Here is a list of my camera gear. If you are interested in purchasing any of these items, please use the "Buy on Amazon" link on this page as a small portion of your purchase will go back into supporting this website. Thanks!
A good beginner DSLR camera is the Canon T6i. It has full automatic and manual controls and enough features to get you started. My first DSLR camera was an older model of the T6i, the T3i. Use the T6i until you feel you have outgrown it, meaning you fully understand the exposure triangle, camera settings, and the elements that make great pictures. Once mastered, it's time to move onto a professional full frame camera such as the Canon 6D or the Canon 5D Mark iii.
Canon EOS 6D Full Frame Body
This is my current camera. I use it for portraits, landscapes, travel, concerts, and sports. It's a great all around camera and it delivers great low light performance at higher ISOs; allowing for sharper images. This camera has auto controls, manual controls, and HD video recording.
I upgraded to the 6D (full frame DSLR camera) after learning on a crop sensor camera (Canon T3i). The advantages of a full frame camera over a crop sensor camera is it performs better in low light because it has a larger sensor, it has a wider field of view, and has more powerful controls.
I would recommend this camera to an intermediate/advance photographer, especially if you will be shooting pictures/videos for a job. This is the cheapest full frame camera in Canon's lineup. The next step up would be the Canon 5D Mark iii.
I plan on upgrading to the Canon 5D Mark IV when it is released later this year.
Canon EOS Rebel T6i DSLR Camera with 18-55mm Lens
The Canon T6i is a great beginner DSLR camera at a fair price. I used an older model of the T6i when I first started photography and videography. This camera can shoot both pictures and HD video. For pictures and video, the T6i is capable of auto focusing. It is equipped with both automatic modes for the beginners and manual modes for more advanced users. The automatic modes let you use it right out of the box without too much instruction. The pop out swivel LCD screen is a huge bonus when shooting video. It allows you to record at a variety of angles and it allows you to record yourself. The T6i has touch screen controls which makes navigation and usage easier.
Not Ready for a DSLR. Try the Sony RX100 IV.
This is a point and shoot digital camera with full automatic modes, manual controls, and features found on more expensive DSLR cameras. In addition, it can shoot 4K video clips as well as HD video. The lens ranges from 24-70mm, allowing you to shoot both wide angle and zoomed in shots. The RX100 IV performs well in low light and can give you a beautiful shallow depth of field with its maximum aperture range of f/1.8-f/2.8.
This camera has an electronic viewfinder that makes shooting pictures and videos in the sun easier. Another cool feature is it has a pop-up LCD screen, perfect for taking selfies or creating video blogs.
This is the BEST point and shoot digital camera on the market and it delivers superb pictures, 4K video, and DSLR features all in one small compact size and for less than $1,000.
Panasonic Lumix G7 Mirrorless 4K Camera with 14-42mm Lens
I use this camera solely for 4K video recording. It can shoot 28 minute clips at a time before 4K recording times out. One a full battery, I can shoot about 1.5 hours of 4K video. It has automatic and manual exposure and focusing controls which makes video recording easy and customizable. Other great features that make this a great video camera are it has an external microphone input jack, it has focusing peaking, different picture styles, and touch screen controls.
The benefit of DSLR cameras is the lenses are interchangeable. This allows you to upgrade to better lenses to improve your image quality and to achieve different effects. A good lens is characterized by having a large aperture (low f-stop number such as f/1.8 or f/2.8), constructed with quality glass, and having image stabilization. Practice with your kit lens first and then upgrade to better glass. Some recommendations are listed below.
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens (Portrait Lens)
A must have lens for all new Canon DSLR owners! This should be the first lens you invest in, especially if you want to shoot portraits. Compared to other lenses, this is the cheapest lens and it costs around $100. In addition, it has a large aperture of f/1.8 which allows you to get good quality images in low light environments and the large aperture allows you to achieve a nice shallow depth of field, meaning your subject will be sharp and in focus while your background will be blurry.
Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens (Multi-purpose lens)
This is a great versatile lens. It can shoot wide at 24mm to zoomed in at 70mm. At the wide end you can shoot landscapes and architecture. Closer to 70mm you can shot portraits, athletes, performers, and subjects further away. Starting at an aperture of f/2.8, this lens performs well in low light. In addition, its aperture is fixed, meaning as you zoom in from 24mm to 70mm your aperture will not change (With some lenses as you zoom in, the aperture decreases and you lose light.). Another great feature is it has built in image stabilization which helps for shooting both pictures and videos while hand holding. The two reasons why I purchased this lens over the Canon 24-70mm lens were because the Canon version does not have image stabilization and the Canon version is several hundred dollars more.
Because of the great versatility of this lens, I feel it should be the first or second lens you buy.
It's also a great travel lens. I took it to Disneyland and I was able to shoot wide shots of the castle, rides, attractions, and selfies. And I was able to zoom in close to shoot characters during the parade and shows.
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS (Multi-purpose lens)
This is a top of the line telephoto lens. It works great for portraits, wild-life, sports, concerts, and for subjects that are far away. The built in image stabilization assists in getting sharp images and will allow you to shoot at slower shutter speeds. Images are sharp at all focal lengths and it performs well in situations with limited light.
A comparable lens is the Tamron 70-700mm f/2.8 with VC. The advantage of the Canon lens is it is sharp at all apertures and it is easier to use the focus and zoom rings. If you are shooting pictures and video professionally, I recommend the Canon version. If you are more of a hobbyist, save an extra $1000 and get the Tamron version.
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 (Portrait lens)
I use this lens for 90% of my portraits. Shooting at 85mm and at f/1.8 provides me with a beautiful shallow depth and allows me to isolate my subject from the background. I previously used the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 telephoto lens for portraits but I can get a similar but better effect with this lens. In addition, it is significantly lighter and I can shoot closer to my subject with this lens. Canon offers a 85mm f/1.2 lens for around $1,999 but this lens packs a similar punch for a fifth of the price.
The internal microphone in your DSLR camera provides poor audio quality from long distances. When producing a professional video, good audio is just as or even more important than video quality. To get more professional and better sounding audio, I can recommend these following options.
The RODE VIDEOMIC works best when capturing audio from one source such as a person speaking directly to the camera. This mic will muffle the surrounding sound and record specifically in the direction it is aimed in. It's a great companion to your DSLR camera as it slides right into the hot shoe on top of your camera and plugs directly into the input audio jack. Attached to the mic is a Rycote Lyre Shock Mount that reduces vibrations to the microphone,
This microphone is a great stereo microphone that can pick up sound from the surrounding environment with accurate depth and clarity. It is great at capturing audio from almost any situation: instruments, bands, vocals, sounds of nature, interviews, etc. There is an input jack where you can plug in a lavalier mic such as the RODE PINMIC or the Audio-Technica ATR-3350 (listed below). There is also an output jack that allows you to plug in headphones so you can monitor your audio recording.
This mic allows you to get rich audio from a single subject. The RODE PINMIC is discretely hidden when it is pined to your shirt. It also comes with a clip if you prefer to clip it to your shirt.
You must buy a MiCon-2 Connector for 3.5mm adapter to plug it into the Zoom H1 or a DSLR.
Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone
This is a cheaper alternative to the RODE PINMIC, costing around $20. This microphone clips on your shirt. It produces good sound quality for its price. The downsides are it operates on a few watch batteries, it records audio in mono, and it has no battery level indicator. This mic can be plugged into the Zoom H1 or a DSLR.
Here are some recommendations for camera bags, tripods, memory cards, batteries, and more.
Manfrotto Advance Travel Backpack
I love this camera bag. It can accommodate my 15" laptop, camera body, up to four lenses, and camera accessories. A tripod can be strapped in on the outside or placed in the tripod pouch. That is all ofstuff I need for a photoshoot.
Black Rapid Camera Strap for DSLRs
This strap keeps by DSLR camera out of the way and to my side when I'm not shooting. When I'm ready to shoot, I grab my camera from my side and slide my camera to shooting position.
This tripod has bendable legs so you can contour it around rocks or wrap it around a pole. It can be placed on a variety of surfaces . It also has a ball head so you can angle your camera appropriately. It's perfect for timelapses, night and landscape shots, and for group selfies.
Manfrotto Fluid HeaD Tripod Kit
This is a sturdy tripod with a fluid head. The fluid head allows me to get smooth panning shots when recording videos.
Sandisk 32GB SDHC Memory Card
Trusted brand, great size, and great speed. It can hold about 1,100 RAW files on one card. You should purchase a few of these; they are really cheap.
Always have a spare battery when working.