The recommended gear list

In the interests of even further simplifying the question of ‘what should I buy’ – and answering many emails and requests simultaneously – I’ve created this guide to gear, complete with purchasing links and links to reviews (where applicable). Treat it as a growing, evolving offshoot of the Camerapedia. This is what I’d buy personally (and mostly similar to what I already own, denoted by two stars**; one star* denotes something I’ve owned in the past). For full disclosure, every purchase through one of these links does give me a small commission that helps keep the site going (we run through something like 10 TB of bandwidth a month) but won’t cost you any extra. Thanks for the support! MT

Last updated 28 November 2015; new additions in italics

Ming’s current equipment
Leica Q Typ 116** – review B&H Amazon
Nikon D810** – review B&H Amazon
Nikon D800E** – review B&H Amazon
Nikon D5500** – B&H Amazon (caveat: some AF-shift occurs in incandescent light)
Nikon AFS 24-120/4 VR** – B&H Amazon (best value combined with the D750 kit)
Nikon AFS 35/1.8 DX G** – B&H Amazon (if you are on a budget; otherwise skip for the Sigma 18-35)
Nikon AFS 50/1.8 G** – B&H Amazon (not good wide open; stop down past f4.)
Nikon AFS 60/2.8 G Micro** – review B&H Amazon
Nikon AFS 85/1.8 G** – review B&H Amazon
Nikon PCE 24/3.5** – B&H Amazon
Nikon PCE 45/2.8 Micro** – B&H Amazon
Nikon PCE 85/2.8 Micro** – B&H Amazon
Nikon AFS 55-200/4-5.6 DX VR II** (collapsible) – B&H Amazon
Sigma 20/1.4 DG HSM Art** – review B&H Amazon
Sigma 18-35/1.8 DC HSM Art** – B&H Amazon (note: actually covers FF at 28mm up; 1.2x at 20mm up; square at most FLs.)
Sony A7R II** – B&H Amazon
Sony Zeiss FE 55/1.8 Planar T**  – B&H Amazon
Zeiss Batis 2/25 Distagon T* – B&H (loaner returned to Zeiss, but recommended)
Zeiss Batis 1.8/85 Planar T* – B&H (loaner returned to Zeiss, but recommended)
Zeiss Loxia 2.8/21 Distagon** – review B&H
Zeiss ZF.2 1.4/28 Otus APO-Distagon** – review B&H
Zeiss ZF.2 1.4/55 Otus APO-Distagon** – review B&H Amazon
Zeiss ZF.2 1.4/85 Otus APO-Planar** review B&H
Zeiss ZF.2 2/135 APO-Sonnar** – B&H Amazon
Fuji Neopan Acros 100 film** – review B&H Amazon
Think Tank Airport Navigator** – B&H Amazon
F-Stop Kenti**
Kata D-Light 272** Owl – B&H Amazon
Gitzo GT5562LTS Systematic 6x Carbon** – review B&H Amazon
Nikon SB900/ SB910** – B&H Amazon
Wacom Intuos 6×4 pen small (best introductory tablet)** – B&H Amazon
Arca-Swiss P0 Monoball ball head** – B&H Amazon
Arca-Swiss C1 Cube geared head** – B&H
Really Right Stuff TVC-24L tripod**
Zoom H1 audio recorder** – B&H Amazon
Zoom H5 audio recorder** – B&H Amazon
Zoom SSH-6 stereo shotgun mic** – B&H Amazon
Sigma USB dock** – B&H Amazon

Discontinued and film (but still in the arsenal, recommended, and available second hand – try eBay or Japan Camera Hunter)
Nikon AI 45/2.8 P** – discontinued, by try ebay and Japan Camera Hunter
Contax Zeiss 2.8/35 PC Distagon AEG**
Contax Zeiss 2.8/85 Sonnar MMG**
Contax Zeiss 100-300/4.5-5.6 Vario-Sonnar MMJ**
Voigtlander 90/3.5 APO-Lanthar** and 180/4 APO-Lanthar** (review)
Any Hasselblad V series, and CF/CFE/CFi lenses** (currently, I have a 501CM and 80/2.8 CF – the essence of Hasselblad) – no longer available new, but isn’t the hunt part of the fun? review
Pentax 645 A 35/3.5 and A 150/3.5*
Ricoh GR1v* – review
Contax T3 – review
Nikon F2 Titan** – review
Ilford DDX developer** – B&H
Ilford Rapid Fixer** – B&H Amazon
Nikon F6* – B&H Amazon

Other recommended equipment – it may not fit my specific needs at this moment, but this is gear I’ve used and enjoyed in the past:

Serious amateur/ pro compact
Ricoh GR* (Digital V) – review B&H Amazon
Sony RX10 – review B&H Amazon
Panasonic LX100 – review B&H Amazon

Compact mirrorless system
Olympus E-M5 II* – review B&H Amazon
Olympus ZD 12-40/2.8 PRO* – B&H Amazon
Olympus ZD 25/1.8* – B&H Amazon
Olympus ZD 45/1.8* – review B&H Amazon
Olympus ZD 60/2.8 macro* – review B&H Amazon
Olympus ZD 75/1.8* – review B&H Amazon
Panasonic 20/1.7* – B&H Amazon
Panasonic 12-32/3.5-5.6* – B&H Amazon
Panasonic 35-100/4-5.6* – B&H Amazon
Panasonic 100-300/4-5.6* – review B&H Amazon
Zeiss Touit 1.8/32* – B&H Amazon
Zeiss Touit 2.8/50M – B&H Amazon

Rangefinder system (there’s really only one choice, isn’t there?)
Leica M Typ 240 – review B&H
Leica 21/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH* – B&H Amazon
Leica 28/2 Summicron-M ASPH* – B&H Amazon
Leica 35/2 Summicron-M ASPH* – B&H Amazon
Leica 35/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH FLE* – review B&H Amazon
Leica 50/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH – review B&H Amazon
Leica 50/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH* – B&H Amazon
Zeiss ZM 2.8/21 Biogon* – B&H Amazon
Zeiss ZM 1.4/35 Distagon** – B&H Amazon
Zeiss ZM 2/50 Planar* – B&H Amazon
Voigtlander 15/4.5 Super Wide Heliar* – B&H Amazon
Voigtlander 50/1.1 Nokton* – B&H Amazon

DSLR system
Nikon D750* – review B&H Amazon (best value combined with the 24-120/4 VR kit)
Nikon D4S – review (D4*) B&H Amazon
Nikon AFS 16-35/4 VR – B&H Amazon
Nikon AFS 24-70/2.8 VR E – B&H Amazon (significantly supersedes old non-VR version in optical performance)
Nikon AFS 70-200/4 VR* – B&H Amazon
Nikon AFS 80-400/4.5-5.6 G ED VR II N* – review B&H Amazon
Nikon AFS 200-500/5.6 VR E – B&H Amazon
Canon 5DSR* – review B&H Amazon
Canon EF 24-70/4 L IS USM* – B&H Amazon
Canon EF 40/2.8 STM* – B&H Amazon
Canon EF 70-300/4-5.6 L IS USM* – B&H Amazon
Zeiss ZF.2 2.8/15 Distagon – B&H Amazon
Zeiss ZF.2 2.8/21 Distagon* – review B&H Amazon
Zeiss ZF.2 2/28 Distagon* – review B&H Amazon

Medium format digital
Pentax 645Z* – review B&H Amazon
Pentax FA 35/3.5 – B&H
Pentax D-FA 55/2.8* – B&H Amazon
Pentax D-FA 90/2.8 SR Micro* – B&H Amazon

Billingham 307* – B&H Amazon
Billingham Hadley Pro* – B&H Amazon
Think Tank Perception Tablet* – B&H Amazon
Gitzo GT1542T Traveller 6x Carbon* – review B&H Amazon

Full disclosure: anything purchased from the links gives me a small referral fee; it doesn’t cost you any more, but it does help me keep the site running. Thanks for the support! MT


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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | 2012 onwards. All rights reserved


  1. I just picked up a used Ricoh GR Digital II since it was very cheap and I wanted to try the ergonomics/haptics/BW conversions. This is the 10.1MP. I shot with it for a few days and I just find it interesting that my iPhone 6 has significantly better image quality even though it has a much smaller sensor and doubles as a computer/phone/gaming machine. The noise at ISO80 requires NR on the Ricoh. A 2008 dedicated camera can’t compare to a 2015 phone… amazing! It does feel great in my hand and leaves me pondering a newer APS-C version. The Ricoh GR will be my 7 year old’s first camera!

  2. Hello Ming. I am quite tempted by the D750 after reading your review. You also own and recommend the 35, 50 and 85 all at 1.8, which is great because the faster one will never be in my budget. But they are all made in China, and seem quite plasticky. Isn’t the build quality a bit low? I guess as long as the glass is good, but I am wondering. For the same price or so the X-T1 and similar lenses seem studier but I know you are not into the X-Trans files due to workflow issues. Thank you!

    • The glass is good, though the 50 is the weakest of the lot, and I’d replace the 35 with the 20, 24 or 28 personally. Yes, they’re plastic, but they’re solid/tight enough, light, weather sealed, and bounce if you drop them. :P

      • Well, I never though it might actually and truly be an advantage to have a plastic based contraction lens. Indeed, it they fall, the shock waves might disperse better than in a metal lens – as in with less damage to the optics…

        • Plastic is only perceived as a bad thing because of marketing. There are a lot of good engineering reasons to use it, and with the new composites like Nikon is using in the D750/D5500 – the ‘cheap’ and ‘hollow’ feeling is much improved, too…

  3. Hi Ming,

    did the Ricoh GR have a 3:2 or 4:3 display (ratio)?? Didnt find any display measures (only 3 inch/76mm diagonal) or statements on the web (via google, official product page etc. pp.) and i am looking for a ggs glas screen protector for protection and anti relfection/glare! Thanks!

    Kind regards

  4. Hello Ming. Why don’t you recommend the Nikon AFS 50/1.8 above F4 (i.e. F5.6 and so on, right?). Thank you!

    • I think you’re reading that wrong. I don’t recommend it between f1.8-f4.

      • Right, my sentence came up the other way :-). But what is wrong with that lens between 1.4 and 4? And is it the same with the 50/1.4? Thanks a lot!

        • The 1.8 suffers from CA, low contrast, and is just generally soft. The 50/1.4 is worse, and suffers from a lot of coma too. I’ve tried many samples of both and never really found one I’ve been happy with. Inexplicably, there are no really, really good 50mm-e lenses except the Otus and perhaps Sigma Art – I don’t understand why, since there are many wider lenses (which are more difficult to build) that have a higher average quality level than the mainstream 50mm products…

          • Thanks a lot fir your answer. Very much appreciated!

          • Ming, small note: in fact you also wrote below F4 which also could be confounding. I am curious you do not mention in the game the Milvus 50 F1.4 (while you suggested the 85 F1.4 for bokeh in another post): do you have any perspective on that lens already? Thanks as usual for your inspiring and valuable inputs!

            • The problem with the Milvus is it’s large enough and heavy enough that I might as well go the whole hog to the Otus 55. It’s a different situation if you don’t already own one, I suppose. Personally, it’s the same case with the 85: I’ll still use the Otus, because personally I find it suits my subjects and style (and I rarely shoot compositons with that much bokeh to begin with.)

  5. Sean Quigley says:

    Ming said

    I think something is wrong with mine. I measure anywhere between 3.5 and 4.5 seconds before it fires. I wonder if using the grip and having two batteries in makes a difference. I know it takes even longer to start if you just swapped fresh batteries in – something which others have reported as well; has to do with the camera reading state of charge information from the batteries.

    Sigh. No point in sending it in to Sony here, it’ll be stuck for a month and come back with ‘we couldn’t find anything’.

    Your probably right and it may be within tolerance, maybe a call to some of your connections, may enable you to secure a replacement ;-)) good luck.

    • I have no connections at Sony. The only time the principals in this part of the world spoke to me was when they wanted me to blog about how great the A6000 was, host three workshops and post twenty watermarked ‘shot with A6000’ photos per week for three months in return for the loan of a camera and kit lens. That’s Sony Malaysia.

  6. How would you rate Nikon 20/1.8g for landscape photography? Any critical weaknesses in the lens? Somehow I’m suspicious about this one, but wide is the missing piece in my puzzle and it’s on a good discount at a local retailer just now. The (lack of) weight is very attractive…

  7. Sean Quigley says:

    Ming I have been looking through your Faces album and I found some stunning rendered shots of the style I am looking for they were taken with the Nikon D700 and 85mm f1.4 G do you have a current equivilent that renders like that combo that would work with the A7r2?

  8. Hi Ming,

    which lens is optically better from your point of you? Batis 25 2 or the new Loxia 21 2.8?? Which one would you recommend and to whom (kind of photographer)? Thanks a bunch in advance!

    Kind regards!

    • Use the Batis if you need AF. Use the Loxia if you need wider. I think that’s fairly simple, no? Personally, I think the Loxia has slightly better optics.

      • THX! Maybe the Loxia is also more for landscape photographers and esp. aimed at videographers! And the 28 f2 is a no go option, did you have your hand on it?? Mediocre or can it keep up very well against the two more expensive “brothers”? I hope a 18 or 20mm Batis is coming in the near future…would be the best wider and af imo!

        • The 28 is a design from the early 90s. It’s not a fair comparison, and even so has a rendering style neither can touch.

          • Fabrizio Zerbini says:

            Hi Ming. I have gone through your review of the ZF.2 28/2 Distagon. And the one on the Otus. Otus is out of scope for several reason, to me. The question is if you would recommend the former for any application, or if the lens is really aged in comparison to the several available nowadays (just to mention one the Nikkor 28 F1.8). Autofocus is not an issue, but manual focusing ability might be (several older zeiss manifest this issue if I got it right), so is rendering, acuity, and coma. Application shall be both landscape (knowing the lens has field curvature) and street/environmental portraiture. Thank you for your valuable input

            • Not good for landscape, but brilliant for portraiture because of the way it renders. If you want an all-round solution, the Nikon 1.8G might be a better compromise.

  9. Hi ming,
    I will lose my mind while deciding between A7R II vs GH4 + Nikon D750 . Currently as a GH4 owner i am not happy with stills and want have more DOF, more dynamic range, better IQ and low noise on low light. I am also in videography. Loved downsampled video quality of 4k which is taken with GH4.

    Should i sell my GH4 and buy A7R II or just use GH4 only for video and own an extra D750 for stills ?.

    • I assume you mean less/shallower DOF; more DOF is more in focus and requires a smaller sensor – which would have the opposite effect to the other desired characteristics.

      I’d actually go the separate camera route simply because it’s a pain to switch settings between video and stills, and you can work faster/ separate out your thought process to focus on one or the other.

      • bilencekic says:

        thank you very much! yes i wanted to mean less DOF :).
        then it means, just have video lenses for GH4 an sell all 7-14mm f4, 25mm f1.4, 45mm f1.8. maybe just leave 12-35 as multipurpose and go for samyang video lenses or voigtlander f 0.95 series.

  10. What do you use for sensor cleaning?

    I have only used manual air blowers before as the dust removal systems seem to work well on most cameras but the A7II seems like a dust magnet.

  11. Sean Quigley says:

    Sony A7r2 is better in ergonomics and most operations already

    • Better than what? None of the firmware updates fix slow operation or ergonomics…

      • Sean Quigley says:

        Hi Ming
        It seems my post above is looking out of context and was originally posted in response to someone claiming that their Canon dslr was so much better than the Sony in ergonomics and operation, to which I disagreed.
        I had literally just compared my Canon 5DIII against the A7rII and in both of the above it is far superior, having said that this is personal to each user and each user’s requirements can be very different.

        • This is highly, highly subjective. I disagree that the ergonomics and operation are better. All of the current DSLRs are almost instant in even menu response – the Sony is laggy in simple things like setting exposure. How is that better?

          • Sean Quigley says:

            Hmm, we must be talking a couple of milliseconds, I find mine to be very fast and responsive, it does take awhile to fine tune the buttons, My only problem area is buffer fill up on continuos drive, more so with uncompressed raw. It has actually cost me some spectaclar shots, so far the only downside over my DSLR’s. But nothing is perfect.

            • No, we’re not. You turn the dials and watch the bar slowly scroll to catch up. That doesn’t happen on a Nikon or Canon.

              Try using a faster card. I switched to Lexar 1000x UHSIIs and it helped (even from Sandisk 95mb/s extreme pros, and though the 7R2 does not support UHSII)

              And power up time is the worst aspect: I’ve timed mine at a consistent five seconds from power switch to shoot! That’s slower than the Hassy digital back from 2006 I used to use.

              • Sean Quigley says:

                Ok, firstly I have used the Lexar card you mention from day 1 with the A7r2, I have retested my Camera and it’s all instant.
                I think you must have something wrong with yours, my switch on is 1 second no more to shooting, menu’s instant all as fast as my canons and as fast as I can press buttons. No wonder we seem at loggerheads over this camera.

                • Have you actually timed it?

                  Between Lloyd and I and the Zeiss demo units a couple of months back, we had six cameras. All took just as long to power on.

                  I have no reason to want a slow camera any more than the next guy…why would I, after paying Sony’s prices?

                  • Sean Quigley says:

                    I have tested it twice just now, max time to firing shutter with 55mm f1.8 FE lens is 1.9 secs inc focusing and 1 second to be ready to fire max, I was sitting in the dark focusing on my monitor. I am using 2.0 software and Lexar 128gb 1000x U3 card formatted in camera with 1000+ shots on the card, battery at 35%, everything is instant.
                    I just got my partner’s camera out with 24mm F2 FE lens, sandisk 16gb extreme pro card, battery at 57% in all parameters the timings are identical. Camera is 2 weeks old.
                    I hope this helps resolve these operational speed etc problems that we have not experianced, my Camera was from first batch in UK.

                    • I think something is wrong with mine. I measure anywhere between 3.5 and 4.5 seconds before it fires. I wonder if using the grip and having two batteries in makes a difference. I know it takes even longer to start if you just swapped fresh batteries in – something which others have reported as well; has to do with the camera reading state of charge information from the batteries.

                      Sigh. No point in sending it in to Sony here, it’ll be stuck for a month and come back with ‘we couldn’t find anything’.

              • Have you turned the Exposure Guide Off? Without it there is no delay on my camera when changing aperture and shutter at least.

  12. Hi Ming. One Question. If you’re only allowed one camera to keep from the list above. Which one would you choose? Thanks!

  13. Geof Margo says:

    Thanks for your helpful website. I use LightRoom, I have not ventured into Photoshop but your video teaching series makes me wonder if I should.

    I have 2 cameras that have made it onto your gear list, and I have a quick question about each.
    I have the X-T1; the one thing that I have not figured out how to deal with though is the LightRoom handling of the RAW files. I can see better results from Iridient but going between LR to Iridient and back (to use the LR database and printing module) and the huge size of the TIF files from Iridient are dampening my enthusiasm. I have not tried Capture One which I believe also gives good results. How did you deal with this when you had the X-T1?
    I love the Ricoh GR but miss a viewfinder; I prefer to frame at eye level with the camera to my face. Any suggestion for this issue?

    • No problem. I just used the LR conversion. I don’t have the time to use multiple bits of software…

      GR: try an external optical finder. That said, I much prefer the Leica Q for the viewfinder reason (amongst other things).

  14. Sean Quigley says:

    Hi Ming
    Could you sum up apart from aperture, the image quality differences for the 135 f2 Zeiss to the 100-300 contax at 135mm, basically is there a big difference in resolution/rendering?

    • The 2/135 APO has almost zero longitudinal CA and much better microcontrast. Resolving power at the edges is also higher and there’s no coma. You can’t really compare the two, one is a highly corrected fast apochromatic prime lens and the other is a variable aperture zoom. The 2/135 at f2 is already better than the 100-300 at f5 (approximate maximum at 135mm) and if you stop down the 2/135 to match, it’s a completely unfair comparison.

      • Sean Quigley says:

        Thanks for such a fast response, I have the 100-300 and it is fantastic, just curious to see if the 135 is worth the extra cost Vs the loss of zoom, I don’t use the 300mm end and the isolation of f2 would be useful.
        The reason I ask you, is we have so much equipment in common and I only found your site recently, that makes your opinion very valid. Thanks

      • How about the Vario Sonnar compared to the Canon 70-300, on a 5DSR?

  15. Hi Ming,
    I have GH4 with several lenses for both photo/video. I am comparing image quality with my X100s and not happy with GH4 image quality. Should i go for omd em-5M II or should i go for FF from A7 series or Canon 6D/mark3/5dsr ? Really confused. Thank you.

    • It’s impossible to answer this question without knowing what you want to shoot exactly. Another M4/3 camera is not going to beat the X100s; they all use pretty much the same sensor. FF will be better but comes with other compromises like depth of field and higher shot discipline requirements, larger lenses etc.

      • bilen cekic says:

        thank you very much Ming! i am taking pics during travel only so it is more to ultra-wide,fisheye and maybe pics of local ppl (orang asli). I never took my camera in KL and take some pics while waking. yesterday i couldn’t sleep bcoz of thinking what to buy. I read your D750, 5DSR and A7II am sure now i will go FF after you said no m4/3 will satisfy comparing to X100S. From your review, i can see D750 JPEG’s are very sharp comparing to A7II, is it correct ?
        Between D750,A7II and 6D which one you would preferrer ? (5DSR is around RM 13K, so expensive ).(last question :) ).
        Thank you very much!

        • For what it’s worth, I also had a micro-43 system, got an X100t to complement it, and wasn’t happy with the smaller sensor anymore. After long consideration I bought a D750, and despite some suspicion about DSLRs I’ve been very happy with it. I’m sure that mirrorless will become a better option for most purposes within 5 years, but meanwhile why not use something that works much better when it comes to ergonomics and operation. Unless weight or stealth is the most important factor, but then you should probably stick to m43.

  16. Hi Ming,

    have you ever tested Canon’s M3 with 22 F2 Pancake Prime lens?? It might be a good or even better alternative to Ricoh’s GR having some advantages (touchscreen, 24MP, larger aperture etc.)…?? Your opinion…..
    Keep going and take care of course!

  17. On the current list… the Zeiss ZM 1.4/35 Distagon is listed twice… is it so good you need two? :-P

    Zeiss ZM 1.4/35 Distagon** – B&H Amazon
    Zeiss ZF.2 1.4/55 Otus APO-Distagon** – review B&H Amazon
    Zeiss ZF.2 1.4/85 Otus APO-Planar** review B&H
    Zeiss ZF.2 2/135 APO-Sonnar** – B&H Amazon
    Zeiss ZM 1.4/35 Distagon** – B&H Amazon

    (feel free to delete this comment upon correction)

  18. Ming, It was nice seeing you in Hong Kong during your exhibition. Seeing your photos in prints is a totally different experience! One question I have about the gear list above is how you use the Contax Zeiss 100-300/4.5-5.6 Vario-Sonnar MMJ on Nikon body, when the lens’ flange distance is shorter than Nikon’s F-mount? Are you using an adaptor or modified the lens to F-mount?

    • Thanks! I’m using the Contax Zeisses on the 5DSR and now the A7RII.

      • Thank you for your quick reply! I guess then you don’t use it on Nikon D810… I am looking for a relatively light telephoto lens for D810 and was thinking about buying new Nikon 300mm F/4 PF VR, but then the VR issue made me hesitate. After the firmware update, do you still see the vibration?

  19. Will you be writing about why you traded the 5DSR for the Sony system?

  20. Hey Ming

    I am doing a lot of product photography these days, and I have been mainly using the zeiss 100 on a d800e. I have been thinking of adding the 85mm pc. I wanted to know if you think there are any major differences between the PC and PC-E versions? I can get the PC edition for an excellent price.

    • Not really, actually. The PC version will also work on older bodies or film bodies (or gasp, a non-Nikon) because it has a mechanical aperture instead of an electronic one.

  21. Mitchell says:

    Hi Ming,

    do you think the OMD EM10 with its 3 axis IS can fully compensate the bigger sensor of an Ricoh GR in terms of shooting in higher ISO territory???

    Thinking of getting a pocketable camera the omd em 10 with the pana 15 or 20 1.7II would be a bit bigger but has some great advantages for street….touchsceen, 3 axis IS (also for video) at least, evf, tiltable screen….this makes it a tough decision for me to go for the ricoh despite I love their ergonomics, design and bigger sensor in a smaller package…..

    • No, because I have an EM5II and the files from a given situation aren’t better.

      • Mitchell says:

        Thanks for your quick reply! Then the Ricoh GR II is the chosen one! Gonna buy it when I am in the states (via your links of course!) it is over 100 Euro cheaper there than in Europe (699 us bucks vs 799 euro!) sadly/unfairly….nevertheless thx a lot!

        • Save yourself the hassle and buy the original GR. The differences are negligible and not worth the extra price difference.

          • No Ming for me the best solution is to wait, if he can he should wait…i think/predict only a tiny few/fraction of Ricoh GR V users will upgrade and a lot of potential new buyers (discount on the former model) will buy the old one or last coolpix as’…..
            So Ricoh has to lower the price very quick and maybe heavily of the new model after some months because it wont sell well due to the fact of “micro/nano” improvements wifi/flash support/burst rate and less demand and a lot of other cams in this price category or even less have the same “old” features, sensor etc. fuji xt 10, omd em 10, coming omd em 10 mark II, coolpix A…

            So we might see a firesale in a few months if sales/demand are down and a new gr III sooner than later maybe next year / july already after ricoh/pentax has released its fullframe dslr in november having more time, capacities etc. pp. on developing a real “new” GR (III/VII)….
            Touchscreen, tiltable screen, body IS, pixel shift mode, star tracker mode, 24 mp sensor, new processor, slightly larger aperture lens 2.0 or anything else….

  22. Paul Mersky says:

    Read your pieces on both the Nikon 85/1.4G and the 85/1.8G. Any insight as to how the 1.4 does on a D750, whether more like a D800 or D700. Other things being equal, would like to avoid the flare and loss of contrast of the 1.8.

  23. Hi Ming,

    Ricoh GR II vs. Sony RX100 IV….which one would you pick and which has the better overall IQ/High Iso capabilities if you would not have already the GR I (V)?? (bigger sensor fixed lens vs. smaller sensor with zoom lens but stacked and stabilized)?
    I think both only have 12 bit files so no disadvantage for sony (compressed raw file issues)….


    Kind regards,

  24. Ming,

    I’m curious as to why you replaced your Zeiss ZF.2 2.8/21 Distagon with a Nikon AFS 20/1.8 G.


    • The situations under which I usually need something that wide tend to be a) dark and b) fast moving documentary, so I need both AF and all the light I can get. Something has to give since I’m running a business, not collecting lenses… :)

  25. Hi Ming, do you use UV filters on your lenses? Only recently did I realize there are built-in UV filters in the cameras leaving UV filters only for protection. I was wondering if you thought they detract from image detail or what your thoughts on them were. Thank you!

    • No, I don’t. In general they add another piece of glass to the optical system that was never intended to be there. I’ll only use them in extremely harsh environments. The front elements are much tougher than you think, and hoods can add another layer of impact protection.

  26. Ming-

    Thank you so much for the excellent and informative articles and videos. With your experiences with cameras could you help provide feedback? I’m undecided between the X2 (used for 1400), Fuji X100T, Sony RX100 IV, or Hasselblad Stellar (or RX100). Budget is 1-2k US. Will be primarily used for street/portraits and scenics. Open to other suggestions. Thanks!

  27. Bryan Gonzalvo says:

    I noticed you tried but dropped the Perception Tablet. I was curious if you could share what your experience was like and why you dropped it. I’m a serious amateur and always carry a camera with me. My Lowepro backpack has been my daily work backpack for some time but looks dated and is beat from travel. I use a 15″ laptop and my daily camera is an e-m1 with a 12-40 and two primes. I occasionally swap it out for my D700. I’ve been eyeing the Perception 15. Appreciate your thoughts! Thank you.

    • Simple answer – my mum borrowed it and liked it so much I never saw it again…

      From a practical standpoint, I needed something a bit larger anyway – I’m finding the F-stop Kenti is fantastic in both carrying capacity and load distribution. Not sure it’ll fit a 15″ though; my 13″ is a tight fit.

      • Bryan Gonzalvo says:

        Were the camera/lens pockets a decent system from an access and storage perspective? I looked at the F-Stop bag but it’s more camera bag than a daily “office” bag and weighs more too. Thanks.

        • Agreed. The inner pocket is hung at an odd height – I find it too low for mirrorless but too high for a DSLR. The lower section isn’t easy to get things out of, either. But I think the 15″ may be better simply because it’s a bit larger. For an office bag I’d probably use a Billingham just because it looks a bit more formal.

  28. Norastic says:

    Hey Ming, I’m thinking of making the jump from Canon to Nikon(already sold a few lenses), I’m mainly a landscape photographer with some macro/bird work(I’m using 7DII with 100mm so I’m not worrying there), I’m thinking about getting the Nikon 16-34F4 and the 70-200mmF4 to start, but I can’t decide whether to buy the D810 or D750, I know the D750 have advantage in the ISO and DR but the pro-body features and the lack of OLPF in the D810 are a good plus, It will be my first Nikon so I kinda want to get the best and the price difference isn’t really that big can you give some advice in which to get and why? Thank you.

    • The D810 actually has better DR than the D750. High ISO is not important for landscapes and you can use optimum apertures, plus 16MP DX is an advantage for wildlife so I’d go with the 810.

  29. Richard says:

    Mr Thein, I’m wondering how much the Coolpix A would improve on the GX-7 w/ 9-18 for landscapes? -many thanks

    • Can’t say as I haven’t used the 9-18 or the GX7, but the A is a cut above anything I’ve seen out of M4/3 acuity and dynamic-range wise. However, that difference isn’t so big that it could be wiped out shaky hands or bad postprocessing. I suppose the answer you’re looking for is – if it’s cheap enough, go for it…

  30. Notice the OMD EM5 II and a few ZD lenses back in your collection, are you gonna revisit M43s for your normal shooting?

    • No. Just video.

      • Do you think you’ll ever return to mirrorless or gonna stick w/ DSLRs?

        • Impossible to say since we don’t know what the future holds for either…

          • Okay last question…for today, I’ve been trying to get used to the 35mm focal length after purchasing the X100S, do you find the 35mm focal length to either be not tight enough and/or not quite wide enough when composing as in you would rather go with 28mm or 50mm instead of the 35mm.

      • If it’s just for video, why not one of the Panasonic bodies or even Blackmagic? Seems like the II is better than previous Oly bodies but not good enough to be a dedicated video rig.

        • No stabiliser on either of those. If you add a steadicam or gimbal rig, then the whole thing becomes enormous and I might as well use my D810/Otii – that’d be cheaper too, since I don’t have to buy a new camera and lenses. The EM5II is an 80/20 compromise: you know you’re giving up 20% in image quality to save 80% of the weight and hassle.

  31. David Beaton says:

    Ming. I notice that the Fuji X100T seems to have been dropped from the Serious amateur/pro compact list – or am I imagining it was once there? I just bought one thinking it had your stamp of approval but maybe I was wrong.. Anyway thanks for your tireless efforts to inform and advise – much appreciated.

    • It was there but I’m rethinking the logic of this page a bit. No point in recommending something I’d never use (35mm FOV is not my thing).

      • David Beaton says:

        Understood but I thought these were recommendations for others, some of whom like 35mm FOV (such as me). Thanks anyway.

        • Objectively, I’d be no better than the other crop of ‘reviewers’ who don’t use what they recommend – that’s more than a little lacking in integrity, I think. So whilst it drops off the list or isn’t there, it doesn’t mean it’s bad – just not for me or I can’t make an objectively experiential comment.

  32. After using Nikon 28mm 1.8G for several months, i realized that this lens is problematic for landscape/scenery shot. The sharpness at far distance can be abysmal sometimes, the accuracy is inconsistent, whereas it excels spectacularly in documentary or portrait work. 0.7m, which is why..would avoid buying those G lens where the focus distance becomes infinite easily in less than 2m.

  33. Nikolov says:

    Hi Ming,

    one question how much better is the Fuji XT1/XT-10 X100t all have the same sensor/processor vs. the Ricoh GR? How much stops you gonna loose if choosing/using the Ricoh GR??? Both usable up to 6400?? Fuji even ISO 12800??

    THX in advance!

    Take care

    Kind regards!


    • GR to 1600/3200. Fujis to 3200/6400 with a similar noise level.

    • Luke Johnston says:

      If you’re intersested, the Fuji X cams really only shoot up to ISO1600(ish). After that the RAW file simply contains instructions it is to be pushed to the higher sensitivity selected (so +1 1/3 ev if ISO4000 or whatever). This may seem academic but I began to think it was better to push a 3200 file from my X-e2 a stop in Lightroom than shoot at 6400. Later, I found a reasonably academic article on the net showing RAW data that shows this all to be the case. If you Google Isoless sensor you should find it. It’s really led to me getting better files to work with in lowlight.

  34. Fabrizio Zerbini says:

    Hi Ming,
    I wonder if you can share a bit of your experience with the Zeiss 135 F2 which appears in your kit. I have been reading the APO setting facilitates a lot focusing even on D8XX series, if the subject is still. Any use outside a tripod set? Many thanks in advance for your feedback!

    • Not sure where you’ve been reading that, because it makes no difference to focusing. Apochromatic correction is not a ‘setting’, it is part of the optical design. Such correction increases resolution by ensuring all light focuses at the same point. This might theoretically make it easier to judge if something is in focus or not, but practically the focusing screens in today’s cameras are so poor that it makes no difference at all. Most of the time I shoot handheld even with manual focus lenses. Live view and a LCD magnifier is much easier than using the optical finder, even with a modified focusing screen.

      • Fabrizio Zerbini says:

        It was reported by Lloyd Chamber while comparing with the 100 Makro: “The 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar is much easier to focus at ƒ/2 in magnified Live View: higher overall contrast and micro contrast, and especially the reduction of the haze of longitudinal chromatic aberration (LOCA), e.g. the “violet halo” that one sees with the 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar. These benefits accrue both for focusing by eye and with Live View. Stopping the 100/2 Makro-Planar down to ƒ/2.8 during Live View can be helpful.” Apparently the issue persists with the 100 even with live view, but not with the 135. Fair for the word ‘setting’, sure it is a design element. Thank you for your feedback!

        • Under those circumstances, yes, he’s right. You would see the difference in magnified live view, and you are right in stating that’s only useful on a tripod because of stability issues – however, in practice you would not see the difference in the finder or not magnified.

  35. Luke Johnston says:

    Hi Ming. The Touit 50M has slipped onto this list. Does that mean you have had a chance to play with one? Because I would be very interested to read your thoughts.

    • Briefly, and briefly enough that I was impressed. Not extensive enough to review though.

      • Luke Johnston says:

        That’s fine. May I ask what impressed you during that brief time? I would really like to try one because the sun stars made by the 32 really impressed me (the fuji lenses I have tried make horrible ones). However, I am worried about resolution at infinity (I understand this can be a problem with macro lenses???), the lense is exorbitantly expensive in Australia and I cannot try one is person without jumping on a plane.

  36. Hi Ming,

    Do you know if there is a strong sample variation with the Nikkor 85 1.8 AFS? Have you tested several ones before your made your decission to choose yours???

    I wanna buy one on my US Trip and dont know if the 85 1.8 lens doesnt have as much sample variation issues as other Nikkor lenses in general or specifically the 1.8 lens series??

    Thansk a bunch!

    Kind regards!

    • Not that I can tell. I only tested one sample and it appeared to be fine, so I stopped there. I know of another reader who had slight decentering, but it isn’t anywhere near as bad as the fast wides or zooms. The simpler the optical design (size, number and positioning of elements) the less likely you are to have sample variation because there are simply fewer places for tolerances to be off.

  37. Noting your equipment rationalization and while there was a lot I was not surprised to see you dropped, I was really, really surprised not to see the 28/1.8 and 50/1.8 Nikkors still on the list. Did the Ricoh GR just completely take over for that kind of photography? My second question is how many Nikon digital bodies do you keep on hand? I’d think it would be nerve-wracking to only have two for commercial work, knowing how much I’ve dealt with their repair over the years even after I left journalism. My third is whether the shadow bias of the D800E and highlight bias of the D810 make for any difficulties with workflow and output when using them together.

    • The 50/1.8 is still on the list, but it isn’t recommended because frankly, the optics are poor. The GR is covering my 28mm needs for now – there really isn’t anything better for the moment.

      I’ve got two Nikon bodies. I do know it’s easy enough for me to pick up a third if necessary – why tie up capital? D800E/D810: yes, took a bit of time to get used to it. And I’ll switch between one and the other as primary depending on whether I’m shooting in low light or bright light, but either will do fine if on a tripod.

      • Interesting. People rave about that 50 and yet I’ve had nothing but frustration with it, including now two failed repairs at Nikon to deal with obviously poor sharpness left of center in the inner field; as it is, it doesn’t get to where you can muddle through symmetrically until about f2.8, or where you don’t have to think about it until f3.5. If it performed wide open on the left as it does on the right, I’d be OK. But at f3.5 I may as well just use the zoom. I like the focal length but not having to deal with a lemon. In any case, I’m glad it’s not just me having trouble with this lens! The Zeiss Otus is out as a solution on account of cost, but I would consider the new Sigma 1.4 or even the Nikkor 1.2 as a possibility.

        I use a pair of D800 bodies, and probably shoot more architecture than anything else. With regard to the low light/good light distinction, or perhaps it should be low-key/high-key, I find Nikon’s current direction with metering and sensor response intriguing because of pas experience with the Fujifilm S5. In any case, I get the sense the D810, for example, is trying to emulate the tone curve of that S5’s HDR mode just a little.

        • The Sigma Art is a decent compromise, but massive – doesn’t solve the size problem at all. I guess we just have to stop down and live with it (or use the 45P). As for D810 vs S5pro – can’t comment as I haven’t used the latter, but it would explain why it got such rave reviews at the time. The DR100/200/400 modes were just confusing though.

  38. Hi Ming,

    one question is the Nikkor 20 1.8 optically better than the Nikkor 28 1.8 used on D810??? Sadly we havent heard anything from you yet about your experiences with the 20 1.8 AFS so far….hope a few lines/short notes about this lens is coming soon….;) I think highly wanted from your reader base…


    Kind regards

    • About the same. I honestly cannot say I like it much.

      • I agree with you Ming! I dont like it either….its only slightly or even not sharper than my AFS 18-35 lens (@20mm, f4,5.6 and 8) which has nearly the same weight so no advantage for the 20 1.8 here but of course its light gathering capabilities and better controls of yielding shallower DoF are the only two reasons why I sold my 18-35, waiting on the 24 Art then i will test it and probably sell my 20 1.8 like you ….
        So if you wanna use the lens only for landscapes shooting more stopped down f8-… the 18-35 might be the better choice even 2mm wider, more flexible 18-35 range and cheaper…..

        So maybe the mentioned 24 Art is the best & affordable wide angle lens for the D810…but 24 vs 20 or even vs. 18 is a completely different perspective…..but statistically most landscape shots are made between 24-28mm (normal-moderate wide angle lens) anyway i guess so in the end the 24mm art could be sufficient having even 1.4 but heavier of course, price is really competitive…

        My 2 cents!

      • So it seems you would recommend it only for the D750 and 24 MP sensors in general like you did with the 28 1.8 Nikkor lens (nearly same dxo mark numbers as the 28 – would confirm this somehow) and you will probably sell it soon….tell us everything ;)…..maybe sigma 24 1.4 Art…but 20 vs 24 is a huge difference and the newest Art doesnt get as good reviews as the 35 and 50 got…wide angle lenses are difficult to produce…at least if you wanna have a really good one….no really good wide angles lens avaiable for D810….big bummer and gap….

        Nevertheless thank you for your continous effort and time to answer our questions (sadly most referred to GAS syndrome;)) and esp. to educate to see things different!

        Keep it up always a pleasure and i don t say this easily….

        Kind regards from Milano

  39. Ming,
    Notice you posted some new shots of the RX100 M3, have you decided to purchase it? Also any thoughts on the Canon G7X, I see it as a more with it going from 24-105mm and being 1.8-2.8.

  40. Nikon 20 1.8 vs Sigma 24 1,4 Art ??

    Which one would you pick ?? I hope a brief review of the Nikon 20 1.8 is still coming…

    Thanks in advance !

    Kind regards

    • Impossible to say since I’ve never used the Sigma. Don’t think you can go too far wrong with either, I’d pick based on focal length rather than which is ‘absolutely’ better – 20 vs 24mm is a very noticeable difference in perspective.

  41. Hey, Ming. I was wondering, do you not have the Zeiss 21, 28, and 100 anymore? If not, why did you get rid of them? Especially the 100.

    • 21: I need perspective correction on something that wide.
      28: Using the 24 PCE almost exclusively for wide since I shoot very little cinematic these days, and the GR is smaller/faster for documentary work.
      100: huge amounts of longitudinal CA which is impossible to clean up from product. Plus…DOF control issues again requiring tilt.

      • Thank you for the information. I have used the 100 for plenty of products and don’t see the same amount of loca you claim. But I also don’t shoot products at f2 or f4 since I usually want a little more dof. Yet, cleanup usually isn’t too difficult; yet I can sympathize if you shoot lots of shiny stuff. Right now I have the 800e with the 100, a 50mm 1.8g (cheap but necessary sometimes at events), and the 85mm 1.4d. The 85mm is okay, but can suffer the same loca issue and focus can be rough. Really finding it difficult to lockdown what I want for a wider lens. Would you strongly back the 24 PCE if I was to use it for tripod work with interiors, landscapes, and architecture? Is there any downside to having the 21mm zeiss and just fixing the distortion with Lightroom? I mean it seems easy enough to fix. Is there a downside to using the distortion lens profile corrections?

        • It’s the reflective/polished objects at very close range (i.e. watches, which are the majority of my product work) that trigger LOCA.

          ‘Stretching’ a wide in post will produce very obvious reduction in quality at the point of stretching. This may not matter if your output is small or your clients can’t tell though. The 24 PCE is a tricky lens to use because of focus shift and field curvature – the focal plane is never quite where you expect it to be, so even on a tripod quite a bit of care is required.

          • caewsar13 says:

            Thank you for the information. While I know you are not a wide angle guy really, would you recommend the 16-35 f4 for interior and landscape? Moreover, What do you like about those Voigtlander lenses?

            • Sure, if you don’t need tilt/shift movements. Voigtlanders – read my reviews.

            • Oh and out of curiosity, did you sell your Leica stuff to fund the two Otus lenses? I want those soo bad haha. Could the 85mm Otus be used for products or does it lack the close focusing capabilities?

              • No, I sold it because it was unreliable, delivered quality far below the cost expectation, and frankly, not suitable for professional work. 85 Otus won’t focus close enough but performs well with extension tubes if you are so inclined.

  42. You don’t mention a focussing rail for macro work (the sort that moves the camera … not extending bellows) in your gear list. Does that mean that you don’t use one, or just that there is none you would especially recommend?

  43. Hey Ming, I just realized that the 645Z only has one “*”. You sold your 645Z? My guess is that the Otus/D810/D800E combination, the shift/tilt lenses, and possibly the stitch work you have been doing, made the size/weight of the 645Z unnecessary and a less flexible system even if it’s 50mp.

  44. Hi Ming, I wold like to ask you if there is full compatibility with the nikkor 24 PCE /3.5 and the D810 body. I have read in some sites that the shifting or tilting movements are limited by the form factor of soma cameras like D800/e D810.

    Thankyou in advance for your reply.

    Best Regards


  45. Why do you not recommend the Sigma Art series 24,35 and 50 1.4 lenses (even you consider buying them if Otusses wont existing…)???

  46. Hi Ming,

    what lens is better for shooting portraiture Nikon 58 1.4 (dreamy bokeh, 3d pop up effect) or Sigma Art 50 1.4 slightly shorter focal length heavier but it seems better optics,much sharper less creamy bokeh so but better corrected as well (coma, fringing)??
    Which one would you pick for this purpose or in general?
    Still interested in what mystery camera this one is…..hopefully we will get an answer soon ;)!
    Regards Gabriel

    • Depends on your preference. There is no real ‘better’ or ‘worse’ for portraiture – either can produce great results in the right hands. I haven’t used either because I prefer the 55 Otus in this range.

  47. Hi Ming,

    quick one Nikon 20 vs. 28 1.8 ? Which one to pick? As someone stated you could if you need a 28mm crop later/reframe the image if it is necessary afterwards…..would you agree and only buy the 20 1.8 ??? Or even wait on the release of the 24 1.4 Sigma Art instead of 20 1.8 but 4mm less is a huge difference in WA territory every mm counts having a huge imapct on the perspective…..

    Thank you so much!
    Have a nice weekend by the way;)!

    Kind regards Doug!

    • I don’t crop, so I’d buy the FL I wanted to begin with. 20 and 28 are different enough that I’d probably have both (and you could, for the price of the Sigma).

  48. leica is outdated, its price is still ridiculous..i look for its pictures and it does no better than an entry level camera..don’t see the point for it here. manual focus, metal body, pure photography? why bother when other cameras can do the job much better and faster, with D4 i can grasp the joy of modern evolutionary photography, not gripping along the muddy road.

  49. Nikon 60mm 2.8G is a terrific lens, much better than 50s in terms of rendering, contrast, sharpness, f/2.8 is sufficient.
    found this nice set taken by this lens,

  50. Hi Ming,

    Is a standard focal length (50-60 mm) still be essential??? the 50 is often described as boring perpective…… so would it enough and better to pair a 24-28 mm lens with a 85 for a two lens combo rahter than having three lenses as the middle is named to be boring………???




  1. […] Let it never be said I don’t put my money where my mouth is. The full recommended gear list is here. […]

  2. […] – i.e. ‘what should I buy’ – discussion. I was about to direct him to the recommended equipment list and end it there, except for one last sentence (reproduced with permission, of course): “I […]

  3. […] the 2/135 APO, the Voigtlander APOs, the Sigma APO Macros – and most of them are on the recommended gear list. The second is much harder than it appears, because it’s no longer about shooting and more […]

  4. […] a skilled photographer anything and it’s possible to make a compelling image, there is also the recommended gear list, and if it’s not on there, then there’s probably a […]

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