It’s easy to see how difficult it’s been for many photographers.
Fact: tons of people are bored in the 2020 pandemic. Many took on a new hobby that they’ve meant to get into for a while. And amazingly, sales of photo equipment and services enjoyed a surprising increase. Photography is a great hobby. While stuck at home, lots of new, passionate photographers started cutting their teeth. The more experienced creatives embraced this new freedom and spread their wings. Some of us got new lenses. Others headed into the woods. But no matter what, most of us kept shooting. And here’s some of the gear that kept passionate photographers sane during the 2020 pandemic.
What is it?: The GuraGear Kiboko is a 22L backpack designed for the outdoor photographer. If you’ve ever had a problem carrying a camera with a 300mm lens attached, this is the solution. Why would you want to do that? Well, if you’re out hiking for a while, you don’t want to go back and forth to your car often. And some of us just aren’t sure of what gear to bring. So we stuff everything in a bag. While that sounds daunting, the GuraGear Kiboko does the job comfortably. It boasts some of our favorite features of camera bags. Those include waist straps and chest straps to take the weight off your back. What’s more, there’s space for a tripod and/or a thermos on the sides.
The Kiboko weighs in at a svelte 3.9 pounds due to high-tech VX-21 sailcloth (some of the toughest material available). Additionally, the Kiboko is able to carry a massive amount gear. Each of its two carrying compartments can house up to two DSLR bodies and 5 or 6 lenses, or one DSLR with a 300mm f2.8 attached. This can be used a multitude of ways, including having a different camera system on each side or dedicating one side to camera gear and one side to lighting.
How it helped: The pandemic was the perfect time for photographers to go exploring off-road for a while. They followed social distancing guidelines and often went into the woods. Some rented trailers and spent time under the stars each and every night. And the GuraGear Kiboko was there right by them to photograph the Milky Way. It’s become an option for photographers like Jodie Willard.
ProMaster SP528K Tripod
What is it?: The ProMaster SP529K Tripod is a bit larger than a standard travel tripod, but it’s incredibly well built. Besides the sturdy legs, photographers will adore the included ball head. It lets you have a ton of adjuments for under $300. Built into it are two different types of tripod feet. These work in various locations. Because of this, it’s an excellent tripod for a plethora of different shooters. Mind you, it’s a bit heavier than your standard carbon fiber tripod. However, it’s going to last you longer than this pandemic will.
How it helped: When we got our tripod in for review, it quickly became a favorite of ours. I remember using it during the 4th of July on my rooftop. Capturing the fireworks as they went off all around the city was incredibly fun. Using a tripod also meant that I could stay in one place safely during the pandemic. At times I’d sit and just let the camera shoot a timelapse. The incredibly clutch part about this tripod is the ball head and how exceptionally high quality it is.
What is it?: What happens after you’ve captured the moment? That’s where PhotoShelter comes in. With 15 years in the industry and 100+ tools designed by and for professional photographers, PhotoShelter makes it easy to look your best, impress your clients and earn more – so you can spend less time managing your business and more time doing what you love.
PhotoShelter has been a fantastic option for photographers to create websites for many years now. But their tools also give photographers lots of great necessities like client proofing, e-commerce sales tools, printing options, and search engine optimization. The latter has been incredibly difficult for photographers in the pandemic. Google has changed search algorithms many times, and photographers have struggled to stay ahead. Photoshelter’ blog is a huge source of inspiration for working photographers and even the passionate photographers among us. Best of all, they’re AMP and mobile-friendly.
How it helped: When photographers like Lindsay Adler update their websites, they’re looking for professional-looking interfaces. But they also need something with the simplicity of Instagram. And PhotoShelter helps photographers do that. There’s no need to spend extra time trying to make a print sale, either. The built-in tools help you do that. I mean, what’s better than a nearly passive source of income?
“Before PhotoShelter, managing and delivering files to clients was a gigantic mess in my workflow. It was a timesuck and a cause for stress,” said award-winning fashion photographer Lindsay Adler. “PhotoShelter has helped me streamline this process and saves me an incredible amount of time! Now I can easily access, organize and share my files – whether I’m in front of my computer or on the go. I use PhotoShelter every day to manage and distribute my work with ease.”
From rock-solid cloud storage to beautiful website templates to file delivery and sales, PhotoShelter will help you grow your photography business – simply, professionally, and confidently. Start your 14 day free trial today and get 30% off a PhotoShelter Standard or Pro plan.
Sony a7 III
What is it?: The Sony a7 III was called “the basic camera” when it was announced. And it’s been the standard for many passionate photographers across the industry. Boasting a 24MP sensor and a price point that’s right, lots of photographers picked it up. This camera has won loads of awards. It’s a perfect package for the passionate photographer. It’s amongst the fastest focusing cameras in Sony’s lineup. Other features include solid battery life, weather resistance, and a massive catalog of lenses to choose from.
How it helped: When photographers like Jake Zaepfel got back to work in the pandemic, they reached for the Sony a7 III. Some of us shot senior portraits while social distancing. Others chose to be more contemplative and do street photography. Still, many other photographers decided to do portrait shoots.
What is it?: The LitraPro is one of the most solidly built LED lights that we’ve used. First, these things are literally waterproof. We’ve thrown them in glasses of water, and they kept working. It’s got an aluminum chassis that’s super solid. Plus, there’s Bluetooth control using a mobile app. You can use it with gels, and you can also easily change the color temperature. One of the handiest features is blacking it out instead of turning it off. That means you don’t need to repeatedly physically attend to it. Best of all, a small investment will boost your photography so much. You owe it to yourself!
How it helped: Photographer Mitchel Wu was using it. He busied himself with conceptual toy photography. And what better way to pass the time than playing with traditional and grown-up toys? We’ve also used it in our Pro Camera Reviews show. Use them off-camera and point them at your lens to create flare. You’ll enjoy it!
Fujifilm GFX 50R
What is it?: The Fujifilm GFX 50R is a smart option. In many a Facebook group, we saw photographers picking up this camera for the first time. With a sensor that’s larger than full-frame, you’ll get a better high ISO and dynamic range. The rangefinder-style camera body makes it easier to bring with you everywhere. Couple it with the creative film simulations inside, and you’ll get incredibly unique image quality. Seriously, this has been one of our favorite cameras of the past few years.
How it helped: A passionate photographer like Matt Stanman uses his camera to photograph landscapes and clouds during the pandemic. He adores black and white. And the Fujifilm GFX 50R sports the Acros setting that can inspire you too. Best of all, it’s super well weather-sealed. Couple it with a great GF lens, and you can go out and shoot to your heart’s content. If anything, it will make you enjoy long walks in the rain!
ACDSee Photo Studio
What is it?: ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2021 is for photographers dedicated to their craft. With a focus on improved performance and precision editing, this year, choose ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2021 as your sidekick. For 2021 they’ve made some huge performance enhancements to let you focus on the task on hand and perfect your images.
How it helped: When photographers get bored, they try new things. Experimenting with ACDSee and the packages they offer for $149.99 kept photographers busy.
Blurb’s Zine Creator
What is it?: The print is alive! But they’re being done these days in small, niche ways. If you haven’t created a zine or a photo book, now is the best time. Best of all, you can set these up to be printed and bought by people. A few years ago, we Kickstarted our Emulsion magazine. Everyone who’s gotten it believes it to feel just like an actual book.
How it helped: When the pandemic happened, many photographers went out to document what’s happening. Their photos comprise a ton of different photo books that have been Kickstarted.
Sigma Macro Lenses
What is it?: Lenses were a big thing for passionate photographers in the pandemic. And macro photography really helped keep them sane. Reliable options like the Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art are sharp and bring out all those details on the strawberry you’re photographing. Macro lenses are also fantastic choices for flowers, coins, food, and so much more. Better yet, they’re usually telephoto lenses, so they double for portraits pretty well. For the best results, we recommend using an external light.
Oh yeah! And they’ve got a brand new 105mm f2.8 DG DN Art Macro lens available for review. One thing we cannot recommend highly enough when it comes to macro photography is a stable tripod. Macro photography is incredibly challenging, and you’re often dealing with such extreme narrow depths of field that even the slightest movement will ruin your shot. A popular technique in this field of photography is focus stacking, and to focus stack, you will need a good tripod.
How it helped: When passionate photographers got anxious indoors, they turned to Macro lenses during the pandemic. They’re great because you can do so much with them at home. You can see this tutorial from photographer Nick Vrona as he discusses necessities like a smaller aperture and a flash.
Wacom Intuos Pro
What is it?: The Wacom Intuos Pro is a standard for so many passionate photographers out there. They come in different sizes. But let’s stick to the basics. A Wacom tablet enables you to edit the way you’d naturally do when you went to school. You’d use a pen and paper. And these tablets let you draw and edit in your favorite photo editing software. They connect to your computer in different ways. Plus, the stylus lets you interact with your photos more naturally.
How it helped: When the pandemic hit, photographers went into their archives. They went back to re-editing images that they haven’t touched in a while. With new skills and inspirations, they practiced things like retouching and photo compositing. We indeed are in a very thought-provoking creative renaissance.
Lastolite Urban Collapsible Backdrop
What is it?: The Lastolite Urban Collapsible backdrop is the best of many different worlds. First off, you get the look of many more expensive backdrops. Second, it’s collapsible. That means that it’s portable and easy to use, like a collapsible reflector. In terms of innovation, this is one of the best things to hit the market in years. And better yet, it offers excellent image quality.
How it helped: We can see how this backdrop helped photographers explore more of their own creative sides. Couple it with gelled strobes, and you’ll get some cool, funky colors. Even better, you can shoot with it in your own home.
What is it?: SpyderX is Datacolor’s most accurate, fastest, and easiest-to-use Spyder ever! Calibrate your monitor for precision color in under two minutes and enjoy a higher level of color accuracy for multiple monitors due to the lens-based color engine. Room-light monitoring and automatic profile changing provide you with significantly more precise screen color, shadow detail, and white balance. The intuitive, single-click calibration and wizard workflow with 12 predefined calibrations simplifies the entire process, while SpyderProof functionality lets you compare before-and-after displays of your images. You’re assured support for the latest screen types, resolutions and gamuts with Spyder X Pro. Take a look for yourself, they start at $169.99.
How it helped: When photographers couldn’t photograph musicians on tour, they opened up their catalogs in the pandemic. The Datacolor Spyder X Pro helps them get better and more consistent colors when editing. You can save and share profiles across various systems, monitors, etc. You can even share them into your editing software when making prints.
Leica M10 Monochrom
What is it?: The Leica M10 Monochrom is one of the most specialized cameras on the market. It boasts a 40MP full-frame sensor with no Bayer filter, so it’s entirely monochrome. While you lose color, you gain so much more. First off, you score extra sharpness from the sensor. Couple that with Leica’s great lenses, and you’ll get a very unique look. But the best thing is that you don’t have to worry about high ISO output. Because it’s got a monochrome sensor, you don’t have to worry about color noise. And the image noise on it will just look like film grain anyway. This, by far, is one of the best features of this camera. It’s incredibly liberating.
How it helped: When the pandemic had already been underway, more photographers picked up Leica cameras. They’re tools that make photographers feel like they’re creating. The Leica M10R is used by a photographer I personally tutor and train. He still goes to his day job and brings it out during his breaks. When he’s at home, he documents his sons and family. But he also likes to shoot flowers, so he’s been using a 50mm lens, a 35mm lens, and now a few macro attachments. He’s thoroughly enjoying it.
SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD
What is it?: The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD is built to keep up with today’s high-quality content demands. Professional photographers, videographers and enthusiasts capture and keep life’s best moments every day and they need fast, reliable solutions that perform wherever the job takes them. This NVMeTM drive is perfect for creating amazing content, or capturing and moving incredible 4K and 8K footage with ease. Designed with professionals in mind, the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD can reliably handle the most challenging assignments – whether at home, in the office or out on location. It features up to two-meter drop protection and IP55 rating for water and dust resistance. The drive features password protection to help keep content private. It’s compatible with PC and Mac computers, and the latest model allows users to back up mobile content quickly and easily thanks to compatibility with a range of USB Type-CTM smartphones. The SanDisk Extreme portable SSD is a great go-to drive for those who need more memory and a durable and fast drive.
The newest SanDisk Extreme portable SSD is available in 500GB* (MSRP of $119.99 USD) and 1TB* (MSRP $199.99 USD), and is expected to ship in 2TB* later this holiday season.
How it helped: “When every second counts, I need fast and powerful solutions that work as quickly as I do. I rely on SanDisk SSDs to keep up with my creativity,” said Tyler Stableford, SanDisk Extreme Team member. “As an artist, speed is one of my greatest strengths, and I know with the SanDisk Extreme line of SSDs, I can get the job done with greater efficiency and capacity, and I never have to worry about running out of memory wherever the job takes me.”
Editor’s Note: This roundup contains sponsored placements.