There is a lot of advice on what gear you should buy in 2022. But, if you look beyond the marketing of companies, is there gear that you probably don’t need in 2022? The answer is, yes, there is a lot of gear you don’t need. Here are my top picks on what you should not get.
Before you read this list in full, be aware and acknowledge the fact that it is simply my recommendation to the vast majority of photographers. There are times when a photographer will need all of these bits of gear, but let’s face it, most of us don’t.
The stupidest purchase you can make is a UV filter. It does sound very harsh, and I will admit to making this mistake myself. While there is a case for protecting your front element with one of these, I don’t think it adds anything. What a filter does is simply introduce yet another layer of glass and yet another possibility for decreasing your image quality. Lenses are already complex enough, and everything but the best optical quality will result in sub-par images. By adding a filter, you simply negate all the engineering of your lens. Cheap filters can also cause unwanted lens flare among other nasty artifacts.
For the people who put a UV filter to protect lenses, I would like to say that a lens hood does a much better job and protection. I always have a lens hood on in case I bang my lens against something.
UV filters used to be helpful in the days of film when the UV light would decrease image quality. The same can be said about other filters, such as graduated filters.
Again, in the days of film, you did not have the luxury of being able to edit images to precise detail and “recover” detail from a vastly under/overexposed image. Nowadays you can use Lightroom or Capture One for this purpose. There are certain filters such as variable ND that are helpful in some applications, but those also need to be tip-top quality to ensure the best possible image quality at the end.
A rig case is useless unless you do video. I would struggle to find a useful application for one in photography. Perhaps if you need to mount several things at once, such as a flash trigger, Speedlite, and something else. But otherwise, there is no need to spend your money on metal bits and pieces that make your camera look “more pro.” Besides adding extra weight, it won’t do anything. Save the money, and invest in something that will help you take better pictures.
I would like to make the case that you don’t need a light meter in the modern photographic environment. Measuring light is as easy as taking a digital frame and seeing what things look like. If you want to get extremely precise, you can even go as far as to measure the color levels of individual pixels in Capture One or any other software of your choice. But it does not make sense to own a light meter these days. Even if you shoot film, there is still a strong possibility that you own a digital camera. Even in that case you can still take a test frame on digital, a so-called Polaroid, if you will, cross-check, and then proceed with shooting on film. I’ve done this a lot of times, and it works like a charm. Believe me, you lose a lot more by using a light meter. First of all, it means having a slower workflow since you have to fire the flashes, walk to the set, and calculate the flash power afterward. It takes away the speed and intuition of being able to set light by eye, not by a predefined rule of having the right exposure. There have been many times where I overexposed or underexposed an image and got the desired result that the client, as well as myself, was happy with. If everyone would expose only to what the light meter told, most of the pictures would look the same. An analogy would be if everyone cooked a dish with the same ingredients or painted by numbers. Using a light meter will not only make you slower but also restrict your creativity. The amount of light in the picture is your decision, not the light meter's.
A Lensball will be a purchase you shall regret. Not only is it an overpriced glass ball, but it is also by far the stupidest photography accessory to exist. What a Lensball does is create one single look that all photographers know. There is arguably nothing creative about a Lensball, that is, if a Lensball can even be considered a creative tool. There is not much more to say about this product than a waste of money on something that screams “lack of creativity” and “amateur hour.”
This is the pinnacle of ridiculous purchases. A team of designers has worked to make your camera black, invisible while also making the logo stand out. Moreover, nothing has ever shouted “amateur hour” to me more than having a camera or lens skin. Not only does it not protect your camera, but it also attracts attention to it, which is something you shouldn't want. Unwanted attention to your camera and other expensive gear will make the change of theft a lot higher. If you want a camera skin, consider bashing your precious one around for a few years, covering it in tape, and using it as a tool. I promise you, you will be able to tell that it’s your camera by simply looking at where the scratches are. If you’re a professional, you likely own two of the same camera; in that case having a camera skin is even more useless, because you simply need to put a sticker with “1” and “2” on the camera. I can see a filter, light meter, and even a rig case being useful in rare select cases, but there isn’t a situation where a camera skin or a Lensball is beneficial. Save the money, and get some good photography education instead.
I can see a camera skin being useful for those that like to buy a new camera often. It may help keep their current body almost pristine condition for resale or trade-in.
Yes, perhaps you are right. But personally, I get my cameras used to start with, so there is no point in using a camera skin to preserve an already beat up body.
I may not use my Minolta Flash meter IV very often but I certainly do not regret buying it some twenty-five years ago. It has paid for itself many times over.
I still use Minolta Flash meter IV for multiple flash setups. I get everything balanced without using a human for test shots. Just used it yesterday, as a matter of fact, for a headshot job.
A flash meter is different from what the article was talking about. Very useful in the studio, especially for multiple strobes.
No it's not. Flash meter and light meter are the exact same thing. it's just a name. Whether you use it for flash metering or ambient light metering.My Autometer IV F is 25 years old, the best investment ever. Don't listen to the author.
All flash meters are light meters, but not all light meters are flash meters. The former can do flash or ambient light but the latter can't measure flash.
The one pictured in the article is a light meter and a flash meter. But let's go ahead and split hairs.
The author literally talks about handheld light meters being useless with flashes "having a slower workflow since you have to fire the flashes, walk to the set, and calculate the flash power afterward."
Which, I'm not sure what that even means, since the whole point of having an incidence light meter should mean that you don't need to do any real calculations on flash power.
Set flash, walk up to subject, fire flash, look at reading, adjust power by stops to dial in desired look versus camera settings....
Why fire flash and then walk to set? Is this person talking about taking the meter reading at the flash head and then trying to do the math to calculate light falloff with distance? I literally don't understand his statement.
I am saying that light meters(or flash meters) are redundant since you have to, as you say, walk to the subject. It is a lot faster to take a picture, look at the screen, and adjust from there. Over time, you will build up an intuition for how much off you are.
I see how it can be useful, but learning to do it by eye is far more efficient and creative for me.
I find flash meters redundant in a modern workflow. They were designed to make sure that you got a good exposure on film, when you couldn't see what you were doing.
You don't shoot multiple flash setups? I find that I rarely need the meter when shooting a single flash setup but it's challenging to judge a soft box modified head against a bare bulb or grid modified head. In those instances, I just need a certain ratio. Why do people think they need to argue this point?
I do shoot multiple light setups: check out https://illyaovchar.com to see. I just prefer to do it without a meter because I care only about the final picture. If you find knowing ratios helpful be my guest!
Brilliant- agree with all! Had a disagreement with a salesman in Jessops ( years ago) when buying a canon 70-200mm f2.8 that insisted I needed a UV filter to ‘protect’ my lens - I said no thanks - he told me I was stupid not to buy one - in the end he said have this one FREE - please use it!! Gave it to a charity shop as I went home!
There is nothing brilliant about this article. just wait until you want to sell a lens and one little cosmetic mark on your glass drops the value by hundreds of dollars. You'll wish you purchased that $50 filter.
unless you buy used and it already comes with them? That's what I did, and to be frank, I still rock a 70-200 from 2001, it has been on all of my jobs, and I am yet to head the complaint of bad image quality,
haha! good one :)
I will add, in defence of UV filters, that some lenses are not fully Weather Resistant without a filter being present on the front. A case in point is Canon's 16-35 wide angle lens. They serve no other purpose.
Not so fast, selling a high quality UV filter with each lens is a nice profit for Scammy's Camera or Amazon...probably more profitable than the lens these days. :)
I actually had a 16-35 type lens saved by a filter. I used to carry two cameras, while I was walking into a football stadium the second camera struck a car mirror and shattered the filter but didn't damage the lens. I also don't like how rain water tampers with lens coatings. I have had some experiences with bad filters, but most people wouldn't be able to distinguish between photos taken with or without a filter. Argue if you must... it's my lens, my choice.
I've got an EF 24-105 f/4L that took a hard hit from a pointed object which would have shattered any filter. The front element has a tiny chip smaller than a fine grain of sand. I've continued to use it for over a decade and have yet to take one photo that shows any evidence of anything. Lens glass is a lot harder than thin filters. Not to mention that front elements for most cheaper lenses, which are the ones I most often see with filters "protecting" them, are often less than the price of a high quality filter.
yes, you are right, some lenses need a filter to be fully weather sealed. Maybe I shouldn't be using my 16-35 in the rain without a filter, but so far I didn't have a problem.
I had a 35mm prime lens for my Olympus. Thought, eh, I don’t need a filter. Well when it came time to trade it in, son of a biscuit! There was a scratch on it! Yes, I had a lens hood. Since then I’m sticking by my B+W filters. I have never had any issues with contrast, colour, etc. My investment in Canon glass is worth it.
The only ‘gear’ I’m planning to buy this year is a Pioneer XDJ-700… nowt to do with photography of course but I’m so done with worrying about new camera gear it’s unreal.
I disagree completely about the Lensball. They make great ranged weapons if you are attacked on location.
Or a zombie apocalypse
Oh, yes, I am ordering a few now. Can't be too safe these days.
I don't agree for 100% with 3 out of 6 viewpoints.
- the cage - every systemcamera i have has a cage, just to be able to mount it directly in both directions (there's no handle).
- the UV-filter (or clear filter) - sometimes you may want to protect the front glass. I shoot more without filter than with a filter, but sometimes you want to protect the front glass and then those filters well get used.
- A lightmeter is not used often but it's handy in studio-work (i'm not so often doing studio-shots).
I'm not saying those 3 points are 100% false eather - it depends from usage to usage.
So, clickbait. Pretty much.
i second EVERY SINGLE word of Lee's opinion.
in conclusion, the quality of content is decreasing because of the urge for clickbait and more income.
It used to be quality over quantity some years ago... clearly not anymore.
Cages have their place in photo world too. I use it to attach CamRanger for untethered tethered shooting. On/off-camera flash in combination with a trigger can also benefit from having a cage.
This article is a disappointing downgrade to the authors normal quality.
UV filters are excellent protection and I have them on all my lenses. Shooting landscape and wildlife, I have been extremely happy that I have had them for both protection and not worrying about wiping them off in the field, where I may easily scratch my lens.
Cages are an excellent option for added protection for a camera body, and give you tons of mounting flexibility, even if it is as simple as wanting to be able to tripod mount in different positions, and be able to mount your camera strap for a different balance point with a long / heavy lens.
Skins, I don't care for them, but whatever floats someone's boat, it has no impact on anyone else.
Same with a lensball. If someone wants to use one, so what? Nothing screams "amateur hour" to me more than feeling the need to criticize others for doing something they like.
Light meter, I don't use one, but again, if someone wants to use one, go for it.
Illya, stick to writing your typically great articles, not this drivel.
nothing like a no-it-all
what's even worse is a know-it-all
UV filters don't degrade image quality to any perceptible degree. Show any research that proves otherwise?
A light meter is an amazing tool that saves time, enhances consistency of approach and does the exact opposite of restricting creativity.
"If everyone would expose only to what the light meter told, most of the pictures would look the same."
^^ has to be one of the most ridiculous things I've read on here yet.
"The amount of light in the picture is your decision, not the light meter's. "
^^ You don't use a light meter to let it 'decide' for you. You measure light with it according to the photo you hope to make in your mind. If you're using it only to make the 'correct' exposure — you're doing it wrong.
My experience is that sometimes a filter will introduce reflections of point source lights. So I have one rarely used UV "protection" filter and 5 or 6 lenses I use regularly...over the years I have probably owned 80-100 lenses and never damaged a front element.
In most cases my light meter is the starting point, sort of like my guesstimate, then I fine tune it like I used to with Polaroid when I shot E6 film.
I got a good deal on a Canon R5 body for 3500 bucks. The 20$ skin I bought for it, just about identical to the picture you posted but yellow, was probably the best 20 bucks I ever spent. Best thing about it? I can set it down on any surface- counter top, sidewalk, rocks, cement, sand, snow, bricks, etc, and not have to worry one whit about scratching up and scuffing up the bottom of the camera. Ya, that’s just aesthetics and the camera would still work 100% either way. But after having and using it for a year now, it’s still in perfect physical shape. And I like to keep my stuff that way. Do you not have a silicone case on your phone? Same thing.
And have you never worked with any other photographers? I guess not. Because even though I don’t use any sort of SmallRig cage, I’ve worked with others (mainly videographers, dunno if that makes a difference) who swear by them, won’t work without one. Whenever they get a new body, a SmallRig is the first thing they pick up for it.
This is like one of those ‘OMG, a nifty 50 is the only lens you need!’ No, what you mean is a nifty fifty is the only lens YOU need. The rest of us have our own preferences for perfectly valid reasons.
I regret buying any gear, because it does not seem to matter
I love the UV filter topic. Always good for some entertainment.
Much sound and fury, signifying nothing. Carry on...
Only people who say light meters are useless are the ones that don’t know how to use them or are using them wrong. I don’t always use them, but for certain situations, like a 3+ light setup, they’re gold. Stifle creativity? Tell that to all the masters who were shooting before digital. You think Phillip Lorca dicorcia was just “winging it”?
Everyone has a right to their opinion, but this one is just foolish.
Plus, uv filters make sense depending on subject matter (automotive racing, nature, storm, news, etc)
Skins protect your camera if you’re in the field. I don’t use them, but know plenty of field photogs that do.
I know it’s click bate and I fell for it, but this stuff gets under my skin.
I only use protective filters if I'm shooting near salt water, blowing sand, or in an industrial environment where grinders, welders, and other machines spray glowing bits of hot metal around. I shoot in too many low light environments with bright point sources of light inside the frame to leave filters on my lenses and cause multiple ghosting flares
The only potential problem I might be concerned about with skins is if moisture and/or corrosive dust particles get under the skin and are held there against the camera's finish.
Again, I often shoot in all kinds of weather and my cameras get wet on a regular basis. Even rain covers do not keep a few drops from getting onto the camera and lens barrels. Having said that, I've never had an issue with moisture getting in an unfiltered lens that is supposed to have a filter to be "fully weather sealed". No lens is ever truly sealed unless it is inside a dive housing. My EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L, EF 17-40 f/4 L, and EF 24-104mm f/4 L have all been used in heavy rain without any ill effects.
To be fully honest, I have used a light meter on a few occasions, but I find it completely unnecessary. There are points where I have 7-8 different light sources on set, and I find it a lot easier to use my eye. For example, when there's a Striplight L, with 3 flash tubes that each need a socket, I will adjust each socket to get the perfect gradient with the bright point being on the face. Then comes the background, for which I can throw 5 lights with gels to paint a pattern I want. No light meter can tell me what a "good" exposure will look like for that. Perhaps you approach lighting differently. The way I see light is something that enables me to show clothes and people, I don't want a light meter slowing me down or telling me how to do it.
With regards to the light meter, we shoot for many clients who give us creative work in which case I would agree with you, but some of the products require us to shoot perfectly flat light from corner to corner whilst creating texture at the same time for various repo and rendering applications. In other words the light has to have the exact luminosity no matter where in the composition it is measured, this cannot be done accurately by eye and unless you have an item such as a flat blank sheet of paper, how would you decide on which pixels to measure? It would be impossible to do the work with anything other than a light meter. It has a place in any commercial studio, that's just my opinion though.
If it's copy work type of items, tiles, wood planks, carpet, fabrics, paintings, you would be better off starting with reading values on a white board at 6 spots, 4 corners and center. Then if possible, rotate that board 180 to make sure you get the same or very similar values. Then use a color checker or Whibal card (Whibal, more accurate if you are going for cmyk) and review your capture in what ever software you use. Light meter won't be as precise if even light is important.
I setup lights, bounce boards etc then measure the light and adjust accordingly until the light meter readings are consistent across the article being photographed, run the colour checker board and presto. The light meter has given accurate results time and time again. For me personally I have perfected this workflow and have always achieved consistent results, admittedly there have been a few tricky articles that have popped up once in a while which have required me to look into other ways of trying to measure digitally (on these occasions I'll definitely give your method a bash moving forward). Measuring the light has worked for me and those who mentored me for many years...
I used to shoot a lot of paintings for clients on 4x5 and the light meter was the way to do it.
In the late 90's, I was hired as photographer in a prepress house where basically my job was to bring work to feed the prepress department and later printing press department. I wasn't busy every day so they trained me on prepress and drum scanning. We also had a three shot digital back. On slow days, if someone was out I would most likely fill in for that person and learned Quark, Indesign, Linocolor, proofing like Iris and laminated proof all the way to sending files to film and later plates to the image setter. We did wide format with a Roland and we had a specialized scanner to digitize entire books. Any way, I was not the best at all but over 6 years of this I really learned a lot and since this was early digital photography, there was not much info at first regarding how to handle digital captures, I relied on my scanning guru and my training to start learning reading everything digitally from the image. Our final output was cmyk, so we had to understand colors. I have 2 light meters and last year I bought a new battery for my Sekonic, just to see if it still works. That's about how much use I have had with a light meter in close to 20 years when I last used film. I do like to have a light meter. I think it's a good thing to have and I'll do some back check readings next week when I shoot more fabric.
This said, I was shooting fabrics for a company years ago that they would send the images to a rendering company. After awhile the rendering company took all that work in house. They seem to have an issue with my images but no one ever told me the details. Last year I got that work back and the new company my client uses accepted all my tests. We've shot over 1000 pieces since. Yeah someone visibly wanted the work in-house for the income. Not the first time I see shady moves like that. What I am saying here is get to know to do it digitally because you can really explain your process if anyone ever want to under cut you. With a light meter reading you have no chance, this is not what the industry understand anymore. When clients come back they stay with you.
I appreciate that input, thank you! I'll definitely have a look into metering more accurately from a digital perspective. A lot of the work we do is for a large carpet company and we also cover their laminate flooring so i'm going to assume by what you have told me you have done very similar work. So far we have had very few issues, we have some arguments from time to time with regards to colour rendering but that being said the client is often comparing the real product to the digital capture under less than ideal lighting conditions. They view the products under lights of various colour temperatures and it has been tiresome trying to explain this concept to them but over time we have been able to resolve the issue. We basically got them to invest in a colour proofing light box which is similar to ours and the rest is history. I like the idea of having further methods in my arsenal to deal with such issues. My takeaway from you response is basically to be able to prove without a doubt that the lighting is perfect if a client comes back with an issue and also I suppose to create redundancy in the checks and balances to ensure technical accuracy.