens wishlist:
As I mentioned above, I’m considering selling my 18-135mm lens and getting some higher-end ones with larger apertures. The advantage of these lenses is they are better in low-light conditions. The disadvantages are they are bigger, heavier, and cost more. So it’s a trade-off.
- Fujinon 10-24mm f/4 WR lens – This is wider than what I have now without the fisheye distortion of the 8mm sometimes I just need to go wider. Doing starry sky photos at night and star trails are two reasons for wanting a lens like this.
- Fujinon 16-55 f/2.8 WR lens – Another wide-angle lens with a large aperture. I have rented this one a few times and I need it in my bag for doing events.
- Fujinon 50-140mm f/2.8 WR lens – This is the equivalent of the popular 70-200mm for Canon and Nikon. I am holding off on this one hoping that Sigma makes one that has a similar zoom range but is less expensive. This one is $999 USD.
- Lensbaby Velvet 85 – This is a sweet soft-focus portrait lens. It’s not essential so I can’t justify the cost but it sure would be nice to have in my bag.
Continuing on with camera gear, the following are some of the accessories I have and use regularly. When choosing extras, sometimes brand matters, and other times third-party options are just as good.
This is what is in my bag:
- Extension tubes for doing macro photography (they are lighter and less expensive than a dedicated macro lens). I have a set made by Vello which is the house brand for B&H Photo. Just as good as the Fuji brand, at a fraction of the cost.
- Remote camera trigger – I use a wired remote to fire my camera. If you want a wireless one or one that is also an intervalometer that is an option as well. I prefer wired myself, hard to lose in the middle of nowhere.
- Camera batteries – in terms of batteries for my cameras I trust the branded ones (Fuji) and ProMaster. I’ve always had third-party batteries and have never had an issue, but I’d stick to ones by your camera manufacturer or ProMaster.
- Battery charger – I have both the charger that came with the camera and a double charger that does two at a time.
- UV Filters – I believe in putting a UV filter on the front of all your lenses for protection. This is a heated topic of discussion among photographers, but I am on the pro side because I have dropped an expensive lens and the filter saved it from total destruction. So I have one on each of my lenses. In order to get the right size for your lens, check the back side of the lens cap – the size is there.
- Polarizing filter – For removing reflections and darkening and enhancing the sky. Get a decent one because the really cheap ones are just that – cheap and poor quality resulting in uneven lighting or color streaks in your images. As a general rule of thumb, never buy the least expensive anything!
- Neutral density filter – For cutting the amount of light hitting the sensor. Used for long exposures of water, light trails, moving clouds, etc. I use a Promaster variable ND filter which goes from 2-9 stops of darkness. Opt for a variable one like this, or get one 3-stop filter and one 6-stop.
- Night filter – Helps to reduce glare and the orange tint from city lights in night photos.
- Close-up filters – Another budget option for macro photography if you don’t want the added expense of a macro lens. I have both close-up filters (mostly for my students to use in workshops) and extension tubes. I prefer the tubes personally.
This is one place where I ONLY use the best brand and that is Sandisk. Full stop, end of discussion. I have never had a single issue with any Sandisk card – ever! I have only ever had an issue with one card, and that was a Lexar so I avoid those at all costs. I also recommend avoiding all the other cheap ones on the market. It’s not worth the risk. If a card fails you lose everything.
For the same reason, I recommend 64GB cards over the larger ones (unless you are doing video then get bigger ones) because you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. If you have a really big card and it gets corrupted or fails, you stand to lose more images.
Also, get cards that have UHS-II capabilities (check that your camera is compatible) because they are a lot faster writing and reading and you won’t have to wait for the camera to save or buffer (if you get an error message about buffering it’s a slow card issue).
It’s great when natural light cooperates but that isn’t always the case. So I always carry lighting gear with me that is appropriate for the task at hand. Speedlights (flash) are important, but there are other options that are applicable in different situations.
Portable lighting gear
- Speedlights (portable small flash) – I use and highly recommend the Godox brand. I have a few but this is the main speedlight that I use on location. Make sure you get a flash that is compatible with your camera system – VERY IMPORTANT!
- Flash remotes – these are used to trigger speedlights for off-camera flash. Make sure you get remotes that are made for the speedlights you have. They work together!
- This is LED light I use for Zoom meetings and making my videos (it lights me up)
- Colored LED background light (also use in my Zoom meetings)
- Lume Cube 2.0 – this is a great, really bright, LED light that I use on location sometimes when I can’t use flash. Note: it does not and cannot replace flash!
- Flashlights – I suggest getting a good flashlight as well to have in your bag. The ones I have are over 1500 lumens and they work with the adapters for the brushes mentioned below.
- Light painting brushes – these are for fun! They are tools made especially for light painting.
- LED gloves (and other fun gizmos) basically you can do light painting with anything that lights up or glows.
Another thing that is an important part of my kit is a good reflector. When working with natural light a reflector can help fill the shadows, block unwanted light, or even add a highlight to your subject’s hair.
The kind I have are called 5-in-one because they have a two-sided cover that is reversible (four options) and the inner part is transparent (fifth option). I recommend getting a few sizes like 22″, 32″ and 42″ if you can find them. Here are a few suggestions:
- Neewer 43 Inch/110 Centimeter Light Reflector 5-in-1 Collapsible Multi-Disc with Bag – Translucent, Silver, Gold, White, and Black for Studio Photography Lighting and Outdoor Lighting
- Neewer 24 inches / 60 Centimeters 5 in 1 Collapsible Triangle
- Neewer 43″ 5-in-1 light kit (with stand and reflector holder arm)
- Neewer 32″ reflector
I have several from this manufacturer and they are really good for the price point. There are also high-quality ones availble, but of course they also come with a bigger price tag.
In addition to a good reflector, here are a few other light modifiers and tools that are in my kit.
- MagMod Professional Flash Kit 2 | Photography Lighting Flash Diffuser Set
- NEEWER 26”/65cm Octagonal Softbox Quick Release, with S-Type Bracket Mount
- Neewer® 2 Pack 33″/84cm White Translucent Soft Umbrella
- Godox 32 inches / 80cm Umbrella Octagon Softbox Reflector Diffuser with Carrying Bag
- NEEWER Flash Diffuser Light Softbox 9″ x 7″, Universal
- Neewer Convertible Photography Lighting Umbrella 45 inches/114.3 Centimeters – White Satin with Removable Black Cover
If you want to take it to the next level and get into some studio lighting, you’ll want to get strobes (mono lights are best) or LED continuous lights. I have a set of each.
For doing video you’ll need LED lights. But they are not bright enough to overpower daylight, and higher ISO settings are often needed. As well, they can’t freeze moving subjects. So for most other cases I’d recommend strobes.
This is what I have:
- Godox 800Ws 2 Pack SK400II 2.4G Speedlite Studio Strobe lighting kit (includes stands, 2 strobes, remotes, etc.)
- Godox E300 Strobe Studio Flash Light Kit (this is a similar one but with 3 lights)
- Fovitec Spectra Continuous LED Softbox Lighting Kit for Photography and Video Production, 2 Softboxes, 1 Boom Arm, 11 LED Lamps, 1 Carrying Bag, and More
There are some other things I will be adding to my kit as I go including:
- Neewer 55″/140cm Beehive Octagon Umbrella Speedlite Softbox
- Godox UB-165S 65 inch 165cm Parabolic Inner Silver Umbrella with Diffuser Cover
- Westcott 4634 7-Feet White parabolic umbrella with Black Cover
- Godox Strip Box 9″x35″ / 22x90cm Strip SoftBox Honeycomb Grid Softbox
Stands and tripods
The next category of photography equipment to invest in is tripods and stands. You need to make sure you spend enough to get something that is sturdy to support your camera and gear properly.
- ProMaster XC-M 525CK Professional Carbon Fiber Tripod Kit with Head – Black
- SIRUI Traveler 7C Carbon Fiber Arca Tripod with Ball Head and Arca Swiss Quick Release Plate (read my review here)
- Gorillapod 5k kit – these are bendy little tripods that can sometimes be used where regular ones aren’t allowed or can’t go. I use mine as a microphone stand in my video recording studio too.
- Platypod Extreme – this is a flat plate that is similar to the Gorillapod and can be placed almost anywhere. It’s super small and light, so it is easy to just toss it in your bag and go. For those times you don’t want to haul a tripod, or locations that don’t allow them.
- NEEWER PRO 9 feet/260cm Spring Loaded Heavy Duty Light Stands – for mounting speedlights or studio strobes.
- Promaster telescoping background stands – for setting up a studio background.
- L Bracket (quick-release tripod insert for mounting your camera vertically and horizontally)
- Manfrotto MK055XPRO3-3W 055 Kit Aluminium 3-Section Tripod with 3-Way Head and Two Quick Release Plates – this is a workhorse of a tripod. I used to put my larger medium format cameras on it so it will hold just about anything you put on it. But it’s a beast! You won’t want to hike with it!
Choosing a camera bag is a very personal thing. You have to try it on to see if it fits not only your body but your needs. A bag for a wedding photographer is very different than one that a travel photographer might use.
- Think Tank Photo Shape Shifter 17 V2.0 Camera Backpack – This is my main camera bag. It is the one I use most often, especially when I’m traveling. When not full it zips down to a more streamlined version. Fully loaded I can fit my 16″ laptop, 2 camera bodies, 3 lenses, a flash, and all the accessories batteries, and chargers I need. It’s a brilliant, really well-designed bag, and I love it.
- Lowepro LP37014-PWW, Flipside Trek BP 250 AW Backpack – This is a great bag if you are traveling and are concerned about security. Your gear is safely stored in a compartment against your back, and the zipper is hidden when you are wearing the bag. I used it in Barcelona which is the pickpocket capital of the world. The larger version of this bag (350 or 450) will hold a laptop as well.
- Lowepro Passport Sling II Camera Bag – I used this one as a day bag quite often. It can fit one or two lenses, or a lens and a flash, as well as some personal items and a water bottle.
- Photo Sport 200 AW From Lowepro – Hiking Camera Backpack – a nice lightweight backpack that doesn’t look like a camera bag (another good feature for security).
- Meliae Stylish Genuine Leather Shoulder Camera Bag for Travel – Great bag for the ladies. It looks and feels like a purse, so it’s perfect for a night out with your camera. The inside is padded to protect your gear.
- Lowepro LP37159-PWW m-Trekker HP 120 Waist Bag – Limited space in this one but if you don’t want to carry a bag around and just have a small lens and some batteries, this will do the trick.
- Think Tank Photo Retrospective Laptop Shoulder Bag 15L – gorgeous retro-style laptop bag.
- Tamrac TA-T0640 Stratus 21 Camera Bag – The final bag I have isn’t available anymore, so this is the closest one to it.
AND if you think that is a lot of bags – I have sold or given away about six other ones! I seem to collect bags and the ones that get used I keep, the rest go away.
Along with having the right camera gear, you also need to have a good computer setup for your digital workflow. I am a Mac fan so I have a Macbook Pro, but the computer is just a tool so use what you’re most comfortable with, and that is within your budget.
If you’re looking for a new computer get the biggest drive, the most RAM, and fastest graphics card, and the fastest processor you can afford. When shopping around, look at computers for gaming, they will have similar specs to what you need as a photographer.
- MacBook Pro 16″ – I have the model from 2019 but this is the current version. Remember to customize your order to get MAX of everything: drive space, RAM, etc.
- Sandisk Professional 12TB G-Drive Pro – This is my main drive and where I store all of my images. They do NOT go on my laptop’s internal drive. I have a 12TB one, but you may not need this much space. If so, take a look at the 6TB or 8TB version for yourself.
- For backing up we use a Synology NAS 8-bay enclosure and eight 4TB Seagate IronWolf Pro hard drives. This is a pro setup and my husband handles this part. If you want a simpler setup, just get another of the G-Drives listed above.
- Samsung T7 2TB SSD portable drive – These are perfect for traveling or working remotely. A small and lightweight, fast, and reliable SSD drive.
- Sandisk Professional 5TB G-Drive ArmorATD USB 3.2 Gen 1 External Hard Drive – Go with this option if you need a larger portable drive for travel. They are super tough and durable.
- Satechi USB-C hub – Many of the new laptops have limited USB ports and if you have older drives or peripherals that need the original USB or other plugins, a hub is the best way to go. This is the one I have but I will be upgrading to a powered one like this shortly.
Another item that needs mentioning all by itself is a device for doing monitor calibration. If you want to print your photos and make sure they are displaying consistently online as well – this is something you NEED to have and do!
This is the one I have, the Calibrite Color Checker Display by X-rite.
- Apple Magic Mouse
- Satechi backlit Bluetooth wireless keyboard with number pad
- Wacom Intuos Pro Medium Graphics tablet – This does NOT mean an iPad or Samsung tablet. A graphics tablet is made for artists. It allows you to edit with a stylus (pen) in your hand instead of a mouse. So if you do a lot of Photoshop work you should have one of these! It will save your hand from cramping and allow you to do better fine-detail brushwork. Wacom is the industry standard, but you can also get some really good, less expensive third-party ones like Huion as well.
- Logitech Brio 4K webcam
- SD Card reader – I HIGHLY recommend using a card reader when downloading your images. If the hub you have doesn’t have one built-in, you can get one like this.
- Rode Podcaster microphone – this is a pro-level microphone with great sound.
- Benq 1080p Projector – We use our projector not only for workshops and when I’m teaching, but it is actually our TV as well! We project directly onto our living room wall and using a Roku device we can get Netflix, Prime, and all the other popular channels. Less expensive than a big TV, and you can take it with you!
Because my main computer is a laptop I also have a larger second monitor that I use when I’m in my home office. It’s a 27″ Apple Studio Display.
But I have the older, clunky model so I’d like to replace it with an Apple 32-inch Pro Display XDR with Retina 6K Display – Nano-Texture Glass. As seen below. It’s really slick!
In terms of software, I use all of the following for photo editing, backing up, and creating my online photo gallery (portfolio).
- Lightroom Classic – This is my main photo editor and catalog for sorting and basic processing of all my images. I teach a full class on how to use this software.
- Photoshop – I use Photoshop when I need layers and more advanced editing. To take my Photoshop course click here.
- Luminar Neo – I use Luminar mainly as a plugin for LR and PS. It does a really nice job on sky replacements, portrait editing, and adding a finishing touch or style to my images. Learn more about my Luminar Neo course here. If you want to purchase the software CLICK HERE and use my discount code to get 10% off: dpm10
- Topaz Sharpen – I use this software to sharpen images that have focus or sharpness issues. But more and more I’m just using Luminar Neo for this too.
- Topaz DeNoise – This is another Topaz product that is really good at noise removal and reduction. But like sharpen, Luminar Neo is quickly catching up in this area as well.
- Goodsync – Even though I have a Mac, I do NOT like or recommend Time Machine for doing backups. This is the software I prefer for doing that. You can set it to backup to a second hard drive automatically at a set time. The files are not encoded and it’s easy to check your backups and access the files if necessary.
- Backblaze – I use this online service for saving an emergency recovery backup of my laptop. NOTE This is not an archiving option or long-term solution! Read this for more on backing up: Tips for Creating Your Best Photo Storage and Backup Plan
- Blurb – This is my preferred bookmaker. If you use Lightroom it is super easy to design and order a Blurb book right inside the program. There is a lesson on this in my Lightroom course.
- Clean My Mac/PC – To keep your computer running smoothly and not getting bogged down, it’s important that you have both a virus protection program and one that does cleanup. This is the one that my trusted computer store recommend to me. Available for PC as well.
- Smugmug – This is what I use to make my online gallery or portfolio of my images. It’s great if you just want to showcase and share your work, or if you need to send previews to a model or customer. You can add a watermark, restrict right-click downloads, and even password-protect galleries so you decide who can view them.
- Muslin background – portable background you can take and set up anywhere.
- Memory card holder or wallet – you need a safe and secure way to store your memory cards to make sure you don’t lose or damage them.
- Battery holder – I use this handy battery wallet to keep them all together and when I have used a battery and it’s dead, I put it back in upside down. That’s a signal so I know which ones are still good.
- Donut adapter for traveling – I do NOT leave home without this device! It is super handy for charging devices in places with limited electrical outlets.
- Camera cleaning kit – self-explanatory.
- Lens and sensor cleaning kit – Yes you can do this yourself, it’s really not that hard.
- Zeiss lens cleaners – this will get the stubbornest streaks and grime off your lens safely (good for eyeglasses too!)
- Lensball – Basically this is a glass sphere that you can use for special effects and making some fun images.
- AA and AAA batteries and charger – the brand I recommend and use for all my photography gear that requires batteries is Panasonic Eneloop. I use them in my mouse, keyboard, smaller flash, flash remotes, and light meter.
- Sekonic light meter – If you want to get into doing studio photography with strobes, I highly recommend that you get one of these.
Conclusion and full list
Whew! I realized in doing this list that I have a lot of stuff! You may never need some of the items mentioned here, but if you’re ever curious about what I use – bookmark this page and use it as a reference.
And of course you don’t need to get all of the things you need all at once. I’ve acquired all my photography equipment over many years and am constantly adding to it, and upgrading.
This is why photography is such an expensive endeavor, or it certainly can be. There’s a lot more to it than just getting a camera and lens and you’re all set. You need a few other bits and pieces as well!
To view the list of all these items in one place CLICK HERE (give that page a like/heart, and bookmark it for your reference as well.