FAQ: Equipment

Where do you purchase your photography equipment?

The main 3 places we buy equipment from are:

They are usually competitively priced and provide excellent customer service. We order based on which company has availability.

What cameras do you use?

To see a list of all the equipment we use and/or recommend, visit What’s in My Bag or Office. Our current camera is a Canon 5D MKII. It is incredible at capturing low light, high ISO shots with very low noise. We also have a point and shoot camera, a Canon G11.

Why did you go with Canon?

When starting out with digital, Canon just felt right. We have stayed with Canon ever since.

What lenses do you use most?

We have upgraded through time. We did not start with L series lenses. My favorites are my 70-200 2.8 IS II and my 50 1.2.  But I have a lot of lenses and each has its place in my photography.

To see a list of all the equipment we use and/or recommend, visit What’s in My Bag or office.

What lenses do you recommend if I am on a limited budget?

Since we shoot Canon, we can only recommend lenses for Canon. Our favorites prior to purchasing “L glass” were the Canon 50 1.8, 50 1.4, and 85 1.8 prime lenses. I also really liked the Tamron 28-75 2.8 zoom lens. To see a list of all the starter equipment we use and/or recommend, visit What’s in My Bag or Office.

What do you think of the Tamron 18-270 lens that you used for the Fall/Winter 2009 Tamron ads featuring your photography?

You can read full details on my blog about this shoot and impressions. It is an amazing travel lens and is so versatile. The vibration reduction works really well and let me hand hold at extremely low shutter speeds. As long as there is enough light around, this is a fantastic lens. I own its full frame counterpart, the Tamron 28-300 and love it for when I am on the go.

What external camera flashes and studio lights do you use?

We own the 580ex and 580ex II and a few flash modifiers. For a studio setting we have 3 Alien Bees lights, a Lastolite hi-lite backdrop, a Westcott softbox, and a few umbrellas. To see a list of all the studio equipment we use and/or recommend, visit What’s in My Bag or office.

What type of reflectors do you use?

I own 2 Sunbounce Reflectors that are amazing. I use these in studio and on the go. To see a list of all the reflectors we use and/or recommend, visit What’s in My Bag or office.

What is your most used MCP product?

This changes through time.  I currently edit with a mix, starting with the Quick Click Collection for Lightroom and then using a batchable action that combines actions from many of my sets. I change it occasionally as my style or needs shift. The main actions inside my personal big batch action are Color Fusion Mix and Match and Bag of Tricks. When I need retouching, I turn to the Eye Doctor and Magic Skin.

For blogging and Facebook, I use the Blog It Boards and Finish It set to display photos. All of the presets and actions I use are designed for two things, to speed up my post processing and improve upon the image I captured in camera.

What do you use for white balance?

We have a number of white balance tools, but I usually default back to my Lastolite Ezybalance in studio. When outside, we often just adjust white balance in Lightroom and occasionally use a lens cap with built in white balance. To see a list of all the white balance tools we use and/or recommend, visit What’s in My Bag or office.

What type of computers do you use?

I use a Mac Pro desktop and Macbook Pro laptop. To see a list of our computers and monitors and other office equipment we use and/or recommend, visit What’s in My Bag or office.

How do you back up your pictures?

Time Machine backs up to an external hard drive and a mirrored RAID drive. We back up our most important business data to outside backup companies, should something happen to all hard drives at the same time.

Do you use a mouse or Wacom when editing?

I have tried and tried to use a Wacom tablet.  But every attept has resulted in failure.  I am not sure why, but I prefer edit with a mouse.

Do you calibrate your monitor?

Yes – this is essential to getting accurate colors. We currently have the NEC2690 monitor that has built in color calibration software.  This monitor is incredible. To see a list of all the calibration software we use and/or recommend, visit What’s in My Bag or office.

What professional print lab do you recommend?

I use Color Inc. for my printing. I love their quality, but even more-so, I love their customer service. I highly recommend calling them, as they can walk you through the set-up, upload and ordering process. They can also answer questions you have on bleeds, printing, how to prepare your prints, calibrating with their printers and more. Make sure to tell them Jodi at MCP Actions sent you.  They are also a sponsor of the MCP Blog.

What plug-ins and software do you use besides your own actions?

Adobe Photoshop CS5 and Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Autoloader (this script speeds up our workflow by allowing us to zip through my photo editing using our personal batch action. It opens one photo at a time into Photoshop and runs our big batchable action, allows me to tweak the photo, then it saves and it opens the next.)

Do you know everything about Photoshop? Where do you go if you get stuck in Photoshop?

We love Photoshop and Lightroom. Learning Photoshop is an ongoing process for us. While it would be incredible to say we know everything about Photoshop, nobody does. We’ve even stumped industry leaders, like Scott Kelby, with certain questions. We are very strong in Photoshop as it relates to retouching and enhancing photos. We do not utilize certain features in Photoshop as they relate to architecture, science and graphic design.

When looking to learn new information, the main resource we use is NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals). They have a wonderful help desk for members, as well as video tutorials.

We also post questions to Twitter, Facebook and photography forums. Just because you teach does not mean you cannot learn…

Who do you use for your monthly newsletters?

We use Constant Contact when sending my monthly newsletters.

What are your favorite Photoshop and photography books?

We have a lot to recommend. One great place to start is Amazon, as it often has reviews of the books by readers. We would have to say that Understanding Exposure is the book we recommend most for photographers just starting out. As for Photoshop, it depends on your learning style. To see a list of all the books we recommend for photography, Photoshop and even marketing, visit What’s in My Bag or office.

Do you use affiliate links or have advertisers on your site or blog?

We only will recommend sites and products that we believe in. Some of the links on MCP Actions are affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. See the bottom of our site for our official disclosure policy.