PRO TIPS and Photo/Video Recommended Gear

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PRO TIPS, CAMERAS & ACCESSORIES for Any Level Photographer/Videographer

Below are several tips for getting your best shots and a few of my personal recommendations for some great tools to add to your photo/video creator kit. Learn even more on my YouTube Channel “John Thow Art” where I cover a variety of Art, Graphic Design, and Photography subjects.

NOTE: We appreciate you using our recommended product links below (even when shopping for other items), we do our best to ensure that you are getting the best products for your needs at the best prices. You pay the same price whether or not you use our link, but when you do, we get a small commission that helps us to continue providing quality, helpful content on our websites, YouTube Channels, and more.  Additionally, we are not endorsed by Canon or the other recommended brands shown/linked here. recommendations are based solely on my/our personal experience and opinion. Thank You

It All Starts With The Right Camera

There’s an old saying   “your best camera is the one you have with you”. I mention this for one simple reason, no matter how great your camera is, you won’t get great pictures from a camera that’s not available when  you need it. That means in your hands right at the moment you’re trying to capture the shot. So at the very least, you want your cell phone camera to be a quality one because sooner or later all of us will resort to using it.

In addition, while there are absolutely exceptions, for most of us, it doesn’t make sense to hire us or another professional to create all of the shots for your social media feeds, etc. However, it is worth remembering these two critical points:

  1. No matter what you are taking pictures for, or how you are using them, you want to be sure you are always using consistently “good”, quality images. I promise, consciously or subconsciously, your viewer sees the difference, and you and your business are building a reputation based on those images.

  2. Even if your results are good enough for most of your posts, don’t rule out hiring us or another qualified professional for an occasional “Extra Important” shoot. It is probably more affordable than you think, and the results will pay you back over and over again. 

Now Let’s Take A Little Time To Make YOU A Better Photographer

There are a series of articles below that each focus on (pun intended) a different aspect of your photography, complete with pro tips and gear recommendations. Enjoy!

Recommended Cameras

We have shot Canon EOS Cameras for decades. As I am sure you can appreciate once you have invested in a camera system, lenses and so on, it makes sense to continue to expand your photographic arsenal within that same line, as long as they continue to improve and bring value to your work. Canon has absolutely achieved that for us, and their newest line of “R” Series cameras and lenses have truly become favorites in the industry, and with us as well.

All of the original photographs you see here on and on our aviation photography site have been taken using a variety of Canon cameras, some of which we also use for video.

If like me, you earn a portion of your living with your camera, or you’re simply looking to achieve professional results, then we are big fans of the afore mentioned EOS R Series cameras and lenses. We have some information on our latest recommended models at a variety of price points below. It is our belief that with a little knowledge of the platform you are sure to love the results you’ll obtain with any of these cameras.

Professional and Prosumer Cameras

This first group of EOS Mirrorless Cameras are Professional Grade Cameras. I have included the EOS R7 (A Prosumer Camera) as we have found that it stacks up very well for professional quality use. With the right lenses, and if you don’t need a “Full-Frame” processor camera, it is a very affordable, very capable option as compared to the R5 or R6. Many of its features are better than the R6 in many ways, so be sure to compare it during your search. 

These cameras can be purchased in kits with a lens, or as the “body only” to later be paired with the lens of your choice.

Canon EOS R5

Canon EOS R5 “Body Only”

Canon EOS R5 Features Two Card Slots

Review of the Canon EOS R5

The Canon EOS R5 is a flagship mirrorless camera that has garnered considerable attention for its impressive features and high-performance capabilities.

Design and Build:
The R5 boasts a robust and well-built magnesium alloy body, providing a durable yet relatively lightweight feel. The intuitive button layout and customizable controls make it user-friendly for both experienced photographers and those transitioning from DSLRs.

Sensor and Image Quality:
Equipped with a 45-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, the R5 delivers outstanding image quality. The sensor, paired with Canon’s advanced DIGIC X image processor, produces sharp, detailed images with excellent color reproduction. The camera’s ability to capture a wide dynamic range contributes to its versatility in various shooting conditions.

Autofocus Performance:
One of the standout features is the Dual Pixel CMOS AF II system, providing lightning-fast and accurate autofocus across the entire frame. With 1,053 AF points, including animal and human eye detection, the R5 excels in capturing sharp and well-focused shots, particularly in challenging scenarios.

In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS):
The inclusion of in-body image stabilization is a game-changer, allowing photographers to capture stable handheld shots at slower shutter speeds. This feature is especially beneficial for video recording, where smooth footage is crucial.

Video Capabilities:
The EOS R5 is a powerhouse for video recording, supporting 8K video at 30fps and 4K at up to 120fps. The camera’s impressive video capabilities make it suitable for professional videographers and content creators. However, it’s essential to manage heat considerations, as extended use in demanding video modes can trigger overheating limitations.

Viewfinder and Display:
The electronic viewfinder (EVF) offers a high resolution of 5.76 million dots, providing a clear and immersive viewing experience. The vari-angle touchscreen LCD further enhances flexibility in composing shots and navigating the menu system.

Connectivity and Additional Features:
The R5 includes built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for seamless connectivity and remote control via the Canon Connect app. Dual card slots (CFexpress and SD UHS-II) offer ample storage options. The camera also features weather-sealing, enhancing its durability for use in various environmental conditions.

The Canon EOS R5 stands out as a top-tier mirrorless camera, combining exceptional still image quality with cutting-edge video capabilities. While users should be mindful of heat management during extended 8K recording, the R5 excels in delivering a versatile and high-performance imaging experience for professionals and enthusiasts alike.

Canon EOS R6

Design and Handling:
The Canon EOS R6 presents a well-balanced design, featuring a comfortable grip and a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body. The layout of buttons and controls is intuitive, making it accessible for photographers familiar with Canon’s ecosystem and welcoming for newcomers.

Sensor and Image Quality:
With a 20.1-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor and the powerful DIGIC X image processor, the R6 delivers impressive image quality. While it may have a lower resolution than its counterpart, the R5, the R6 excels in low-light situations, producing clean and detailed images with a wide dynamic range.

Autofocus Performance:
The R6 inherits Canon’s advanced Dual Pixel CMOS AF II system, providing speedy and accurate autofocus across the frame. With 1,053 AF points and animal eye detection, it excels in tracking moving subjects, making it suitable for various photography genres, including sports and wildlife.

In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS):
A standout feature of the R6 is its in-body image stabilization, allowing users to shoot handheld at slower shutter speeds with reduced risk of camera shake. This feature is beneficial for both photography and video recording, providing added stability to the footage.

Video Capabilities:
While not reaching the 8K capabilities of the R5, the R6 still impresses with 4K video recording at up to 60fps. It’s a solid choice for content creators and videographers who prioritize high-quality video without the need for extreme resolution.

Viewfinder and Display:
The R6 features a high-resolution electronic viewfinder (EVF) with 3.69 million dots, offering a clear and responsive viewing experience. The vari-angle touchscreen LCD is versatile, allowing for creative composition and easy menu navigation.

Performance and Speed:
With a burst rate of up to 20 frames per second (fps), the R6 is a high-speed performer, making it ideal for capturing fast-paced action. The dual card slots (SD UHS-II) provide ample storage, and the camera’s processing speed ensures quick image processing.

Connectivity and Additional Features:
Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enable seamless connectivity for image transfer and remote shooting via the Canon Connect app. The camera also includes dual card slots for added storage flexibility.

The Canon EOS R6 is a versatile and capable mirrorless camera that strikes a balance between resolution, speed, and video capabilities. With excellent autofocus, in-body image stabilization, and a robust build, it caters to a broad audience, from enthusiasts to professionals, making it a compelling choice for various photography and videography needs.

Canon EOS R7 RF-S18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Kit, Mirrorless Vlogging Camera, 32.5 MP Image Quality, 4K 60p Video, DIGIC X Image Processor, Dual Pixel CMOS AF, Subject Detection, Content Creators

Canon EOS R7

We will post a full review on this camera soon, but in the meantime it is worth mentioning that the EOS R7 packs a lot of punch for the money. It can be bought in a kit as I have linked here, or as the body only.

We have spent some time with this camera in recent months and are very impressed with the quality it offers.

Unlike the R5 and R6 cameras, the R7 utilizes a cropped sensor. This means that the image appears closer by a ratio of 1.6. So a 400mm lens appears to be as close as a 640mm lens. We’ll share more information about the pros and cons of cropped sensors here soon.

Recommended Consumer/Content Creator Cameras

Choosing your perfect camera depends greatly upon your current level of ability (or willingness to learn), and the level/quality of work you are trying to produce. The way you intend to use your images or videos also matters. For example, if it is your goal to print high-resolution large prints of your photographs, or you are setting out to film the next “Top Gun” you need a professional quality camera and the appropriate lenses to get the world-class results you desire. On the other hand, if like most people you are just looking to get some nice shots for your social media pages, then a quality consumer-grade camera and lens setup is a solid choice. 

It is worth remembering, especially if your cell phone has a quality camera, it can be a good compliment to your photo and video arsenal. In fact if you think back just a few years, you may recall the many so called “point and shoot” cameras and hand-held video cameras that everyone seemed to have. This portion of the camera market is now totally non-existent, having been replaced entirely by today’s cell phone cameras. The cameras we are recommending here go beyond the capabilities of your cell phone, but are less capable than the pro model cameras described earlier. These are a perfect choice for anyone creating content for their social media pages, you tube channels, web sites, etc.

Here are a few options to check out and a few notes about who they are right for.

The Canon EOS R50 in our opinion is really the best choice in this class of camera, and the creator kit offers a great value. It shoots well, does video well and is an affordable way to get into the Canon mirrorless line of cameras. Additionally it has the RF lens mount shared by other higher end EOS R cameras. This means you can use the same lenses if/when you decide to move up to a fancier model camera. At the time of this writing, the Content Creator Kit is 20% off at $799. instead of it listed $999. Definitely check it out.

What About The Glass? Selecting the Right Lens

OK so you just bought that great new camera and you are wondering why the pictures don’t look as sharp and clear as you expected. They look pretty good, but not like the stuff hanging in the galleries you’ve walked through, or on the cover of your favorite magazine. It may be time to think about the lens(es) you’re using. Most people think that the lens that came with their camera, sometimes called a  “kit lens” should be great, but often that is a very basic lens with cheaper glass to help keep kit prices down. If you want to get the best results you need a good lens. You can spend huge amounts of money on lenses, but here are some great options that will provide amazing results and will at least save some money over some of the extremely expensive alternatives. You’ll also save by being sure you are getting what you need ahead of time, instead of making a costly mistake buying the wrong lens for your needs.

TIP: If you want to save a few dollars, there are some great deals on used Canon “L” series lenses as many professionals are in the process of updating their kits to the newer “R” series glass. Remember, “L” series lenses work extremely well with the “R” series adapters and remain excellent lenses. We currently use both “L” Series and “R” Series lenses.

Recommended Lenses & Mount Adapter

Canon’s new R series lenses are the clearest we have ever used.

If you already own Canon “L” series lenses you will need to buy one of the available adapters that work extremely well with “R” series cameras. (1st item on the left)

Keeping The Shot Steady

When any of us are shooting photos or video, the stability of our shot is very important to the outcome of our images. Newer cameras and lenses include stabilizers which help greatly, but you still want to stand with a firm footing as you compose your shot. Remember to push somewhat firmly against your strap for added stability when shooting handheld and of course don’t forget the tripods and monopods.

When shooting in the field or handheld, Joby’s Gorilla pod is a good way to get the camera a little farther from your face or for a stable low shot. It can even be used to wrap around a nearby pole, tree, fence or whatever else is available to anchor your camera to for a steady shot. It’s flexible and offers a variety of attachment options to stabilize your shots on the go. The primary mistake many photographers/videographers make is that they buy the wrong one! It is worth the extra few dollars to get the 5K linked here. It supports more weight, is far more stable and as a result better protects your gear from accidents.

The tripods and monopods listed are less compact but are solid, versatile choices that are built to last.

Recommended Tripods and Monopods

SOUND IS EVERYTHING – Even if you are shooting on the simplest of cameras, people DO NOT stick around to watch videos with bad sound. If you didn’t get a quality mic with your camera, I highly recommend one of these RODE mics linked below. These are much better than your camera’s built-in microphone.

Recommended Mics

If you record video that you intend to show others or broadcast online or otherwise, you need a proper microphone. Poor sound is the number one reason people will stop watching your video.

Recommended Lighting, Accessories, and MORE

SD Cards, Extra Batteries and proper lighting are key to the success of your next shoot. Here are a few of the items that we have found essential in our photo/video kit, and take along on every shoot.

DON’T FORGET THE CARDS – Just like film in the old days of photography, be sure you have enough cards on hand to get you through. San Disk SD cards are extremely fast and reliable and are my personal cards of choice. You can choose from a variety of sizes from this link as well, I recommend having a minimum of 2, 128gb cards in your kit. 256gb cards are also a great choice.

EXTRA BATTERIES – Be sure you have at least one extra battery (Canon Batteries) in your kit. Your camera will come with one but believe me, you do not want to get stuck in the middle of a shoot without at least one extra. There are cheaper brands out there, but original manufacturer batteries are still the best way to keep your camera at its best, not to mention many manufacturers warranties require the use of factory batteries.

PORTABLE LIGHTING – We have found that many times, small LED fill lights are a great way to add light or color to a shot, and the results are much more consistent and natural than a flash. Additionally they are suitable for video as well. 

CLEANING TOOLS – Lens paper, microfiber cloths and my favorite “Rocket Blaster” air blower are tools I have in my kit at all times. Don’t be without them.

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