My Favorite Studio Photography Equipment

Sandra Coan shares her favorite equipment for creating studio portraits on film

The most important aspect of creating a beautiful image is the artist behind the camera, but there is no denying the importance of great equipment to help the artist do the job!

I’ve been a professional photographer for almost 20 years, and in that time I’ve learn a lot about what what equipment helps me produce the look and feel I want out of my work.

Below you will find a list of the photo gear that I currently use, as well as equipment that I used when starting out and on a tighter budget.

Everything that is on the list is equipment I’ve used and loved!

I hope you find it helpful!

Cameras

  • Hasselblad H2 645- This camera has become my workhorse. I use it at every session I have. I love the way it feels in my hands, the super fast (for a film camera) auto focus, and the fact that Hasselblad still makes cameras, which means I can get it repaired if I need to!

  • Contax 645- Still love my Contax! This is the camera I use most often when shooting with natural light. When shot at f2, my images look like paintings!

  • Rolleiflex 2.8- This is the my other go-to camera. I’m obsessed with it, especially when used with my strobes!

  • Canon Elena 7e- This is my go to camera when shooting 35mm. Perfect for Ektachrome and Tmax 3200 (until they start making those stocks in 120 that is!)

Strobe Units

  • Profoto B2- I am obsessed with these little lights! They are so small and out of the way, but create the beautiful soft light I’ve come to be know for! As with all the Profoto lights, these little guys are worth every penny. Especially if you are a film photographer!

  • Alien Bee 1600- These were the first lights I bought when I was just starting out. Small and inexpensive, they are a great choice if you are just starting out on your studio lighting journey!

Triggers and Receivers

  • Profoto Universal Remote- Love this remote! It works perfectly with all of my vintage cameras and allows me to adjust the power of my strobe from the remote… which I really appreciate, especially when I’m on the floor photographing a newborn, or chasing a two year old around the studio!

  • Pocket Wizards- The first set of triggers and receivers I invested in were Pocket Wizards. They’re super affordable and also work with all of my vintage cameras.

Light Modifiers

With so many modifiers on the market, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when trying to decide what to invest in. My goal is to create a soft, natural light look when using studio light, and the bigger the modifier, the softer the light! These are my favorites!

  • Profoto Deep White Umbrella (Extra Large) with Diffuser-

  • Photoflex Octodome (medium and large)

  • Westcott Apollo 50x50

External Light Meter

  • Sekonic L-358 - The model I use is an old one, but you can’t go wrong with any of the Sekonic meters. They really are the gold standard and worth the investment!

Favorite Film Stocks

I’m not sure I would still be a photographer if I couldn’t shoot film. It brings me such joy and allows me to create the most beautiful images. Below is a list of my favorite stocks.

120mm

35mm