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Now that you’ve decided on the Canon Rebel T5i / EOS 700D (or Canon Rebel T4i / EOS 650DCanon Rebel T3i / EOS 600D) you’ll want to get the basic, essential accessories. Don’t get carried away yet with elaborate flash modifiers and color balance correction tools before you gain some experience and determine which advanced accessories you will really need and use. But you can’t go wrong with these initial 10 additions to your camera bag. Click on the links or the images to view and purchase them on Amazon.com or from the manufacturer (and help support my blog by doing so – thanks!)

1. SanDisk Extreme 8GB or 16GB Memory Card – You are going to need a high quality, high speed memory card to save all those images and capture those videos. Go with the best and don’t risk corruption and errors – a SanDisk Extreme. Perhaps a couple 8GB, 16GB, or even 32GB capacity Secure Digital (SD) cards to capture and store your photos – more if traveling. Use at least class 6 cards, or better yet class 10 if you will be shooting video.  Be sure to check the Sandisk site for current rebates.

2. Canon LP-E8 Battery – You will probably want a spare battery, especially if you are traveling, or just for those times you forgot to charge the battery before going to an important event. Go with the official Canon brand and avoid battery communication and charging issues. If you are a fan of the optional battery back / vertical grip, the one for the T3i and T4i is the Canon BG-E8. The battery grip allows you to use 2 LP-E8 batteries for extended shooting, or six AA batteries, and also increases the size of the camera body, which some users find more ergonomically comfortable, especially when shooting in the portrait orientation.

3. Canon T5i/700D Experience e-book (or Canon T4i Experience E Book or Canon T3i Experience E Book) – You will want to go beyond Auto and learn to use the advanced functions and settings of your sophisticated camera, so be sure to check out my e books, Canon T5i/700D Experience, Canon T4i Experience and Canon T3i Experience. They will help you to take control of your camera so that you can consistently take better images – the images you wish to capture. You’ve invested the money in an advanced camera, now invest the time to learn how to use it to its full potential! (There is also a Canon T2i Experience book available.)

Canon Rebel T5i 700D EOS book manual guide dummies how to tutorial tips tricks learn use setup     Canon T4i EOS 650D book ebook how to manual dummies field guide    

4. Black Rapid RS7 Strap – This sling-style camera strap provides a more comfortable and practical – and somewhat more discreet – way to carry around your camera, especially if you have a larger lens on it. They also make a couple of slightly different versions of the sling-strap, such as one designed for women, and a active “sport” version.

5. Manfrotto 055XPROB Tripod Legs and Manfrotto 496RC2 Ball Head:  This is an excellent “starter” combination of tripod legs and head for the enthusiast.  They are sturdy and durable yet affordable.  If you know you will be doing a lot of tripod work, such as for studio, landscape, or travel photography, it is best to invest in more advanced (expensive) versions, including lighter carbon fiber legs, four section legs that close to a shorter length, and a head with additional or specialized features.

    

6. Giottos Large Rocket Blower – Blow the dust off your lens, camera body, interior, and sensor safely with the Rocket Blower. Get the large size for maximum “whoosh!” Use with the LensPEN Lens Cleaning System to clean those fingerprints, smudges, and mysterious spots off your camera lens (filter) safely and quickly with the LensPEN. Brush off the loose spots with the brush end, “charge” the tip with a twist of the cap, then clean by “drawing” in a circular motion. Read the manufacturer’s instruction for complete details.

 

7. Canon 430EX II Speedlite Flash – Upgrade to the Canon Speedlite Flash to obtain more flash power and control for your low light pictures. Take advantage of the T3i’s wireless remote flash capabilities. Rotate and bounce your flash for more flattering indirect light, diffuse it and scatter it for less harsh shadows. Consider the Canon 580EX II Speedlite for more advanced needs.

7a. Stofen Omni Bounce Diffuser – Diffuse and scatter the light from your Speedlite flash with the Omni Bounce Diffuser to eliminate harsh shadows. Use it with your flash head at a 45 degree angle up, or to the side or behind you, as it is designed to be used. Don’t aim it straight on, and don’t use it outside. I don’t care if you see others doing that, even if they have a 5D and a big lens – they don’t know that all they are doing is wasting flash power and not affecting the results.

8. B+W Brand UV Filter – Protect your lens from scratches, dust, and impact damage with a high-quality, multi-coated B+W brand UV filter. It generally shouldn’t affect your image quality due to its high quality glass and coatings, and it just may save you from a $200 repair. Leave one on each of your lenses at all times, unless you are using another filter like the circular polarizer. Be sure to get the right size filter for your lens.

8a. B+W Brand Circular Polarizer Filter – Use this high-quality, multi-coated filter to dramatically darken skies, increase contrast, and cut through reflections. Turn the rotating lens to adjust the amount of darkening or reflection.

9. Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens – After you’ve realized the limitations of the kit lens in both quality and focal range, pair your T3i with this high quality all-purpose “walk-around” lens, great for everyday and travel use. It provides the full focal range from wide angle to telephoto, and delivers excellent image quality, color, and contrast, as well as Image Stabilization to prevent blur from camera movement.

9a. EW 78D Lens Hood – And you will want the lens hood for the 18-200mm lens, to shade the lens from unwanted glare and flare and protect it from bumps and bangs.

10. M Rock Holster Bag – Carry and protect your camera and walk-around lens in a holster style bag from M Rock. I used the Yellowstone style extensively in my travels throughout South America, and I love its durability and extra little features like a built-in rain cover, micro-fiber cleaning cloth, zippered interior pocket, adjustable interior, and extra strap. Be sure to get the model that fits your camera body and lens-length.

Bonus. Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson – If you don’t yet understand the relationship between aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, read this book immediately. This knowledge is essential to understanding and using your powerful dSLR to its full potential.

For additional photography gear, accessories, and books, be sure to check out my dSLR Photography Gear, Accessories, and Books post!

I have updated this post for the Canon Rebel T5i / EOS 700D and the Rebel T4i / EOS 650D, which you can now view on this blog here:

Top Ten Accessories for the Canon T5i / EOS 700D

All of the accessories still apply to the T3i and the T2i (EOS 600D, 550D).

 

In my e-book user’s guide for digital SLRs I include a list of accessories and books, complete with links to purchase these products on Amazon or from the manufacturer. However, the links don’t always work with some e-book formats, so I am posting the list here too. Some accessories may have been updated since this list was last modified, such as the Nikon SB-5000 Speedlight replacing the SB-910, or the Canon 600 EX II-RT Speedlite replacing the 600 EX-RT, so be sure to check for the latest versions of the various accessories.

Below are some accessories that are handy for general and travel photography use with any dSLR camera, plus some of my favorite photography books, and camera-specific accessories mentioned in the texts of my Full Stop camera guides. Click on the links to go to the product or category pages on Amazon.com or the manufacturer’s website. Please note that these are my referral links, and I will receive a small referral fee if you use these links to make your purchases, which helps to support my blog and my work. Thanks!

Contents:

dSLR Photography Accessories
Digital Photography Books

Nikon D850 Accessories
Nikon D500 Accessories
Nikon D750 Accessories
Nikon D810 Accessories
Nikon D7500 / D7200 / D7100 Accessories
Nikon D7000 Accessories
Nikon D5600 / D5500 / D5300 / D5200 / D5100 Accessories
Nikon D610 / D600 Accessories
Nikon Df Accessories
Nikon D3300 Accessories

Canon 5D Mark IV Accessories and 5DS / 5DS R Accessories
Canon 7D Mark II Accessories
Canon 80D / 77D / 70D Accessories
Canon 7D Accessories
Canon 60D Accessories
Canon T5i, T4i, T3i and T2i (EOS 700D, 650D, 600D and 550D) Accessories
Canon 5D Mark III Accessories
Canon 6D Accessories

 


dSLR Photography Accessories

UV Filters – Clear, protective filters for the lenses.  You should have these on at all times to protect your lenses.  Get high quality coated ones, such as B+W, especially for higher quality lenses.   Consider the MRC multi-coated versions for highest quality lenses.  While some argue that any filter may degrade image quality, a high-quality filter will show little effect, and most know that it is cheaper to replace a $100 filter than to repair a $1500 lens.  Use the slim filters for wide angle lenses to avoid vignetting.

Circular Polarizing Filter: Use this outdoors in sunlight to darken the sky, cut through haze and reflections, and increase contrast. Do not use on a wide angle lens as it will cause the sky to change from light to dark and back again across the frame. You have to turn the second ring of the filter to create the amount of lightness or darkness in the sky that you desire, or to reduce or eliminate reflections. It works best when the sun is to your left or right, but does not have any polarizing effect if the sun is directly in front or behind you. Do not use an older linear polarizing filter with a digital camera, as it will interfere with the metering and autofocus systems.

Neutral Density (ND) Filter: If shooting video in bright lighting, you will need to use a dark neutral density (ND) filter on the lens to block light in order to be able to use dramatic wide aperture settings (such as f/ 2.8 or f/4.0). These are also useful with still photography for allowing slow shutter speeds in bright light, such as for photographing waterfalls. They are available in a variety of densities to block out the amount of light to enable you to increase your exposure settings by a certain number of stops, such as 3 stops (0.9), 6 stops (1.8), 10 stops (3.0), etc. For example, when working in M or S mode and the exposure meter reads 1/30s, f/8, ISO 100, but you wish to use and aperture setting of f/2.8 while “holding” the other settings – you can use a 3-stop ND filter and the exposure meter will now read 1/30s, f/2.8, ISO 100, allowing you to obtain the wide aperture setting and resulting shallow depth of field. There are also variable ND filters, where you can adjust one of the filter’s rings to vary the amount of density, as well as the Cokin filter system that makes use of a filter holder that attaches to the front of the lens, which then holds square filters. These are useful to landscape photographers using graduated or split neutral density filters that either gradually or sharply transition from dark to light. Using the square filter in front of the lens, you can then vary the angle and location of the transition to align with the horizon.

Nikon Lens Hoods or Canon Lens Hoods: Use a lens hood on your lens to both prevent flare and to protect the front of the lens when it inevitable bangs against something or drops. Some nicer lenses typically come with a lens hood. With other lenses, buy the corresponding optional hood.

BlackRapid R-Strap: A different, more comfortable way to carry your camera, especially one with a larger or heavier lens. The RS-7 version has a nice curved shoulder strap, the RS-4 is not curved at the shoulder but does have a handy little pocket for memory cards, and the RS-W1 R-Strap is designed for women.

Manfrotto 055XPROB Tripod Legs and Manfrotto 496RC2 Ball Head:  This is an excellent “starter” combination of tripod legs and head for the beginner or enthusiast.  They are sturdy, durable, and well built.  If you know you will be doing a lot of tripod work, such as for studio, landscape, or travel photography, it is best to invest in more advanced (expensive) versions, including lighter carbon fiber legs and a head with additional features.

Insurance: Make sure your equipment is covered by insurance. When I worked in a camera store, people came in on a weekly basis to replace the equipment that was stolen from their car, trunk, luggage, while traveling, or was in a fire. You may need special insurance or a rider if your homeowner or renter’s insurance does not cover it. I use the policy available through NANPA, though you have to join NANPA to get it. This insurance is primarily for the equipment only, so you are not paying for liability coverage geared toward a business as you are with many other photo equipment insurance plans. Please note that the NANPA membership fee covers you annually from July – they don’t pro-rate, so you will not get a full year if you join at any other time. (If you happen to join NANPA to get their insurance, mention my name as a referrer, and I save on my next membership renewal!)

Silica Packs: Keep these in your camera bags to absorb moisture. Consider using real ones that you buy in solid cases instead of the little packs that you found in your new pants pocket that may break open over time.

Sto-Fen Omni Bounce Diffuser: Works great on the optional external flash units (note some Nikon flashes come with a diffuser like this). Do not use this on your flash outdoors because all it will do outside is cause your flash to work harder. I know you see lots of people doing it. They didn’t bother reading how to use it. Don’t imitate them. Use a direct bare or gelled flash outdoors. These diffusers are designed to work as a diffuser when bounced off a surface and angled at 45 degrees or so. Not straight on, and not bouncing off the sky.

Giottos Rocket Air Blaster: Always have this manual air blower handy for getting dust off lenses in a hurry, because blowing on them with your mouth – no matter how careful – inevitably leads to spittle on the lenses. Also use for manually cleaning the sensor, carefully following sensor cleaning instructions.

Dust-Aid Platinum dSLR Sensor Filter Cleaner: If the Air Blaster does not remove all the dust during sensor cleaning, you can move to a “silicon stamp,” such as this one. This is slightly more invasive, as you will be touching the sensor with the cleaning device. Be sure to carefully read and follow the Dust-Aid instructions, as well as the manual’s sensor cleaning instructions, particularly the correct way to raise the mirror and access the sensor.

Lens Pen Cleaning System: Works great for cleaning off mysterious spots and smudges that appear on the lens. Blow dust off the lens first with the Rocket Air Blaster, brush it with the Lens Pen brush, and then follow the instructions for using the Lens Pen.

Digital Grey Card: Used to measure and set accurate custom white balance.

Rosco Strobist Collection Flash Gels: Use these to balance the color temperature of your flash to the color temperature of the ambient light in order to have a single WB setting that neutralizes the color cast of the entire scene. Tape them in place or use the LumiQuest Gel Holder which attaches to your flash with the Honl Speed Strap, an overpriced strip of Velcro.

M Rock Holster Bag: Carry and protect your camera and walk-around lens in a holster style bag from M Rock. I used the Yellowstone style extensively in my travels throughout South America, and I love its durability and extra little features like a built-in rain cover, micro-fiber cleaning cloth, zippered interior pocket, adjustable interior, and extra strap. Be sure to get the model that fits your body and lens.

Sandisk Extreme CF Memory Cards (CompactFlash for Canon 7D, Canon 5D Mk II, 5D Mk III):  I suggest getting a couple 16 GB or 32 GB CF cards to store your photos – more if traveling.  Be sure to check the Sandisk site for current rebates.

Sandisk Extreme Pro CF Memory Cards:  For an even faster CF memory card, look at the Extreme Pro version, which saves at 90MB/s over 60 MB/s of the Extreme CF cards.

SanDisk Extreme Pro UDMA 7 CF Memory Card:  This CF memory card will allow you to take full advantage of the high speed continuous shooting of the 5D Mk III (or the 7D) to capture up to the maximum 16,270 continuous JPEG images or 18 RAW images in a single burst (7D rates are 130 JPEG / 25 RAW).

Sandisk Extreme SD Memory Cards: I suggest getting a couple 16GB, 32GB (class 10), or higher capacity Secure Digital (SD) cards to capture and store your photos – or more cards if traveling. Again, be sure to check the Sandisk site for current rebates. The Extreme SD cards are currently available in the 45 MB/s speed and the faster 80 MB/s speed.

Sandisk Extreme Pro UHS-1 SD Memory Cards: To take full advantage of the Continuous Shooting Drive Mode of the 70D and capture up to the maximum 65 continuous JPEG images or 16 RAW images in a single burst, you will need one of the fast Sandisk Extreme Pro UHS-1 SD Memory Cards (or similar card from another brand), which saves at 95MB/s.

Eye-Fi Wireless Flash Memory Card: This SD memory card can be used to automatically upload photos wirelessly via Wi-Fi to your computer during shooting or afterwards.

Card Reader: Use this to transfer image files from the memory cards to your computer if your computer does not have a card reader built in. They may be faster than the camera’s USB cable and will save camera batteries.

Stereo Microphones: The Rode VideoMic or the Rode VideoMic Pro are good-quality affordable external stereo microphones for recording audio while shooting video. They mount to the camera’s Hot Shoe.

Camera’s USB Cable: Always have the included camera USB cable when traveling, as a back-up method of transferring image files to your computer.

Lens and Body Caps: Don’t forget to have these in your camera bag, to protect lenses and camera body when switching and storing them.

Camera Wrap: For protecting your camera while carrying it around in dusty, misty, or sandy situations, or for protection when storing it.

Rainhood or Rainsleeve: For protecting your camera while using it in dusty, misty, rainy, or sandy situations.

Adobe Photoshop CS6 or new Adobe C.C., and/ or Adobe Lightroom 5: These software programs are essential for editing, processing, retouching, and manipulating your photographs, especially if you are shooting in RAW. Lightroom is designed specifically for photographers and is the processing program of choice for many of them, but it does not have the manipulation capabilities of Photoshop. Take advantage of Adobe’s significant student and teacher discounts if applicable.

Nikon Capture NX2: If you are not using Photoshop, this software will enable you to process and retouch your JPEG or RAW files, and correct things such color, contrast, and sharpening.

Camera Bags and Travel Gear: For additional gear that is helpful for travel situations, including various camera bags for different situations, have a look at my travel gear blog post:

http://blog.dojoklo.com/2009/12/01/assignment-guatemala-gear/


Digital Photography Books

Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photos with Any Camera by Bryan Peterson

Learning to See Creatively: Design, Color & Composition in Photography by Bryan Peterson

The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos by Michael Freeman

The Photographer’s Mind: Creative Thinking for Better Digital Photos by Michael Freeman

Available Light: Photographic Techniques for Using Existing Light Sources by Don Marr

On-Camera Flash Techniques for Digital Wedding and Portrait Photography by Neil van Niekerk

Speedliter’s Handbook: Learning to Craft Light with Canon Speedlites by Syl Arena

Digital Photographer’s Complete Guide to HD Video by Rob Sheppard and Michael Gunchen.

Canon Speedlite System Digital Field Guide by Michael Corsentino

Nikon Speedlight Handbook: Flash Techniques for Digital Photographers by Stephanie Zettl

The New Complete Guide to Digital Photography by Michael Freeman – a comprehensive general reference guide with brief explanations of nearly every aspect of digital photography.

New Epson Complete Guide to Digital Printing by Rob Sheppard.

More Essential Digital Photography Books are listed in this post.

 


Nikon D850 Accessories

Nikon D850 User’s Manuals – For PDF downloads of the Nikon D850 User’s Manual and D850 Menu Guide, see the webpage and below:

http://downloadcenter.nikonimglib.com/en/products/359/D850.html

Nikon EN-EL15a Rechargeable Battery: It is always good to have an extra battery or two, especially when traveling or when photographing all day or for an event.

Nikon MB-D18 Battery Pack/ Grip: This accessory will enable you to use an additional EN-EL15a battery, or eight alkaline, lithium, or Ni-MH AA batteries, or an EN-EL18 battery with the use of the optional BL-5 Battery Chamber Cover. This allows you to shoot longer without having to change batteries, and can allow you to share EN-EL18 batteries with the Nikon D5 body. It also increases the size of the D850 body which may be more comfortable for some shooters, especially when shooting vertically in portrait orientation. There is also an MB-D18 Battery Pack kit that comes with the battery pack, plus the BL-5 Cover and an EN-EL18b battery.

MC-30 Remote Release Cord: This corded remote will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, thus allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake.

WR-T10/ WR-R10 /WR-A10 Wireless Remote Controller, Transceiver, and Adapter: This wireless remote set will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, thus allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake. The WR set communicates via radio frequencies, and does not require direct line-of-sight between the camera and the remote. You can even use multiple WR-R10 receivers on multiple cameras and trigger them simultaneously with one WR-T10 remote transmitter. The WR-1 Wireless Remote Controller will allow even greater wireless control over one or multiple cameras with their own WR-1 or WR-R10 units.

Nikon SB-910 or Nikon SB-700 Speedlight Flash: These external flashes will give you significant flash power and control over output and direction. They have adjustable and rotating heads so that you can use indirect and bounce flash. They can also be used as commanders to trigger remote Speedlight flashes.

Nikon SB-5000 Speedlight Flash: In addition to offering all the functions of the above flash units, this top of the line Nikon Speedlight offers optical wireless control, as well as wireless radio control (when used with the WR-A10 Wireless Remote Adapter and WR-R10 Wireless Remote Controller). The radio control can be triggered nearly 100 feet away and does not require line-of-sight. The flash also contains a cooling system that will allow 100 or more consecutive shots at full power.

SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander: This unit is mounted on the camera’s hot shoe, and will allow you to wirelessly control and trigger one or multiple remote Speedlights.

Nikon WT-7 Wireless Transmitter: This can be used to wirelessly transmit your images and videos to an FTP server, computer, tablet, or smart-phone as you shoot, or even use the computer or smart device to remotely and wirelessly release the camera’s shutter. It also offers a wired Ethernet port for a wired (tethered) connection. You will also need Nikon’s Camera Control Pro 2 software for the tethered or wireless computer connection, which allows you to remotely change numerous camera settings. However for certain situations and uses, an Eye-Fi SD memory card may be a more convenient and less expensive solution for wireless transmission of full sized images.

Nikon GP-1 or GP-1A GPS Unit: Use this GPS receiver for automatic geotagging of your images including location, altitude data, and UTC time. Remember that you can also make use of the camera’s wireless capabilities to add time and location data from your smart phone to the images on the camera, and thus perform similar capabilities as a GPS device.

ME-1 Stereo Microphone: An external, stereo mic to record much better sound during movie shooting that the built-in mic. The Rode VideoMic or the Rode VideoMic Pro are also good-quality affordable external stereo microphones for recording audio while shooting video. They each mount to the camera’s Hot Shoe and connect via the External Microphone connector terminal on the side of the camera. More advanced (expensive) models and lavalier mics are recommended for professional use, along with an audio mixer such as a BeachTek dSLR audio adapter, or an external audio recorder such as the Zoom H6 Portable Recorder.

Nikon ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter Set: This accessory for digitizing negatives using your camera includes holders for 35mm film strips and slides, and attaches to the AF-S Micro 60mm f/2.8G ED lens. This can be used with the Negative Digitizer feature of the D850 (accessed via the Live View i Button Menu), to more easily “scan” your negatives.

Nikon Capture NX-D: If you are not using Photoshop or Lightroom, this software will enable you to process and retouch your JPEG or RAW files, and make image adjustments such as color, contrast, sharpening, and noise. This free software is available for download from the Nikon website. (http://nikonimglib.com/ncnxd/)

High-Speed A to C Type, HDMI to Mini-HDMI Cable: Use this HDMI cable to connect the camera to an HDMI CEC compatible TV (or other external HDMI device), and then view images, slideshows, or video from the camera. By accessing the Setup Menu item HDMI > Device control > On, you will also be able to then control the image playback using the TV remote.

 


Nikon D500 Accessories

Nikon EN-EL15 Rechargeable Battery: It is always good to have an extra battery or two, especially when traveling or when photographing all day or for an event. Be sure to use the newer Li-Ion20 type of EN-EL15 battery for best results. Nikon will replace your older EN-EL15 Li-ion01 batteries with the newer version, for free. See this link for further information:

https://support.nikonusa.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/19541

Nikon MB-D17 Battery Pack/ Grip: This accessory will enable you to use an additional EN-EL15 battery, or eight alkaline, lithium, or Ni-MH AA batteries, or an EN-EL18 battery with the use of the optional BL-5 Battery Chamber Cover. This allows you to shoot longer without having to change batteries, and can allow you to share EN-EL18 batteries with the Nikon D5 body. It also increases the size of the D500 body which may be more comfortable for some shooters, especially when shooting vertically in portrait orientation.

MC-30 Remote Release Cord: This corded remote will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, thus allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake.

WR-T10/ WR-R10 /WR-A10 Wireless Remote Controller, Transceiver, and Adapter: This wireless remote set will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, thus allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake. The WR set communicates via radio frequencies, and does not require direct line-of-sight between the camera and the remote. You can even use multiple WR-R10 receivers on multiple cameras and trigger them simultaneously with one WR-T10 remote transmitter. The WR-1 Wireless Remote Controller will allow even greater wireless control over one or multiple cameras with their own WR-1 or WR-R10 units.

Nikon SB-910 or Nikon SB-700 Speedlight Flash: These external flashes will give you significant flash power and control over output and direction. They have adjustable and rotating heads so that you can use indirect and bounce flash. They can also be used as commanders to trigger remote Speedlight flashes.

Nikon SB-5000 Speedlight Flash: In addition to offering all the functions of the above flash units, this top of the line Nikon Speedlight offers optical wireless control, as well as wireless radio control (when used with using the WR-A10 Wireless Remote Adapter and WR-R10 Wireless Remote Controller). The radio control can be triggered nearly 100 feet away and does not require line-of-sight. The flash also contains a cooling system that will allow 100 or more consecutive shots at full power.

SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander: This unit is mounted on the camera’s hot shoe, and will allow you to wirelessly control and trigger one or multiple remote Speedlights.

Nikon WT-7A Wireless Transmitter: This can be used to wirelessly transmit your images and videos to an FTP server, computer, tablet, or smart-phone as you shoot, or even use the computer or smart device to remotely and wirelessly release the camera’s shutter. It also offers a wired Ethernet port for a wired (tethered) connection. You will also need Nikon’s Camera Control Pro 2 software for the tethered or wireless computer connection, which allows you to remotely change numerous camera settings. However for certain situations and uses, an Eye-Fi SD memory card may be a more convenient and less expensive solution for wireless transmission of full sized images.

Nikon GP-1 or GP-1A GPS Unit: Use this GPS receiver for automatic geotagging of your images including location, altitude data, and UTC time. Remember that you can also make use of the camera’s wireless capabilities to add time and location data from your smart phone to the images on the camera, and thus perform similar capabilities as a GPS device.

ME-1 Stereo Microphone: An external, stereo mic to record much better sound during movie shooting that the built-in mic. The Rode VideoMic or the Rode VideoMic Pro are also good-quality affordable external stereo microphones for recording audio while shooting video. They each mount to the camera’s Hot Shoe and connect via the External Microphone connector terminal on the side of the camera. More advanced (expensive) models and lavalier mics are recommended for professional use, along with an audio mixer such as one of the BeachTek Audio Adapters, or an external audio recorder such as the Zoom H6 Portable Recorder.

Nikon Capture NX-D: If you are not using Photoshop or Lightroom, this software will enable you to process and retouch your JPEG or RAW files, and make image adjustments such as color, contrast, sharpening, and noise. This free software is available for download from the Nikon website: http://nikonimglib.com/ncnxd/#

High-Speed A to C Type, HDMI to Mini-HDMI Cable: Use this HDMI cable to connect the camera to an HDMI CEC compatible TV (or other external HDMI device), and then view images, slideshows, or video from the camera. By accessing the Setup Menu item HDMI > Device control > On, you will also be able to then control the image playback using the TV remote.

Lexar 64GB Professional 2933x XQD card: The maximum continuous burst capacity specifications given by Nikon for the D500 are based on the use of this card. When set for RAW L image files and DX Image Area, this XQD card can capture up to the maximum 200 14-bit lossless compressed or 12-bit uncompressed images, without filling the buffer and having to pause. Sony also offers numerous XQD cards that are compatible with the D500, as listed on page 385 of the Nikon D500 User’s Manual.

SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-II 280MBs SD: This is a very fast SD type card that appears to be working well with the D500. There have been issues reported with SD cards from Lexar and Transcend, which are caused by the card and not the camera. Nikon has released a firmware update that creates a workaround for errors when using a problematic UHS-II card, though it reverts to using it as a slower UHS-I card. The memory card manufacturers are working to resolve this issue.


Nikon D750 Accessories

Nikon EN-EL15 Rechargeable Battery: It is always good to have an extra battery or two, especially when traveling or when photographing all day or for an event.

Nikon MB-D16 Battery Pack/ Grip: This accessory will enable you to use a second EN-EL15 battery or else use six AA batteries, thus allowing you to shoot longer without having to change batteries. It also increases the size of the D750 body which may be more comfortable for some shooters, especially when shooting vertically in portrait orientation.

MC-DC2 Remote Release Cord: This corded remote will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, thus allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake.

WR-R10/ WR-T10 Wireless Remote Controller and Transceiver: This wireless remote will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, thus allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake. The WR set communicates via radio frequencies, and does not require direct line-of-sight between the camera and the remote. You can even use multiple WR-R10 receivers on multiple cameras and trigger them simultaneously with one WR-T10 remote transmitter. The WR-1 Wireless Remote Controller will allow even greater wireless control over one or multiple cameras with their own WR-1 or WR-R10 units.

Nikon SB-910 or Nikon SB-700 Speedlight Flash: These external flashes will give you significant flash power and control over output and direction. They have adjustable and rotating heads so that you can use indirect and bounce flash. They can also be used as commanders to trigger remote Speedlight flashes.

Nikon SB-5000 Speedlight Flash: In addition to offering all the functions of the above flash units, this top of the line Nikon Speedlight offers optical wireless control, as well as wireless radio control (when used with using the WR-A10 Wireless Remote Adapter and WR-R10 Wireless Remote Controller). The radio control can be triggered nearly 100 feet away and does not require line-of-sight. The flash also contains a cooling system that will allow 100 or more consecutive shots at full power.

SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander: This unit is mounted on the camera’s hot shoe, and will allow you to wirelessly control and trigger one or multiple remote Speedlights.

Nikon WT-5A Wireless Transmitter with the Nikon UT-1 Communication Unit: These can be used together to wirelessly transmit your images to a computer, tablet, or smart-phone as you shoot, or even use the computer or smart device to remotely and wirelessly release the camera’s shutter. The two units can also be purchased together: WT-5A and UT-1. You will also need Nikon’s Camera Control Pro 2 software for the tethered or wireless computer connection. The Nikon UT-1 Communication Unit when used alone will allow you to connect the camera to a computer or FTP server via an Ethernet cable, rather than wirelessly. However for certain situations and uses, an Eye-Fi SD memory card may be a more convenient and less expensive solution for wireless transmission.

Nikon GP-1 or GP-1A GPS Unit: Use this GPS receiver for automatic geotagging of your images including location, altitude data, and UTC time.

ME-1 Stereo Microphone: An external, stereo mic to record much better sound during movie shooting that the built-in mic. The Rode VideoMic or the Rode VideoMic Pro are also good-quality affordable external stereo microphones for recording audio while shooting video. They each mount to the camera’s Hot Shoe and connect via the External Microphone connector terminal on the side of the camera. More advanced (expensive) models and lavalier mics are recommended for professional use, along with an audio mixer such as the BeachTek DXA-SLR Pro Audio Adapter, or Mini Pro version, or an external audio recorder such as the Zoom H6 Portable Recorder.

Nikon Capture NX-D: If you are not using Photoshop, this software will enable you to process and retouch your JPEG or RAW files, and make image adjustments such as color, contrast, sharpening, and noise. This free software is available for download from the Nikon website: http://nikonimglib.com/ncnxd/#

High-Speed A to C Type, HDMI to Mini-HDMI Cable: Use this HDMI cable to connect the camera to an HDMI CEC compatible TV (or other external HDMI device), and then view images, slideshows, or video from the camera. By accessing the Setup Menu item HDMI > Device control > On, you will also be able to then control the image playback using the TV remote.


Nikon D810 Accessories

Nikon EN-EL15 Rechargeable Battery: It is always good to have an extra battery or two, especially when traveling or when photographing all day or for an event.

Nikon MB-D12 Battery Pack/ Grip: This accessory will enable you to use a second EN-EL15 battery or else use eight AA batteries, thus allowing you to shoot longer without having to change batteries. It also increases the size of the D810 body which may be more comfortable for some shooters, especially when shooting vertically in portrait orientation. And its use with AA batteries will enable the maximum 7 frames per second continuous shooting speed when using DX Image Area. If you wish to use the larger EN-EL18 battery (used with the D4 body) with this MB-D12 battery grip, you can purchase the optional BL-5 Battery Chamber Cover which accepts the EN-EL18 battery.

MC-DC2 Remote Release Cord: This corded remote will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, thus allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake.

MC-30A Remote Release Cord: Another basic corded remote release, with a larger thumb button that enables you to hold it down to keep the shutter open for Bulb shooting.

MC-36a Remote Shutter Release Cord: A multi-function corded remote for shutter release with an intervalometer, which attaches via the ten-pin connector.

WR-R10/ WR-T10 Wireless Remote Controller and Transceiver: This wireless remote will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, thus allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake. The WR set communicates via radio frequencies, and thus does not require direct line-of-sight between the camera and the remote. You can even use multiple WR-R10 receivers on multiple cameras and trigger them simultaneously with one WR-T10 remote transmitter. The WR-1 Wireless Remote Controller will allow even greater wireless control over one or multiple cameras with their own WR-1 or WR-R10 units.

Nikon SB-910 or Nikon SB-700 Speedlight Flash: These external flashes will give you significant flash power and control over output and direction. They have adjustable and rotating heads so that you can use indirect and bounce flash. They can also be used as commanders to trigger remote Speedlight flashes.

Nikon SB-5000 Speedlight Flash: In addition to offering all the functions of the above flash units, this top of the line Nikon Speedlight offers optical wireless control, as well as wireless radio control (when used with using the WR-A10 Wireless Remote Adapter and WR-R10 Wireless Remote Controller). The radio control can be triggered nearly 100 feet away and does not require line-of-sight. The flash also contains a cooling system that will allow 100 or more consecutive shots at full power.

SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander: This unit is mounted on the camera’s hot shoe, and will allow you to wirelessly control and trigger one or multiple remote Speedlights.

Nikon WT-5A Wireless Transmitter with the Nikon UT-1 Communication Unit: These can be used together to wirelessly transmit your images to a computer, tablet, or smart-phone as you shoot, or even use the computer or smart device to remotely and wirelessly release the camera’s shutter. The two units can also be purchased together: WT-5A and UT-1. You will also need Nikon’s Camera Control Pro 2 software for the tethered or wireless computer connection. The Nikon UT-1 Communication Unit when used alone will allow you to connect the camera to a computer or FTP sever via an Ethernet cable, rather than wirelessly. However for certain situations and uses, an Eye-Fi SD memory card may be more convenient and less expensive.

Nikon GP-1 or GP-1A GPS Unit: Use this GPS receiver for automatic geotagging of your images including location, altitude data, and UTC time.

ME-1 Stereo Microphone: An external, stereo mic to record much better sound during movie shooting that the built-in mic. The Rode VideoMic or the Rode VideoMic Pro are also good-quality affordable external stereo microphones for recording audio while shooting video. They each mount to the camera’s Hot Shoe and connect via the External Microphone connector terminal on the side of the camera. More advanced (expensive) models and lavalier mics are recommended for professional use, along with an audio mixer such as the BeachTek DXA-SLR Pro Audio Adapter, or Mini Pro version, or an external audio recorder such as the Zoom H6 Portable Recorder.

Nikon Capture NX-D: If you are not using Photoshop, this software will enable you to process and retouch your JPEG, TIFF, or RAW files, and make image adjustments such as color, contrast, sharpening, and noise. This free software is available for download from the Nikon website: http://nikonimglib.com/ncnxd/#

High-Speed A to C Type, HDMI to Mini-HDMI Cable: Use this HDMI cable to connect the camera to an HDMI CEC compatible TV, and then view images and slideshows from the camera. By accessing the Setup Menu item HDMI > Device control > On, you will also be able to then control the image playback using the TV remote.

Nikon D810 dSLR Filmmaker’s Kit: This package, costing about $5,000, includes the D810 camera plus everything one needs to get started with dSLR HD filmmaking. In addition to the body, the kit includes three prime lenses which are all f/1.8 (35mm, 50mm, 85mm), a video recorder with HDMI cable, the ME-1 Stereo microphone, variable ND filters so that you can take advantage of wide apertures even in brighter lighting, and two EN-EL15 batteries.

Sandisk Extreme CF Memory Cards: I suggest getting a couple 32 GB or higher CompactFlash (CF) cards to store your photos – more if traveling. Be sure to check the Sandisk site for current rebates. This card’s speed is 120 MB/s, so to achieve the buffer rates of the D810 listed in the manual you will need to use the CF card listed just below.

SanDisk Extreme Pro UMDA 7 CF Memory Card: For an even faster CF memory card, look at the Extreme Pro version, which is rated at 160 MB/s, higher than the 120 MB/s speed of the Extreme CF cards. This is the minimum card needed to achieve the buffer capacity rates listed in the D810 manual on page 489.

SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC UHS-I SD Memory Cards: If you plan to use the camera’s SD card slot, I suggest getting a couple 32GB or higher capacity Secure Digital (SD) cards to capture and store your photos – more if traveling. Review the various ways that the camera’s two memory card slots can be used with the Primary slot selection and Secondary slot function items of the Shooting Menu. Again, be sure to check the SanDisk site for current rebates. This card is rated at 95 MB/s speed, so you may need the above CF card to achieve the maximum the buffer capacity of the D810.


Nikon D7500 / D7200 / D7100 Accessories

Nikon EN-EL15 Rechargable Battery: It is always good to have an extra battery or two, especially when traveling or when photographing all day or for an event.

Nikon MB-D15 Battery Pack/ Grip: This accessory will enable you to use a second EN-EL15 battery or else use AA batteries, thus allowing you to shoot longer without having to change batteries. It also increases the size of the D7100 body which may be more comfortable for some shooters, especially when shooting vertically in portrait orientation.

Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote Controller or WR-R10/ WR-T10 Wireless Remote Controller and Transceiver: These wireless remotes will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, thus allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake. The WR set communicates via radio frequencies, and thus does not require direct line-of-sight between the camera and the remote. You can even use multiple WR-R10 receivers on multiple cameras and trigger them simultaneously with one WR-T10 remote transmitter. The new WR-1 Wireless Remote Controller will allow even greater wireless control over one or multiple cameras with their own WR-1 or WR-R10 unit.

MC-DC2 Remote Release Cord: This remote will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, but is attached to the camera via a cable, rather than being wireless.

Nikon SB-910 (or SB-900, SB-800, SB-700, SB-600, SB-500) Speedlight Flash: These external flashes will give you greatly increased flash power and control compared to the built-in flash. They also have adjustable and rotating heads so that you can use indirect and bounce flash. All of them can be used as remote flashes controlled by the built-in flash, and with the exception of the SB-600 all can be used as commanders to trigger remote flashes.

Nikon SB-5000 Speedlight Flash: In addition to offering all the functions of the above flash units, this top of the line Nikon Speedlight offers optical wireless control, as well as wireless radio control (when used with using the WR-A10 Wireless Remote Adapter and WR-R10 Wireless Remote Controller). The radio control can be triggered nearly 100 feet away and does not require line-of-sight. The flash also contains a cooling system that will allow 100 or more consecutive shots at full power.

Nikon WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter: This can be used to wirelessly transmit your images to a tablet or smart-phone as you shoot, share your images, or even use your smart phone or tablet to remotely release the camera’s shutter – all with Nikon’s Wireless Mobile Adapter Utility app:

http://nikonasia-en.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/7494/~/wireless-mobile-adaptor-utility-download

Nikon GP-1 GPS Unit: / GP-1A GPS Unit (check compatibly with your camera here.) Use this GPS receiver for automatic geotagging of your images including location, altitude data, and UTC time.

Nikon ME-1 Stereo Microphone: An external, stereo mic to record much better sound during movie shooting that the built-in mic. Other options include the Rode VideoMic or the Rode VideoMic Pro, which are good-quality affordable external stereo microphones for recording audio while shooting video. They mount to the camera’s Hot Shoe.

UT-1 Communication Unit: This unit is used with an Ethernet cable or wirelessly with the WT-5a Wireless Transmitter to connect to a network and transfer images to a computer or server, or to control the camera remotely from your computer. You can also purchase these two units, the UT-1 and WT-5a as a bundle.

Nikon Capture NX2: If you are not using Photoshop, this software will enable you to process and retouch your JPEG or RAW files, and correct things such color, contrast, and sharpening.


Nikon D7000 Accessories

Nikon EN-EL15 Rechargable Battery: It is always good to have an extra battery or two, especially when traveling or when photographing all day or for an event.

Nikon MB-D11 Battery Pack/ Grip: This accessory will enable you to use a second EN-EL15 battery or else use AA batteries, thus allowing you to shoot longer without having to change batteries. It also increases the size of the D7000 body which may be more comfortable for some shooters, especially when shooting vertically in portrait orientation.

Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote or MC-DC2 Remote Release Cord: These remotes will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, thus allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake.

Nikon SB-910, SB-900, SB-800, SB-700, or SB-600 Speedlight Flashes: These external flashes will give you greatly increased flash power and control compared to the built-in flash. They also have adjustable and rotating heads so that you can use indirect and bounce flash. All of them can be used as remote flashes controlled by the built-in flash, and with the exception of the SB-600 all can be used as commanders to trigger remote flashes.

Nikon WT-4A Wireless Transmitter: This can be used to wirelessly transmit your images to a computer as you shoot. However for certain situations and uses, an Eye-Fi SD memory card may be more convenient.

Nikon Capture NX2: If you are not using Photoshop, this software will enable you to process and retouch your JPEG or RAW files, and correct things such color, contrast, and sharpening.


Nikon D5600 / D5500 / D5300 / D5200 / D5100 Accessories

Nikon EN-EL14a Rechargable Battery: It is always good to have an extra battery or two, especially when traveling or when photographing all day or for an event.

Battery Pack/ Grip: This third-party accessory will enable you to use two EN-EL14a batteries, thus allowing you to shoot longer without having to change batteries. It also increases the size of the D5600 body which may be more comfortable for some shooters, especially when shooting vertically in portrait orientation.

Grip Base Extension: There is also a third-party non-battery-pack grip, or grip base extender that is designed to simply enlarge the size of the body in order to make the camera easier to hold for some users, but does not hold additional batteries.

Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote Controller or WR-R10/ WR-T10 Wireless Remote Controller and Transceiver: These wireless remotes will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, thus allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake. The WR set communicates via radio frequencies, and thus does not require direct line-of-sight between the camera and the remote. You can even use multiple WR-R10 receivers on multiple cameras and trigger them simultaneously with one WR-T10 remote transmitter.

MC-DC2 Remote Release Cord: This remote will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, but is attached to the camera via a cable, rather than being wireless.

Nikon GP-1 or GP-1A GPS Unit: Use this GPS receiver for automatic geotagging of your images including location, altitude data, and UTC time.

Nikon SB-910 or SB-700 Speedlight Flash: These external flashes will give you greatly increased flash power and control compared to the built-in flash. They also have adjustable and rotating heads so that you can use indirect and bounce flash. And they can be used as commanders to control and trigger multiple remote flashes.

Nikon WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter: (Nikon D5200, D7100, D3200 and later cameras only) This can be used to wirelessly transmit your images to a tablet or smart-phone as you shoot, share your images, or even use your smart phone or tablet to remotely release the camera’s shutter – all with Nikon’s Wireless Mobile Adapter Utility app:

http://nikonasia-en.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/7494/~/wireless-mobile-adaptor-utility-download

Nikon GP-1 GPS Unit: / GP-1A GPS Unit (check compatibly with your camera here.) (Not needed for D5300) Use this GPS receiver for automatic geotagging of your images including location, altitude data, and UTC time. Using this accessory, you images will also be automatically located on a map, such as when uploaded to the Flickr photo website.

ME-1 Stereo Microphone or ME-W1 Wireless Microphone: External, stereo mics to record much better sound during movie shooting that the built-in mic. The Rode VideoMic or the Rode VideoMic Pro are also good-quality affordable external stereo microphones for recording audio while shooting video. They each mount to the camera’s Hot Shoe and connect via the External Microphone connector terminal on the side of the camera.

Nikon Capture NX-D: If you are not using Photoshop or Lightroom, this software will enable you to process and retouch your JPEG or RAW files, and make image adjustments such as color, contrast, sharpening, and noise. This free software is available for download from the Nikon website: http://nikonimglib.com/ncnxd/#

High-Speed A to C Type, HDMI to Mini-HDMI Cable: Use this HDMI cable to connect the D5600 to an HDMI CEC compatible TV, and then view movies, images, and slideshows from the camera. By accessing the Playback Menu item HDMI > Device control > On, you will also be able to then control the image or video playback using the TV remote. Note that movies may not display properly, depending on the Frame size / Frame rate settings at which they were recorded.


Nikon D610 / D600 Accessories

Nikon EN-EL15 Rechargable Battery: It is always good to have an extra battery or two, especially when traveling or when photographing all day or for an event.

Nikon MB-D14 Battery Pack/ Grip: This accessory will enable you to use a second EN-EL15 battery or else use AA batteries, thus allowing you to shoot longer without having to change batteries. It also increases the size of the D600 body which may be more comfortable for some shooters, especially when shooting vertically in portrait orientation.

Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote or MC-DC2 Remote Release Cord: These remotes will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, thus allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake.

Nikon SB-910 (or SB-900, SB-800, SB-700, SB-600, SB-500) Speedlight Flash: These external flashes will give you greatly increased flash power and control compared to the built-in flash. They also have adjustable and rotating heads so that you can use indirect and bounce flash. All of them can be used as remote flashes controlled by the built-in flash, and with the exception of the SB-600 all can be used as commanders to trigger remote flashes.

Nikon SB-5000 Speedlight Flash: In addition to offering all the functions of the above flash units, this top of the line Nikon Speedlight offers optical wireless control, as well as wireless radio control (when used with using the WR-A10 Wireless Remote Adapter and WR-R10 Wireless Remote Controller). The radio control can be triggered nearly 100 feet away and does not require line-of-sight. The flash also contains a cooling system that will allow 100 or more consecutive shots at full power.

Nikon WU-1b Wireless Mobile Adapter: This can be used to wirelessly transmit your images to a tablet or smart-phone as you shoot, or even use the smart device to remotely release the shutter. However for certain situations and uses, an Eye-Fi SD memory card may be more convenient.

Nikon GP-1 GPS Unit: / GP-1A GPS Unit (check compatibly with your camera here.) Use this GPS receiver for automatic geotagging of your images including location, altitude data, and UTC time.

ME-1 Stereo Microphone: An external, stereo mic to record much better sound during movie shooting that the built-in mic.

Nikon Capture NX2: If you are not using Photoshop, this software will enable you to process and retouch your JPEG or RAW files, and correct things such color, contrast, and sharpening.


Nikon Df Accessories

Nikon Df User’s Manual – For a PDF download of the Nikon Df manual, see the webpage below:

https://support.nikonusa.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/18767

AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Special Edition Lens: This lens, with its silver ring, is specifically designed to match the retro-style of the Df – though it contains the same optics of the non-special AF-S 50mm f/1.8 lens.

Nikon EN-EL14a Rechargeable Battery: It is always good to have an extra battery or two, especially when traveling or when photographing all day or for an event.

WR-R10/ WR-T10 Wireless Remote Controller and Transceiver: This wireless remote will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, thus allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake. The WR set communicates via radio frequencies, and thus does not require direct line-of-sight between the camera and the remote. You can even use multiple WR-R10 receivers on multiple cameras and trigger them simultaneously with one WR-T10 remote transmitter. The new WR-1 Wireless Remote Controller will allow even greater wireless control over one or multiple cameras with their own WR-1 or WR-R10 units.

AR-3 Cable Release Cord: This remote will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, but is attached to the camera via a cable, rather than being wireless. In keeping with the styling of the Df, it is a “retro” cable-release with a plunger.

MC-DC2 Remote Release Cord: This is also a straightforward corded remote used to trigger the shutter of the camera, and is plugged into the Accessory Terminal of the Df.

Nikon SB-910 or Nikon SB-700 Speedlight Flash: These external flashes will give you significant flash power and control over output and direction. They have adjustable and rotating heads so that you can use indirect and bounce flash. They can also be used as commanders to trigger remote Speedlight flashes.

Nikon SB-400 Speedlight: This is a much smaller and less powerful flash than the versatile SB-910, and is closer to the strength of a typical built-in flash. However you can angle it for bounce-flash purposes.

SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander: This unit is mounted on the camera’s hot shoe, and will allow you to wirelessly control and trigger one or multiple remote Speedlights.

Nikon WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter: This can be used to wirelessly transmit your images to a tablet or smart-phone as you shoot, share your images, or even use your smart phone or tablet to remotely autofocus and release the camera’s shutter.

Wireless Mobile Utility: To get started with Wi-Fi, you will also need to download Nikon’s Wireless Mobile Utility app, which is available for both iOS and Android. Note that the iPad app is available as an “iPhone Only” app in the Apple App Store, though it can still be used on the iPad. You can find links to both versions of the app below, along with links to both versions of the Wireless Mobile Utility User’s Manuals:

http://nikonasia-en.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/7494/~/wireless-mobile-adaptor-utility-download

Nikon GP-1A GPS Unit: Use this GPS receiver for automatic geotagging of your images including location, altitude data, and UTC time.

Nikon Capture NX2: If you are not using Photoshop, this software will enable you to process and retouch your JPEG or RAW files, and correct things such color, contrast, sharpening, and noise. This version is in the process of being replaced with Capture NX-D.

CF-DC6 Semi-Soft Case or CF-DC5 Semi-Soft Case: The CF-DC6 is a retro-styled leatherette case specially designed for the Df, and is available in Black or in light Brown. The CF-DC5 is of a more contemporary style and materials.

Leather Strap in Black or in Brown: You can pair the retro-styled CF-DC6 case with a leather strap, available in similar colors.

Gariz Leather Half-Case: There is also a very nice looking leather half-case by a third-party named Gariz. It is available in black and brown, and covers the grip area and lower part of the Df body, but also allows you to open and access the battery/ memory card compartment and the side terminal covers, without removing the case. It lengthens the body of the camera in order to provide a replacement tripod socket (since the camera’s is used for attaching the case), and perhaps to enlarge the camera to offer a better grip.

Screen Protectors: This pair of screen protectors is specifically sized for the LCD screens of the Df. While I have not personally used them, and thus cannot vouch for their quality or usefulness, previous versions of this brand have gained good reviews.

High-Speed A to C Type, HDMI to Mini-HDMI Cable: Use this HDMI cable to connect the Df to an HDMI CEC compatible TV, and then view images and slideshows from the camera. By accessing the Setup Menu item HDMI > Device control > On, you will also be able to then control the image playback using the TV remote.


Nikon D3300 Accessories

Nikon D3300 Manuals: The D3300 Reference Manual can be obtained as a PDF file from the Nikon website at this link:

https://support.nikonusa.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/18824

Nikon WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter: This can be used to wirelessly transmit your images to a tablet or smart-phone as you shoot, to share your images, or even to use your smart phone or tablet to remotely release the camera’s shutter – all with Nikon’s Wireless Mobile Adapter Utility app.

Wireless Mobile Utility:To get started with Wi-Fi, you will first need to download Nikon’s Wireless Mobile Utility app, which is available for both iOS and Android. Note that the iPad app is available as an “iPhone Only” app in the Apple App Store, though it can still be used on the iPad. You can find links to both versions of the app below, along with links to both versions of the Wireless Mobile Utility User’s Manuals:

http://nikonasia-en.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/7494/~/wireless-mobile-adaptor-utility-download

Nikon EN-EL14a Rechargeable Battery: It is always good to have an extra battery or two, especially when traveling or when photographing all day or for an event.

Battery Pack/ Grip: This third-party accessory will enable you to use two EN-EL14a batteries, thus allowing you to shoot longer without having to change batteries. It also increases the size of the D3300 body which may be more comfortable for some shooters, especially when shooting vertically in portrait orientation.

Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote Controller or WR-R10/ WR-T10 Wireless Remote Controller and Transceiver: These wireless remotes will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, thus allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake. The WR set communicates via radio frequencies, and thus does not require direct line-of-sight between the camera and the remote. You can even use multiple WR-R10 receivers on multiple cameras and trigger them simultaneously with one WR-T10 remote transmitter. The new WR-1 Wireless Remote Controller will allow even greater wireless control over one or multiple cameras with their own WR-1 or WR-R10 unit.

MC-DC2 Remote Release Cord: This remote will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, but is attached to the camera via a cable, rather than being wireless.

DK-5 Eyepiece Cap:When using any of the Release Modes such as Self-Timer or Remote, where your eye is not at the Viewfinder, be sure to cover the Viewfinder with a piece of tape or this optional eyepiece cap in order to prevent stray light from entering the camera and modifying the exposure settings.

Nikon SB-910 or SB-700 Speedlight Flash: These external flashes will give you greatly increased flash power and control compared to the built-in flash. They also have adjustable and rotating heads so that you can use indirect and bounce flash. And they can be used as remote flashes triggered by the built-in flash, and as commanders to control and trigger multiple remote flashes.

ME-1 Stereo Microphone: An external, stereo mic to record much better sound during movie shooting that the built-in mic. The Rode VideoMic or the Rode VideoMic Pro are also good-quality affordable external stereo microphones for recording audio while shooting video. They each mount to the camera’s Hot Shoe and connect via the External Microphone connector terminal on the side of the camera.

Nikon Capture NX2: If you are not using Photoshop, this software will enable you to process and retouch your JPEG or RAW files, and correct things such color, contrast, and sharpening.

High-Speed A to C Type, HDMI to Mini-HDMI Cable: Use this HDMI cable to connect the D3300 to an HDMI CEC compatible TV, and then view movies, images, and slideshows from the camera. By accessing the Playback Menu item HDMI > Device control > On, you will also be able to then control the image or video playback using the TV remote. Note that movies may not display properly, depending on the Frame size / Frame rate settings at which they were recorded.



Canon 5D Mark IV Accessories and Canon 5DS / 5DS R Accessories

Canon LP-E6N Battery: It is always good to have an extra battery or two, especially when traveling or when photographing all day or for an event.

Canon BG-E20 Battery Grip: This optional battery pack and grip for the 5DIV will enable you to use two LP-E6N batteries, thus allowing you to shoot longer without having to change batteries. The grip replicates the controls of the body and also increases the size of the 5D Mark IV body which may be more comfortable for some shooters, especially when using the camera in the vertical position.

Canon Remote Switch RS-80N3 or Canon Wireless Remote Control RC-6: These remotes will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake. There is also the Timer Remote Controller TC-80N3 for time-lapse or long exposure photography.

Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT: This external flash will give you the most flash power and control of the Canon Speedlites, as well as continuous shooting support. It has an adjustable and rotating head so that you can use indirect and bounce flash, and includes a diffuser plus color filters for white balance. The 600EX II-RT also allows optical wireless functionality plus is compatible with the radio wave wireless flash system when controlled and triggered by the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT.

Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT: Use this radio wave wireless transmitter to control and trigger up to 5 groups of 15 flashes, up to 30 meters, with no line-of-site required. Compatible with the Canon 600EX II-RT Speedlite.

Note that either the 600EX II-RT Speedlite or the ST-E3-RT Transmitter can also act as a remote camera trigger for the 5D Mark IV. If either one of these units is in the Hot Shoe of the 5D Mark IV, another one of these units can fire the camera remotely, for a single frame, with the press of a button.

Speedlite 430EX III-RT or Speedlite 320EX: These external flashes will provide less flash power and control, and fewer features than the top of the line 600EX II-RT, however they may meet your needs if you don’t make extensive use of a flash. They also have adjustable and rotating heads so that you can use indirect and bounce flash. The 430EX III-RT allows optical wireless functionality plus is compatible with Canon’s radio wave wireless flash system when controlled and triggered by the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT or a 600EX II-RT. The 430EX III-RT offers an optional bounce adapter and color filter. The 320EX has a built in LED light for lighting video.

Canon HTC-100 HDMI cable: Use this HDMI cable to connect the 5D Mark IV to an HDMI CEC compatible TV, and then view movies, images, and slideshows from the camera. By setting the Control over HDMI menu item to Enable (Playback 3 Menu), you will also be able to then control the image or video playback using the TV remote.

WFT-E7A Wireless File Transmitter Version 2: This optional device enables fast wireless or wired Ethernet transfer of images from the camera to a computer or smart device such as an iPad or tablet. It also offers remote control and linked shooting capabilities, and offers built-in Bluetooth function.


Canon 7D Mark II Accessories

Canon LP-E6N Battery: It is always good to have an extra battery or two, especially when traveling or when photographing all day or for an event.

Canon BG-E16 Battery Grip: This optional battery pack and grip will enable you to use two LP-E6N batteries or six AA/ LR6 batteries, thus allowing you to shoot longer without having to change batteries. The grip replicates the controls of the body and also increases the size of the 7D Mark II body which may be more comfortable for some shooters, especially when using the camera in the vertical position.

Canon Remote Switch RS-80N3 or Canon Wireless Remote Control RC-6: These remotes will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake. There is also the Timer Remote Controller TC-80N3 for time-lapse or long exposure photography.

Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT: This most recently introduced external flash will give you the most flash power and control of the Canon Speedlites. It has an adjustable and rotating head so that you can use indirect and bounce flash, and is compatible with a specially designed color filter holder and gels (see below). The 600EX-RT also allows infrared wireless functionality plus is compatible with the new radio wave wireless flash system when controlled and triggered by the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT.

Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT: Use this radio wave wireless transmitter to control and trigger up to 5 groups of 15 flashes, up to 30 meters, with no line-of-site required. Currently only compatible with the Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite.

Note that either the 600EX-RT Speedlite or the ST-E3-RT Transmitter can also act as a remote camera trigger for the 7D Mark II. If either one of these units is in the Hot Shoe of the 7D Mark II, another one of these units can fire the camera remotely, for a single frame, with the press of a button.

Canon SCH-E1 Color Filter Holder: This plastic holder attaches to the front of the 600EX-RT Speedlite and holds the gels of the Canon Color Filter Set. Use these filters (gels) to balance the color temperature of your flash to the color temperature of the ambient light in order to have a single White Balance setting that neutralizes the color cast of the entire scene.

Canon Speedlite 580EX II or Speedlite 430EX II or Speedlite 320EX: These external flashes will give you varying levels of flash power and control, with the 580EX II being the most powerful of the group. They also have adjustable and rotating heads so that you can use indirect and bounce flash. The 320EX also has a built in LED light for lighting video. To attach color filters to these models see the Rosco Strobist Collection Flash Gels section below.

Canon HTC-100 HDMI cable: Use this HDMI cable to connect the 7D Mark II to an HDMI CEC compatible TV, and then view movies, images, and slideshows from the camera. By setting the Control over HDMI menu item to Enable (Playback 3 Menu), you will also be able to then control the image or video playback using the TV remote.

WFT-E7A Wireless File Transmitter Version 2: This optional device enables fast wireless or wired Ethernet transfer of images from the camera to a computer or smart device such as an iPad or tablet. It also offers remote control and linked shooting capabilities, and offers built-in Bluetooth function. The device attaches to the base of the 7D Mark II, and is a similar size and shape as the optional battery grip.

Eh-S Super Precision Matte Focusing Screen: The 7D Mark II is able to accept this optional focusing screen, which is designed for manual focusing. However, you will need to be using a lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 or larger, or else it will make the Viewfinder appear darker than the standard focusing screen. This screen will display the out-of-focus areas of the scene more dramatically out-of-focus, thus helping you to better view what is in-focus. Be sure to change the C.Fn 3 Custom Function item of the Focusing Screen for Eh-S, if you make use of this screen.

 


Canon 80D / 77D / 70D Accessories

Canon LP-E6 Battery: It is always good to have an extra battery or two, especially when traveling or when photographing all day or for an event.

Canon BG-E14 Battery Grip: This optional battery pack and grip will enable you to use two LP-E6 batteries or six AA/ CR6 batteries, thus allowing you to shoot longer without having to change batteries. The grip replicates the controls of the body and also increases the size of the 70D body which may be more comfortable for some shooters, especially when using the camera in the vertical position.

Canon GP-E2 GPS Receiver: Use this GPS receiver for automatic geotagging of your images including location and altitude data, a digital compass, and UTC time.

Canon Remote Switch RS-80N3 or Canon Wireless Remote Control RC-6: These remotes will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake. There is also the Timer Remote Controller TC-80N3 for time-lapse or long exposure photography.

Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT: This most recently introduced external flash will give you the most flash power and control of the Canon Speedlites. It has an adjustable and rotating head so that you can use indirect and bounce flash, and is compatible with a specially designed color filter holder and gels (see below). The 600EX-RT also allows infrared wireless functionality plus is compatible with the new radio wave wireless flash system when controlled and triggered by the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT.

Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT: Use this radio wave wireless transmitter to control and trigger up to 5 groups of 15 flashes, up to 30 meters, with no line-of-site required. Currently only compatible with the Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite.

Note that either the 600EX-RT Speedlite or the ST-E3-RT Transmitter can also act as a remote camera trigger for the 70D. If either one of these units is in the hotshoe of the 70D, another one of these units can fire the camera remotely, for a single frame, with the press of a button.

Canon SCH-E1 Color Filter Holder: This plastic holder attaches to the front of the 600EX-RT Speedlite and holds the gels of the Canon Color Filter Set. Use these filters (gels) to balance the color temperature of your flash to the color temperature of the ambient light in order to have a single White Balance setting that neutralizes the color cast of the entire scene.

Canon Speedlite 580EX II or Speedlite 430EX II or Speedlite 320EX: These external flashes will give you varying levels of flash power and control, with the 580EX II being the most powerful of the group. They also have adjustable and rotating heads so that you can use indirect and bounce flash. The 320EX also has a built in LED light for lighting video. To attach color filters to these models see the Rosco Strobist Collection Flash Gels section just above.

Canon HTC-100 HDMI cable: Use this HDMI cable to connect the 70D to an HDMI CEC compatible TV, and then view movies, images, and slideshows from the camera. By setting the Control over HDMI menu item to Enable (Playback 3 menu), you will also be able to then control the image or video playback using the TV remote. Use the Canon AVC-DC400ST Stereo AV cable for non-HD TV sets.


Canon 7D Accessories (see also the Canon 5D Mark III Accessories section for the new Canon 600EX-RT flash and its accessories)

Canon LP-E6 Battery:  It is always good to have an extra battery or two, especially when traveling or when photographing all day or for an event.

Canon BG-E7 Battery Grip:   This accessory will enable you to use two LP-E6 batteries, (or else use six AA batteries), thus allowing you to shoot longer without having to change batteries.  It also increases the size of the 7D body which may be more comfortable for some shooters, especially when shooting vertically in portrait orientation.

Canon Remote Switch RS-60E3 or Canon Wireless Remote Control RC-6:  These remotes will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, thus allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake.

Canon Speedlite 580EX II or Speedlite 430EX II or Speedlite 320EX: These external flashes will give you greatly increased flash power and control compared to the built-in flash. They also have adjustable and rotating heads so that you can use indirect and bounce flash. All of them can be used as remote flashes controlled by the built-in flash. The 320EX also has a built in LED light for lighting video.  (see also the Canon 5D Mark III Accessories section for the new Canon 600EX-RT flash and its accessories).

Canon WFT-E5A Wireless File Transmitter:  Use this accessory to wirelessly transmit your images from the camera to a computer over a Wi-Fi or Gigabit Ethernet connection.  It can also be used to wirelessly control the camera via a web-enabled mobile device.

Canon GP-E2 GPS Receiver:  Use this GPS receiver for automatic geotagging of your images including location and altitude data, a digital compass, and UTC time.


Canon 60D Accessories (see also the 5D Mark III section for the new Canon 600EX-RT flash and its accessories)

Canon LP-E6 Battery: It is always good to have an extra battery or two, especially when traveling or when photographing all day or for an event.

Canon BG-E9 Battery Grip: This accessory will enable you to use two LP-E6 batteries, (or else use six AA batteries), thus allowing you to shoot longer without having to change batteries. It also increases the size of the 60D body which may be more comfortable for some shooters, especially when shooting vertically in portrait orientation.

Canon Remote Switch RS-60E3 or Canon Wireless Remote Control RC-6: These remotes will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, thus allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake.

Canon Speedlite 580EX II or Speedlite 430EX II or Speedlite 320EX: These external flashes will give you greatly increased flash power and control compared to the built-in flash. They also have adjustable and rotating heads so that you can use indirect and bounce flash. All of them can be used as remote flashes controlled by the built-in flash. The 320EX also has a built in LED light for lighting video.

Canon Hand Strap E2: This hand strap provides a more secure grip and allows for easier single hand operation of the camera. It attaches on the right side of the 60D and your right hand slips between it and the camera.

Canon EF-D Focusing Screen: This is the grid focusing screen to help you keep your compositions and horizons straight and level.


Canon Rebel T5i/700D, T4i/650D, T3i/600D, and T2i/550D Accessories

Canon LP-E8 Battery: It is always good to have an extra battery or two, especially when traveling or when photographing all day or for an event.

Canon BG-E8 Battery Grip: This accessory will enable you to use two LP-E8 batteries, (or else use six AA batteries), thus allowing you to shoot longer without having to change batteries. It also increases the size of the camera’s body which may be more comfortable for some shooters, especially when shooting vertically in portrait orientation.

Canon GP-E2 GPS Receiver: Use this GPS receiver for automatic geotagging of your images including location and altitude data, a digital compass, and UTC time.

Canon Remote Switch RS-60E3 or Canon Wireless Remote Control RC-6: These remotes will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, thus allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake.

Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT: This most recently introduced external flash will give you the most flash power and control of the Canon Speedlites. It has an adjustable and rotating head so that you can use indirect and bounce flash, and is compatible with a specially designed color filter holder and gels (see below). The 600EX-RT also allows infrared wireless functionality plus is compatible with the new radio wave wireless flash system when controlled and triggered by the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT.

Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT: Use this radio wave wireless transmitter to control and trigger up to 5 groups of 15 flashes, up to 30 meters, with no line-of-site required. Currently only compatible with the Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite.

Note that either the 600EX-RT Speedlite or the ST-E3-RT Transmitter can also act as a remote camera trigger for the T4i. If either one of these units is in the hotshoe of the T4i, another one of these units can fire the camera remotely, for a single frame, with the press of a button.

Canon SCH-E1 Color Filter Holder: This plastic holder attaches to the front of the 600EX-RT Speedlite and holds the gels of the Canon Color Filter Set. Use these filters (gels) to balance the color temperature of your flash to the color temperature of the ambient light in order to have a single White Balance setting that neutralizes the color cast of the entire scene.

Canon Speedlite 580EX II or Speedlite 430EX II or Speedlite 320EX: These external flashes will give you greatly increased flash power and control compared to the built-in flash. They also have adjustable and rotating heads so that you can use indirect and bounce flash. All of them can be used as remote flashes controlled by the built-in flash. The 320EX also has a built in LED light for lighting video.

Canon Hand Strap E2: This hand strap, used with or without the battery grip, provides a more secure grip and allows for easier single hand operation of the camera. It attaches on the right side of the camera and your right hand slips between it and the camera.


Canon EOS 5D Mark III Accessories

Sandisk Extreme CF Memory Cards:  I suggest getting a couple 16GB, 32GB, or higher capacity CompactFlash (CF) cards to capture and store your photos – more if traveling.  Be sure to check the Sandisk site for current rebates.

Sandisk Extreme Pro CF Memory Cards:  For an even faster CF memory card, look at the Extreme Pro version, which saves at 90MB/s over 60 MB/s of the Extreme CF cards.

Sandisk Extreme SD Memory Cards:  If you plan to use the camera’s second card slot, I suggest getting a couple 16GB, 32GB, or higher capacity Secure Digital (SD) cards to capture and store your photos – more if traveling.  Review the various ways that the camera’s second card slot can be used.  Again, be sure to check the Sandisk site for current rebates.

Sandisk Extreme Pro SD Memory Cards:  For an even faster SD memory card, look at the Extreme Pro version, which saves at 95MB/s over 30 MB/s of the Extreme SD cards.

SanDisk Extreme Pro UDMA 7 CF Memory Card:  This CF memory card will allow you to take full advantage of the high speed continuous shooting of the 5D Mk III to capture up to the maximum 16,270 continuous JPEG images or 18 RAW images in a single burst.

Canon LP-E6 Battery:  It is always good to have an extra battery or two, especially when traveling or when photographing all day or for an event.

Canon BG-E11 Battery Grip:   This optional battery pack and grip will enable you to use two LP-E6 batteries or six AA/ CR6 batteries, thus allowing you to shoot longer without having to change batteries.  The grip replicates the controls of the body and also increases the size of the 5D Mk III body which may be more comfortable for some shooters, especially when using the camera in the vertical position.

Canon WFT-E7A Wireless File Transmitter:  Use this accessory to wirelessly transmit your images from the camera to a computer over a Wi-Fi or Gigabit Ethernet connection.  It can also be used to wirelessly control the camera via a web-enabled mobile device.

Canon GP-E2 GPS Receiver:  Use this GPS receiver for automatic geotagging of your images including location and altitude data, a digital compass, and UTC time.

Canon Remote Switch RS-80N3 or Canon Wireless Remote Control RC-6:  These remotes will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, thus allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake.  There is also the Timer Remote Controller TC-80N3 for time-lapse or long exposure photography.

Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT:  This most recently introduced external flash will give you the most flash power and control of the Canon Speedlites.  It has an adjustable and rotating head so that you can use indirect and bounce flash, and is compatible with a specially designed color filter holder and gels (see below).  The 600EX-RT also allows infrared wireless functionality plus is compatible with the new radio wave wireless flash system when controlled and triggered by the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT.  The AF assist beam of the Canon 600EX-RT is the only current Speedlite designed to be compatible with the 61 point autofocus system of the 5D Mk III.

Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT:  Use this radio wave wireless transmitter to control and trigger up to 5 groups of 15 flashes, up to 30 meters, with no line-of-site required.  Currently only compatible with the Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite.

Note that either the 600EX-RT Speedlite or the ST-E3-RT Transmitter can also act as a remote camera trigger for the 5D Mk III.  If either one of these units is in the hotshoe of the 5D Mk III, another one of these units can fire the camera remotely, for a single frame, with the press of a button.

Canon SCH-E1 Color Filter Holder:  This plastic holder attaches to the front of the 600EX-RT Speedlight and holds the gels of the Canon Color Filter Set.  Use these filters (gels) to balance the color temperature of your flash to the color temperature of the ambient light in order to have a single WB setting that neutralizes the color cast of the entire scene.

Canon Speedlite 580EX II or Speedlite 430EX II or Speedlite 320EX:  These external flashes will give you varying levels of flash power and control, with the 580EXII being the most powerful of the group.  They also have adjustable and rotating heads so that you can use indirect and bounce flash.  The 320EX also has a built in LED light for lighting video.  To attach color filters to these models see the Rosco Strobist Collection Flash Gels section just above.

Sto-Fen Omni Bounce Diffuser for the Canon 580EXII or for the Canon 600EX-RT:  Works great on the optional external flash units like the Canon 580EX II Speedlite or the newer 600EX-RT Speedlite.  Do not use this on your flash outdoors because all it will do outside is cause your flash to work harder.  I know you see lots of people doing it.  They didn’t bother reading how to use it – don’t imitate them!  Use a direct bare or gelled flash outdoors.  These diffusers are designed to work as a diffuser when bounced off a surface and angled at 45 degrees or so, not straight on, and not bouncing off the sky.


Canon EOS 6D Accessories

Canon LP-E6 Battery: It is always good to have an extra battery or two, especially when traveling or when photographing all day or for an event.

Canon BG-E13 Battery Grip: This optional battery pack and grip will enable you to use two LP-E6 batteries or six AA/ CR6 batteries, thus allowing you to shoot longer without having to change batteries. The grip replicates the controls of the body and also increases the size of the 6D body which may be more comfortable for some shooters, especially when using the camera in the vertical position.

Canon GP-E2 GPS Receiver: Use this GPS receiver for automatic geotagging of your images including location and altitude data, a digital compass, and UTC time. However the EOS 6D (WG) has built-in GPS, so this accessory is generally not necessary. Ironically, the GP-E2 is not compatible with the EOS 6D (N), the model that is sold in certain regions without built-in Wi-Fi and GPS.

Canon Remote Switch RS-80N3 or Canon Wireless Remote Control RC-6: These remotes will allow you to trigger the shutter of the camera remotely, allowing either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake. There is also the Timer Remote Controller TC-80N3 for time-lapse or long exposure photography.

Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT: This most recently introduced external flash will give you the most flash power and control of the Canon Speedlites. It has an adjustable and rotating head so that you can use indirect and bounce flash, and is compatible with a specially designed color filter holder and gels (see below). The 600EX-RT also allows infrared wireless functionality plus is compatible with the new radio wave wireless flash system when controlled and triggered by the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT.

Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT: Use this radio wave wireless transmitter to control and trigger up to 5 groups of 15 flashes, up to 30 meters, with no line-of-site required. Currently only compatible with the Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite.

Note that either the 600EX-RT Speedlite or the ST-E3-RT Transmitter can also act as a remote camera trigger for the 6D. If either one of these units is in the hotshoe of the 6D, another one of these units can fire the camera remotely, for a single frame, with the press of a button.

Canon SCH-E1 Color Filter Holder: This plastic holder attaches to the front of the 600EX-RT Speedlite and holds the gels of the Canon Color Filter Set. Use these filters (gels) to balance the color temperature of your flash to the color temperature of the ambient light in order to have a single White Balance setting that neutralizes the color cast of the entire scene.

Canon Speedlite 580EX II or Speedlite 430EX II or Speedlite 320EX: These external flashes will give you varying levels of flash power and control, with the 580EX II being the most powerful of the group. They also have adjustable and rotating heads so that you can use indirect and bounce flash. The 320EX also has a built in LED light for lighting video. To attach color filters to these models see the Rosco Strobist Collection Flash Gels section just above.

Viewfinder Focusing Screens: The optional Canon Eg-S Super Precision Matte focusing screen is designed to assist with manual focusing, and the optional Canon Eg-D Precision Matte focusing screen provides a grid in the Viewfinder to help keep your compositions straight and level.

When one is getting more and more into photography, learning about different techniques and equipment, they may start to think – or get the impression from reading various books and blogs – that there is the “right way” or the right piece of equipment to use to achieve the best images.   For example there are dozens of flash modifiers and diffusers available, and you might start to think that one of them works the best, one of them is the one that the pros use, if you could only find the right information and figure out which one it is.  But the truth is, when it comes to photography, there is sometimes no one right way to do something.  You just have to look at all the options, experiment, analyze how you work and your resulting images, and then figure out what is going to work best for you.

Delilah and the spring

I recently got sucked into a discussion on a forum about whether or not to use a UV protective filter on your lenses.  I contend that it is always a good idea to use one.  But that is because I feel it is a wise thing to do for the way I work and photograph.  It may not be necessary for others who work differently.  I work out in the field traveling, or out-and-about in a city.  I take off my lens cap when I start working for the day and put it aside until the end of the day.  My camera is slung over my shoulder and is exposed to being banged around, touched by kid’s fingers, and to dust and mystery spots that need to be quickly cleaned off.  I don’t mind quickly wiping some dust off the front of my filter with my shirt, a blast of air with the Rocket Blower, or a quick brush and clean with the LensPen, but I would not want to do that so quickly and often with the actual lens and risk scratching it.  I feel that replacing a $100 filter is a better idea than risking a several hundred dollar repair with 4 weeks down time on a lens.

Other people walk around, carefully carrying their camera in a case between shots, or replacing the lens cap after each shot or between situations.  Or perhaps they take out their camera, put it on a tripod, and take landscape shots.  They may not need a protective filter in those uses, and may not wish to risk any minor degradation in image quality.  (If you get a coated or multi-coated UV filter like a B+W brand one, your loss of image quality will be less-than-negligible.  If you use a cheaper Tiffen filter, you risk having some issues.)  If the risk of damage to their lens is small, then it works for them not to use a filter.  However, I was in a camera store yesterday, and a woman was replacing her UV filter because her camera dropped and the filter was shattered.  The filter’s ring was dented, but there was no damage to the lens at all.  She did not intend to drop her camera – that was not part of the way she worked – but it happened.  A few dollars for a new filter saved her hundreds of dollars in repairs and the loss of her lens over the holidays.

Before you invest in various accessories that sound like they might improve your images or assist you in how you work, put some thought into it first.  If they are a hassle to use or don’t fit into your process, you may end up putting them aside and never really using them.  Analyze your needs first and then find a product that matches them.  You may read about someone touting a white balance device that seems like it almost magically improves all their photos.  You want better photos, so why not give it a try?  But have you really come across the need for it?  Are you prepared to custom set your white balance every time you enter a new lighting situation?  Or do you typically work outside in daylight or inside in standard incandescent light and really don’t need to set a custom white balance at all?

So, all that being said, there are several accessories I find helpful, or even essential – at least for the way I work!  I talk about them in this previous post, Equipment for Travel (and Everyday) Photography.

NOTE: Some of the information in this post has been updated to include the current Canon dSLR models, the 60D and the Rebel T3i / 600D. Please check out my blog post at the following link to read the most current information:

http://blog.dojoklo.com/2011/02/20/canon-t3i-600d-vs-t2i-550d-vs-60d-vs-7d-etc/

Original Post: I’ve had a lot of visits to my previous post comparing these cameras – the Canon 7D, Canon 5D Mark II, and the Canon 50D – and since that really wasn’t much of a comparison post, but rather just a link to an impartial, technically based testing site, I’ll try to give a little more insight into helping you make this decision. Please note, this is aimed towards still photographers and not videographers. I know that videographers have different priorities when making this selection, and I am not knowledgeable enough to address them. I have written some updated comparison posts which also address the Canon 60D here and here.

I’ve used the 50D and the 7D pretty extensively, so I can speak with a bit of confidence about them. I’m very familiar with the features of the 5D Mk II and how they compare to the other cameras, so I will discuss them too. I’ll address the 550D (Rebel T2i) at the end of this post. Also, all the precise specifications of these cameras can be researched online and compared, so I will discuss them on a user-experience level, but I encourage you to decide which factors are most important to you for further research. I know it is a long post with a lot to read, but if you are investing several hundred or thousands of dollars in a dSLR and lenses, you should be thorough! On a final note before I begin, you may have been convinced by forums, reviews, or online comments to question and compare image quality, auto-focus speed, ISO and noise, etc., but those factors are all nearly completely irrelevant. Each of these cameras has more than enough quality in all of those areas. Your choice should instead be based on your level and needs as a photographer, and on which camera best serves the way you work. If you wish to see this complicated choice summarized in an easy to read format, view this post (it is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but mostly accurate). And when you are done selecting a camera body, you can learn more about lenses here.

While I have your attention, I want to mention that I have written eBook tutorials for the Canon 60D and for the Canon T2i, which cover ALL the Menu settings and Custom Function settings, with recommended settings, plus in-depth descriptions of how and and why to use the cameras’ settings and features in everyday use – Your World 60D and T2i Experience. Learn more about the eBooks by clicking on their titles.

Also, please let me know about broken links in my posts, as they seem to mysteriously happen from time to time.


Hudson River – Cold Spring, NY (this image is entirely in color – look at the plants!)

Sensor Size: If you are, or plan to be a professional photographer, and you’ve limited your selection down to two or three of these cameras, you are going to want to seriously consider the 5D MkII. This is due primarily to the fact that it has a full frame sensor (a sensor approximately the size of a frame of 35mm film), which is pretty much expected for you to have as a professional. (Note that whenever I say 5D in this post, I am referring to the 5D Mark II).  The 7D and the 50D have smaller sensors, with a 1.6 crop factor. This means that their sensors are a bit smaller than a frame of traditional 35mm film. A wide angle lens will not produce as wide of a field of view on a cropped sensor as on the 5D: a 16mm will give the field of view of a 16 x 1.6 = 25mm lens, but a telephoto on a cropped sensor will appear to zoom closer, thus making a 200mm lens appear to be a 200 x 1.6 = 320mm lens. You can begin down the professional path with a 50D or 7D, but you are eventually going to experience the limitations of the smaller sensors and start to understand the need for full frame. BUT…there are a few problems with this choice…

Price and Obsolescence: First, you probably haven’t run out to get a 5D MkII because of its cost. As of 5/2010, the price is $2,500. AND, the 5D MkII dates from 9/2008, and is due for an upgrade, likely in 2012, maybe as soon as later in 2011. In some respects, the 7D – being newer – has better features than the 5D, such as the advanced auto focus and metering systems and faster frame rate. Not to mention the fact that if you wait around long enough, a 7D type camera WITH a full frame sensor but a lower price than the 5D is bound to come out! But you need a camera now, so let’s continue. The 7D is $1,600 or $1,700 depending on current promotions, and the 50D is about $1,000. The 50D however, is also the closest one to being replaced (by the 60D or whatever it may be called). This doesn’t mean that it isn’t still a very capable and feasible camera – people are still happily using 20D and 30D cameras, just that it is reaching the end of its production life. So as far as the newest model, that is the 7D (and the 550d/ T2i).

Megapixels / Image Quality: Regarding megapixels, it really isn’t much of an issue unless you plan on printing out billboard size prints. All of these cameras have more than enough megapixels and image quality for most photographers’ needs. The 7D is at 18mp, the 5D Mk II at 21mp, and the 50D at 15mp. I have found that more megapixels give you more lee-way to push and pull the image around in Photoshop before it starts to fall apart and look over manipulated. In this respect there is a significant difference between 8 megapixels of a Rebel XT and 15 or 18 mp. The 8mp barely allow you to do a regular amount of exposure, contrast, and color correction before it starts to really show, but there is little to be concerned about between the 15mp of the 50D and 18mp of the 7D (unless you are a hard-core pixel peeper, in which case you will be deeply offended by these kinds of statements). Be aware that sensors with more megapixels more readily show the shortcomings of cheaper lenses, and thus demand higher quality lenses, like the Canon L series, for the sharpest, most detailed image across the entire frame. From experience, I can tell you there is a huge improvement in clarity, color, and overall image quality when using an L lens with a 50D or 7D.


Marquee – Tarrytown, NY

HD Video: If you are concerned about HD video, then you choice is narrowed down to the 7D and the 5D Mk II. With firmware updates and 3rd party Magic Lantern firmware, they are about on par as far as frame rates etc., so cost and sensor size is again the differing factor here. If you are not going to need or use video, it is definitely worth considering the 50D, which will give you 85-90% of the still photography features and performance of the 7D at a much lower price.

ISO, Frame Rate, File Size: For ISO performance, you can look at the testing site mentioned above to see that they are incredibly similar. Being a professional camera, the 5D has a broader ISO range on both ends, lower noise at higher ISOs, and a better dynamic/ tonal range. This is a large factor in why you pay $2400 for this camera. But for the non-pro, in general you hardly ever want to go above ISO 1,600, so unless you have a specific reason for needing really high ISO and photos with the lowest possible noise at high ISOs (for example shooting lots of indoor or dark events like concerts, weddings and receptions), then this isn’t much of a deciding factor. And if you are concerned about dynamic range, well, don’t be. Anyone who actually needs to be concerned about dynamic range is a commercial photographer who is not reading this post because they are busy choosing between a $7,000 camera and a $10,000 camera. The frame rate performance, however, may be an important factor depending on how you work and what you take photos of. The 7D has a continuous rate of 3fps and a high speed continuous rate of 8fps. Personally, I’m unhappy with this choice of rates. The 3fps is too slow for action situation, and the 8fps is ridiculously high, giving me far too many unwanted photos that quickly fill up the memory card. I wish for a rate closer to 5 or 6 fps. The 5D has one rate of 3.9fps, which again seems a bit too slow for action situations, and limits its use for capturing sports action. The 50D offers 3fps and 6.3fps, which I find ideal. Oh, also, the file size of the 7D images are much larger than the files of the 50D and somewhat larger than the files of the 5D. While this indicates that the files contain more information and detail, this affects size and number of memory cards you will need, plus size and expense of storage on your hard drive and external hard drives, PLUS the time it takes to download, transfer, copy, open, save, and upload files. It is a significant hidden cost in storage dollars and time of the 7D that should not be ignored. (Is this apparent difference of the 7D and 50D images visible to the naked eye of anyone other than pixel peepers and people making jumbo prints? Not necessarily. The image quality you need is available from any of these cameras, so it is more productive as a photographer to focus on image content!)


St. Patrick’s Day Parade – Brooklyn, NY

Features, Customization: Being the newest camera, the 7D has the most advanced features. As I mentioned above, it has an advanced auto focus system, providing more focus points, more focus modes (single point, spot, zone, expansion, etc.) and numerous options for how the focus points perform and select and track a subject. I’ve written a bit more about these features here, along with links to additional resources. There are advanced custom functions for auto focusing and tracking, flash control (the 7D is the only one which offers remote flash capabilities, which will save you a couple hundred dollars on Pocket Wizards if you are going to use this), and customization of buttons and displays. Again, I’ve explained a lot of these features in this post. Read through them. Do you understand them? Are you going to learn them? Are you going to need and use them? Probably not. They are nice to have, make you feel like you have a really powerful camera you are in control of if you learn how to choose, set and use them, but in everyday shooting I rarely, if ever, make use of them. The live view (which the 50D has as well) and the built in level are cool, but will you ever use them? I don’t. (The built in level will be most useful to landscape photographers). Of all the features and customizations of the 7D that are not on the older 50D, the only ones I miss are the remote flash capability, the grid overlay in the viewfinder, the larger more inclusive viewfinder, the spring loaded doors of the 7D, and the ability to switch functions of the top dial and back dial in Manual mode. (It is such a nice feature on the 7D – since I use Av mode most of the time, the top dial controls aperture. But when I switch to M mode, the top dial now controls shutter speed. So with the 50D I have to overcome muscle memory and use the back dial for aperture. But with the 7D, one can switch the dials’ functions.) Unless you are an intense sports or animal shooter who needs to customize how the camera selects and auto focuses on a moving object, how it addresses an object that moves in front of your subject, and how fast it responds to this new object before it addresses or ignores it, then you don’t need these features. And when you compare the features of the 7D to the 5D or 50D, you find that the older cameras are not outdated dinosaurs as forums will lead you to believe – but rather they also have many of these features and customizations as well. As far as all the new auto focus features of the 7D, it turns out they barely mattered to me because I manually select my auto focus point 99% of the time. I don’t want the camera necessarily focusing on the closest object, and it certainly does not know what I wish to focus on, so I don’t leave it up to chance, and I select the point myself. Therefore I rarely use any of these advanced auto-focus modes. In addition, it is much easier and quicker to manually select an auto focus point on the 5D and the 50D when you are selecting from 9 focus points rather than the 19 focus points of the 7D! However, if you photograph fast moving objects that you would prefer the camera to locate, track, and properly focus on, most of the time, all by itself, then the 7D is the camera for you. Also, note that due to the fact that the 5D is a professional body and not a consumer level camera, it does not have a built in pop-up flash. If you plan to use a flash with it, you will need to buy the Canon 580EX II flash (which you should do with any of these camera anyway).


San Miguel Dueñas, Guatemala

It is expected that the 5D Mk III and possibly the 60D (or whatever it may be called) will also incorporate this new 7D type focusing system when they come out. The 5D, 7D, and 50D all have AF microadjustment capability, which means that you can adjust the auto-focusing of each lens individually, in the camera, if they happen to front- or back-focus a little bit. The problem is that it is a maddening procedure, and you can never get it quite right because the focusing typically varies slightly for each focus point, as well as for different distances and apertures. (You may get it exactly sharp for the center focus point at 15 feet at f/4, yet find that it is still off for the upper left focus point when you shoot under real life conditions that vary from those settings.) I feel that if you need an excessive amount of AF microadjustment, you should probably send the camera or lens back for repair, calibration, or replacement. Personally, if I were using a non-L-series lens, I wouldn’t worry about a few mm of front- or back-focusing. And if I were using an L-series lens that didn’t focus dead on, I would send it back to Canon for recalibration – which in fact is something I have done. (I don’t understand people’s celebration of AF microadjustment – isn’t it a built in admission of poor manufacturing quality control, especially when pairing a Canon lens with a Canon body?) Finally, be aware that the mode dials of the 7D and 5D do not have most of the “basic zone” mode settings such as sports, portrait, and landscape. As the user of such an advanced camera, you are expected to know how to change the camera’s settings (aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc.) yourself for these types of situations. If you don’t, and/ or if you plan on keeping your camera set on Auto (so called “green box mode”) or Program (P) mode, you probably shouldn’t be considering a 5D, 7D or 50D anyway, because you’ll be paying for far more camera than you will be using! Start with the 550D or one of the other Rebels for now and upgrade later if you feel you have outgrown its capabilities. If you are concerned about the best image quality, your image quality difference between a 7D on Auto and a 550D on Auto will be negligible. (Note that these cameras also have a Creative Auto mode, which is a weird “transitional” mode between Auto and actually learning how to make use of aperture settings and exposure compensation in Av, Tv or M mode. Since using aperture settings to dictate desired depth of field is essential to photographic composition, it is best you actually learn it directly.)

Metering: The 7D has an advanced metering system compared to the 5D Mk II and the 50D, and this is actually one very important advantage. The 7D has a more precise 63 zone metering system vs. the 35 zone system of the 5D and 50D. With the 7D, I can confidently leave it on evaluative metering 97% of the time, and it meters the subject exceptionally well 98% of those times. Canon claims that it will meter properly for a wide variety of subjects, including back lit and extreme contrast subjects. I have found this to be true. Compared to the 50D, this is significant. I have found that the 50D regularly overexposes by about 1/3 or 1/2 a stop, and I have exposure compensation on -1/3 all the time to avoid blown out highlights (except in dark situations, where it tends to under-expose). Also, the 50D just does not always correctly expose in unusual or difficult lighting situations. And for dramatic and powerful photos, you want unusual or difficult lighting situations, so I have found that I am using exposure compensation, or having to change to center weighted, partial, or spot metering often. While this is sharpening my metering eye and skills, it is a pain and it leads to the risk of lost shots. I would prefer that it just got the exposure right the majority of the time, as the 7D does. (I have subsequently found that using center-weighted averaging mode on the 50D all the time results in more consistent exposures than evaluative metering mode). You can learn more about the various metering modes, and when to use them, in this post.


Vinnie – Brooklyn, NY

550D / Rebel T2i: The Canon 550D or Rebel T2i has some impressive specs, and shares many features of the 50D and the 7D, and it is actually the newest model of all of them. It has 18mp and HD video like the 7D, but only 3.7fps continuous shooting mode frame rate. And it has 9 AF points and less complex auto focus options, like the 50D. It is fully capable of taking photos that are virtually the same quality as the 7D and the 50D, and if you don’t have intensive shooting and ego demands (ie, wanting the biggest, most expensive body whether or not you actually understand, need, or use its advanced features), it is worth seriously considering. But the 550D can’t have every feature and custom function of the higher level cameras, otherwise it would just be a 7D! If you are concerned about comparing image quality, ISO performance, auto-focusing speed, etc, all of these cameras have more than enough of what you need. You should instead be comparing the features and advanced options of the cameras which are most important to how you work. The top of the line camera won’t help you take better photos. But mastery of the tool that best fits your need just might (when combined with good knowledge of composition and lighting). I encourage you look at Flickr users’ photos taken with an “old,” 8MP Rebel XT to confirm this. Also, don’t rule out the Canon Rebel XSi if you are just starting out with digital SLRs.

If you are comparing a 5D Mk II vs. 550D (5D vs. T2i) you are looking at a professional full frame camera vs. a consumer, entry level dSLR, and skipping 2 pro-sumer cameras in between. So while the features of the 550D are nearly on par with the 7D in many ways, the 550D vs. 5D MkII is an odd comparison that quite frankly confuses me. Are you new to digital SLRs? Get a 550D (or a 50D/ 60D if you wish to spend more money or need the higher frame rate for sports or photojournalism). Have you outgrown all the features, capabilities, or limitations after extensive use of a 20D, 40D or 50D? Get a 5D MkII.  (Note that whenever I say 5D, I am referring to the 5D Mark II, the current model at this time).  Are the images you’ve been taking with your Rebel or 40D no longer living up to your professional level needs in terms of dynamic range and noise at high ISOs? Get a 5D. Want to spend $2,400 on a camera body? Get a 5D. Want to spend $800 and still have a tool that is fully capable of taking professional quality images? Get the 550D.

There are a few reasons why you would need a 7D or a 50D over a 550D / T2i. A major one is the advanced controls over camera settings. The more expensive models have additional buttons, controls, and displays on the exterior of the camera to enable quicker changes of important settings and easier viewing of what the current settings are. The 550D is capable of changing all these settings too, it is just done in a different way. For example, the 7D and 50D have the big dial on the back for quickly scrolling through menus, images, and for quick exposure compensation changes and changes of other settings. They also have the little toggle joystick on the back, primarily for quickly changing focus points. These 2 cameras also have the additional display screen and buttons on the top to easily view and change a number of settings such as ISO, drive mode, white balance, and metering mode – among others. These cameras are designed for a professional or advanced user who makes use of all these settings and needs to quickly change them while working. However, with a little practice, these settings can also be quickly changed using the buttons and big screen on the back of the 550D. The 7D and 50D also have advanced menus which give the user more customization options, like those discussed above (27 custom functions on the 7D vs. 12 on the 550D), and additional features desired by advanced users or pros, such as 1/3 ISO increments where the 550D has full increments (100-200-400 etc.).

What you are also paying for with the 7D and the 50D are stronger, better constructed metal bodies to handle daily use and abuse as well as some weatherproofing of the buttons and doors. (However, Canon cameras have fallen from elephants and airplanes and have survived, so they are all generally pretty rugged. At pitcher of water was thrown on the back of my Rebel XT and it was fine.) All these features give the 7D and 50D a bigger and heavier body than the smaller, lighter 550D, which may be an important consideration for some users. Also, the 7D, and 50D have AF microadjustment capability, but the 550D does not. AF Microadjustment means that you can adjust the auto-focusing for each lens, in the camera menu, if they happen to front- or back-focus a little bit. I don’t think this is a very important feature, as I discuss above in Features. (The problem is that it is a maddening procedure, and you may get the focus exactly sharp for the center focus point at 15 feet at f/4, yet find that it is still off for the upper left focus point when you shoot under real life conditions that vary from those settings.) As I said above, if you need an excessive amount of AF microadjustment, you should probably send the camera or lens back for repair, calibration, or replacement. Or if you are that obsessed about pixels, you should be looking at a pro-sumer or pro camera and L series lenses. Finally, the 550D also uses SD type memory cards, while the other cameras all use CF, and the smaller battery of the 550D will not last for as many shots as the other cameras.

Also, as I discussed above, be aware that the mode dials of the 7D and 5D MkII do not have most of the “basic zone” mode settings such as sports, portrait, and landscape. If you are starting to learn dSLR photography, these modes are helpful for seeing the results from different camera settings, and are good shortcuts until you have learned more about apertures and shutter speeds. Or if you never intend to use or learn more about the advance settings, the basic modes are good for helping you get better looking results than Auto or Program modes. So if you plan on keeping your camera set on Auto, Program, or the basic modes (sports, landscape, etc.), start with the 550D or one of the other Rebels for now and upgrade later if you feel you have outgrown its capabilities. Your image quality difference between a 7D on Auto and a 550D on Auto will be negligible.

So there you have it. You can read great, in depth reviews of each of these cameras on DPreview.com. There are probably numerous features and points that I forgot to mention, but hopefully this will give you a starting point in determining which features are important to you, and what warrants further research to help you in making your decision. The important thing is to choose one that fits your needs and budget, then stop comparing and get out and shoot! As I said above, your camera choice should be based on your level and needs as a photographer, and on which camera best serves the way you work. Whichever one you choose, I highly encourage you to get the the applicable Canon Guide to Digital SLR Photography from David Busch, or a similar book like the Magic Lantern Guides. They are much more user friendly versions of the camera’s manual, and will get you up and running quickly and assist you in fully understanding the settings, controls, and functions of your dSLR.

Need a lens to go with your new camera? Read about choosing a lens other than the kit lens in this post Why You Shouldn’t Buy the Kit Lens, and learn about the Best Lenses for Travel Photography here.

Please leave a comment, ask a question. Let me know what has been helpful, and what you’d like to read more about.

If you plan to purchase any of this equipment or books, I encourage you to do so through the site I’ve set up with Amazon, Doug’s Picturing Change Digital Photography Equipment and Books. Purchasing through this site or one of the direct-to-Amazon.com links below will help support my blog and my work. Thanks! And for those of you across the pond, click here for my referral link to Amazon UK. If you are in another country, click on one of my Amazon links, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click on your country for your local Amazon.
See the T2i on Amazon.
See the 60D on Amazon.
See the 7D on Amazon.
See the Canon 5D MkII on Amazon.

When I began my work in travel, culture, and humanitarian photography I spent a great deal of time scouring websites, reading forums, checking reviews, making lists, and agonizing before I finally settled on which lenses were best for my needs and my work. So hopefully all my effort can help you save some time and assist you in your research in selecting which lenses are best for you. In addition to travel, humanitarian, and photojournalism work, much of this advice will apply to general photography as well. After you’ve learned all about lenses here, you can have a look at this other post to see what other camera gear and accessories you might want.


Open Windows, San Miguel Duenas, Guatemala

The easy answer to the question of which lens is best for travel photography, right up front, is: an all purpose zoom that goes all the way from wide to telephoto, like an 18-200mm, or a standard zoom like a 24-105mm. See the Standard Zoom section and the One Lens For Travel sections of this post for more information about these. The more difficult answer to that question is addressed in detail by this post. The most difficult answer to this question is: it depends. It depends on you. It depends on your level, interests, and goals as a photographer. It depends on what you most enjoy taking photos of and what type of images you aim to capture. Hopefully this post will help you figure that out, and I’ll address this most complicated answer more at the end of the post.

The primary sources for me in determining which lenses to choose were looking at the websites and blogs of other photographers who do similar work, since they often list and discuss the equipment they use. The initial and most helpful source for me was Karl Grobl, since his work as a humanitarian photojournalist is closest to what I do and what I aspire to do. But some of the other ones I can recall looking at include David duChemin – (who is a travel, art, and humanitarian photographer – he seems to have moved or deleted his “Gear” page), plus Nevada Wier and Bob Krist – both dedicated travel and cultural photographers. Oh, and the books and advice of the ever-enthusiastic Rick Sammon helped out along the way. I then applied what I learned from them to my specific photographic interests, preferences, and tendencies (which can be summed up with the fact that I typically like to zoom in close). In other words, if one of them favors a 50mm prime lens but you know you prefer the versatility of zooms, then adapt what they say to your needs.

For me and many others the ideal combination is a wide angle zoom, a standard (or middle range) zoom, and a telephoto zoom. (If you are interested in just one lens for travel, have a look at the Standard Zoom section, and then also jump down to the bottom of this article for the One Lens for Travel section.) I’m going to stick to the professional level lenses and compare the Canon L lenses first, and discuss other Canon lenses in the One Lens for Travel section below. I’ll try to keep it short and simple, and let you conduct further research on the countless sites dedicated to equipment and reviews.

Click on each lens below to link to its page on Amazon.com. If you plan to purchase any of this equipment from Amazon (or other equipment, accessories, or anything else), I encourage you go to Amazon.com by clicking on the links found throughout this post, and then Amazon will give me a little something for the referral, which will help support my blog. Thanks!

If you wish to first try out a lens before buying it, click on this link to go to BorrowedLenses.com, where you can get great prices on short-term rentals of any lens as well as the latest Canon and Nikon dSLR bodies (as well as video, audio, and lighting equipment).

If you are in the UK or wish to purchase from B&H, Adorama, or direct from Canon see the information at the end of this post for those links. The lenses I chose, which work best for my needs, are indicated by (Y). I apologize to the Nikonistas out there, since all of these lenses are the Canon variety. However, Nikon typically has an equivalent lens for each of these. Just search for the same focal length and have a look at the aperture and price to determine the comparable Nikon (Nikkor) lens. For example here are some equivalents:
Canon 16-35 f/2.8L to Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8
Canon 24-70 f/2.8L to Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8
Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS to Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8 VR

Check out this post to better Understand Canon Lens Notations – the significance of all the various numbers and letters in a lens name.

Wide Angle Zoom
As humanitarian photojournalist Karl Grobl says, this is the “bread and butter lens” of the photojournalist. This is used for up-close-and-personal shots, for environmental portraits or photos, and for “story-telling” images which include multiple subjects or a larger context.


Open Windows, San Miguel Duenas, Guatemala

EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM (Y)
pros: slightly wider on the wide end which is good for cropped sensors (7D, 60D, Rebels), larger maximum aperture (“faster”) for use in low light situations or for more dramatic depth of field
cons: high price, heavier in weight
notes: get the slim UV filter to avoid vignetting, especially if using a full frame camera like the 5D
filter: 82mm slim filter fits this lens.
notes: The above two images of this post were with this lens. This is the wide angle zoom I chose because I wanted the “faster” f/2.8 aperture to be able to use it effectively in low light situations.

EF 17-40mm f/4L USM
pros: more zoom on the far end, lighter in weight, much lower price
cons: f/4 maximum aperture not as “fast” and slightly less dramatic for shallow depth of field, not quite as wide on the wide end
filter: 77mm slim filter fits this lens.

Standard Zoom
This is a great “walk-around” all purpose lens, especially for travel or everyday photography. If you want to head out on the streets with just one lens, this is the one to take which will serve you well in most situations you encounter.


Panajachel, Guatemala

EF 24-70 f/2.8L USM (Y)
pros: larger maximum aperture (“faster”) for use in low light situations and more dramatic depth of field
cons: heavier in weight, higher price, less zoom range, no image stabilization
filter: 77mm multi-coated filter or 77mm coated filter fits this lens.
notes: a great all-purpose walk-around lens, though relatively big and heavy. I discuss using this lens, with several photo examples, in this post here.

There is a new EF 24-70 f/2.8L II USM lens plus the new EF 24-70 f/4L IS USM lens, both with the same focal length as above.  The first one just listed is an improved, lighter version of the 24-70 f/2.8L, and the second one listed adds Image Stabilization but has an f/4 maximum aperture rather than the f/2.8 maximum aperture of the other 24-70mm lenses. Adding these two new lenses into the mix makes this an even more challenging decision in the Standard Zoom category!

EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM
pros: lighter in weight, image stabilization which will help you gain 2 or 3 stops in speed vs. hand-held non IS (*see below), more zoom range, lower price
cons: f/4 maximum aperture not as “fast” and slightly less dramatic for shallow depth of field
filter: 77mm multi-coated filter or 77mm coated filter fits this lens.

* this means for example, if the proper exposure of a scene is 1/60 at f/5.6, and you want to hold on to that f/5.6 aperture for compositional reasons and not have to sacrifice your chosen depth of field for a faster shutter speed, you could capture it without blur, whereas without the image stabilization (IS) the hand held image may have been blurry.

Telephoto Zoom
This is a great lens for portraits, close ups, details, ability to zoom in and capture something far away, sports and action shots, and ability to create dramatic depth of field or blurry backgrounds. There are four versions of the Canon 70-200mm lens – either f/2.8 or f/4, each with or without image stabilization (IS). Oh wait, there are now five versions, with the recent Mark II version of the f/2.8 IS. I think with a lens this long and heavy, you need image stabilization if you are going to be hand holding it, so I will ignore the non-IS versions.


Solola Market, Guatemala

EF 70-200, f/2.8L IS USM
pros: larger maximum aperture (“faster”) for use in low light situations and more dramatic depth of field. The Mark II version of this has a closer minimum focus distance and improved optics
cons: very heavy, very large, higher price, especially the new Mark II version
filter: 77mm multi-coated filter or 77mm coated filter fits this lens.

EF 70-200, f/4L IS USM (Y)
pros: lighter weight, smaller, lower price
cons: f/4 maximum aperture not as “fast” and less dramatic for shallow depth of field
filter: 67mm multi-coated filter or 67mm coated filter fits this lens.
notes: This is the telephoto zoom I chose. I sacrificed the one-stop of aperture for the much more manageable size and weight of the f/4. And since I primarily use it outdoors, and because it has image stabilization, the f/4 aperture only really affects the extent of background blurring. There are several example photos of this lens in action in this post here and also more nice example photos in this post here.

I haven’t used each of these lenses in the field, though I have briefly tested most of them, so my decisions and my pros and cons are sometimes based on my research and from what I’ve learned from others who use them. Consider them starting points for issues you want to consider in your selections. And while there are endless discussions and comparisons regarding image quality, sharpness, sweet spots, etc. for each pair above, I will stay out of that discussion and tell you there are highly regarded professionals who use each of these, that any Canon L series lens is professional quality, that price and/ or largest maximum aperture will often indicate the one that is generally considered “better,” and that you will never regret your choice based on these concerns. Note that many L-series lenses are sealed against and dust, water and weather. Sometimes a front filter is required to complete the weather sealing, such as with the wide angle lenses. I suggest always using a clear, protective UV filter with any lens, preferably a high quality, multi-coated B+W brand filter. If you don’t want to spend that much, at least get a high quality single-coated B+W filter rather than a cheaper Tiffen filter.

When making your choices, I highly recommend going to a store with your camera and actively testing and comparing each pair. The difference in size and weight, and even feel of the lens in your hands, is often dramatic and may help you make your decision. If you are still undecided, rent one for the weekend and work with it. And don’t think that you have to immediately get three lenses in order to do your work. Karl Grobl uses just two of them in his work, and that hasn’t limited him in either humanitarian or travel work. Consider your primary needs, and buy one or two based on that, and combine them with less expensive non-L lenses for now.

If your budget or needs don’t call for L-series lenses, see the One Lens for Travel section below, or look for the closest equivalents of the above lenses in other Canon or Sigma or Tamron, etc. lenses (or in the Nikon lenses if you are over in that camp).

Prime Lenses
Many photographers rave about prime lenses (lenses of a single focal length, that don’t zoom) for many reasons, including image quality, the purity and simplicity of working with them, and their large maximum apertures (as wide as f/1.2) for very dramatic compositions through use of shallow depth of field. The focal lengths I see used most often are (these are obviously Canon examples):

Canon 35mm f/2
Canon 50mm f/1.8 II (high image quality for about $100!)
Canon 50mm f/1.4 (Y) (a little more costly, but higher quality 50mm)
Canon 85mm f/1.8

Take into consideration if you have a full frame or a cropped sensor, since with a cropped sensor 7D , 60D, or 550D the field of view of the 50mm lens will be closer to an 80mm lens on a full frame 5D camera (or a 35mm film camera), so the field of view of a 35mm will be closer to a 50mm on a full frame or 35mm film camera.


San Miguel Dueñas, Guatemala

One Lens for Travel
I know a lot of people are interested in finding just one lens that is good for travel photography. As I mentioned above the best option is typically the standard, mid-range zoom. Look above for info on the Canon L-series lenses. My choice would be the EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM. For something less expensive Canon offers a couple other great options. For each of these lenses, I would highly recommend getting the optional lens hood (the hood comes with L-series lenses). It helps shade the lens to prevent unwanted lens flare (although lens flare can sometimes be used for a great effect when desired), helps protect the lens from bumps and drops, and makes you look cooler and more professional! And of course always get a good quality, coated B+W brand UV filter for protection – or at least a cheaper Tiffen filter. However, there is a significant difference in the clarity and lack of reflectiveness of a coated B+W filter vs. a standard Tiffen filter, which you can see if you look through them side by side, so those who are concerned about image quality should go with a coated, or better yet multi-coated B+W filter (designated MRC). Also, note that non-L-series lenses are not nearly as well sealed against dust, water and weather as most all of the L-series lenses are.

EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
pros: less expensive, lighter weight, image stabilization
cons: less zoom range on the telephoto end than the 18-200mm, not a constant minimum aperture like the L-series lenses (the f/3.5-5.6 means your largest aperture at the 18mm wide end will be f/3.5, while the largest aperture at the 135mm telephoto end will be a less dramatic f/5.6), not higher quality USM focusing motor, EF-S means this lens can only be used on cameras with the APS-C sensor, or non-full-frame sensors, so it can be used on all Digital Rebels, 20D-50D, and 7D, but cannot be used on a Canon 5D. However, that means it is optimized for those cameras, especially for the wide end.
Lens hood EW-73B fits this lens, and a 67mm coated filter or 67mm filter.
This is currently one option for the kit lens for the Canon EOS 60D, and is a good choice if you are debating between the kit lens or not.

EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
pros: more zoom range on the telephoto end, image stabilization, better image quality than the 18-135mm lens.
cons: more expensive, heavier weight, not a constant minimum aperture like the L-series lenses (see above lens), not higher quality USM focusing motor, EF-S for APS-C sensor cameras only (see above lens).
Lens hood EW-78D fits this lens and a 72mm coated filter or 72mm filter.
This is currently another option for the kit lens for the Canon EOS 60D, and is an excellent choice if you are debating between the kit lens or not.

EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
This is an older lens that seems to have been replaced for the most part by the two lenses above.
pros: less expensive, image stabilization, USM means a faster, quieter auto-focusing motor and full time manual focus (which means you can override the auto-focus by turning the focus ring without having to switch the lens to MF manual focus), EF so can be used with both APS-C and full frame cameras too if you have or wish to upgrade to a 5D.
cons: not a constant minimum aperture like the L-series lenses (see above), less range on both the wide and telephoto ends.
Lens hood EW-78BII fits this lens and a 72mm coated filter or 72mm filter.

It Depends
The actual answer to the question of which lens is best for travel photography is: it depends. As I said above, it depends on you – on your level, interests, and goals as a photographer. It depends on what you most enjoy taking photos of and what type of images you aim to capture. If you are a photography novice, or just want to be able to capture all or most situations, the all purpose zoom or standard zoom might serve you best. But if you wish to capture more of a certain type of photo that you like, photos that match your specific visual ideas and preferences, you need to reconsider. Do you like sweeping vistas and all encompassing environmental portraits? Do you typically want to capture the entire scene in your shots? Then perhaps a wide angle zoom will work better for you than a standard zoom. Certainly, you will be limited and not able to frame certain shots the way you might want, but you will capture more of the types of images you like, and might simply have to move in closer than usual to get some the other images. Do you like extreme close-ups of people’s faces with dramatically blurry backgrounds, architectural details on buildings, the look of compressed perspective? Then a telephoto zoom rather than a standard zoom will help you capture more of those images you like. Sure, you will not be able to get the wide angle view of spaces, but you might succeed in capturing many more of the dramatic photos you like. Or perhaps you best work like a classic photojournalist and want to capture scenes and portraits more closely to how you see them. Then a single prime lens like a 50mm or 85mm might be the one lens that is perfect for you.

The Best Lens for the Canon 60D
A lot of people ask, “Which is the best lens for the Canon 60D, (or the 7D, or the 550D/T2i or the 5D)?” There isn’t a specific lens that is best for a specific camera. I hope you’ve already learned that from reading this post! A lens will perform exactly the same on each of those cameras or any other camera with an APS-C size sensor. The effective focal lengths will be different with a full frame sensor dSLR, such as the Canon 5D, but they will still be wide angle zooms, medium zooms, etc. The best lens for your camera is the one that is best for you, your work, and the types of photos you take. That being said, the kit lens that Canon has paired up with the 60D, the EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS is an excellent choice for an all-purpose everyday and travel lens. See the EOS 60D with the kit lens on Amazon here.

For related posts, check out other entries in the Lenses Category, the Humanitarian Photography category, and my posts about Fixed vs. Variable Aperture Lenses and Choosing a Lens beyond the Kit Lens, as well as my discussion and recommendations for gear for travel photography.

Purchasing: As I mentioned above, if you plan to purchase any of this equipment, I encourage you to do so by clicking on the links of each of the lenses listed above, which will take you to that page on Amazon.com. Or go directly to Amazon using this link or click on the Amazon logo below. If you purchase through these links, Amazon will give me a little something for the referral, which will help support my blog. Thanks, I appreciate your support!
Amazon.com

If you are in the UK, you can click here for the UK Amazon referral link. If you are in another country, click on one of my Amazon links, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click on your country for your local Amazon.

For those interested in purchasing from B&H Photo, Adorama, or direct from Canon, please click on their logos on the Gear page. Thanks!

Renting Lenses: If you wish to first try out a lens before buying it, click on this link to go to BorrowedLenses.com, where you can get great prices on short-term rentals of any lens as well as the latest Canon and Nikon dSLR bodies (as well as video, audio, and lighting equipment).

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There are a number of blogs and sites I check out most every day in order to stay current with the latest photo equipment, news, and discussions.  One of my favorites is Canon Rumors, which – as the name would imply – is all about the latest rumors regarding new Canon cameras, lenses, and firmware updates.  It is particularly useful if you are thinking of purchasing a new body or lens because you can find out if the particular model you are interested in is rumored to be updated soon, thus possibly affecting your purchasing decision.  If you follow it regularly for just a couple weeks, you can get good feel for all the expected new releases.  For example right now, the Canon 550D/ Rebel T2i came out just about when it was predicted, and the Canon 60D is rumored to be coming out any day now.

It also has a great Price Watch section where you can compare the current prices of numerous cameras and lenses at a variety of retailers such as B+H, Adorama, and Amazon.


San Miguel Duenas, Guatemala

(For related posts, check out other entries in the Humanitarian Photography category which includes post such as choosing your camera and lenses, as well as the follow up to this post, After the Self-Assignment.)

How to Become a Humanitarian Photographer

As with many other photography specialties, there is no set course to becoming a humanitarian photographer. You must make your own path by determining your goals, piecing together the advice and experiences of others, and following your intuition. You can go to school and study photojournalism, you can create your own self-designed curriculum of classes, workshops, and experience, you can intern with an experienced photographer, or you can just strike out into the real world and learn it on your own. Starting out as a humanitarian photographer, or any type of photographer for that matter, involves learning about so many diverse areas beyond the art of making images and the skills of using a camera, a flash, and Photoshop (all of which are full time undertakings in themselves). There is also much to learn about business, copyright, marketing, branding, finances, insurance, client relations…the list goes on and on. But I’d like to go into detail about one important and practical aspect of starting out: the self-assignment.


San Francisco, Peru

In order to discover if travel or humanitarian photography is what you really want to dedicate yourself to, it is vital to get out there and really try it out. Travel to a foreign country, get out in the field, and spend days working at it, as if you were on a real assignment. One can think about it from the comfort of home, drooling over the beautiful photos of those you admire, and imagining the excitement of traveling in exotic places. But you may find that working in the field, spending weeks away from friends, family and soft toilet paper, and suffering days of intestinal distress is not all you hoped for. As any working photographer will tell you, it’s hard. Immensely gratifying and often fun, but none the less hard. I encourage anyone not to invest too much time, thought, and money into this dream until they have undertaken this important test.

Planning and executing a self assignment is challenging, but entirely do-able and realistic for anyone who is dedicated to the idea. Even if you have a full time job and aren’t making that much money, it can be done. Don’t quit your job yet to dive head first into self-employment, but use your vacation time to test the waters.


Cusco, Peru

Money: The first challenge is always money. You have to save up money for the gear, for the time away from work, and for the trip. This is done the old-fashioned way – by scrimping and saving. You’ve read it many times before, and it sometimes seems unrealistic, but it works. Save money anywhere you can – stop eating out, bring your lunch to work, cancel cable, cancel Netflix, get your books and movies from the library, stop buying stuff, use the right ATM and stop paying fees, scour the Internet for the best price on the gear you need. It may take longer than you want, it may even take a year or two, but it works. Remember, each restaurant meal you skip here equals three equivalent restaurant meals in a developing country – or better yet, it equals a week’s worth of groceries when you travel. The recession has already given everyone a head-start into living and thinking more economically, you just have to be dedicated to it a bit more and a lot longer. Also, once you begin traveling to developing countries and seeing how people find great joy in life yet live with so few possessions, your new economic lifestyle will seem that much more appropriate. I’m not just saying all these things because I’ve read them or because they sound like they will work. I’ve done them, all. Also look to Ami Vitale for inspiration. She worked long and hard and saved, then headed off and launched her career exactly this way (see the How You Finance Your Stories video at the bottom of this page: http://digitaljournalist.org/issue0301/av_intro.html). Look into counties that aren’t very expensive to fly to. For someone in the USA, that means look to South and Central America. Depending on the time of year, there are incredibly cheap deals. For example, I recently saw $84 tickets to Guatemala on a major airline. Yes, $84 each way! That’s cheaper than flying home for Christmas. Granted, it is a redeye with a long layover, but it gets you there. Be flexible and use Kayak.com to find the best prices.


Taquile Island on Lake Titicaca, Peru

Gear: You might not yet be able to afford the latest and greatest professional gear. In fact, until you are sure you really want to do this, you probably don’t want to invest in a 5D Mark III and 2 or 3 L-series lenses. Every photo forum you follow, pixel peeper you talk to, and gear review you read is going to convince you that you need the most current, top of the line gear. But you don’t. I do recommend using a dSLR and not just a point and shoot, so something like a Canon Rebel T5i / 700D and a versatile zoom lens like the Canon 18-200mm (or the Nikon equivalent) offers more than enough quality and range to start off with if you can’t afford more. On my first self-assignment all I had was an outdated, 8 megapixel Rebel XT and a single, 28-105mm lens. It didn’t prevent me from getting the shots I wanted, they’ve been exhibited, won awards, been honored by the United Nations, been used on travel guide and textbook covers, and no one has ever told me that the quality of the photos is unacceptable. (And remember that no one, outside the photo world, will ever even think to ask you what camera you used or which lens you chose.) Sometimes, with that early gear, I wasn’t able to zoom as much as I wanted for travel shots, or get wide enough for the close-ups of humanitarian work, so that is why the 18-200mm or 18-135mm (which weren’t available until more recently) would be a pretty ideal single lens solution now. (The secret fact is, I even have a couple great photos in my portfolio, a photo on a travel guidebook cover, and won a dSLR camera using an Olympus SP-320, 7 megapixel point and shoot.) Don’t go overboard with bags and accessories. Get a simple holster bag, like an M-Rock Yellowstone or whichever one fits your body and lens, or a LowePro or Tamrac bag or backpack, a couple filters (UV and polarizing), a lens pen and cloth, a rocket blower, extra batteries and memory cards, and then stop looking. You don’t need anything else. I promise. (Well, also your laptop computer, external hard drive, and some type of insurance coverage for it all. And maybe a Pac Safe 55 to secure it. And perhaps an external flash if you will be working inside. Hey, no one said this was cheap!) For insurance, look into your home-owner’s or renter’s insurance to see if it will cover it, or look at NANPA’s coverage or the discussion here. (If you happen to join NANPA to get their insurance, be sure to mention my name as a referrer, and I get $20 NANPA Bucks and save on my next renewal!) To sum it up, as culture photographer Craig Ferguson stated in a recent interview, “You don’t need to have the most expensive gear or even the newest. A plane ticket and enough money for 3 months living coupled with an entry level body and a 50mm lens will get you further than the latest pro-level body and no time or money to use it.” I discuss additional photography gear and accessories that are useful for working in the field in this post.


Altos de los Mores, Peru

Researching the NGO: Figure out what type of NGO (non-governmental organization) or non-profit organization you’d like to photograph, and which countries interest you, and start doing research. Which subjects most inspire your passion for this work? Disabled children, gender equality, health, faith-based work, community development? In every developing country there are countless NGOs doing each of these types of work and more. As a professional, you might not be able to be this specific in your choices, so take advantage of your self-assignment. Do searches on the Internet, and look on idealist.org. It is hard to imagine that any small, typically struggling organization does not want free, semi-professional quality photos for their website and newsletters, so most all will be welcoming to your offer to volunteer. But it is very important that you are quite clear that your interest and intent is to photograph their work. If you sign up to be a general volunteer, you will be expected and obligated to be doing whatever work they ask of you. Do not think you can be a volunteer and also take photos on the side. You will not do a good job of either that way. Be perfectly clear with them that you are interested in primarily photographing the work they do. That doesn’t mean you can’t spend a few days as a volunteer, and by all means you should (see below), but they should not be expecting you to be a typical volunteer.


Altos de los Mores, Peru

Ask questions and find out as much as you can about the actual work they do. Don’t just trust what you read on their website, but find out exactly what they do and where they work. They may say they work in 4 different communities, but really they might only visit 3 of them once a year for a medical visit or to bring donations. They might say they have a number of different programs, but really they may only be currently focusing on one of them based on financial reasons or staff and volunteers skills. Make sure that your area of interest is really what they are doing now. Explain to them your interests, and see if meeting your goals will be possible with them. NGOs are often run by incredibly generous, helpful, kind, friendly, flexible people, and they will want to help you at your project. But they are also incredibly busy and strapped for resources, so learn to communicate and work with them on their terms. Many organizations require that you pay to be a volunteer. This may sound strange, but you have to understand that they need money in order to keep doing the work they do. Just the fact that you are working for free does not pay the salary for the NGO’s staff. But be wary, there are many placement services that make money by being a middle-man, so make arrangements directly with the NGO. If your volunteer fee includes lodging, or even food, it is often quite reasonable to pay them. However, there are also many excellent organizations which will not charge you anything. If this is the case, be sure and support them by bringing donations (books, toys, art supplies). See my Resources Page for more information on volunteering. Some organizations run restaurants and hostels, so support them by eating and staying with them. Also, if you are thinking of joining a mission type trip, like a medical mission, find one that is being organized from your area so that you can document the planning and the departure of the group at the airport.

**Update 2010-01-28** Here is a website I just discovered which attempts to link up volunteer photographers with humanitarian projects world-wide: http://photophilanthropy.org/


Cusco, Peru

Working in the Field: It seems every photographer I admire always discusses the importance of talking to and getting to know the people you are photographing. Sometimes that means just chatting with them and buying some of their wares before you start to photograph them, other times that means living among them for several days, weeks, or months. As a photographer working with an NGO, this means you should consider being a volunteer for a day, without your camera, without photographing. Yes, that is a painful experience, to see potentially great shots slip by left and right. But this sacrifice will quickly pay off when you start to work. This gives you an opportunity to learn what the organization does and how they work. It also allows you to start to get to know the people they serve, and for them to become comfortable around you. It is obvious that this approach, rather than barging in with your face behind a camera, is going to result in much more genuine photos. Also, stay out of the way of the director and the staff when they are working. Make your arrangements and ask questions before or after the workday. Be flexible to ever-changing, never scheduled situations, but also, always remind the director of what you want to be doing. She might go running off to visit one of the client’s homes or villages, and you want her to know to always grab you and take you along on those types of trips. Take advantage of your time there to do, see, and photograph as many different types of places and situations as you can. Talk to everyone you meet – other volunteers, people at restaurants and hotels. Many other people are doing volunteer work, and they may point you in the direction of a great photographic situation.


Huinchiri, Peru

Develop, learn, and practice a good workflow for saving and backing up your images every day. It is time consuming and easy to want to put off, but if you get behind there will be no catching up. I recommend using David duChemin’s global workflow as a starting point (alternate link here). Always have your camera with you, even if you think you are just being taken to the bakery for some bread and are told you’ll be back in 5 minutes. You will inevitably be taken on a two hour detour through a part of town off the beaten path, with amazing photo opportunities, during the magic hour (best evening light). Always carefully prepare and assemble your gear before you start each day, and have new batteries and memory cards accessible while you shoot. I highly recommend you always remember to “make haste slowly.” What this means is that you will often be in a hurry, but don’t rush and act in a panic during critical moments, in preparation or in shooting. Change lenses carefully and slowly, then rush back to the action. Clean the mysterious glob off your lens carefully and delicately, then get back to shooting. There are countless opportunities to damage your gear, and while it is durable, somewhat waterproof, and stray marks and dings on your tools are not something to fret over, a dropped or scratched lens is. After this, well, I don’t know what to tell you – you’re going to learn a lot. You are going to learn your camera and its settings inside and out, you are going to learn to work under pressure, always being ready, always trying to capture the fleeting shot and changing light. You are going to start to learn what works and what doesn’t as far as compositions, camera settings, perspectives, etc. You are going to begin to learn about life in a developing country. And you are going to very quickly learn if this work is truly your passion and your calling.

Please leave a comment, ask a question. Let me know what has been helpful, and what you’d like to read more about. Let me know if you have planned or undertaken a self-assignment on your way to becoming a humanitarian photographer, and how you are addressing the challenges of this endeavor.

See my follow-up post, Becoming a Humanitarian Photographer-After the Self-Assignment for the next stage of the process.

For related posts, check out other entries in the Humanitarian Photography category.

My recent trip to Guatemala to photograph for an NGO gave me an opportunity to field test a bunch of new gear under real working conditions – jumping on and off chicken buses, crammed into the seat of a van for hours with all of it on my lap, roaming around the streets of Antigua trying to be discreet as possible carrying a 70-200mm lens and a backpack full of equipment, and photographing for long hours at a time. I had done a bunch of Internet research to choose the best and the most appropriate gear, made a couple trips to B+H to look at it all, and it all worked out as good, or often better than expected. I’m not sponsored or compensated by any of these companies (but wouldn’t be opposed to it if they happen to be reading…), but I do recommend all of this gear without reservation. (Update: I’ve now been using all of this equipment constantly for the past 11 months, and still recommend it all!) I discuss the camera I used on the trip, the Canon 7D, in this previous post.

Most all of this equipment will be equally essential for day-to-day photography, culture and travel photography, humanitarian photography, and photojournalism. And the equipment will be useful with any dSLR, Canon or Nikon.

If you plan to purchase any of this equipment, I encourage you to do so through the links I’ve created below which will take you directly to Amazon.com. Your price will be the same as always, and I will get a small referral fee. Or you can go directly to Amazon.com here. I appreciate your support! If you are in the UK, or wish to purchase from B+H Photo, see the end of this post for information on those links.


Antigua, Guatemala

Camera Backpack: I use the Lowepro Compu Trekker AW as both my carry-on and my working bag during the day. The current version of this is the Lowepro Pro Runner 350 AW. The size works perfectly for both needs. It easily fits the airline carry-on size, including smaller international requirements in some regions, yet fits more that it would first appear. With careful configuration of the interior dividers, I can fit 2 Canon bodies (a Rebel XT and a Canon 7D or 50D), a 70-200mm f/4L IS, a 16-35mm f/2.8L II wide angle zoom, a 28-105mm standard zoom (an older lens, here is a link to the better 24-105mm f/4L), all lenses stored with their hoods turned backwards, a 580EX II flash, its diffuser, 2 external hard drives in cases, a couple memory card cases, and some filters. In the outside pocket, I have a couple battery chargers, extra batteries, medium Rocket Blower, miscellaneous cords, caps, and accessories. In the rear pocket designed for a laptop, I easily fit a 32″ 5 in 1 reflector. Once I am in the field, I play around with the dividers until I have a set-up that best fits my flexible daily needs, and allows quick preparations or lens changes. The pack is extremely comfortable, has tons of padding on the straps and the back so that its weight never bothers me and I don’t feel the reflector in my back. I often wear it for hours a day while working, and it is never a problem. In fact, on my final night in Guatemala when I went out to dinner in Antigua without it on my back for the first time in 2 weeks, I commented that I felt a bit naked. The top handle is strong enough to grab and carry with, as is often necessary while jumping in and out of cars or putting it down and picking it up. There is also a waist belt that I use when I have it fully loaded, like going to the airport, to relieve my shoulders of some of the weight. And it comes with a built in rain cover that stows away at the base of the bag that has done its job on a couple occasions. The Compu Trekker Plus (now the Pro Runner 450 AW) might be a better carry on size so that you could carry more gear on the plane with you (if it fits the airline’s requirements) but it would be too big for daily use. There are also rolling versions of these, with an “x” in the name, thought the retractable handles and wheels add weight and size to the bags. The Compu Trekker has a tripod strap system that I don’t use, and another outside pocket that is, conveniently, exactly the size of a Lonely Planet guidebook. Here are some photos of the backpack in action at the Chichicastenango Market, taken by my travel companion Elizabeth Jimenez:

If you just need a holster style bag to carry one body and one lens, I highly recommend the M Rock Holster Bags.  I used the Yellowstone model for months while traveling in South America, and I love its durability, pockets, and built-in rain cover, plus it comes with extra back-up straps.  Make sure you get the right bag for your body/ lens combination – you will need a longer bag for a telephoto zoom lens.  As far as a satchel bag to carry a body or two plus two or three lenses and/ or a flash as you set out for the day but don’t want a backpack type bag, have a look at the Think Tank Retrospective line (there are a few sizes, the 10, 20 and 30, etc.) or the Crumpler Million Dollar Homes. Again, there are several sizes to choose from, called the 5 Million, 6 Million, etc. The 7 Million Dollar Home is my satchel of choice for carrying my gear about town while working.  It holds a large dSLR (5D line, 6D, 60D, etc.) with a mid-range telephoto attached (24-105mm), plus a 70-200mm, and another lens or a flash, all in the inside compartments. There is then some extra space and a couple front/ flap pockets to hold chargers, memory cards, batteries, etc. To keep moisture from accumulating in your equipment and bag, throw in a durable desiccant pack like this one.  Just be sure that it isn’t loose in your bag and scratching against your equipment.

Security: A couple great additions to the bag are Eagle Creek combo locks and Eagle Creek Pack It Sacs in the small size to hold batteries, memory cards in cases, LensPen, camera and lens body caps, and various wires and cables. The medium size Pack It Sacs are great for medicines bottles and other loose stuff in your luggage. The backpack’s zippers are rugged enough to handle constant abuse from the combo locks, which although they are weighty, are far better than keyed locks in the field so that you don’t need to go digging for the key when you are in a hurry. You just have to be a little careful when opening and closing the bag – the locks dangle and flip around, and could easily bang into something fragile in the backpack. With the Pack It Sacs, I clipped some rubber bands to the key clip within the outside pocket of the backpack and then attached them to the clips on the Sacs, so that way the Sacs won’t accidentally fall out if I flip the bag open and close while the outer pocket is open. There’s enough play to access them and then shove them back into the bag.

Another great accessory for this backpack is the PacSafe 55 wire mesh security system. It fits perfectly around this size bag, and secures your bag and your gear in a hotel room or wherever. It has a long cable that you loop around something secure and lock in place. It also comes with a small, compact storage case for when not in use.


Chichicastenango, Guatemala

SanDisk Extreme 16GB CF Memory Cards – I talked about these in the previous post. Once again, no particular reason why I use these rather than Lexar or Delkin…maybe a sponsorship would help seal my loyalties… :). Be sure to get the Sandisk Extreme 16 GB SD version if you are using the 60D or Rebel T2i. I use a Sandisk card reader to upload the images to my laptop, rather than from the camera directly, in order to save the camera batteries. This Sandisk Card Reader is for the CF cards, and the 5 in 1 reads SD cards.

Spare Batteries – I always have 3 batteries for each camera body. The Canon 60D, 7D and 5D use the Canon LP-E6 Battery. Stick with the Canon brand batteries rather than the unpredictable third-party brands.

BlackRapid RS-4 Camera Strap – The R-Strap is wonderful, and I highly recommend it. I was hesitant and suspicious at first, but I quickly adored it and will always use it. I had even emailed BlackRapid before purchasing to ask about shortcomings of earlier models, and they addressed my concerns thoroughly and completely. I was very impressed with the time and personal attention they paid to my questions. The strap is comfortable, easy to use, quick, strong, and rugged. I often use it in conjunction with wearing the backpack, and although the straps fight for space against each other on my shoulder, it still works fine. I’m a bit envious of the RS-7 that just came out, since it has a curved, ergonomic shoulder pad that will work better by itself on your shoulder and next to a backpack strap. There is also now a version designed for women, the RS-W1. Watch some of the videos out there as to how to use it, and be sure to moisten the rubber gasket before attaching it to your camera – this will make a firm seal that will never budge. The big pain is that the part attached to your camera body is best left in place, yet that makes it less easy to place the camera down on a table or in your bag, and will have to be removed to use a tripod. Also, the textured tightening screw part of the connector may rub up against your camera body in various situations, so I put some black duct tape on the bottom edges of the camera to protect it.

B+W brand UV Filters – clear, protective filters for the lenses, slim for the wide angle. The slim is probably not needed with a crop sensor camera, but is recommended for a full frame camera. The slim comes with a lens cap that does not stay on well after a little bit of use, as there are no front threads for the Canon cap to fit on. If I had to do it over, I would probably get the regular filter so that I could use the Canon lens cap.

B+W brand Circular Polarizer Filter – a polarizer serves to darken skies, boost contrast, cut through haze and reflections in water and glass, and block out a stop or two of light in bright situations. I keep it on my lens much of the time when doing outside work. Polarizing filters work to their maximum degree when the sun is to your right or left, but not when it is directly in front or behind you. Be sure to turn the moving part of the filter to dial in the degree of polarizing that you desire. They are typically not used on wide angle lenses because the darkening effect would vary across a wide swath of sky, and usually look strange.

Sto-Fen Omni Bounce Diffuser – works great on the Canon 580EX II flash, although very snug and is always difficult to get on and off in a hurry. Squeeze it and stretch it first to help it go on easier. Please don’t use the diffuser outside! Even if you see “pros” doing it. It doesn’t do anything outside but make your flash work harder. You can’t bounce light off the clouds.

Honl Color Correction Filters and Speed Strap – These are essential for using with flash to balance the white balance of the scene – to make the color of the flash the same as the color of the ambient light. This way when you correct the WB of your subject your backgrounds won’t be vivid orange (incandescent ambient lighting) or sickly green (fluorescent). You can’t use them in conjunction with the diffuser – the Omni-Bounce can’t fit over the Speed Strap, but that had not occurred to me when I bought them – so I’m going to have to figure out a solution to that. And I’m going to continue experimenting with the full or 1/2 CTO to add warmth to outside fill flash, as recommended by Nevada Wier (actually she uses a Kodak Wratten 81A gel, but I think they are similar). The kit is very slim and fits perfectly in one of the inside pockets of the backpack.


Antigua, Guatemala

Giottos Medium Rocket Blower – I initially used the small size in order to save a bit of space, but it didn’t have the power I wanted, so I sprung for the medium. Always have it handy for getting dust off lenses in a hurry, because blowing on them – no matter how careful – leads to spittle on the lenses 5% of the time when it doesn’t matter and 95% of the time when you are in the most critical situations. The large size may be a good choice as well.

Pearstone LP-1 Lens Pen – Works great for cleaning off mysterious spots, smudges, and fingerprints that always appear on the lens (this is why I always use UV filters) as well as that a-fore-mentioned spittle. There is a retractable brush on one end and a cleaning head on the other end. Twist the cap to load the cleaning tip with the carbon based cleaning material, then remove the cap and use. Please read the instructions and visit the LensPen website to fully learn how to use it properly.

32″ 5 in 1 Reflector – This size is perfect for travel and fits in the backpack, however I never actually used it during the trip so I don’t know if the size is useful in the field. It is best suited for set-up situations and portraits, which I didn’t have the opportunity to do on this assignment. I could have used it once to block some stray sunlight falling into a very dark room and potentially messing up the exposure, but I didn’t think about it until later. I did, however, carry it around a lot and never noticed because it is lightweight and very durable.

External Hard Drives – I use a Iomega Ego 500GB and a Lacie Rugged USB 500GB when traveling. I’ve used the Iomega on extended trips before, and love it. I’ve never had any problems with it, and it is solid and sturdy. I also decided to try out the Lacie Rugged USB for this trip. It is lighter than the Iomega, and doesn’t feel as solid and sturdy, but it worked just fine. They both fit perfectly in the Case Logic Portable Hard Drive Case made for these types of drives, which I recommend getting in different colors so you can quickly differentiate your different drives. I leave them in the cases at all times, but you have to pull the Ego slightly out to plug in the cord, and place the Lacie upside down in the case for the cord to fit without removing the drive each time. For storage at home, I use the Western Digital My Book 1TB External Hard Drives.

Hakuba Digital Media Storage Wallet – These are great, soft sided, thin memory card cases that hold 6 CF memory cards each. I picked up this recommendation from Karl Grobl’s website. There are a lot of bulky, hard-sided cases out there, which make you feel like your memory cards need excessive protection. I’m sure there has been a situation where an elephant stepped on a memory card case and all photos were miraculously saved by a hard sided case, but as far as my needs, the soft ones work just fine. Get into the habit of inserting blank cards face up and used cards face down into the cases’ pockets. Since this is the size for CF cards, have a look at this one if you use SD cards.

‘da Products Screen Protector – (product no longer available) – This is the second camera I have used this product with, and I am once again very happy with it. It is a very inexpensive yet high quality screen protector for your LCD, made with acrylic. Get ‘da40D Protector for the 7D – it is the perfect size. It is a slow, careful, time consuming process to attach the adhesive strips, get it clean, dust and fingerprint free, and perfectly centered, but once it’s on, its there to stay (unless you want to remove it – in that case, to remove the ‘da screen protector use dental floss to break the seal at the bottom corners, then slowly peel off.) I know that today’s LCD screens are durable, but I feel more comfortable and carefree about constantly wiping off my protector with my fingers or shirt than I would directly on the built in screen. This is also why I use B+W UV filters on the lenses.  However, if you have a camera with a rotating screen such as a 60D, T3i, or D5100, this type of screen protector won’t work.  You will need to use a thin adhesive film protector like this one.

Calumet micro fiber lens cloth – Stores perfectly in another slim inside pocket of the backpack, and always handy to have.


Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Insurance – Although I am a member of NPPA – National Press Photographers Association, I also joined NANPA – North American Nature Photography Association, in order to get their equipment insurance, which is much cheaper and has a much lower deductible than NPPA’s, even including the extra $100 to join NANPA. The insurance is primarily for the equipment only, so you are not paying for liability coverage geared toward a business as you are with every other photo equipment insurance plan I researched. Please note that the NANPA membership fee covers you from June to June or something like that – they don’t pro-rate, so you will not get a full year if you join at any other time. The insurance covers photo and computer equipment at home and while traveling. (If you happen to join NANPA to get their insurance, be sure to mention my name as a referrer, and I get $20 NANPA Bucks and save on my next renewal!)

Skooba Satchel 2.0 Laptop Bag – This is typically my second carry on, in which I carry my laptop, some books, misc. charging cords, some toiletries. This is a wonderful laptop bag, and you won’t believe how much will fit in it! As they say themselves, it is deceptively slim looking and incredibly light. It has these great little air squares for cushion everywhere – like bubble wrap made from durable rubber, and has an extremely comfortable and ergonomic strap.

Lowa Tempest Lo Hiking Shoes – I’ve worn these shoes, this same pair, nearly everyday, for almost 4 years straight now, and they still have a little life left in them. I wore them every single day for a total of 7 months in Peru, walking the cobbled streets of Cusco, and traveling the country. And I wore them nearly every day for 3 years walking the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan, and now Cambridge. (I don’t have a car, so I actually walk, a lot.) They are so comfortable I never notice them. They are light, durable, and somewhat waterproof if treated regularly. I recently bought a backup pair for the inevitable day that I have to give them up. After 3.5 years one one them developed a tear at the front-side where they crease when crouching to take photos, but they are still fine except in the rain.

Post-Production – Once you get back you are going to need to organize, edit, and work on all your photos. And for that, of course you are going to need
Adobe Photoshop CS4 and/ or Adobe Lightroom 3. You can start off with the trial versions that you can download from the Adobe site, but sooner or later you are going to have to get the real versions. Use that student discount while you still can!

Purchasing: If you plan to purchase any of this equipment, accessories, or anything else from Amazon.com I encourage you to do so through the links I set up throughout this post. Just click on the equipment above and you will be taken directly to that Amazon page. Your purchasing price will be the same, and they will give me a little something for referring you, which will help support my blog. Thanks! Or click on the Amazon.com logo below to enter Amazon and start shopping. I appreciate your support!

If you are in the UK or Canada, please use these Amazon links:

UK: my Amazon.co.uk link

Canada: my Amazon.ca link

For those interested in purchasing through B&H Photo I have set up affiliate links with them as well – find it on the left side of this page.

I recently returned from a trip to Guatemala, where I was taking photos for an NGO that works with children, literacy, and education. It gave me the perfect opportunity to try out a bunch of new equipment and really put it to the test in the field.


San Miguel Duenas, Guatemala – Canon 7D, 70-200mm f/4L IS lens at 78mm, 1600 ISO, 1/100, f/5.6

Jump to the Custom Function section

First and foremost, it was the first time I really had the opportunity to use the Canon 7D body (I discuss the additional gear in this related post). The camera performed wonderfully in many ways, however, I did have autofocus related problems – namely a serious front focus issue. With both wide angle and telephoto L-series lenses, the camera was consistently focusing several inches or more in front of the subjects. I played around briefly with the AF Microadjustments, with the intention of taking a closer look at the situation when I returned home.  (Body was later exchanged for another that focuses properly.)

I had another, odd and unexpected complaint in the field, and that is with the high speed shooting modes. One has the choice of 3fps or 8fps, yet I needed something more like 5fps! I’ve included some images throughout the post that are straight from the camera (I merely converted from RAW to JPEG). Anyway, on to the review and instructions for many of the camera’s settings, and how and when to use them in real world situations. And at the end there is some info about video tutorials available for downloading and watching.

If any of the digital photography terms you come across in this post are unfamiliar, be sure to refer to this great glossary for assistance.

Design – The camera is extremely comfortable to hold and use, especially due to the size, shape, and material of the grip, and it felt to be designed perfectly for my hands. It is nicely weighted with both a 16-35 f/2.8L II and a 70-200 f/4, and carries well with an R-Strap attached to the camera body (the 70-200 f/4 doesn’t come with a collar). Due to its similar design and button placement as previous Canon models, it was easy to get used to changing various settings on the fly – everything from ISO right up on top to Flash Control in the menus. There are a few settings that I quickly fell into, but that I would like to experiment with a little more with before I settle permanently into. Here are a few notes, in no particular order of importance:

Av Mode – I set the camera to Av mode for 99% of the time, as that is how I typically work (because I always want to control the depth of field). About the only time I took it out was when I was experimenting in an HDR type situation where I was in Manual and bracketing, trying to properly expose both a dark colonnade I was under and the cathedral in bright sunlight beyond. I haven’t yet worked on combining the exposures, but here is a nice shot that came from that situation:


Antigua, Guatemala – Canon 7D, 16-35 f/2.8L lens at 16mm, 1600 ISO, 1/500, f/16

(edit – I added the camera and lens information to these images.  Please note that the camera settings used for these various images may not necessarily be the “best” or “ideal” settings to use in the specific situations, but camera settings are always the result of changing situations and lighting, coming from another scene, going back and forth between action and still subjects, adapting, experimenting, and sometime just plain not paying attention!)

ISO – I had high hopes for Auto ISO, thinking I would finally be given the freedom to stop worrying where I left it set, but I quickly found that in Av, I didn’t like the slow shutter speeds that were resulting when I selected the aperture and the camera selected the ISO. So I ended up never using it. I would like to experiment with it some more, and figure out if there is something I can do to keep the shutter speeds in a better range. It is wonderful to have the versatility to change ISO on the fly, but one often gets caught up in shooting, and forgets to change it to an appropriate setting, and thus sometimes the shutter speed isn’t the most ideal. So, I just have to stay in the habit of paying attention to where all three settings are as I go from indoor to out or change lenses, etc. This is aided by these settings being visible in the 7D viewfinder.

High Speed Continuous Shooting – many people marvel at the 7D’s ability to shoot 8fps in High Speed Continuous Mode. However, for my purposes on this trip, that proved far too excessive. I often shoot a burst of photos when someone or something is in motion and I want to capture the peak of action or a flattering pose, or when a gesture or facial expression might change rapidly. Unfortunately, 8fps results in a lot of unwanted files, and as I will soon address, these files are HUGE and rapidly fill up a hard drive. But sadly, the Low Speed Continuous drive setting is only 3fps, which is too slow to capture the rapid changes in a scene. The 3fps speed was one of the main drawbacks of my previous body, and a major reason for upgrading. What I need is something in between, maybe 5fps! Perhaps Canon or someone will tweek the firmware to allow this…


San Miguel Duenas, GuatemalaCanon 7D, 16-35 f/2.8L lens at 35mm, 800 ISO, 1/500, f/3.5

Custom Functions – In order for you to get the most out of the 7D, and to set it to function best how you work, you need to dig into the Custom Functions. One of the settings I use is customizing My Menu, and then having My Menu always appear first when I hit the Menu button. (My Menu Settings / Display from My Menu=enable) I played around with different items on My Menu, but have settled for now on the ones that I use most often or that I may quickly need and want to access without digging into the menus. They are:

Flash Control
– you can quickly adjust all the settings for the built in flash, external flash, wireless flash. You can even control all the setting of the 580EX II remotely – when it is not attached to your camera. Very cool.
Exposure Compensation/ AEB – exposure compensation is easy to change at any time with the big dial, so this shortcut is for using when I want to bracket (AEB).
Review Time – I found that I was often shooting away without chimping (looking at the LCD), so I often just turn off the LCD review altogether. Other times, however, I want to review.
ISO Expansion – I haven’t used this yet, but I wanted it handy in case I want to use the high ISO. I typically have this turned off because I didn’t want the camera to default to High ISO during any situations. But considering I wasn’t using Auto ISO, this all seems unnecessary, and now that I realize this, I will have to replace this with something else on the menu! I never went above 1600 ISO, which I did have to use sometimes in very dark classroom settings along with the flash. Upon quick review of those images, the lack of noise in these files is really good.
Format – this is to format the memory card in preparation for use the next day. Always reformat the card, never simply erase them or use the Erase All option if your camera had that (the 7D does not). However, after formatting, turn the dial to select another menu item so that next time you hit Menu, Format isn’t still selected and you quickly make a grave mistake of pressing it.
Highlight Tone Priority (II-3) – this is a great setting to use in a high key situation, or with a bright subject or scene. It helps to retain detail in the highlights so they don’t get blown out, such as a white wedding dress, or a snow or beach scene. I never did use it, but I keep it in this menu to remind me it is there for the day when I do need it!


Chichicastenango, Guatemala – Canon 7D, 70-200mm f/4L IS lens at 155mm, 200 ISO, 1/80, f/4

Other important Custom Function Settings

(please note, this post was initially written to explain how I used these settings in a specific travel situation.  I go into more detail about each of the Custom Function settings, with clear explanations of what they are and when and why to use them, in my e-book Canon 7D Experience, which is discussed below.)

Safety Shift (I-6) – I sometimes enable this setting. It allows the camera to shift the shutter speed or aperture automatically, without your expressed permission, in order to get the shot. This is great for situations where the light suddenly and dramatically changes, such as at a concert.  However if you are carefully choosing your settings, or working with a flash, you will want to disable this so that the camera isn’t overriding your careful settings.

AI Servo Tracking Sensitivity (III-1) – This dictates how quickly focus tracking switches to another subject when it momentarily loses the initial subject, such as when another subject passes in front of it. You can choose to have it stay focused on the initial subject (Slow), or focus quickly on a new subject that moves in front of your initial subject (Fast). Typically I want to stay focused on my selected subject, and ignore someone or something that momentarily passes between us. If you want to quickly focus on different subjects at different distances, put it on fast.

AI Servo 1st/2nd (III-2) – Is your priority focusing on the subject, tracking the subject, firing off rapid shots? Look at the manual to see which situation works best for how you shoot.Personally I think 0 or 1, with the autofocus (AF) Priority, is best. (The camera makes sure it focuses first before taking the shot. It may cost you a microsecond of time however.) Regarding tracking vs. drive, I keep it at 0. Setting 0 continues to prioritize focusing possibly at the expense of speed, while setting 1 will prioritize the speed of subsequent shutter releases at the expense of focus.

AI Servo AF Tracking Method (III-3) – This works with autofocus modes where more than one AF point is active. The names of the choices are a little confusing but what they do is Setting 0 will focus on a closer subject that enters into your view, not necessarily in front of your subject. while setting 1 will remain focused on the initial subject. I keep mine on 1, since I want to stay focused on my initial subject.


San Juan del Obisbo, GuatemalaCanon 7D, 70-200mm f/4L IS lens at 200mm, 100 ISO, 1/1000, f/4

AF Focus Mode (III-6) – I enabled all the AF modes in the Custom Functions – by default, several of them are not available to you unless you change that setting. I started out using Single Point, but sometimes changed to Spot for more precision. The cost of using Spot is that it may not focus as quickly or as well when hand held or with a moving subject, and is generally not necessary unless you are trying to focus on a very small, precise area, such as through a fence to a subject beyond.  I occasionally used AF Point Expansion when photographing rapidly moving children. I don’t know how other photographers work (according to a Canon rep who gave a 7D presentation at B+H, there are big name professionals who still just focus with the center point and recompose), but I always choose the focus point I want manually, using the Multi-Controller button. This takes a little longer, now that I am dealing with 19 focus points, but that enables me to quickly get the composition I want, makes sure the camera focuses on what I want it to, and to get subsequent shots without too much reframing. There is an important menu setting so that you can use the Multi-Controller directly to change the AF point without having to press the AF thumb button first – I believe it is on the screen where you can customize all the camera’s buttons. Oh, and I changed the custom settings so that all the focus points always show, and that they light up upon achieving focus, even in bright sunlight (which they would not do if you had this setting on Auto or Disable). That way I always know when it has focused.  And I set Custom Function III-7 to stop focus point selection when I reach the edge and not loop around to the other side. I’m also thrilled that the 7D has a grid display that you can turn on in the viewfinder, which helps me keep my horizons and compositions straight. The viewfinder looks pretty busy, filled up with AF points and the grid, but when you are shooting away and focusing on your subject, you don’t even notice they are there.

Single Point Focus vs. Spot Focus Size – This controls the size of the area being looked at for focusing purposes on the 7D.  With Single Point AF Area Mode, the camera is actually looking at a cross shape area (all focus points are cross type, center point is dual diagonal as well at certain apertures) that extends about 2x as big as the actual square you see in the viewfinder. With Spot AF Area Mode, the size of the cross is about the size of the square you see, I think perhaps slightly larger.  Now you might think that using Spot AF will be more accurate all the time and sounds like a great idea and will get you sharper pictures, but this is not necessarily the case.  Since Spot AF is so precise, and since autofocus works by looking for an area of contrast, Spot AF may not focus as well or as quickly in many general situations (because it may be looking at such a precise area that is all one color or  tone).

Spot AF is for when you need a really precise “focus beam” to pinpoint, for example a bird in a tree, and not the branches and leaves surrounding it and all around it, which may be closer to you and the camera.  Or if, say, you are shooting through a chain link fence and you want the camera to focus on the animal beyond and not on the fence.  If you were to use Spot AF all the time, you would have to continue to act in a slower and more precise manner, so that you ensure you are focusing on an area of contrast or a nice line.  For example, if you capture a shot of a person, you want to focus on the eye typically.  If you do this quickly with Single Point AF, you can aim at the general area of the eye and you will likely include it in the area being looked at by the camera.  However if you grab a quick shot with Spot AF, you may  be a little off and the camera is looking at an area of cheek to focus on, which will be difficult since there isn’t much contrast there.

Orientation Linked AF Point – This setting allows you to choose your favorite AF points, and when you are hold the camera horizontally or vertically, those points are automatically selected. However, it is very complicated to set, so much so that is would seem Canon doesn’t even understand it. The Canon rep did not fully explain it properly at the B+H presentation, the instructions in the manual do not work, and after 3 different instructions by email from Canon, I may finally have the correct way. I still have to try their latest directions. (note- nope, latest instructions still don’t work properly) **12/17/2009** AHA!! Here it is, finally explained in its entirety.

I also changed the button/ dial function settings so that in Manual mode, the big dial controls shutter speed and the top dial controls aperture. The default is the opposite. I changed this because I almost always shoot in Av mode, where the top dial controls aperture, so when I switch to Manual mode, I want that to remain the same.

Additional edit – August 2011:
I have written a popular e-book user’s guide for the Canon 7D
called Canon 7D Experience. It not only explains all of the features, functions, and controls of this powerful, sophisticated, and highly customizable camera, but also when and why to use them in your photography – including EVERY Menu item and Custom Function setting, with explanations and recommended settings for real-life use.  You can learn more about the guide, preview it, and purchase it here.

 

AF Microadjustments – This is a setting on the 7D which enables you to tweak the auto-focusing to your different lenses. A site about AF micro adjustments that look to be helpful is below:

http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/article_pages/cameras/1ds3_af_micoadjustment.html#Anchor-Canon-49575

Here is a micro-adjustment focus test chart you can use.

Viewfinder – The viewfinder on the 7D is big and bright and wonderful. It is nearly 100% view of the image you will capture. The aperture and shutter speed info is of course displayed below, along with the current ISO setting, which one should get in the habit of glancing at often. See the AF Focus Mode category above for more info on what you can view in the viewfinder to assist with focusing and composition.

Picture Style – I had this on Standard, since I shoot in RAW and intend to post-process, however, I would like to do a comparison of the styles to see which one best matches my visual preferences – although the Picture Styles will only affect JPEGs and, it is important to know, the image you see on your rear LCD screen when shooting RAW.


Jalapa, GuatemalaCanon 7D, 16-35 f/2.8L lens at 35mm, 800 ISO, 1/2000, f/8

File Size – I shot RAW for almost the entire trip, and quickly discovered that these files are HUGE. The files range from about 21MB to around 31MB each. I used SanDisk Extreme III 16GB cards, which worked great, and one card often lasted much of the day. I have no good reason for using SanDisk over Lexar, other than the fact that the Lexar people haven’t approached me about sponsorship… :) The Extreme III cards have been replaced by the new Extreme and Extreme Pro cards, and are thus the old ones are much cheaper at the moment, especially with current rebates. At 30MB/s, they were fast enough for the types of shooting and short bursts I was doing. However, downloading them to my computer and external HD were pretty slow using the SanDisk ImageMate CF card reader. Eventually I’m going to have to spring for a card reader that goes right into the PC slot. I used Adobe Bridge to simultaneously save the day’s files to 2 external hard drives. The 160GB Iomega Ego filled up before the trip was over, but fortunately I also had a Lacie 500GB. I am dreading the number of external hard drives I am going to have to buy for travel and for home storage, but once you go RAW, it’s hard to go back to shooting just JPEG. I’m going to have to look into the Drobo system that many rave about.

Battery Life – The battery life of the 7D is excellent. When you get new batteries, first charge them all the way. Do not recharge until they are completely drained. Do this one or two cycles. I know they say you no longer have to do this, but some claim that seasoning the batteries like this will maximize their charge life. Anyway, one battery lasted well into 2 days of shooting, maybe longer, I didn’t keep track. They just keep going, even with heavy use, chimping (LCD reviewing), frequent use of an external Speedlite flash, and use of image stabilization (IS) on the 70-200 lens. I carried 3 batteries, but probably could have gotten away with 2. The spring-loaded battery door that pops right open for quick battery changes is a nice touch.


Antigua, Guatemala – Canon 7D, 70-200mm f/4L IS lens at 78mm, 100 ISO, 1/250, f/4

Automatic Sensor Cleaning – Like most good dSLRs these days, the 7D automatically cleans the sensor at start up and shut down. Since the dust that is shaken off is collected on a tiny sticky strip at the base of the sensor, it seems to me that you should hold the camera straight as this happens. I’m not sure if this is actually true, but I think I read in the manual that it even says to place the camera flat on a table as you use this, so I have gotten in the habit of holding it straight and still as I turn it off and on. Yeah! No more having to clean the sensor manually with a Rocket Blower!

Video – I did not have a chance to even experiment with the HD video on the 7D yet…so much to learn, so little time…

The next post will review all the other gear I used on the trip – the camera backpack, R-strap, accessories, etc. – and perhaps some of the other lessons learned. Read it here.

Purchasing: If you plan to buy the Canon 7D or any other camera or equipment from Amazon.com, I would appreciate it if you use my referral link by clicking on the text or logo below. Your price will be the same, and they will give me a little something for referring you, which will help support this blog. Thanks!


See and buy the Canon 7D on Amazon

And due to popular request, if you are in the UK, here is my referral link to Amazon UK.

And for those wishing to purchase from B&H Photo, Adorama, or directly from Canon just click their logos on the left side of the page.


Jalapa, GuatemalaCanon 7D, 70-200mm f/4L IS lens at 200mm, 200 ISO, 1/1600, f/4

Again, be sure to check out my e-book user’s guide for the Canon 7D called Canon 7D Experience. It not only explains all the features, functions, and controls of this powerful, sophisticated, and highly customizable camera, but also when and why to use them in your photography. You can learn more about the guide, preview it, and purchase it here.

I’ve run across a nice set of video tutorials (link below) for using the Canon 7D. You can watch them online, or even download them to your camera for viewing. The one on AF Custom Fuctions is especially helpful at clarifying those setting. Be sure to look around on the Canon Digital Learning Center to find all kinds of other cool stuff about using your camera plus useful tips and instructions from pros who use them.

link to Canon 7D Video Tutorials

The distinctive voice you hear in the 7D tutorial videos is Canon guru Rudy Winston, and the photo samples are his images as well. If you are in NYC, you can often find him leading workshops and presentations at places like B+H and Adorama. I went to a wonderfully informative introduction to the 7D that he gave a B+H a month or 2 ago, and these videos are pretty much the same presentation.

Here is additional information from Canon Europe about custom functions of the 7D:

http://cpn.canon-europe.com/content/education/technical/custom_functions_eos_1d_mark_iv_and_eos_7d.do