Recommendations For The Best Photography Equipment, Software, Books, Magazines, DVDs, Online Photo Labs and More

I get lots of photo questions and many of them begin with “What is the best . . . .” They usually come from photographers or someone who is shopping for a photographer.

Here is my list of “best of the best” of articles recommending the best photo gear, software, books, DVDs, calendars, online photo labs, and a whole lot more.

Posted Nov. 19, 2016. Updated and re-posted May 5, 2017.

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Get Sharper Images By Using The Best Lens Calibration Tools

Lens Calibration Tools

Lens Calibration Tools

A lot of photographers have discovered their almost sharp lens was actually a very sharp lens once they tweaked the micro-adjustment settings. You will get sharper images if you adjust the settings for your specific camera and lens combinations. You do this using the micro-adjustment settings in the camera menu along with a lens calibration tool which you can buy or make yourself.

Article posted Dec. 28, 2016.

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Putting Together a “Studio in a Backpack”

Portable Studio in a Backpack

Portable “studio in a backpack” set up and ready to go.

If I am visiting family and friends and traveling by car, I usually bring my “studio in a backpack”. I never know when I might be asked to do some portraits and having some studio gear along helps create better images (especially when natural light is not a very good option). If you want to do portraits on the road (or even at home), these items are very useful.

Posted Nov. 22, 2016. Updated Dec. 5, 2016.

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Inexpensive Gifts (Starting at $8) for Photographers

Flash adapter and umbrella for an shoe-mount electronic flash.

Flash adapter and umbrella for a shoe-mount electronic flash.

There are a lot of practical and inexpensive gifts for photographers. Here is a nice list of items from $8 to $130. To make them easy to track them down, most of these items can be found at my photography store (which is powered by Amazon.com with Amazon’s terrific ordering, shipping, guarantee, and service). Most of the items below are in the Photo Goodies section. Prices are current as of this update (Nov. 22, 2016) but prices do fluctuate. Some items can be temporarily unavailable.

Originally posted Nov. 24, 2015. Updated and reposted Nov. 22, 2016.

 

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The Best Closeup Photography Equipment

Forget-Me-Nots, Thorne-Swift Nature Preserve, Michigan

Forget-Me-Nots, Thorne-Swift Nature Preserve, Michigan

There are several ways to do closeup photography. Closeup filters, extension tubes, and macro lenses are the most commonly used options. The best gear for you depends on your preferences, how you want to work, the subjects you are after, how much stuff you want to carry, and what you want to spend. I cover your best options.

Posted Nov. 22, 2016. Updated and expanded Dec. 9, 2016.

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First Night: Testing an iOptron Sky Tracker, Part Two

Orion Nebula and Nebula NGC 1977

Orion Nebula and Nebula NGC 1977. Three minute exposure with a 300mm lens and camera mounted on an iOptron Sky Tracker. This is cropped from a larger image.

After a one minute exposure using the iOptron Sky Tracker (see the photo in part one), I tried a 3 minute exposure with the same 300mm lens to create the image above (which is cropped from a larger image which you can see below). The Orion Nebula (M42 and M43) shows up quite well and you can even see some of the nebulosity of NGC 1977 just above the Orion Nebula around the 5th magnitude stars Orionis 42 and 45. The iOptron Star Tracker is an impressive piece of equipment.

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Radio Controlled Speedlites: Yongnuo YN600EX-RT vs Canon 600EX-RT

Yongnuo 600 EX-RT Speedlite and Yonghuo YN-E3-RT Transmitter.

Yongnuo 600EX-RT Speedlite and Yongnuo YN-E3-RT Transmitter. Click to see a larger version.

Should you spend $469 on a Canon 600EX-RT speedlite, or $120 on Yongnuo’s nearly identical clone, the YN600EX-RT? And what about the radio transmitters? Canon’s is $263 and the Yongnuo copy is $85.49. So you can buy three Yongnuo speedlites plus the radio transmitter for less than the price of one Canon speedlite. The price advantage is clear, but what about quality, reliability, and service issues?

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Photo Shoot: Using a Halo Softbox with a Yongnuo Radio Controlled Flash System

Kristina

Kristina. Sunlight coming from the right. Halo softbox with Yongnuo speedlite providing light from the left.

After testing a Bob Davis 45 inch Halo Softbox and Yongnuo YN600EX-RT radio flash on my most available model (my dog), I needed to test it out on a real model. Opportunity called in the form of a message from Kristina, a professional model based in Los Angeles (and an absolute delight to work with). She would be in Ohio for Thanksgiving and she wanted to schedule a shoot. I was leaving town for Thanksgiving, but fortunately for us we had one day to shoot after she arrived and before I left.

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How To Set Up a Halo Softbox or Umbrella with an Off Camera Speedlite

Halo Softbox set up on location and ready to use.

Halo Softbox set up on location and ready to use. The radio controlled flash and umbrella adapter are inside the softbox.

If you have never used an umbrella adapter to put a flash and umbrella or softbox on a tripod or light stand, the steps below will show you exactly what is involved. If you have already used an umbrella adapter, setting up a Halo softbox will be ridiculously simple for you. Skip to the Halo section below.

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Inexpensive ($7 – $130) Gifts for Photographers

Flash adapter and umbrella for an shoe-mount electronic flash.

Flash adapter and umbrella for a shoe-mount electronic flash.

There are a lot of practical and inexpensive gifts for photographers. Here is a nice list of items from $7 to $130. To make them easy to track them down, most of these items can be found at my photography store (which is powered by Amazon.com with Amazon’s terrific ordering, shipping, guarantee, and service). Most of the items below are in the Photo Goodies section. Prices are current as of this update (Nov. 24, 2015) but prices do fluctuate. Some items can be temporarily unavailable.

Originally posted Nov. 24, 2015. Updated Dec. 1, 2015.

 

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The Best of the Best: Recommendations For The Best Photography Equipment, Software, Books, Magazines, DVDs, Online Photo Labs and More

The best of the best cameras, accessories, photo books and more.

The best of the best cameras, accessories, photo books and more.

It’s the time of year that the number of photo questions I receive increases dramatically. Many of them have to do with “What is the best . . . .” They usually come from someone shopping for a photographer, or photographers shopping for themselves.

So once again here is my list of “best of the best” of articles recommending the best photo gear, software, books, DVDs, calendars, online photo labs, and a whole lot more. I will revise some of these articles in November and December, but most of the advice is good as it stands. The best books on photographic composition or the best photo labs haven’t changed in the last 12 months. As I rewrite articles I will update the links below. You can check the date at the top of each article.

Originally posted Nov. 21, 2015. Updated December 11, 2015.

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Q&A: Recommended Closeup Equipment

Forget-Me-Nots, Thorne-Swift Nature Preserve, Michigan

Forget-Me-Nots, Thorne-Swift Nature Preserve, Michigan

Today’s question came by email. I am posting the question and my answer below. The person asking the question uses Canon gear but the information below also applies to Nikon and other brands.

Question From “D”: I have been looking at a 58mm closeup lens for my Canon camera. I am also looking at closeup filters for my 28-55mm or 55-250mm Canon lenses. What do you recommend I get?

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Inexpensive ($9 – $117) Gifts for Photographers

Flash adapter and umbrella for an shoe-mount electronic flash.

Flash adapter and umbrella for an shoe-mount electronic flash.

There are a lot of practical and inexpensive gifts for photographers. Here is a nice list of items from $9 to $117. To make it easy to track them down, most of these items can be found at my photography store (which is powered by Amazon.com with Amazon’s terrific ordering, shipping, guarantee, and service). Most of the items below are in the Photo Goodies section. Prices are current as of this update (Nov. 20, 2014) but prices  do fluctuate.

 

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The Best Camera Quick Release System

Arca-Swiss compatible “L-bracket” and tripod head

Mounting a camera onto the screw on top of a tripod head is time consuming. Doing it in the dark when your hands are cold is annoying. Once the camera is mounted, if you flop the camera over to the side to take a vertical photo, the camera tries to rotate on the screw. To provide a solution, all kinds of “quick release systems” have been created. Some of them work quite well, some not so well. Most systems have a weakness of one kind or another.

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The Best of the Best: Recommendations For The Best Photo Equipment, Books, Magazines, DVDs, Software, and Online Photo Labs

The best of the best cameras, accessories, photo books and more.

The best of the best cameras, accessories, photo books and more.

It’s the time of year that the number of photo questions I receive increases dramatically. Most of them have to do with the upcoming holiday season and gift giving questions: “What should I get for . . . .”

So once again I am revising my list of articles recommending the best photo gear, books, DVDs, software, calendars, online photo labs, and a whole lot more. As I rewrite each article I will update the links below. You can check the date at the top of each article. This is the most recent update to the list (Nov. 10, 2014).

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Inexpensive ($9 – $117) Gifts for Photographers

Flash adapter and umbrella for an shoe-mount electronic flash.

Flash adapter and umbrella for an shoe-mount electronic flash.

There are a lot of practical and inexpensive gifts for photographers. Here is a nice list of items from $7 to $100. All of these items can be found at my photography store (powered by Amazon.com with Amazon’s terrific ordering, shipping, guarantee, and service). Most of the items below are in the Photo Goodies section. Prices are current as of this update but they do fluctuate so they are approximate.

(Originally posted Nov. 14, 2013. Updated Dec. 17, 2013.)

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