Must-Have Photography Equipment for Your Studio

Nikon, Canon, and Sony don’t provide all the equipment you will need to be a photographer, especially if you’re a studio photographer. Cameras and lenses aren’t the only necessary equipment a photographer should own. Daniel Norton gives his advice as to what equipment he thinks you need.

In the video, Norton recommends six great pieces of equipment that any photographer should have or have easy access to. Not only does he provide suggestions for the equipment, but he also offers some great advice on what size of equipment to purchase. The one piece of equipment he recommends, which to be honest is a no-brainer, is extension cords. But Norton’s recommendation to purchase them in shorter lengths and splice them together when needed is not only good advice for the studio but also for any household.  Why buy one 100-foot extension cord and lug it around when you could buy five 20-footers?  Then, when you need a 100-footer, just splice the five 20-footers together. And when you don’t need the 100-foot length, you now have multiple extension cords to use.

A couple of items I would add to the list include gaffer tape and clamps. I like to use different colors of gaffer tape. The bright color tape can help add visibility to cables or extension cords, thus reducing a hazard. Clamps are great for, well holding just about anything, especially if they’re a Justin clamp. You can make them yourself and save a few dollars. If that interests you, check out my article on building your own Justin clamps.

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33 Comments

Michael Jin's picture

Is this meant to be a serious video?

Marius Pettersen's picture

Where is the joke?
These are all excellent tips (minus adding too many extension cords together).
I'd also throw in matt gaffer tape and A-clamps.

Douglas Turney's picture

What is wrong or hazardous with using multiple extension cords in series?

Marius Pettersen's picture

I see your lengthy discussion below. Unless you got flawless knowledge of the electrical limits, then it's regarded as something most people should avoid. Especially chaining strips.

http://www.interpower.com/ic/designers/white-papers/not-safe-daisy-chain...

Douglas Turney's picture

The article you posted concerns daisy chaining power strips which you should never do. We are talking extension cords. The only thing the article you posted mentions about extension cords is that they should be used only for temporary situations.

Never daisy chain power strips.
Never daisy chain extension cords that have multiple female connectors.

Marius Pettersen's picture

"A fire hazard may result if an extension cord is overloaded or improperly used." under the section about extension cords. Nevertheless, using two or three cords as a temporary solution for moving a light for a simple fan closer to the subject, is probably a non-issue.
However, there are those that will 'forget' that they did that and let it slide into a permanent solution, even using it with 'heavier equipment'.

Any electricians can chime in because my layman understanding is limited. :P

Kirk Darling's picture

If nothing else, multiplying points of failure.

More importantly, a short cord can be smaller gauge than a long cord. If you really need a 100-foot cord, you ALSO need it in larger gauge cord. In addition to that, each connection introduces even more resistance into the line.

Extension cords are inexpensive pieces of equipment, compared to most other things in a photographer's studio. But a failed cord can end the session..and maybe someone's life. If you're going to be using long extension cords at all, it doesn't make sense to pinch that penny.

Did this guy get laid off from Adorama or is this un-branded ad content?

Looks like it's just on his channel, rather than the Adorama TV channel.

Michael Jin's picture

Isn't this the same guy that was railing about "cheap gear" while driving and repeatedly looking at his phone? Go figure that he'd also be an advocate for daisy chaining extension cords...

Motti Bembaron's picture

Good one. Yeah, that's the guy.

Robert Callahan's picture

That fact that this video states, and is further emphasized in the writing, to daisey chain 5 extension cords together is dangerous and reckless. Don’t do that. Ever.

Douglas Turney's picture

What's dangerous about daisy chaining extension cords? If I have one that is 100 feet long rated for 40A or 2 50 footers each rated at 40A what's the danger?

Motti Bembaron's picture

How many people know they have to have 40A (whatever that is) to safely connect them together. I connected extension cords together without even knowing they need to match. Now I will not.

He should not promote hazardous methods.

Douglas Turney's picture

If you don't know what the rating of the extension cord is, be it one cord or multiple cords together, you shouldn't use it. The 40A was shorthand for an extension cord rated for 40 amps. I could have used a 20 amp cord as an example or a 15 amp cord. You should also know what the outlet is rated for before plugging any electrical item.

I am not promoting hazardous methods. Apparently you do not know what hazardous methods are yet you are saying I'm promoting them.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Please read my comment carefully, I did not suggest YOU promote unsafe method, I suggested he (Mr. Norton) potentially does.

The only time I use extension cord is for my weed wacker. The store clerk recommended it for outdoors work, that was good enough for me. I do not know much about cords and never needed to.

I used to use cords for my strobes. Again, I bough two cords based on what Paul B. Buff recommended. That was many years ago so I don't remember.

Outside shoot or inside, I don't use cables or cords anywhere anymore. My AD200 and the soon to be AD400 (and many speedlights) are all I use now.

If something has the potential of not being safe, either mention it or do not recommend it.

E S's picture

Here is a handy "guide" for extension cord use:

What Load Can Each Gauge Wire Handle?

16-Gauge Cords: Any 16-gauge cord between 0 and 100 feet long will adequately handle tool loads up to 10 amps.

14-Gauge Cords: Any 14-gauge cord between 0 and 50 feet long will adequately handle loads between 10 and 15 amps.

12-Gauge Cords: If your tool load is between 10 and 15 amps and the length of the cord is 50 to 100 feet, you need a 12-gauge cord to safely power any tool.

If you decide to use multiple 16 gauge cords connected together, you risk damaging your equipment due to voltage drop vs amperage ( E=I*R ) If the load is sufficient, you may cause the conductors inside the extension cord to become hot enough to melt the insulation and cause an electrical fire. The plugs where the cords connect can also become hot due to improper connection and melt. Even if they do not catch fire the conductor may become exposed and cause a dangerous shock hazard.

A 10 Amp load is 1200 Watts, 15A is 1800Watts, 20A is 2400Watts.20A cords require a special plug, it almost looks the same but has one leg of the plug at a 90 degree angle to the other; it is mostly used in industrial settings. Make sure you rate the cord accordingly and be aware of surge (startup) currents that need to be accounted for when the strobes recycle or fans initially start.

Just like with making photographs, you need to use the tool properly to get the best you can and work within the bounds of safety.

If you don't really care, then let Darwin's theory work accordingly. :)

(edited for spelling...)

Douglas Turney's picture

Ernest thank you for taking the time to list actual numbers. I think what wasn't said and was assumed in the video and definitely assumed by myself was that we were talking about cords rated for the same amps and using the same gauge.

So using your nicely explained gauge data. If someone is using a 16 gauge 100 ft extension cord there is no danger by replacing it with 2 50 foot 16 gauge extension cords. If you are running the max amp through your extension cord where there are concerns at the plugs then you do not have the right extension cord. Your concern at the plugs would still apply for the 100 foot cord as it has plugs at each end. Having plugs in the middle of 2 50 ft cords is no different.

This is why I purchase 12 gauge extension cords.

E S's picture

--Having plugs in the middle of 2 50 ft cords is no different.--

If you are running the cords at near max ampacity, it does make a difference. There will be additional resistance at that connection and it may cause it to heat up. The added resistance may be caused by worn plugs/sockets and abuse of the cord.

One extension, two contact points; two extensions, four contact points.

If you are well below the capacity then it should be okay. Never disconnect a plug from an outlet by yanking on the cord. It causes damage that may be unseen and can create a hazardous situation in the future. Extension cords really are subject to damage if not protected and used properly.

I have been in the electric utility business for 29 years and have over 35 years experience in electrical work and equipment repair. I have seen and experienced first hand what happens when electricity is not respected. I've had friends die due to lack of respect for what it can do.

12 gauge while more expensive, is well worth the cost compared to using the wrong size wire. $20 extra dollars each vs. damage to equipment or property, or getting you or someone hurt is not worth penny pinching. I wish more people did this than what I've seen done on a daily basis. Also I highly recommend portable GFCI boxes to further protect yourself and others.

OSHA can also hold you criminally liable if due to negligence, a death or serious injury occurs. Be careful, but mostly, be safe!

Michael Jin's picture

The danger is not intrinsic to the practice of daisy chaining extension cords, but rather advising people use employ the practice without also providing the necessary education to do so safely. Most people are not educated on electricity so they're not sitting there checking what the load capacity of their wiring is nor are they calculating the total power draw of their equipment. They just plug things in and turn them on until a breaker gets tripped or a fire starts, at which point they realize that something's probably wrong.

Douglas Turney's picture

Michael I agree to a point. But people need to learn about the item they are about to use. Using a 16 gauge extension cord to run an electric heater plugged into a 20 amp outlet is not going to be safe either. People need to educate themselves. There are plenty of warnings and directions listed on extension cords and their packaging to assist people. But people just don't read. Just like when they don't read their camera's owners manuals and then complain when the camera doesn't work the way the THINK is should.

Robert Callahan's picture

Many others have stated the main reasons, but I'll also add that this article / video suggest that studio owners violate OSHA rules. That can have legal and insurance implications if an issue were to arise from that method.

Johnny Rico's picture

I'm pretty sure photography is considered a low-hazard industries.

Robert Callahan's picture

Do different set's of rules apply? Their "do not connect extension cords together" rule seemed across the board. My mistake if I'm not informed correctly.

Douglas Turney's picture

Robert,​ have you ever run an extension cord through a doorway?

Robert Callahan's picture

Probably, but I didn’t write an article advocating it’s a good idea. I’ve done lots of stupid things before.

Douglas Turney's picture

Well,​ that is against OSHA rules.

Robert Callahan's picture

Douglas....again, which is why i didn't write an article advocating you do so.

Lee Stirling's picture

I think the real danger is risking fire and overload to the circuit you are plugging your daisy-chained extension cords into. The longer the run of the extension cord, the larger the current that's required to get your final output to the equipment creating the draw. Resistance is amplified over longer distances and that creates heat. I don't think it's typical for a normal residential outlet on a room circuit to be rated for 40A, more like 15A unless you've got special beefed-up wiring due to planned heavy electrical draw. Maybe a dedicated studio space would have this...I don't know.

Johnny Rico's picture

There isn't anything inherently wrong with daisy chaining extension cords if you are mindful of the run length and gauge, I still wouldn't go out of my way to do it though. Now taping the connections is stupid and causes a fire hazard. Had a buddy catch one on fire in a factory running to his speedo pack. Told him his cords were shit (extremely loose ends) but he wouldn't let me loop the connections ( too much strain in his eyes I guess). If they pull out it's fine, it's a clean break and nothing is stuck arcing. He tapped them and one managed to get stuck arcing the gaf tape on fire with no way to pull the damn thing apart. Had to run 50' to the outlet to get the damn thing, good times.

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