Photography / Buying Guide

If Money is no Object: 15 Shopping Ideas for Photographers

Photography can be an expensive hobby. Or, if it is your profession, gear is likely one of your largest expenditures. It is just part of the photographic landscape, especially in the digital age. But, what if money were no object?

How fun would shopping be at B&H Photo then? It’s nice to pretend, is it not? So, I asked a bunch of my coworkers at B&H Photo what they would buy if they were suddenly bequeathed an unlimited B&H Photo Gift Card, and this is some of what they have on their wish lists…

1. The Big Lens: Canon Super Telephoto 1200mm Lens

If I were a Canon shooter, I would have the Canon Super Telephoto 1200mm f/5.6L EF USM Autofocus lens in my bag just for the “cool” factor alone. Besides, who wants to carry around teleconverters? They just rattle around in your camera bag, unneeded most of the time. Put away the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM< lens and the Canon Extender EF 2x III and simplify your life with the single lens. Check out our adventures with this Canon lens if you have a spare moment.

2. I Dream of Owls: Zeiss Otus Line  

The Zeiss Otus line of manual focus lenses has set a very high bar in the world of DSLR lenses of late. One coworker quickly listed each Otus available for his Nikon DSLR. Currently there is the Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus Distagon T* lens, the Otus 85mm f/1.4 Apo Planar T*, and the recently released Otus 28mm f/1.4 lens. All of the Otus lenses are available in the Canon EF mount, as well.

3. Modern Photographers' Integral Gear: Apple Computers

Surprised to see this entry? As a digital photographer, I find it relatively easy to save up for a new lens or camera while, at home, my computer is unapologetic in its aging process. I have been known to stretch the life of my computers for almost a decade. Raise your hand if you still have an Apple Mac Pro Single Core 1.8 GHz plugged into your wall at home. Thought so. I am the only one, apparently. Aside from conspiracy theories about artificial slowing of processors and incompatible software, this is definitely an area that many of us in the photography world are reluctant to divert funds to until absolutely necessary. But, hey, since money is no object, let’s push that MacBook to the limit and get the Apple 15.4" MacBook Pro with Force Touch Trackpad and higher clock speed, flash storage, and more. Actually, while we are on the Mac shopping spree, what is a laptop without an Apple Mac Pro Desktop Computer (Twelve Core, Late 2013)? Yeah, 12 cores should do the trick.

4. End the tripod head envy! Geared Tripod Heads

I have really nice tripods and tripod heads. However, because I didn’t mortgage the house, sell the car, or max the credit cards I purchased them, I often think there are better and cooler ones to be had. I have tripod head envy. I figure the Linhof 3D Micro Leveling Head or Arca-Swiss C1 Cube Geared Head will go a long way to remedying that affliction.

5. Medium Format Dreams, Part I: Hasselblad H5D-200c

Many 35mm shooters secretly dream about shooting different formats, especially medium format. When medium format digital is mentioned, many people immediately think of the renowned flagship Hasselblad H5D-200c multi-shot medium format DSLR camera and its amazing battery of lenses. For those with V System film gear, the Hasselblad CFV-50c Digital Back allows you to shoot your old analog “Hassie” in the digital age!

Even with the fictional unlimited gift card, one coworker said they would go with the Pentax 645Z medium format DLSR that offers a considerable savings over the Hasselblad and others. There are also wonderful medium format options from Mamiya 645DF+ medium format DSLR, which takes a number of different digital backs.

6. Medium Format Dreams, Part II: Medium Format Lenses

With your new medium format camera, you need medium format lenses. Big and beautiful, they are often priced to match the cameras. Browsing through the medium format lens stock, you see a lot of lenses that make you wish had 35mm mounting options. Who wouldn’t love to shoot images through the Mamiya Leaf Schneider Kreuznach 55mm f/2.8 LS AF lens or the Hasselblad 35-90mm f/4-5.6 HCD Aspherical Zoom lens?

7. Larger Dreams: Large Format Cameras

If medium format just isn’t cutting it for you, large format photography brings detail to your images that cannot be found elsewhere. Some of my coworkers aren’t completely enamored with digital photography and prefer the look and feel of film. Those shooters gather around the scuttlebutt and talk dreamily about large format cameras like the Linhof 4x5 Master Technika “Classic” rangefinder metal field camera and the Linhof 4x5 Technikardan 45s camera with the Rodenstock 135mm f/5.6 Apo-Sironar-S lens.

8. Light the Way: Strobe Lighting

Entering the world of artificial strobe lighting can be done with a small budget or it can deplete your savings account. Two coworkers put the D1 Air 3 Head Studio Kit from Profoto on their wish lists. The battery-powered B1 500 Air kits allow you to work away from power outlets. If strobes aren’t your game and you want continuous LED lighting, try the Dedolight DLED4.1-BI bi-color LED 4-light master kit. If you prefer fluorescent lights, how about the Kino Flo Image 87 DMX yoke mount two light kit? Do you want to light up your Lamborghini or Rolls-Royce with tungsten lights? You’ll need the Chimera F2X 10x30' Light Bank and Triolet light kit. And, finally, if money is no object, light up your world with HMI and plasma lamps like the Arri 12/18kw HMI Fresnel system.

9. Shoot Film; Go Digital: Film Scanners

If you are shooting medium format or large format film, but your friends want you to share your photos on social media, you might want to invest in a scanner like the Hasselblad Flextight X5 scanner that does all sizes of film from 35mm to 4x5".

10. Go Deep or Go Home: Underwater Photography

One coworker said, simply, “I’ve never done underwater photography, but I have always wanted to. I don’t do it because of the cost. But, if I had unlimited funds, I would shoot underwater.” How awesome does your Nikon D4 look like in the Aquatica AD4 underwater housing? Or, maybe you can stay dry on the boat or ashore and let the Aquabotix HyrdoView PRO SLE underwater remotely operated vehicle capture your images.

11. The Red Dot, Part I: Leica  

There are a few companies in the photography world whose name comes immediately to mind to many when one speaks of money being no object. There is definitely a mystique surrounding the brand. Many in my random polling group had Leica products high on their lists, starting with the Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) digital rangefinder camera. The Leica 75mm f/2.0 APO Summicron M Aspherical lens is a nice addition to any Leica rangefinder—film or digital.

12. The Red Dot, Part II and Medium Format Dreams, Part III: Leica Medium Format

Combine the Red Dot with medium format and you get the incredibly gorgeous Leica S (Typ 007) medium format DSLR camera. Only Leica can steal James Bond’s number without an uproar in the media. The Leica S system seems to be quietly out there in the hands of a few lucky folks, making great images. Don’t forget to get your Leica S series lenses.

13. Are you thinking about getting into video? Digital Cine Cameras

Why not start with the Sony PMW-F55 CineAlta 4K digital cinema camera? It looks nice, but we need lenses. What should we get for glass so that we can make our movie? If only one lens in in your budget, check out the Fujinon 14.5-45mm T2.0 Premier PL zoom lens. Or, if you need more glass, how about this nice-looking set of 6 Leica Summicron-C T2.0 lenses? Done!

14. Go Flying: UAVs  

One of my coworkers replied, simply, “A drone.” Um, they meant to say “unmanned aerial vehicle.” Well, we have a large number of UAVs to choose from. How many rotors are you in the mood for? For quadcopters, check out the DJI Phantom 3 Professional Quadcopter. Do you prefer 6 rotors? DJI also makes hexacopters like the Spreading Wings S900. If you really want to lift some awesome camera gear, strap yourself into a heavy-lift octocopter like the xFold DRAGON X8 RTF KDE. Hey, rotary wing flight isn’t everyone’s jam, so, if you prefer fixed wing, B&H has you covered with the 3DR Aero-M Drone with FPV for visual spectrum aerial maps.

15. Old School: Film  

One coworker simply replied, “ALL THE FILM.”

What is on your more-than-wish list?

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Discussion 9

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If money were not the concern I would go with a Seitz 6x17 pano. I dream of making early morning panoramic images here in Haiti with daily life in them. Then going to the hills of Northern Mi or theRockies while on vacation to shoot some more. Take it up a notch and have a waterproof case made for it for shots in the rain, or shallow underwater. .

Hey Tom! I am happy to forward your request to your friends and family! 

Thanks for reading!

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Hi Todd...Being modest financially....or is it "cheap"....and with the intent of staying within the limitations imposed by my ability, I'd opt for something I've been craving on this "free" shopping spree and that is a Nikon Df. Of course a batallion of lenses would be necessary to go along with it. Next up would be every E-mount lens from Sony for my A7 starting with a 90mm. Then we need to steady my shaking hands so a couple of those wooden tripods from Germany that you reviewed recently keep appearing in my dreams and need to be in my camera closet...let's bump that number from "a couple" to "a few". There's something about wooden tripods that I find very appealing aesthetically. I could turn one into a floor lamp. I'm heading to Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon in 6 weeks so I probably should bring along a medium format camera such as a Phase One. I suppose I could settle for a Hasselblad! 

I anticipate my free, unlimited B & H Photo Gift Card in the mail soon and will see you in NYC!

Hey Tom,

You didn't get your gift card yet?!? I'll have to see if it was sent to my apartment instead!

Unfortunately, we do not sell them, but check out Reis' wooden tripods from the Pacific Northwest. Gorgeous!

Have a blast in Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon! I am looking forward to the photos!

Hi Todd....Sounds like maybe I'll have an opportunity to go on  B&H shopping spree! Great. Here's what I'm after: The first item in my cart will be a Nikon Df. This camera has attracted me for a long time and makes me drool. Of course I'll need plenty of lenses for it. A dozen or so would be perfect. I think it would look awesome with a Fuji XT-1 beside it. You know, companions. Next I'm going to the Sony section. My A7 needs every E-mount lens available, especially a 90mm. I'm going to Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon in six weeks so it might be wise to bring along a medium format camera or two. Maybe a Phase One and a Hasselblad. I don't want to "cheap out". Next, I need a couple of new tripods and the wooden ones from Germany you reviewed recently look absolutely handsome! I'll turn one of them into a floor lamp. Wood tripods launch my endorphins. One cannot have enough memory cards so I think I'll scarf up a hundred or so.  And with all the new lenses I have I better grab a huge variety of filters, cases and bags. I'd get another backpack but I just ordered one from B&H. I don't want to be greedy! So, I'm looking forward to my free, unlimited, B&H Photo Gift Card. When will I get it?

Hey Tom!

Looks like the system must have not posted your original comments and then you sent us more mail. No worries! Of course, when filling your wish list, it is always better to list things multiple times!

Your gift card...tomorrow!

That was a fun fantasy trip, especially as I clicked on the links and saw the prices! LOL

Thanks, Vivian! Let me know if you need my address for shipping!

Thanks for reading!