#NewYearNewGear – Photography Wish List for 2021

#NewYearNewGear – Photography Wish List for 2021

For many, the beginning of a brand new year is an opportunity to start fresh. While photographers share their outlook on 2021, many creatives are beginning to plan ahead for future photo assignments, business opportunities, photo contests or passion projects.

With new goals, plans and resolutions comes the opportunity to seek out new tools and to experiment and get creative. We asked a few PhotoShelter members about the photo gear they would love to try this year and the tools they can’t live without. Take a look at their answers below, alongside a photo or two they recently shot with new gear.

Joanie Simon

What’s one piece of new gear you’d love to purchase or experiment with in 2021?

I’ve never shot with a tilt shift lens and would love to experiment with one. I hear the 85mm is the way to go in food photographer land but would love to find out firsthand.

What’s one piece of gear you can’t live without?

A sturdy tripod. It’s important that the thing that’s holding my camera for me is reliable.  I have several Manfrotto tripods. The one I use most in the studio is this one.

Do you have a photo or two you’ve taken recently with new gear?

I made the move to mirrorless in October. I’m now primarily shooting the Nikon Z7 with the 24-70mm f2.8S lens and couldn’t be happier. I especially love how well it works with Capture One Pro. It’s made my workflow seamless which was the primary reason for the change in the first place. I’ve also shot a handful of portrait sessions with it and though people love to knock the Nikon AF capabilities, I found it to be spot on and have no complaints. Even did great photographing my Mom’s new puppy!

Photo by Joanie Simon

Kriston J. Bethel

What’s one piece of new gear you’d love to purchase or experiment with in 2021?

Many of the portraits I photograph use off-camera lighting, with speedlights meeting my needs for portability and quick setup. Still, getting enough power out of them to contend with daylight can be a challenge. 

That’s why I’m looking into the new Westcott FJ200 monolights. At 200Ws, they provide a solid light output, but in a package not much larger than a speedlight. When paired with the FJ-X2m wireless trigger, the built-in receiver can handle TTL and HSS from most of the major camera manufacturers. Importantly, they have a rechargeable and removable battery, so I won’t be left searching for an outlet.

What’s one piece of gear you can’t live without? 

When working as a photojournalist, it pays to keep things light. Like most, I usually keep it to just my 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8 on two bodies, but sometimes you need to reach for something else. While doing more fast-paced election coverage this last year, I moved some additional items to my waist using Think Tank’s modular belt system. Attaching the Lens Changer 35 and the Stuff It! Belt Pouch provides quick access to an additional lens or another critical accessory.

Do you have a photo or two you’ve taken recently with new gear?

While the Nikon FL ED 70-200mm f/2.8 VR was released back in 2016, I only picked it up in the past year. Replacing my old telephoto lens that was really showing its age, I didn’t think of how big of a difference it could truly make. Not long after it arrived, I had an opportunity to put it through its paces while covering a Juneteenth celebration.

A holiday more people are starting to learn about, Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in Texas (and the United States) more than two years after President Lincoln had it outlawed with the Emancipation Proclamation. Today, it’s a celebration of Black joy, but also a time of protest, especially given the call for social justice last summer.

Telephotos obviously give you a lot of reach to work with, but this can be incredibly important when creating editorial work during the pandemic, like in the photo below. The greatly improved color and sharp focus of this lens really surpassed my expectations, making me wonder why I waited so long. Already thinking ahead, the next lens I buy in this range will almost certainly be for mirrorless, so we’ll see what kind of further improvements will be made there.

Photo by Kriston J. Bethel

Heath Holden

What’s one piece of new gear you’d love to purchase or experiment with in 2021?

I’d love to try the Hasselblad XCD 80mm f/1.9, specifically for some lit street portraits around Doha. I’ve been using an X1Dii lately and it is a very nice machine, paired with a XCD 45p lens, it’s quite a portable medium format powerhouse.

What’s one piece of gear you can’t live without?

I’d say one thing I couldn’t do without these days is just a small camera and 1 lens combo to carry all of the time – weekends, the coffee shop, a bar, etc. My preference would be a Leica M and 35mm lens or a Leica Q. I’d recommend any of these options along with the similar offerings from Fuji (XPRO or X100 or XT series).

Do you have a photo or two you’ve taken recently with new gear? 

Yes! This is a shot from a series I have been working on during the twilight hours around the older neighbourhoods of Doha. I’ve always loved shooting in low light and the atmosphere it brings is a little mystical. It’s fueled by inspiration from Gregory Crewdson’s work and more recently Dina Litovsky’s Dark City work in NYC during the deep corona months.

Photo by Heath Holden

Christina Peters

What’s one piece of new gear you’d love to purchase or experiment with in 2021? 

The new Canon R5 mirrorless (plus a dedicated lens for it, so that’s two things really).

With this RF85mm F2 Macro lens to start (I shoot food).

What’s one piece of gear you can’t live without?

I’ve been very hesitant to spend money on these newer, cheap, overseas, lights that are all over Amazon. So I really had a hard time believing that this strobe for less than $600 would work so well. I felt it was worth a try as Adorama backs it. 

This one is Adorama’s version called Flashpoint of the Godox Xplor 600 HHS. It works great at being able to overpower the sun for portraits.

I had to do a story for a local magazine and we photographed chefs outside of their restaurants (because of Covid) and my editor wanted the backgrounds really dark. I was able to easily do that with this little wireless strobe.

Oh, side note – you MUST use the dedicated wireless trigger with it to make it work with your camera if you want the high speed shutter sync. That’s called the Flashpoint R2 Pro MarkII 2.4 GHZ transmitter. This one is only for Canon so make sure you get one for your camera.

If you don’t care about high speed shutter sync, traditional triggers will work like a Phottix.

Do you have a photo or two you’ve taken recently with new gear?

Attached is a portrait shot with it – just one light and one soft, shot through umbrella. Canon 5DSR with 70-200 lens (for social distancing).

Photo by Christina Peters

Gabby Salazar

What’s one piece of new gear you’d love to purchase or experiment with in 2021? 

In 2021, I’d love to purchase a MikroMak Prime Probe Lens. I really enjoy photographing plants and insects and these extreme close-up lenses could help me capture new and interesting perspectives.

What’s one piece of gear you can’t live without?

I find myself creating a lot more videos these days and I just love the Sennheiser MKE 400 shotgun mic. It is easy to use and helps me get high quality audio when I’m filming on my own or when I am on the move and can’t set up a more complicated audio system.

Do you have a photo or two you’ve taken recently with new gear?

I’ve recently been experimenting more and more with my Ikelite underwater housing. In 2019 I purchased this housing to use with my Canon 5D Mark IV and intended to use it while snorkeling and diving on tropical reefs. It’s not been possible to travel to those reefs because of the pandemic, so I’ve been using the housing in freshwater springs near my home in Florida. 

I recently used the housing to photograph a group of manatees that had gathered in one of the springs. While still threatened with extinction, manatee populations in Florida have been increasing over time, thanks to protections put in place and to changes in human behavior. It’s wonderful to see them thriving in the wild! 

Photo by Gabby Salazar

Have you been experimenting with new photo gear? What tools are on your wishlist for 2021? Tweet at us @photoshelter or tag your photos with #NewYearNewYear so we can see your work!

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