Every single photographer I know suffers from serious gear envy.
If you see a shiny new piece of kit on an Instagram post or your favourite Youtubers latest video, you just have to buy it.
Some of these pieces of equipment aren’t always as good as they are cracked up to be and some are down right rubbish.
Hopefully this post can help you avoid some of those duff purchases.
If you’ve ever watched any Youtube VLOG you will have seen one of these.
The theory behind these is absolutely spot on, a flexible tripod that you attach to practically anything because of the way the legs can wrap around.
In practise though, i’ve found them almost impossible to get where you actually need them and then when you do get them there they just spin around widely, causing you mild heart palpitations.
If you do have your heart set on one, you’ll want to get a couple of sizes bigger than they are rated for, as the heads are known for slipping and your camera often ends up pointed at the floor rather than where you actually need it.
If you have read any of my best tripod posts you will know i’m big on getting the best tripod you can afford.
Unfortunately when you first start out the best you can afford is often quite crap.
My first tripod was a tiny Manfrotto which set me back about £50, which I thought was a lot at the time.
It looked great until you came to release the legs and they would either shoot out too fast and fall off or it would be a struggle to actually get them to release.
Once all the legs were back in the right place it soon became apparent it wasn’t made for someone who is over 6 foot tall and it barely reached my chest.I’ve since invested a lot of time in building up my tripod setup which does everything I need it to, it’s been a little more costly than my first tripod purchase but I know it’s going to keep my camera exactly where I need it to be.
This is my current tripod setup.
This one may split the audience but i’ve never put any kind of UV or protective filter on the front of my lenses and in ~14 years of working as a professional photographer i’ve never had any issues.
What I have bought is a deluge of polarisers and ND grads with various fitting systems, some great (I especially recommend the Lee Filters range) and some absolutely terrible!
I use the Lee Filter range of filters on the front of my lenses.
Cheap filters will often have a colour cast to them which you will waste hours in post production trying to remove.
The dynamic range of most modern cameras also means that a simple 1 stop ND grad is kind of useless as you can easily pull a couple of stops back in the highlight in post production.
When I was in university, a light meter was on the list of “essential kit” so in the first week of studying, off I happily trotted to buy this amazing bit of kit.
I think it probably left my brand new Billingham bag once in the whole time I was at university.
If you’re shooting a lot of film where you have to get the exposure right first time or have a REALLY old camera that doesn’t have a light meter, you may have a reason to buy one of these. But with all modern cameras, you have a chance to see where your exposure is going to be before you press the shutter and if it’s wrong it takes you seconds to shoot another image which has the correct exposure.
The days of the humble light meter are over.
Budget Lighting Stands
Lighting stands are one of the pieces of equipment which seem really expensive on paper.
They don’t really have a fancy job to do and the temptation can be to skimp on these, which is exactly what I did when I first started.
I went straight to Amazon and picked up the cheapest stands I could find, the images of them made them look great, so what could go wrong?
When they turn up in a box the size of a large pencil case though, you start to worry.
They were incapable of holding anything much heavier than a hotshoe flash and a small breeze would make them wobble and threaten their precious payload.
These have since been condemned to the metal recycling and i’ve invested in some quality Manfrotto 420Bs, which give you the option of using them as a traditional lighting stand and as a boom arm which can take a serious amount of weight.
What’s the worst purchase you have made as a photographer?
That’s my list of my own worst purchases for my photography business but what are the bits of gear that you regret buying?
Stick a comment below so others can avoid our mistakes!