Joe McNally Gear Picks for Photographers


Photographer Joe McNally breaks down his top gear picks of 2021 and the best cameras and accessories to gift the photographer in your life.

Nikon z9

joe mcnally nikon z9
Photo by Joe McNally
joe mcnally nikon z9
Photo by Joe McNally

The Nikon Z 9 is up to the task. Super Christmas stocking! Joke! But, if you have a Santa in your life who is planning to give you that camera, don’t say no. And bake this Santa a lot, a lot of cookies.

Gitzo Systematic Series 5 carbon fiber tripod with ball head: best tripod and ball head!

joe mcnally gear tripod ball head
Photo by Joe McNally

Gitzo tripods are legendary investments that are solid for life. And now, with this combo available, it’s unbeatable. The new locking ball head is very precise and has no drift. When you really need to lock it down, I can’t recommend any tripod / head combo that’s better. On rocks, in the woods, on sidewalks… if you need camera stability, tripods are a must, and in terms of photography, Gitzo, for me, has always been the go-to.

joe mcnally tree photography
Photo by Joe McNally

When you need to be sturdy, such as with a long lens, tripods are obviously critical to success. Also, when trying an effect, like zooming the lens during exposure. All are grouped under the title “TAKE THE TRIPOD!” “

I mean, how many times have you had that inner conversation before going there, and dissuaded yourself from taking the tripod, and then wished you had it with you?

Manfrotto Joe McNally Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 Plus Mini Softbox: The best little Softbox ever!

It’s selfish of course, but hey, I helped design them. Make sure you have the extra fabric grille front; it gives you a lot of control.

light boxes joe mcnally gear photoshoot
Photo by Joe McNally
light boxes joe mcnally gear photoshoot
Photo by Joe McNally

See more examples below:

light boxes joe mcnally gear photoshoot
Photo by Joe McNally
light boxes joe mcnally gear photoshoot
Photo by Joe McNally

Get rid of the light boxes!

Love the shape of the light that comes from the elongated nature of a strip light box. It is a way to create a line of light along the human body or to define the face in a beautiful way. It is also amazing for the hair and the shoulders. An often used combo of two bands is very effective, with the main light being strongly offset from the subject. It gives the dimension of the face via a sharp attenuation in the shadow. And then the rim light, almost at the same angle as the main one, but upside down, gives a wonderful parting light.

Joe Mcnally strip the light boxes
Photo by JoeMcNally
Joe Mcnally strip the light boxes
Photo by JoeMcNally

Almost all light shaping companies make some version of the light strip, often in different sizes. If you are using flashes, I highly recommend the Manfrotto Ezybox Pro Strip soft boxes. You can install two small shoe style flashes in these long lights. And, being dubbed, they do a great job of filling the cavernous space with these shaping tools.

Halo: What could be a better gift for the holidays?

I’m not talking about the spiritual kind. The Manfrotto Halo reflector / diffuser is literally one of the most practical, cheapest and most efficient kits to come in a long time. It has an incredibly compact and lucid design and is very useful in the field. You can bounce the light or create a hard silver sheen. You can take the sunlight and soften it beautifully for an outdoor photo in difficult lighting conditions. To this mix you can add a bounce of a “soft silver” reflector, essentially creating a wonderful combo of beauty “above and below” beauty light right there on the street.

joe mcnally halo photography equipment
Photo by Joe McNally
joe mcnally halo photography equipment
Photo by Joe McNally

Joe McNally’s gear choices for photographers

There is so much you could give to the photographer in your life. Here is the good news. No matter what you give us, we will love it. We’re crazy about hardware and gadgets. I love new toys. To try in the field. So it doesn’t matter if it’s foot warmers, or camouflage cover for the tripod, or a GPS locator to be in the field, or a level that you clip onto the claw of the liner. camera, or a new flash card, or a new plug-in for post-production, we’ll be grateful.

Speaking of post-production, Capture One rocks. Extremely powerful, extremely intuitive.

I have learned more and more about the program over the past two years, and from the connection in the field to the optimal use of your file in post, the program is a turning point for me. I do a lot of my own touch-ups now, and it was never possible before.

It’s wonderful when it comes to giving gifts, having a photographer around. We love everything.

Happy holidays and best for the new year everyone !!!

Buy more holiday gifts and gift ideas at Adorama.

Joe mcnally

Joe McNally is an internationally renowned photographer whose career spans more than 35 years and includes assignments in 60 countries. McNally was the last photographer in LIFE magazine history, sharing a legacy with his heroes and mentors.


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