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 Some older/superseded equipment has been removed to tidy up the list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

____________

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

Comments

  1. 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

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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…

  5. 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 🙂

  6. 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
    R.P.

    • 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. 🙂

  7. 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?

    Thanks,
    Tessa

    • 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).

  8. 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.

  9. 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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