Photo by Elliott Chau
What are the best cameras and lenses for specific shots? That’s not always an easy question to answer. The last few years have brought a wave of transformation in the field of digital photography, from the emergence of high-quality smartphone cameras to the mirrorless revolution. With so many options available to rent or buy, it’s an exciting time to be a photographer. Trends come and go, but great cameras and lenses stick around and leave their mark. Here’s a look at just eight pieces of gear that prove their worth time and again.
If your specialty is landscape photography, then we recommend the Sony a7R II body.
When exploring faraway regions, a mirrorless camera is a wise choice. Unlike a heavier DSLR, it’ll keep you light on your feet. The Sony a7R II is a fantastic camera for landscape photographers because it’s small but powerful. With an impressive dynamic range, a 42.4-megapixel image sensor, and low-light capabilities, this weather-sealed body will work in almost all conditions and climates you can imagine.
This camera also has extended focus points, so all your details–from foreground to background to the edges of your frame–will be crystal clear. It’ll also work well in low-light situations (e.g., photographing the aurora over Iceland or the starry skies over the national parks of the USA).
If your specialty is street photography, then we recommend the Ricoh GR II body.
This slim and inconspicuous point-and-shoot fits in your pocket, allowing you to blend into the scene. Don’t be fooled by its humble appearance: this camera delivers excellent quality images in a small package. It combines the convenience of a smartphone with the performance of a much larger setup.
It’s also fast–the autofocus system locks in a subject in 0.2 seconds–so you won’t miss any of those fleeting “decisive moments.” It’s one of those tried-and-true everyday cameras for people who live and breathe street photography. As a bonus, it has Wi-Fi functions, so you can connect and share your photos as soon as you take them.
If your specialty is city/architecture photography, then we recommend the Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD lens.
This high-speed ultra-wide zoom lens for Canon and Nikon DSLRs works well for landscapes, cityscapes, and interiors. It also minimizes common issues with ultra-wide lenses, like distortion, chromatic aberrations, and blur. Additionally, it comes with a built-in lens hood to prevent glare.
One of this lens’s most buzzed-about features is its vibration compensation, which helps you avoid camera shake when shooting handheld. It’s unique for a lens of its kind, and it proves especially useful if you want to incorporate motion (e.g. passing pedestrians) in your city scenes without blurring the architecture.
For aerial photography, we recommend the DJI Mavic Pro.
This portable personal drone delivers the quality and flight range you’re used to seeing from its larger cousins. It has a flight time of about 27 minutes, much longer than you’d expect for a drone that weighs barely above one and a half pounds. It can also race at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour.
While this drone comes with a designated remote, you can also fly it using the DJI Go app on your smartphone. Bonus: it recognizes you from the air! Simply wave your arms to catch its attention, then make a box with your hands to snap a selfie.
If your specialty is photographing people, then we recommend the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens.
This wide-angle prime lens is perfect for environmental portraits. Its most-touted features include its accurate autofocusing and a bright maximum aperture. Love those sharp, high-contrast portraits set against a magical bokeh? This is the lens for you. Use a shallow depth of field to separate your subject nicely from your background.
This one’s also good for various lighting setups, and it excels in situations where other lenses might struggle, like strong direct sunlight. As part of Sigma’s “Art” line, this lens prioritizes artistic expression, giving users the tools they need to create dreamy portraits that stand out from the crowd.
If your specialty is wildlife photography, then we recommend the OM-D E-M1 Mark II body.
This mirrorless body has a Micro Four Third (MFT) sensor, meaning that it’s small and lightweight–perfect for nature and animal photographers. Because it offers to 5.5 stops of image stabilization, you can capture images while you’re on the move, without having to stop to set up your tripod (and potentially missing your chance).
This camera is durable and weather-sealed, so you can feel confident taking it into harsh climates or rugged wilderness. Turn on Silent Shutter Mode to avoid disturbing any wildlife. Switch to Pro Capture Mode to shoot continuously and increase your chances of capturing that once-in-a-lifetime action shot of an animal in motion.
If your specialty is travel photography, then we recommend the Canon EOS 6D body.
This full-frame DSLR is made for everything from landscape to wildlife photography, but don’t discount it for travel shots. With a built-in GPS and Wi-Fi, it’ll help you navigate new places easily, so you can wander off the beaten path to find those “hidden gem” locations. It also has a silent shutter so you can move around without drawing attention to yourself.
This best-selling camera is lightweight when compared to similar models and has a stellar ISO range for low-light, nighttime shots. It’s been around since 2012, and for good reason. This is one durable workhorse camera that’ll last for years.
If your specialty is fashion photography, then we recommend the Nikon D750 body.
This one’s another all-around camera, and while it’s fantastic for landscapes as well, it also shines in the studio. While this is a sturdy full-frame body, it’s easy to hold and won’t weigh you down. What sets this camera apart is that it’s fantastic for video as well, and you can switch effortlessly from stills to footage.
The D750 also includes convenient in-camera editing including Quick Retouch and Filter Effects, so you can get the look you’re going for before you even enter the post-processing phase. This camera captures color and skin tone beautifully, making it especially well-suited for portrait and fashion shoots.
What’s your preferred camera and lens? Tell us in the comments!