Camera Bodies:

canon-eos-5d-mark-iv-body

Canon 5d Mark IV

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The Canon 5d Mark IV is my most recent camera purchase, bought used from someone from my hometown. After saving a researching for months and months, I found this camera to be a great fit for me, but it's price tag prevented me from being able to purchase it. Even after saving for months I was still far from the amount I needed, so I decided to shop used bodies. After several weeks of looking for the "right deal", I finally found a too-good-to-be-true deal on Craigslist; the owner had purchased it new only a few months prior in addition to about $4000 worth of other gear, and never really used any of the gear before realizing that he was in need of quick cash. In the end, I came out with my dream camera body, a dream lens, replacements/upgrades to my current gear, and many other items that were in my mental "wishlist" all for over 50% off retail value (and basically brand new). You might be able to imagine I was pretty stoked. Because I am currently in the Fall semester of my second year in college, it has become increasingly difficult to get out and shoot, but in the short month I have owned the gear I have photographed a wedding, a backpacking trip through the Crazy Mountains in Montana, and a few other day trips in the mountains and I absolutely fell in love with the camera. The images this camera produces by far exceed my previous camera (now second body), the 6d.

Canon 6d

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The Canon 6d was my first dSLR, purchased in May of 2015. After saving a researching for months and months, I found this camera to be a great fit for me, and to this day I have no regrets. The Canon 6d is known for its 20.2 Megapixel Full-Frame CMOS sensor, as well as its wide ISO range of 100-25600. Some of its other features include an 11-point AF system with EV -3 sensitivity (for focusing in extreme low-light conditions), continuous shooting up to 4.5 fps, a weather-sealed, Polycarbonate body, and EOS HD Video. This is still my primary camera body, and is still going strong. I have dropped it, soaked it, dragged it, and even totaled a car with it just sitting in my seat (it few across the car..) and it has yet to fail on me. All of the images here on my website (except for "Meriwether Coast" and a few others in past blogs) were taken on my 6d, so go check out my portfolio to see the results for yourself!

Canon 40d

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My little brother received the 40d body as a gift from pair of wildlife photographers several years ago. They had not used the camera in several years, they so wanted to give it to someone young and ambitious. Both he and I have shared the camera since, but, to be completely honest, I haven't used it much (it's outdated + I already have dSLR) so I don't really have much to say about it. However, the couple loved the camera in the time they used it and it seems to produce great images from what I've seen.

Canon AE1 Black

Canon AE-1 Program

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I am convinced that this is one of the top 35mm film cameras out there. Besides the arguable Canon A-1, F-1, T-90, EOS 3, EOS 1N, EF, and a few others, this camera does the job better than any other. The camera is mostly metal (giving it good strength and durability), has a built-in light meter, has program mode, and has a beautiful exterior design. Although I don't have a dependable source to link to where you could buy one, I did attach a link to where you can learn more about the camera. If you're interested in buying one, they are always being posted for sale on Ebay, Craigslist, and several other second-hand websites (I bought mine on Ebay for ~$150). Attached to my AE-1 body is a Canon FD 50mm 1.4, which is equally as amazing. I have absolutely no regrets in purchasing this camera and I would definitely recommend to all photographer of any experience.

GoPro Hero 4 Black

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Whenever I want to pack light or am doing something crazy, the GoPro Hero 4 Black is always one of the first things in my bag. It's a tight-packed, high quality little machine that never disappoints. Of course there are newer models out now, and yes it would be nice to have an LCD screen or prolonged battery life, but the 4 Black is where I started and to be honest it does everything I would need a GoPro to do even to this day.

Here's a little video I made for those who want to see some test footage: "The Life of My GoPro".

Lenses:

Canon_EF_24_70mm_f_2_8L_II

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 II

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This lens came packaged with my Canon 5d Mark IV and had been a lens I've been wanting as a replacement for my Canon 24-105L. Right off the bat I am 100% stoked about the lens size and quality. It's sharpness exceeds that of the Canon 24-105 f/4 and its autofocus speed does as well. Aside from the lack of extra 35mm of zoom I lost in replacing lenses, I see the significant improvement in image quality as a much better benefit. Three quick cons I have about this lens are that, 1, the lens is very heavy for it's size (for good reason however), 2, there is no USM built into the lens, so handheld videos using this lens come out shaky, and finally, 3, I absolutely despise the look of the external zoom. Similarly to the Canon 24-105 f/4, this lenses zoom protrudes from the lens in a very unattractive way. The upside o this, however, is that the lens is more compact when storing it.

Canon 24-105mm f/4

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The Canon 24-105L had always been a lens I wanted in my bag, even after years of owning one it continues to be. My favorite parts about the lens are its ideal landscape focal range (24mm is a beautiful focal length for landscapes in my opinion, and 105mm allows for a pretty solid zoom), its incredible optical image stabilization (good for video and low-light, handheld images), and its quick and silent Ultrasonic Motor (USM) autofocus. An overview on B&H said it really well: "The EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens from Canon is a versatile, easy-to-use standard zoom lens that covers a focal range from wide-angle to portrait-length telephoto. Its constant maximum aperture of f/4 provides effective consistency when at the telephoto end of the zoom range."

But, as always, pros come the cons; here are a few things I really don't like. First is the fact that it's fastest f-stop is f/4. Although f/4 can be great for landscapes and long exposures, it simply just isn't quick enough for shooting in low-light situations or when photographing nights-scapes. For example, when I create star-trails, I often shoot hundreds of photos (in time-lapse format) and then stitch them in post, but at f/4 I have to shoot very slow photos (between 15-30"). These exposures are long enough to be able to see movement in the stars (which is often unwanted) and are create very large image files. These files take longer for the SD cards to process thus leaving a gap of star-light between images (basically just makes the star-trails themselves look like airplanes blinking in the sky). Although I have found a solution by buying a faster card, this is just one of many examples of how f/4 just isn't enough for advanced landscape photographers. Along with this, the Canon 24-105L just isn't a very sharp lens; the images this lens creates are often of low quality and "blurry". Although it's not the biggest issue, it's hard to understand why this would be an issue with a professional grade lens (I heard the 24-70L is much better with this, but I don't want to lose that extra zoom). My final issue with this lens isn't a big deal t all, but it's enough to bug me, and that's that the lens is an external zoom lens. This means the the lens extends when you zoom in and it honestly makes the lens look pretty cheap and ugly. Additionally, the rubber ring inside the lens (not the zoom ring on the outside) that prevents the lens from zooming in and out has never been good, so when you hold the lens face down, the inner piece of the lens falls and zooms in. Again, not a huge issue, but kind of weird for a $1000k+ lens.

Canon 35-128mm f/3.5-5.6

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This lens was the one that came with the Canon 40d (read above under "Camera Bodies"). Although I don't use it much, it's a great focal length, it's fairly light, it produces pretty sharp and dynamic photos (plus they're pretty inexpensive).

Canon 50mm f/1.4

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The Canon 50mm f/1.4 - the lens I've owned the longest and I still have idea if I like it or not.. I'll break it down into pros and cons:

Pros:

- f/1.4 is an incredibly powerful feature, not only for attaining a shallow depth of field/bokeh, but also for shooting in low-light/faster night exposures. I find myself grabbing this lens

- 50mm is a great focal length for portraits, giving a "just-right" look

- The autofocus is very quick

- Lens is very small and compact

Cons:

- Although the autofocus is quick, the focus often fails and can result in photos with no distinct area of focus or an area in focus different than what you focused on. This is my biggest con for this lens, and a large amount of users agree with this issue. My solution is just to check the photos as I shoot to make sure I have a good one, or just take a lot of photos and hope one turns out haha. Or, if the only issue is that the lens focuses in an area different from where you autofocuses, some cameras allow for AutoFocus MicroAdjustments, which means you can move this area of focus to line up with where you originally focused on (adjustable per lens). If that doesn't make sense just read more here haha.

- One last con I have about the Canon 50mm f/1.4 is the exterior lens quality; it's made of plastic and has a lot of parts that wiggle. Not a huge deal but it just makes if feel like a cheap lens.

Canon_85mm_f_1_8_USM

Canon 85mm f/1.8

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This lens came packaged with my Canon 5d Mark IV, and although I have not had any need to use it yet I am a big fan of this focal length and have seen how well this lens can perform. The day I get a good use of it I may come back and write more in depth about it, but for now just click the "Learn More" link to read up on it for yourself!

Canon 135mm f/2.0

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This lens is my latest pick-up, off B&H. I needed a longer focal length and this lens had great reviews and I found a great deal for it. I was initially nervous of the weird focal length and the fact that is was a prime lens, but it turned out to be a great wedding/portrait lens after all. Right off the bat bat I was (and still am) very impressed with the quality of both the exterior and interior elements. The lens is very tight, with no loose parts, and the focus ring is very firm (but not too firm) as well. The lens is quick to focus and produces very sharp images. The combination between the long focal length and the quick aperture allows for very shallow depths of field for incredible portraits. 135mm prime forces you to move around, but with its results I would highly recommend this lens to "people" photographers and maybe even some wildlife photographers.

Tripods:

Oben AC-1461 4-Section Aluminum Tripod + BA-117 Ball Head

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 While photographing long-exposures in the water, the tripods weight helps prevent camera shake.

While photographing long-exposures in the water, the tripods weight helps prevent camera shake.

I might get mixed reviews about this, but even though I'm constantly moving and traveling to take photos, I still prefer to have a heavier and sturdier tripod. Carbon fiber tripods are great, and so are the other types, but I truly prefer aluminum over them all. This tripod gives me the weight and support I need when I'm shooting long exposures, time lapses or even when I'm shooting in a river; the weight and support needed to prevent camera shake and movement in time lapses (left). Yes, sometimes it sucks to have to backpack with this tripod, or drag it around airports, but the satisfaction I get from knowing my camera won't move in the wind/water/other elements makes it all worth it. On top of this, the tripod is also very versatile, and has big leg latches which makes it easy to adjust when your fingers are frozen or when you have gloves on (PSA: twist locks suck, always stick with the latch/clip/flip locks because they're easier to grip and have more strength with no slip). Additionally, the tripod head is great too; gotta love ball heads. Plus the lock for the ball is long which gives you more torque/power/grip. My only problem with the head is on some vertical camera positions the ball lock hits the quick release plate, so you have to play with it a little to make sure it licks tightly. Not a huge deal but just a little annoying some times. I believe it's the best <$300 tripod out there.

 

Lighting:

Paul C. Buff - Alienbees B400

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Haven't used this light very much yet, but its very powerful and light at the same time. Lots of options for power and light bursts. Overall a really great light and is very popular in the world of photography lighting.

Canon Speedlite 580EX

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I first used this flash on my Canon 5d Mark IV to photograph a wedding and I really did enjoy what it produced. I went in without knowing much about the flash (lighting was provided so there was no need for my flash), but I decided to play around with it a little and found it pretty easy to use. I am neither an expert nor a big fan of hot shoe mounted flashes, but my experience with this flash went pretty smoothly.

[Pro]Master 5-in-1 Reflector

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Compact, easy to set up, high performance and quality - what more could you ask for. This 5-in-1 reflector is perfect for getting the lighting in your photographs just right to minimize the amount of post-process required.

Accessories:

Canon BG-E20 Battery Grip

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Included in the Canon 5d Mark IV package was this grip. Although there are many significantly cheaper options that the Canon brand grip, you will never find one that looks and performs as great as the Canon grip. Personally, the only times these grips are useful are for shooting portraits or possibly in the studio, but without adequate support, they make the camera too top heavy on a tripod and make the camera too bulky and heavy for hiking (again, this is my own opinion). However, the grip performed very well and feel great in your hands.

LEE Filters Big Stopper

Glass: Learn More   |  Mount System: Learn More

LEE filters tend to get pretty expensive, but I can not stress enough that you really will get what you pay for. Excellent mounts, incredible class, amazing packaging, and great customer service/warranties. This specific filter is a 10-stop, and the images in produces are amazing. Additionally, I dropped the glass off a small waterfall into rocks (and dropped it many times before too), and the glass didn't even crack! Just a little chip in the top corner which doesn't even affect the photos anyway. If you need any kind of camera filter (specifically NDs (Neutral Density)), go with LEE.

Here are some sample photos:

 
 
 

Vello ShutterBoss Shutter Release Remote

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Bought this cable release over two years ago, runs great and I'm still on the original batteries! The only thing is that for some reason I can't set a custom shutter speed on Bulb mode (over 30"). When I do long exposures (over 30") on bulb mode, I will set the exposure time on the remote and it never works.. It's a remote issue, not me or the camera, which is unfortunate especially it was reviewed to be an "above average" remote, wherever that means.. Oh well, but I wouldn't buy it again just because it failed/fails at what I need it the most for.

WD Elements 2TB External USB 3.0 Desktop Hard Drive

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This was my first external hard drive, and I can say for sure I probably won't be buying from WD again.. Although the hard drive never failed me, the USB cable that connects the hard drive to my laptop has stopped working several times in the past beginning even a few weeks after buying it. When you have hundreds and hundreds of files to back up, it's very important to have trust in your drives, which I unfortunately did not have with WD.

WD My Passport Ultra 3TB External USB 3.0 Desktop Hard Drive

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Just about the same thing I said about the 2TB Elements version above, except this cable seemed to work well with the 2TB Element instead of the one it was supposed to be for haha. But same thing, it prevented me from being able to trust them entirely, so now they just collect dust.. :(

Seagate Backup Plus Hub 8TB External USB 3.0 Desktop Hard Drive Black

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I bought this external hard drive on sale off B&H on Cyber Monday, desperate for a place to back up my archives after having my WD drive cables fail (read above). I was a bit nervous in spending a lot of money on a drive, but I had heard great stuff about SeaGate and the Backup Plus Hub 8TB External USB 3.0 was very popular. It's been almost a year now since I bought it and I have yet to have an issue with it. The drive always pops up on my laptop (my other drives often wouldn't) , the transfer speeds are great, and although sometimes it takes a while to start up, it always gets the job done. My only minor complaint is that it is a very loud and weird sounding drive, but that's honestly the least of my worries.

Programs:

Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Subscription (Includes Lr and Ps + other mobile apps)

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I'm honestly not even sure what to say about this.. but if you're looking to expand your post-process abilities, Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are immensely diverse and powerful tools that can help enable any photographer or artist to reach great heights. Their "Photography Subscription" is an amazing deal ($10/mo) and even includes a Cloud Subscription (which before wasn't common but now I guess it's normal haha). 10/10.

StarStax by Markus Enzweiler

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Free. Easy. Powerful. What a great trio.. But why take my word for it, go try it out for yourself!

Okay maybe I'll explain a little more.. StarStax is essentially a 4-step program that takes your individual star time-lapse images and "stacks" them together into a completed "Star-Trail". Here's an image processed by StarStax just to give you an idea:

 
 
 
 

Bags and Other:

Lowepro Whistler BP 350 AW, Canon Camera Bag, Mountainsmith x Andy W backpack, Manfrotto Tripod and Bag, Insignia Shutter Release, LP-E6N, SanDisk 64GB, Giottos Cleaning Kit


That's about all the gear I own at this point, but I hope to get some new toys soon. But if you've made it this far, I just want to take this time to thank you because YOU are the ones who keep me going. Once again, thank you, and I'll see you guys next month!

Andy Woodward