My Photography Gear

Next to “why do you blog?” or “how does your blog work?”, the questions I get most often are about my photography. And although I did pickup a pretty useless degree in photography, I am far from a professional.

Photography– like travel, is just another thing I’m passionate about.

All the equipment I use is my own, rather than rented or sponsored, meaning almost everything is affordable. So without further ado, here’s my gear with sample images taken by each piece of equipment and links to all products!

The Camera

Since learning about photography, I have worked with three DSLR cameras.

My current camera is the Canon EOS 70D, which was my first non-Rebel series camera. Any photographs from June 2014 onward were mostly likely taken with this camera (although I do tend to sneak in iPhone and point and shoot photos every now and then– see more on those tools below).

Before using the 70D, I used the Canon EOS Rebel T2i, which I had upgraded from my previous Canon Rebel XSi. The T2i is an incredible camera, and was great to learn on. Even today the Rebel Series is still what I most recommend to those who want an easy to use (and super affordable) entry-level DSLR.

Since upgrading my camera, I’ve been completely happy with it and don’t plan on upgrading for at least another year or two– although like most photographers my dream camera would be the Canon 5D Mark III or the Canon 1D-X.

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan 2013 (Taken by Johnny with the Canon T2i)

Japan - June 2014

Tokyo, Japan 2014 (Taken by Johnny with the Canon 70D)

Lenses

I currently have and carry four lenses. Starting with my kit lens, I have purchased additional lenses that now allow me to cover range of 10mm-250mm, which has been pretty perfect for shooting almost any subject I encounter!

Landscape Lens

The lens I usually keep on my camera for everyday use is the Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens, which is indeed my kit lens for the 70D. It’s generally a good walkabout lens because it zooms in fair amount, while still being wide enough for most normal photography situations.

Cons: being a kit lens, the quality of glass isn’t very high and a good amount of chromatic aberration can be found. While this is much better than my previous Rebel’s 18-55mm kit lens, I do hope to replace this one in the future with a comparable L-series lens.

Kyoto - 2011

Kyoto, Japan

Hong Kong

Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

Prime Lens

The very first lens I bought as an addition to my kit lens was the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II. As my first new lens, it’s needless to say I was obsessed. At the time I felt there was a huge jump in image quality from my kit lens.

Pros: it was cheap, it’s ultra light weight, great for portraits and it makes photos look professional due to its shallow depth of field.

Cons: due to that same shallow depth of field, it’s not a good street photography lens and there’s only so much you can do with its limited F-stop. And although it’s still the best lens I have for low-light situations, I find I rarely use this lens anymore and keep it around as more of a toy.

Champaign, IL

Urbana, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

Champaign, Illinois

Telephoto Zoom Lens

My zoom lens is the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II, which I bought since moving abroad. In a country as crowded as Hong Kong, I often found the need for more zoom capabilities than my kit lens allowed in order to even get a shot of my subject.

Pros: I love street photography, but I’m often too timid to take photos of strangers; this lens makes it easier because I can keep my distance. I call it my sniper lens. Also, I honestly never thought of this lens as useful for landscapes, but I proved myself quite wrong very quickly.

Cons: it’s slow– and although image stabilization helps, a lot of images were still coming out blurry, so it took a lot of practice to learn how to shoot well with this lens.

Hakone/Mt. Fuji, Japan

Mount Fuji, Japan

Shenzhen - Mar 2013

Shenzhen, China

Wide Angle Lens

After being constantly fed up with my kit lens not being wide enough for most situations I find myself in, I finally sucked it up and purchased the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USMdespite it’s rather hefty price tag (more than my actual camera!). Since then I’ve fallen in love with the lens and rarely take it off my camera.

It’s perfect for wide landscapes, cityscapes, or just for fun by being overly dramatic.

Hong Kong

Tseung Kwan O, Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hysan Place, Hong Kong

 Accessories

Camera Bag

I use a sling bag because I can keep it in front of me. Not only does it make it quick to access my camera and lenses, but it also is safer against pickpockets. A few months ago I bought the Lowepro Passport Sling and I love it.

It fits my camera with one lens attached, 2 other lenses, a few filters and my memory cards. You can unzip a section which makes the bag even larger. There are pockets around the outside of the bag, which are perfect for holding wallets, keys, passport, lip balm, hand sanitizer, maps, water, you name it. I can carry everything I need in this bag and it feels extremely light and comfortable!

Tokyo

Traveling made easy with my Lowepro Passport (Taken By Johnny)

Filters

I don’t have many filters, everything I have is just cheap and basic, nothing fancy. I keep a UV filer on all of my lenses for protection. (Hoya 58mm HMC Ultraviolet UV(C) Haze Multicoated Filter and Kenko 77mm UV E Series Filter get the job done well.)

I also carry one Hoya 58mm Digital Circular Polarizing Filter for reducing reflection and enhancing colors.

Tripod

Again, my tripod is nothing fancy. It’s something I bought when I first arrived in Hong Kong because I wasn’t able to pack my old one. Just while traveling I’m using the Parco PT-308 Tripod (there’s not even a link for it) because it was available and lightweight.

Cons: I’ll say I’m not the biggest fan of this tripod because it’s not tall enough nor very sturdy. I do like that it comes with an easy to carry sling case for it though!

Once I get some more money, I’ll be going for the Manfroto Compact Action Tripod.

Point and Shoot

For the past two years I was using and loving my Sony Cybershot DSC-W350. It was small, pink, and took great photos–especially at night. Unfortunately my camera decided to die on my birthday, only a month after living in Hong Kong. Not being able to live without a camera that I can toss in my purse, I quick did some research to find its successor.

Samsung DV300F

I found the camera I thought I wanted, and then frantically searched everywhere to buy it. Finally, a found a store that had 1 left and I happily took home my new Samsung DV300F. This was the first non-Sony point and shoot that I had ever purchased (my previous five were all Sony). This Samsung overall had fair reviews, and I don’t know if I happened to get a lemon or what, but this camera was horrible.

It seemed so promising– tons of features and filters, wifi, dual-screens… but even when shooting in broad daylight the images just come out soft and blurry. Shooting at night? Forget it. (And that’s the main reason I use a point and shoot since my DSLR without a tripod at night is fairly useless.) I have since purchased a new point and shoot (see below) so I rarely bring around this one. But the one thing I do keep this one around for is selfies. Having a screen on the front of the camera is great so you can actually see what you’re doing!

Phuket - Nov 2013

Phuket, Thailand

Hong Kong Disneyland

Disneyland, Hong Kong

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX30

After being highly disappointed by Samsung, I knew I had to go back to Sony. I also knew, that I had promised myself whatever point and shoot I buy next, it would be waterproof (after stressing out countless times about what camera to bring with for situations involving water–and always running out to buy crappy underwater disposables). After more research, I decided to try the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX30.

At first I was a bit skeptical, the touchscreen was difficult, and the lens was right where I was used to holding a camera, but I quickly remembered why I love Sony point and shoots. The images are clear, colors are vibrant and night shots are amazing. I now carry this camera with me everywhere.

Shanghai - Apr 2013

Shanghai, China

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

Mirrorless

Since moving back to the US, I decided I’d like to get a camera that would be great for both vlogging and photography. After arguing with domestic flight attendants and being made to check my camera gear, I knew I needed something small and lightweight so that I could keep it in my purse or carry-on and not worry about it getting damaged.

I purchased the Sony α5100 and have since been in love. The photo quality is great even with the 16-50mm kit lens, although I can’t wait to try out some other lenses.

It has all the functionality of the Samsung camera I had bought, including Wifi. This little camera packs a powerful punch!

A lot of people have been asking why I didn’t get the Sony α6000 or Sony α7 since both of those models were out at the time. The answer may seem stupid, but it’s because those models did away with the 180° tilt LCD. Since I wanted this camera for vlogging, that was a deal breaker!

Anything I missed? If you have any other questions, feel free to get in touch!