The holiday season is around the corner and that means it’s the perfect opportunity to upgrade your gear or find that special gift for the visual storyteller or photography enthusiast in your life.
We reached out to a handful of renowned photographers and PhotoShelter members, each with their unique styles and preferences, to bring you a curated list of gear recommendations and personal wish list items that are sure to elevate your photography game into the new year.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just getting started on your photography journey, there’s something here for everyone.
What’s on your photography holiday wishlist? What gear can you not live without? Tag PhotoShelter on social media and let us know.
At the top of my holiday wish list is the new Sony G Master 16-35mm 2.8ii. I am currently using the first version of this lens and it is an absolute workhorse for me — from portraits to pregame candids to scene-setting openers. Besides the improved technology (resolution, clarity, Bokeh), it is smaller and lighter in weight. That’s a big deal for me as I always shoot with three cameras, for many hours and as a sports photographer, moving around a lot.
As for gear I can’t live without… that’s an easy one: My Sony GM 70-200 2.8 ii. With this one lens I can tell the story of any game, from Little League to the World Series. Action, reaction, celebrations. The focal length is key, giving me a wide range to capture the action tight, or stay wide and give my images a sense of place. The lens is super-fast, allowing me to capture athletes at their peak moment, and make a pretty picture with beautiful Bokeh.
I can’t live without my set of Elinchrom ELC Pro 500 monolights. They offer all the power I need for my food photography assignments and deliver beautiful, clean, light. I’ve tried other flash heads but these are hands-down my favourite.
I’ve got my eye on a very special addition to my wish list: the new NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens, priced at $6,500. It’s impressively lightweight at just 5.5lbs and measures slightly over 15 inches in length. Currently, I’m enjoying an extended stay back home in Panama, a place that’s celebrated for its remarkable variety of bird species. Just behind my new residence is a park where I’ve spotted at least 30 different species of birds. Then, about a mile away lies an accessible stretch of the Pacific shoreline, home to an array of both endemic and migratory birds. And let’s not forget about the famed Gamboa Pipeline Road, the crème de la crème of bird-spotting locales in Central America, just 55 minutes away. This lens would undoubtedly be a transformative tool for my photography.
A lens I can’t live without: Nikkor Z 70-200mm/ 2.8 VRS. That is my go-to lens for 90% of my photography… To the point that in the past I’ve owned two of those at any given time in case one is out for repairs.
An affordable item I love: My Domke Gripper camera straps have become an indispensable part of my gear. Despite experimenting with a myriad of different straps over the years, I’ve circled back to one of the original types I used at the start of my three-decade-long career. These unassuming canvas straps are not just reliable and robust but also thoughtfully designed with rubbery, grippy streaks on the underside to ensure the cameras stay put on my shoulders. Oh, and they are only about $25!
On my wish list: The new Sony 300mm f2.8. It’s been the one “missing link” in the Sony lens lineup for us sports photographers.
What I can’t live without: It’s not a piece of gear, but it’s just as valuable and useful… My Sony Pro Support membership. From expedited repairs to, more importantly, the opportunity to borrow gear I don’t need on a full-time basis at major events (See the photo above of Coco Gauff at the US Open, made with a 14mm f1.8 on loan from them), they’re a great partner to have.
I would love to add Profoto A2 lights and lightweight Clic softboxes to my kit. I already have some Profoto lighting gear which I mostly use while on commercial assignments back in Stockholm, but as a travel photographer, I’d love to take the lightweight A2 and Clic Softbox Octa on the road.
After years of searching and owning several others, I finally found the perfect camera bags for me as a travel photographer. The Endurax Large Camera Backpack Drone Hardshell fits two cameras and 5 lenses, in addition to a 15in laptop and top pocket that fits so much. For a night out while traveling, I take my sleek looking Mosiso camera bag with me.
On my wish list would be a carbon fiber travel tripod so I don’t have to lug around my old heavy aluminum one while traveling or hiking!
I spend a lot of my year photographing sports, specializing in mountain biking. I just spent my first full season shooting on the Canon EOS R3 and I could not be happier with its performance. It’s my workhorse camera now. The autofocus and subject tracking are great, and the low light capabilities are also fantastic. The battery lasts all day and the body is rugged to withstand all of the elements I throw at it. I couldn’t imagine working without it now.
On the landscape side of things, I recently started using Kase magnetic filters and have been happy with them. Being able to throw on a polarizer and then quickly add a neutral density filter on top is really handy. The system eliminates bulky filter holders or the need to thread each filter onto your lens.
Would Santa please bring me a Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G zoom? I’ve shot with this remarkable lens during the Sandhill Crane migration on the Platte River in Nebraska and it’s a great tool. It’s got the reach, image quality (I don’t have a clue how they do it at the price) and it doesn’t weigh a ton. Over the last 50 years I’ve owned a bunch of telephoto lenses (anybody ever seen a 300mm f2.8 Topcor?) but few that did so much so well. Lust-worthy glass.
I can’t live without my iPhone for travel photography. But I especially can’t live without the apps that make it work so well. I carry well over 100 apps on my iPhone 15 all the time but a few of them do the heavy lifting. Hipstamatic gives me all those goofy “lenses” and “films” that supercharge my graphic creativity. It’s indulgent fun. Lightroom (on my phone) gets called on for complex processing, plus I can sync photos back to my desktop automatically. Mojo is my go-to app for producing Instagram reels. And I love Panols for cutting panoramas for Instagram carousels.
Think Tank’s Logistics Manager is on my holiday wish list. I have several Profoto lights and accessories that are distributed in several bags/cases and this case would be perfect to house most of it. It’s been in my cart online for a minute, just need to pull the trigger on it!
There are a couple of items on my Holiday list that I can’t wait to get…
A portable solar power station with a solar generator and portable solar panels. This way I can charge all my photography equipment with solar energy, including all the rechargeable batteries for my cameras and flash, portable strobes and computer equipment.
I have a personal goal that by 2024, I will not only be documenting and creating images about sustainability and effects of climate change, but I also hope to pursue sustainable photography practices with the goal of producing all of my photography work using solar energy.
What’s on your photography holiday wish list? Tag PhotoShelter on social media and tell us about the gear you’re itching to buy or the gear you simply can’t live without.