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 15 October 2018; new additions in italics. Some older/superseded equipment has been removed to tidy up the list

Ming’s currently owned and recommended equipment

Hasselblad H6D-100c** – early thoughts B&H
Hasselblad HCD 4.8/24** – B&H
Hasselblad HCD 4/28* – B&H
Hasselblad HCD 4-5.6/35-90** – B&H
Hasselblad HC 3.5/50 II* – B&H
Hasselblad HC 2.2/100** – B&H
Hasselblad HC 3.2/150 N** – B&H
Hasselblad HC 1.7x TC** – B&H
Hasselblad HTS 1.5x** – B&H
Hasselblad X1D-50c** 4116 edition – review B&H
Hasselblad XCD 21/4** – B&H
Hasselblad XCD 30/3.5** – B&H
Hasselblad XCD 45/3.5** – B&H
Hasselblad XCD 90/3.2** – B&H
Hasselblad XCD 120/3.5** – B&H
Hasselblad V series, and C T*/CF/CFE/CFi lenses** (currently, a 501CM, 4/50 CF FLE T*, 2.8/80 CF T*, 2.8/80 C T*, 5.6/135 CF T* bellows, 4/150 CF T*, 5.6/250 C Superachromat) – quick guide to the Hasselblad V series
Leica 50/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH** on a Novoflex M-X1D adaptor – B&H Amazon
Ricoh GR lens 28/2.8 LTM LE** on Voigtlander LTM and Novoflex M-X1D adaptors – out of production
Nikon Z7** – review B&H Amazon
Nikon Z 24-70/4** – review B&H Amazon
Nikon FTZ adaptor** – B&H Amazon

Nikon D850** – B&H Amazon
Nikon AFS 24-120/4 VR** – review B&H Amazon
Nikon AFS 70-200/4 G VR** – B&H Amazon
Nikon AFS 60/2.8 G Micro** – review B&H Amazon
Nikon AFS 85/1.8 G** – review B&H Amazon
Nikon AI 45/2.8 P** (discontinued)
Nikon PCE 19/4 E** – B&H Amazon
Nikon PCE 45/2.8 Micro** – B&H Amazon
Nikon PCE 85/2.8 Micro** – B&H Amazon
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
Contax Zeiss 2.8/85 Sonnar MMG** and Leitax C/Y to F conversion
Contax Zeiss 100-300/4.5-5.6 Vario-Sonnar MMJ**
Voigtlander 180/4 APO-Lanthar** – review
MT x Frankie Falcon Ultimate Daybag**
Think Tank Airport Roller Derby** – B&H Amazon
Nikon SB900/ SB910** – B&H Amazon
Wacom Intuos 6×4 pen small** – 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** – B&H
Gitzo GT2545T Series 2 Carbon Exact Traveller** – B&H Amazon
DJI Mavic Pro** – Drone diaries B&H Amazon
DJI Mavic 2 Pro** – review B&H Amazon
Eizo EV3237 32″ 4K monitor** – B&H Amazon
Sandisk Extreme Pro CFAST 2.0 515MB/s** – B&H Amazon
Sandisk Extreme Pro SD UHSII 300MB/s** – B&H Amazon
Sandisk Extreme Pro SD UHSI V30 95MB/s** – B&H Amazon

Compact mirrorless system
Olympus PEN-F – review additional thoughts B&H Amazon
Panasonic Leica 12-60/2.8-4** – B&H Amazon
Panasonic 12-32/3.5-5.6 compact zoom** – B&H Amazon
Panasonic 35-100/4-5.6 compact zoom** – B&H Amazon
Panasonic 42.5/1.7** – B&H Amazon
Panasonic Leica 15/1.7** – B&H Amazon
Panasonic 30/2.8 Macro** – B&H Amazon
Olympus E-M1 Mark II* – review B&H Amazon
Olympus ZD 12-100/4 PRO* – B&H Amazon
Olympus ZD 60/2.8 macro** – review B&H Amazon
Olympus ZD 75/1.8* – 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


Visit our Teaching Store to up your photographic game – including Photoshop Workflow DVDs and customized Email School of Photography. You can also get your gear from B&H and Amazon. Prices are the same as normal, however a small portion of your purchase value is referred back to me. Thanks!

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


  1. Hello Ming,

    when mentioning my upcoming (well, June 2019) trip to Iceland to a local landscape photographer, he explicitly advised to take along a very sturdy tripod. Not being able to go deeper into the matter at the time, I took a look at your recommended gear list.

    I noticed that you switched from the GT5562LTS and GT1542, to an RRS TVC-24L and GT 2542 respectively. Having been to Iceland yourself, and knowing that to me, there’ll be no real weight or size restrictions, would you advise an upgrade to my Gitzo 1542 ? If so, what made you switch from the Gitzo 5562 to the RRS? In my parts, both are about the same price, so I would value a real use perspective …

    Thanks !

    • The 5562 is extremely heavy and not very portable. It lives in the studio now. The RRS is much lighter and just as sturdy, and taller. The 1542 isn’t strong enough for MF and will vibrate in moderate winds regardless of load. I find the 2542 does not, and is quite happy even with the H6-100.


      You could compare stiffness pegging the 1542T as a little lower than the measured 1545T. I found that the 1542T wasn’t sufficient enough for anything beyond ideal conditions with high resolution/heavy setups.

      I have the Leofoto 284C + Arca Swiss P0 as my compact tripod, and I’m comfortable with a D850/Z7 on it. I also have the RRS TVC-24 and and FLM 38.4 Berlin to go with a Cube, but short of a 645D w/ 300mm, the benefits of the FLM for the extra weight don’t really show over the TVC-24.

      • Seconded for the P0…that head is very light, but very sturdy. Just take care not to over tighten the locking collar or you’ll strip the threads on the internal planetary gear posts; once it doesn’t move, it’s locked – there’s no need to really tighten it as far as it will go. Not sure I quite agree with that table though…

        • Thanks for the info, guys! Seems like I’ll be on the lookout for a new tripod …

          And as a matter of fact, I have a Po on my GT 1542 as well …

          • You might want to look at the GT2545T – it’s much more rigid than the 1542 was, and has now become my regular travel tripod…

            • Just compared prices of the TVC-24L vs. the GT2545T, and I could get 2 of the Gitzos for the price of one RRS. So, while I rather buy an excellent (and usually, more expensive) piece of gear once and be done for a long time, and while there’ll be a reason for the price difference: if the Gitzo is happy with a MF setup, it’ll be happy with a D800E and a Milvus too.

              As always, thanks for the advice !

              • That’s true – it’s also not the same class of tripod; the 24L is much larger/ sturdier than a 2545. It’s also twice the height. So whilst you’re paying twice as much, you’re also getting twice as much tripod (literally)…

  2. If you own the Zeiss ZF.2 18mm f/3.5 for Nikon, I wonder if there is anything to be gained in image quality by replacing it with the Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8, especially if you typically shoot at f/8 or smaller apertures.

  3. Ming, always appreciate your reviews (and your imagery). Been a Nikon shooter since the 1970’s, but getting up there in age wants me to get lighter with the tools of the trade. Interested in mirrorless (shot a Fuji X-T2 for a few months, but want to stay with a FF sensor), especially now with the Nikon Z6/Z7 coming soon. I would seriously consider one if Zeiss was to produce their Loxia line of MF lenses. I’m familiar with the images they produce on the Sony A7R III, just don’t like the Sony bodies, ergonomics and menu structure. Any insight to what direction Zeiss may go with the Z mount ? I would think that at least M lenses would work well on the Zs and adapter companies will soon be producing adapters for the Z.

    • Sorry, no idea…my relationship with Zeiss pretty much ended once two things happened – their former head of optical design (Dr. Nasse) passed away, and I stopped shooting Sony.

  4. Yves Simon says:

    Hi Ming,
    I didn’t find any comment on your Panasonic 30/2.8 Macro. What do you think of that lens? Thanks

  5. Hi Ming, I’ve been following your site now for a number of years and would like to compliment you on the excellent reviews and opinion pieces. I’m planning on building a small collection of Zeiss ZF.2 lenses (28mm f/2 or 35mm f/2, 50mm Makro f/2 and 135mm f/2) for use with film and digital bodies. Any merit in hunting for the classic series of lenses or would I be better off going straight for the Milvus?

  6. D850…worth the update?

  7. WOW that Eizo screen, must be gorgeous! 😀

  8. any plan for trial D850 ming?

    • That would be a serious conflict of interest given my current position, wouldn’t it? 🙂

      • Not at all !
        You can still be an unbias objective highly decerning reviewer that all of us appreciate / value & still be a Hasselblad Ambassador !
        Your genius , skills & integrity is above par ! If you dont we would lose an exceptional & highly valued reviewer
        That would be a great loss to the photographic community

  9. Greetings from Singapore. Months ago we acquired the HC100mm 2.2 and after a few uses, we notice an apparent sight of CA especially on high contrast edges. We thought it’s because I tend to shoot wide open but that’s not the case, we tried stopping down a stop or two and still notice the CA, perhaps lesser but not by much. Is this a known characteristic (or flaw) of the lens?

  10. Hey Ming,

    What would be your recommendation for a compact camera (or system) to travel with?

    I’ve been shooting with the Ricoh GR for a couple years, and have had some frustrations recently (dust spots on sensor, sub-optimal high ISO performance in environments with poor light and no chance to use a tripod, etc.) Often I wish I had 1-2 more stops to work with. Additionally, I’d like to experiment with portraiture (full body) and feel that 28mm may distort things too much…

      • That was a great read, thanks. I found the thought process (behind the decision making) even more useful than the end conclusion. I think it would be hard to go from the ergonomics of the Ricoh GR to something like the GX85. I think I’ll keep the GR for a good 28mm, add a 21mm with the wide converter and pick up a basic DSLR from Canikon and pop a 50mm on it for an easy 28/85 combo. Done.

  11. Hi Ming!

    Where does the X1D fit in your workflow?

    • It’s easier to say where it doesn’t actually – for commercial I use the H6D-100c, for personal/ family stuff mostly the GX85, and the X1D is everything else. The Nikons are only when I need some special purpose high magnification macro, and the H5D-50c is the backup on commercial jobs. At least that’s the current state of play in August 2017…

  12. Jim Suojanen says:

    I loved my Nikon D700. But the kit weight became too much for these old bones. I currently use Leica M7/M9 with two or three lenses; an X-Vario if weight is a premium. As a child of the 60’s, the NASA images shot with Hasselblads still capture my imagination (I have Neil Armstrong’s autograph on an Apollo 11 pic). The V system is too big for me now, though I do have an Arcbody I just can’t let go. Some of its limitations are mitigated by using 6×6 film. But I’m not as adept at focusing as I once was and am considering a digital back. The CFV-50c is no longer made and doesn’t really work for shifts/rise-fall according to Hasselblad. Do you know of any alternative that can handle the very short register of the Arcbody, especially with the 35mm lens and permit shifts? I suppose an alternative is to trade the Arcbody, buy some Nikon tilt-shift lenses, and buy a Leica SL with adapters. Then I won’t have to worry about focusing my M9 either. Any thoughts appreciated. If the X1 had a better EVF and tilting screen, I’d learn to live without the tilt-shift.

    • Short answer – unfortunately it doesn’t exist. The good news though is the wides now are a lot wider than the wides on digital that went with the Arcbody, and resolution is much higher. What this means in practice is I often go a size wider in lens, hold the camera level, and compose knowing I’m going to lose some of the bits at the bottom or top. It works much better in practice – especially weight-wise – than carrying a full movement set, no matter how light. We have a 21mm (17mm-e or thereabouts) coming for the X1D 🙂

  13. Rom Pytel says:

    Hi Ming;
    I noticed you added the Panasonic GX85 to your photo gear, what is your opinion of the camera in regards to image quality, haptics, ease of use, quality of kit lens, pros/cons. I am looking for a travel camera that accepts different focal length lenses and this one looks like it may be a good choice at the current sale price. I cannot find this camera in any store near me to try in person so your experience and advice would be greatly appreciated. Are you going to post a full review of the GX85?
    Thanks for your help.

    Kind Regards

    • No, I don’t plan to – there’d be a conflict of interest there since I work for another camera company. It does the job for a point and shoot and family requirements, and offers decent value for the price. At no point does it feel premium or ergonomically excellent; it’s just the right side of ‘too fiddly’. Kit lens is decent but has no focusing ring. Put it this way: I don’t buy (much less recommend) anything I don’t use, and I don’t use anything that doesn’t work as a tool. 🙂

  14. Tessa Tsarong-Blomker says:

    Hi Ming,

    I’ve got a Nikon D810 and am looking to add a wider angle to my primes. I have the Sigma Art 35mm 1.4, Zeiss Planar 50mm 1.4, and a Nikon 85mm 1.4G. The purposes I’d be using it for are photojournalism and architectural photography. Let’s say that money isn’t the biggest issue. Any suggestions?


    • If you need AF, then I’d go with the 28/1.8G or 28/1.4G. If Architecture > Photojournalism, then the 24 PCE.

    • Hi Ming, sure appreciate it if you could help. I put my name on the list for a D850 and the store just notified me I will get one in the first batch Sept. 7. Super excited about it!
      My question is, do you have any ideas of what software that could be used for pp of the raw images? I have PS6 (not cloud) Mac with EL Capitain 10.11.1, 8GB, dual core, new SSD. I’ve heard/read CS6 won’t work with Sierra/Hi Sierra so didn’t upgrade yet. I don’t have Lightroom. I use CameraRaw now for PP on D810 raw. I know I can cancel the order as there is already a huge demand for this camera, plus getting top $ for my trade in at this point. I have researched everywhere about this. Asked it of Nikon (not heard back yet).

  15. Hi, Ming! I went to NAB 2017…believe it or not but it’s the year of the drones!!! So many third party lenses are copying and outshining (value/performance) the other major companies, which I think is killing the industry. What’s next? Are they also going to copy MF lenses? I am wondering if patents are observed or respected offshore?

    • I’m not even sure some patents (or at least a lot of the ones in legacy fields) are relevant anymore, given the rate of change of technology. Most MF lenses are actually in a somewhat backward state of development compared to smaller formats because the volumes – and thus economic justification/ R&D budgets – simply aren’t there. In other words, wouldn’t make sense to copy.

  16. Hi there,

    How does the otus compare to Leica S lenses? Looking at either Canon 5DSR/Nikon D810 + otus versus Leica S…

    • Not all of the S lenses are apochromatic, the Otuses are. Everything else isn’t directly comparable: price of S lenses is much higher; you get AF; max apertures are slower. Otuses are faster, somewhat cheaper, but manual only. Depends on your application, I guess. Hard to justify the Leica S’ price, though – especially given the X1D, GFX, 645Z which all have better sensors, and the D810 which has a comparable one.

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