Buyer’s Guide: 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 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.

Originally posted Nov. 1, 2017. Most recent update: Dec. 20, 2017.

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The Chinese Lens Rip Off! Part Nine. Comparison Test Two: 8-18X Telephoto Phone Lens vs 12X Telephoto Phone Lens

8-18X telephoto lens on an iPhone SE.

If you haven’t done so already, read this article first: Don’t get ripped off! Part Seven. Comparison Test One: Telephoto Phone Lens vs DLSR and Zoom Lens. It will explain the background and methodology behind this comparison test.

I purchased the 8-18X telephoto lens to check it out. Like the lens in Comparison Test One, it is another Chinese lens for smart phones. The ads for this lens say this lens is amazingly sharp. It is being sold for $59.99. That is an outrageous price of course. I found one on Amazon for less than $12. I knew when I bought it that it would not be worth $12. I had read other online reviews for this lens which point out how bad it is, but I wanted to see for myself.

Posted Sep. 22, 2017. Revised and expanded Dec. 12, 2017.

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Buying a Headlamp for Night Photography: The Essential Feature

Photographers with red headlamps. Field Trip, Sprague Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

A red headlamp is an essential tool for night photography. Before you rush out and buy one, make sure it has the most essential feature (other than the red LED). Some inexpensive headlamps have this feature and some very expensive ones don’t, so cost is not the issue.

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Make or Buy Your Own Inexpensive “White Light” Solar Filter to Watch and Photograph the Eclipse

White Light solar filters for photography, binoculars, and non-magnified viewing.

If you order soon (stocks are running low), you can make or buy your own inexpensive, “white light” solar filter for safely photographing (and viewing) the sun and the upcoming solar eclipse August 21. “White light” filters (unlike others) allow you to see and photograph the sun in a natural yellow-amber color.

Update, August 6, 2017: Many of these items are no longer available. Check the most recent articles in this series to see what is still available.

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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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The Chinese Lens Rip Off! Part Four

We’ve been down this road before. The formula is simple. Take a cheap smart phone telephoto lens you can buy at Amazon for $15, sell it for $54.95, say it is a limited half price offer, and imply the lens will do amazing things that every well informed photographer knows the cheap lens absolutely can’t do.

Posted Jan. 8, 2017. Expanded Dec. 2, 2017.

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How To Work With A Model When The Windchill is 4°

Selina

Selina, Downtown Columbus Ohio

You would think a windchill of 4° Fahrenheit (-16°C) would be too cold for a photo shoot, but not with some models. We booked this January shoot weeks in advance so we knew it would be cold, but we had no idea how cold until the day arrived. Here’s the story behind this image and how to work with a model when it is so cold.

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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. Updated Nov. 21, 2017.

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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. You can order these items from Amazon via the link at the end of this article.

Posted Nov. 22, 2016. Updated Nov. 8, 2017.

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Light Modifiers (Softeners) for Speedlites

Umbrella, flash, and flash bracket on a tripod.

Umbrella, flash, and flash bracket on a tripod.

Photographers are always looking for ways to soften the light when doing portraits. The light from an accessory flash can be quite harsh so there are a wide range of modifiers to soften the light for more pleasing portraits. Here are my favorites for both on-camera and off-camera flash.

Posted Nov. 22, 2016. Update Nov. 20, 2017.

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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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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 $285 and the Yongnuo copy is $88.00. 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? (Prices as of 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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The Best Digital Cameras – 2016 (Including 2010 – 2015)

Canon 5D Mark IV DSLR

The holiday season is here and I am getting the usual questions about which digital cameras I recommend. The camera lists below will point you to the highest rated models. You can start with these lists and then narrow it down to a camera with the specific features you are looking for. I will help you in that regard with some information and advice on choosing a camera. The lists below will be updated throughout the holiday season as new reviews for highly rated cameras become available.

Posted Nov. 19, 1016. Updated Dec. 2, 2016.

This is one in a series of articles on The Best of the Best Photography Equipment, Software, Books, Magazines, DVDs, Online Photo Labs and More.

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Buyer’s Guide: 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 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 Dec. 28, 2016.

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The Chinese Lens Rip Off! Part Three

This is pretty much the same kind of rip off I have written about before. Take a cheap smart phone lens that people can buy at Amazon for $16.99 or less, jack up the price to $56, make outrageous claims, and see how may people you can sucker into buying the item at the higher price. They even used the same “questionable” technologist who has multiple identities.

Posted Oct. 17, 2016. Revised and expanded Dec. 2, 2017.

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Sigma 150-600mm vs Tamron 150-600mm vs Canon 100-400mm Mark II

Sigma 150-600mm Sports and Contemporary Comparison to Canon. Photo by The Digital Picture

Sigma 150-600mm Sports and Contemporary Comparison to Canon. Photo by The Digital Picture

So you want a longer lens and can’t decide which one to get. There are several good options and one of them might be better for you in particular. What about resolution? Do you want to be at 600mm most of the time or just some of the time? Does it matter if the zoom and focus rings turn in Canon’s direction or Nikon’s? What about size,  weight, and cost?

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The Chinese Lens Rip Off! Part Two

You order a set of lenses expecting to pay $29. Your credit card gets charged several times that amount and you get socked with an outrageous $85.00 shipping charge. You find out later you could buy the same lenses at Amazon for less than $10. You’ve been ripped off.

Posted Aug. 9, 2016. Updated Dec. 2, 2017.

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