Current Photography Gear Favorites | Long Island & New York City Photographer

Back when I first started getting interested in photography, I used to be a lens addict. Any extra money went to lenses. Now that I've refined my style, I've pared away a lot of the extra toys and stick with my tried-and-true favorites. But that doesn't mean I don't like to look at new gear! The lens-buying has slowed down, but over the past couple of months I have discovered a few other photography tools that I am really excited about and have helped me quite a bit, so I thought I'd share them with you today. 

COMFORTABLE SHOES

Working long days backstage, I am always on a quest for the perfect pair of shoes that will cushion my feet for a two-show day, but when I started doing vacation sessions (which meant hours of running around the streets of New York City), and 8-10 hour A Day in the Life sessions, let's just say the need for comfortable shoes became DIRE. I polled a number of my favorite groups on Facebook, and received many great recommendations. I ended up purchasing three pairs of shoes, and they are all amazingly comfortable and have now been tested on both a two-show day and a photo session. Here are the shoes that are saving my feet, and my back, at the moment:

NAOT TELLIN BOOTS

I wanted a low boot since we are headed into the colder months here on the east coast. Plus I wanted a shoe that was comfortable, but still stylish. I bought these in gray. They are like moon boots (only cute!). Super cushy, springy sole and great arch support. Love them. 

NEW BALANCE 720v3 COMFORT RIDE RUNNING SHOE

Kind of on the dorky side, but the perfect mom-on-the-go shoe. I've been wearing these sockless with cuffed jeans a lot. Like the Naot boots, these are incredibly comfortable and bouncy. Great for hours and hours on your feet.

 

VIONIC WITH ORTHAHEEL TECHNOLOGY WOMEN'S TORRI ZIP HIGHTOP SNEAKER

These are super sneaky sneakers! They look really cool, but they actually have orthotics inside which makes them SOOO comfortable!!

CAMERA BAG

LILY DEANNE MEZZO (BY THINK TANK)

I got this bag over the summer after my old Epiphanie bag finally bit the dust, and I love it. It fits just enough gear, but keeps me in check so that I can't overpack (which I definitely have a tendency to do). I love that I can use it like a lens bag - keep the inner zipper open and just lift the flap to access other lenses. Its the perfect on-the-go bag. I can fit two bodies in it with two smaller lenses, my 24-70, a viewfinder, a microphone and various smaller items like credit cards, cash, batteries and cards.

OPTICAL VIEWFINDER

ZACUTO Z-FINDER PRO 2.5x

I bought this optical viewfinder a month or two ago to help with manual focus for video. I've had a Hoodman loupe for a couple of years, but it attaches awkwardly to the camera and the diopter was always bumping out of focus (not helpful for manual focus!), so I decided to invest in the Zacuto and I am so glad I did. It easily attaches and detaches from the camera, and the diopter stays put. It really helps outdoors for video when you have bright glare on your LCD screen, and for me, it also helps for switching back and forth between stills and video. Even indoors, my eyes were getting tired quickly from switching back and forth between looking through the camera viewfinder and looking at the LCD on the back of the camera, and this optical viewfinder really helps to ease that fatigue.

LENS CALIBRATION SOFTWARE

FOCAL

I don't have the time or patience to calibrate my lenses to my camera manually, so I have been waiting and waiting for Focal to come out with a Mac version of their software since I bought my Nikon d800 four years ago. The Mac version was released, and I finally purchased it just recently and calibrated all my lenses to my d750. It was so easy! It took a little bit of fussing to get the target printed and the camera placed the right distance from it, but once I worked that out, it took about ten minutes per lens to get everything calibrated. It has made a huge difference! My 35mm 1.8 is TACK sharp now. I highly recommend this software!

CAMERA PROFILES (PHOTOSHOP & LIGHTROOM)

HUELIGHT PROFILES

I read about these in the Clickin' Moms forum. These are profiles that you can load into Lightroom or Photoshop as an alternative to the Adobe Standard default profile. They are geared toward "improving the color rendering and skin tone rendition of your images, whilst also balancing the individual color channels giving you a more natural image to work with". They are available for just about every camera model on the market today. I am loving the color I am getting straight out of camera with these profiles, particularly on skin. And they only cost $15!! 

VINTAGE LENSES

Okay, okay, so I have bought a couple of new lenses. I am currently addicted to researching vintage lenses and have bought two recently to use specifically for video. I love creating a dreamlike look in my personal films, and vintage lenses are perfect for that. I recently purchased a Helios 44-2 and an old Nikon 50mm 1.4 AIS. I love them both! Both eBay and KEH are wonderful, dangerous places for buying vintage lenses!

HELIOS 44-2

Nikon 50mm 1.4 AIS

COLOR GRADING SOFTWARE

Editing to add this one because I can't believe I forgot it!

COLOR FINALE PRO

I've been using the plug-in Color Finale to color grade my video footage in Final Cut Pro for a while now, but they just came out with their "pro" version which includes the ability to create presets and batch edit. Such game changers! They make grading go so much faster. Highly recommend!

And there you have it - my favorite photography purchases of the past few months. What are your favorite tools of the moment? I'd love to hear about them!


Francesca Russell is a documentary-style family photographer and filmmaker located in Garden City South, NY. If you'd like to see more of her recent documentary family photography, head over to her Facebook page or follow her everyday adventures on Instagram. If you are looking for a family photographer on Long Island or in the New York City area to document your family's story in photos or a film, please contact her for a session!