Some of Our Favorite Photography Products of 2015

As always remember that the person behind the camera is far more important than the camera. A good photographer can produce outstanding results with cheap equipment, even more so in the last few years as the sensors used in digital cameras have gotten quite good all around.

1st Place


Many people praised the Zeiss Otus 85mm for being one of the best lenses, if not the best lens, available for full frame digital cameras.  And for $4,500 you would expect it to be quite good.  I rented it but did not like it for portrait and fashion photography.  There was just too much contrast.  It’s an amazing lens for many other purposes.

The Zeiss Milvus 85mm is $1,800, available in Canon and Nikon mounts (can be adapted to Sony) and is manual focus like the Otus lens.  For portrait and fashion shots this has become my favorite lens.  It has a special quality to its rendering that I’m addicted to.  The contrast is just right and the bokeh is supreme.  It’s big, heavy, and hard to focus on Canon and Nikon cameras.  But if you’re pushing the limits this is the lens you want.  Otherwise go for something with auto-focus.  It’s like they took the Otus but modified it into a portrait lens.  Great for the studio where you have time and lots of control.

2nd Place


The Sony A7R II is expensive and has many shortcomings despite being much improved over the first A7R.  For many types of photography it wouldn’t be my first choice.  But for most fashion and portraiture shoots it’s more than adequate.  It’s small, has amazing image quality (42-megapixels) and has some great lenses available for it (like the expensive but wonderful Zeiss Batis 85mm).  Especially with travel restrictions getting smaller and lighter it’s much easier to carry this camera and a few lenses than the equivalent Nikon D810 or Canon 5DSR.

As an added bonus this camera shoots 4K video and lets you adapt older and unique lenses for use.

3rd Place


The Nikon D5500 can currently be had for $700.  It’s an excellent camera with great image quality, dynamic range, features, and a small size for its class.  It’s not full frame but its images keep up pretty well with full frame.  I use this camera when I need to go small and light and as a back-up but many would be well served with it as their main camera.

We like to see affordable cameras that can produce great images and the D5500 meets that criteria.  Lenses are a better investment than cameras so we recommend buying a cheap as camera as makes sense.  When you’re getting paid for your photographs then you can worry about having the best of the best.

Grab a 35mm and a 50mm to go with this camera and you have two decent portrait lenses to shoot with.