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 7 June 2017; new additions in italics. Some older/superseded equipment has been removed to tidy up the list

Ming’s currently owned and recommended equipment – please contact me if you are interested in purchasing new Hasselblad equipment
Hasselblad H6D-100c** – early thoughts B&H
Hasselblad H5D-50c** – review B&H (with wifi)
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 – B&H
Hasselblad XCD 30/3.5 – B&H
Hasselblad XCD 90/3.2 – 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
Panasonic Lumix GX85 + 12-32 kit** – B&H Amazon
Nikon D810** – review B&H Amazon
Nikon AFS 24-120/4 VR** – review B&H Amazon (best value combined with the D750 kit)
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 24/3.5** – review B&H Amazon
Nikon PCE 45/2.8 Micro** – B&H Amazon
Nikon PCE 85/2.8 Micro** – B&H Amazon
Sigma 20/1.4 DG HSM Art** – review 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
Zoom H5 audio recorder** – B&H Amazon
Zoom SSH-6 stereo shotgun mic** – B&H Amazon
Sigma USB dock** – B&H Amazon
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 13″ late 2016 with Touch Bar, 3.3 i7/16GB/512GB space grey** – review B&H
Apple 27″ iMac 5K late 2015 4.0 i7/32GB/1TB SSD/4GB** – B&H

Storage: 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
Sandisk Extreme Pro Compact Flash 160MB/s – 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 / film
Ricoh GR II* – review (GR I APSC) B&H Amazon
Fuji Neopan Acros 100 film** – review B&H Amazon
Ilford DDX developer** – B&H
Ilford Rapid Fixer** – B&H Amazon

Compact mirrorless system
Zeiss Batis 1.8/85 Planar T* – B&H
Zeiss Loxia 2.8/21 Distagon* – review B&H
Zeiss Loxia 2/50 Planar* – B&H Amazon
Olympus E-M1 Mark II* – review B&H Amazon
Olympus ZD 12-100/4 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

DSLR system
Nikon D750* – review B&H Amazon (best value combined with the 24-120/4 VR kit)
Nikon D5500* – B&H Amazon (caveat: some AF-shift occurs in incandescent light)
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 55-200/4-5.6 DX VR II* (collapsible) – B&H Amazon
Nikon AFS 70-200/4 VR* – review 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
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.)
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 Milvus 2.8/21 Distagon* – review (older ZF.2 version, optically identical) B&H Amazon
Zeiss Milvus 1.4/85 Planar* – B&H Amazon
Zeiss ZF.2 2/28 Distagon* – 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. 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. 🙂

  2. 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?


  3. 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.

  4. 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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