My Gear.

Regardless of what you like to photograph, you’ll need the right tools for the job. In order to capture the intricate details of macro subjects, I utilize the combination of a powerful and lightweight camera system, specialized optics, and various diffusion materials. Here, you’ll see what gear I use and learn a bit about each item. If you decide to make a purchase, be sure to use the links on this page so I get credit for the referral. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.


Essentials

For my style of photography, three pieces of equipment are essential — a camera, a lens, and a flash. The compact size, powerful image stabilization, and durable build of the OM SYSTEM make it my preferred choice for macro.

OM SYSTEM OM-1

OM SYSTEM OM-1

Released in early 2022, this is the first camera to carry the new OM SYSTEM name. A successor to Olympus E-M1 series cameras, the OM-1 improves upon my old favorite. It's super compact, brings IP53 weathersealing, has incredible IS, and yields greater depth of field than traditional DSLRs.

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Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

I started shooting with the E-M1 Mark II in 2017. It was my workhorse for five years. Now that the OM-1 has been released, my E-M1 Mark II will be demoted to backup duty, but it's still a great camera. The Mark II is no longer in production, but its successor (the Mark III) is!

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M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro

Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro

This tiny, 3-inch-long lens made me fall in love with macro. It can produce up to 1x (2x FFE) magnification, has a physical focus limiter switch with a 1:1 shortcut, and offers a live magnification indicator. Although it isn’t a ‘pro’ lens, it’s still completely weathersealed!

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M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO

Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO

While not really a “macro” lens, the 40-150 (80-300 FFE) has a short working distance that delivers nearly .25x (.5x FFE) magnification. This lens is perfect for grabbing shots of skittish subjects such as butterflies or dragonflies.

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Olympus FL-700WR

Olympus FL-700WR

This flash, referred to as a "sequential shooting powerhouse" by Olympus, completes my compact macro system. It runs on four AA batteries, has a built-in LED to aid in focusing, and carries an IPX1 certification.

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Godox/Flashpoint TT350o Mini Thinklite

Godox/Flashpoint TT350o Mini Thinklite

This inexpensive and compact alternative is specifically made for use with Olympus and Panasonic cameras. Although it isn't weathersealed, it’s easy to use, has good recycle time, and uses just two AA batteries.

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Diffusion

Quality light may just be the most important component for producing a successful photograph. When using a flash to illuminate the details of small subjects, it’s important to direct and soften your light to help avoid excessively dark shadows or overly bright hot spots. I typically shoot with a shoe-mounted flash and use the following materials to diffuse its light.

Cygnus Diffuser

Cygnustech Macro Diffuser

Brendan 'Cygnus' James has worked tirelessly to perfect the design of this made-to-order, single-layer diffusion solution. It's weatherproof, highly durable, and folds flat for transport. It looks pretty damn cool, too! I do not make nor directly sell these diffusers. If you’re interested in purchasing one from Brendan, use the link below.

Inquire Via Email
Homemade Softbox Diffuser

Homemade Softbox Diffuser

After extensive research and discussion with experienced shooters, I designed and built this one myself. The box is made of cardboard and lined with aluminum foil, the face is white nonwoven fabric, and the whole thing is held together with gaff tape.

Secondary Foam Diffuser

Secondary Foam Diffuser

Used on its own or in conjunction with my homemade softbox, this layer of 3/8" packing foam is attached to the end of my lens with elastic and can be easily moved to various angles or shaped to wrap around my subject.


Carry

Like most photography enthusiasts, I want to make sure my gear is protected, organized, and easy to access. I have fallen in love with Peak Design and use a bunch of their gear. Peak has developed a fantastic lineup of bags and accessories with lifetime warranties on every product they make!

Peak Design 20L Everyday Backpack

Peak Design 20L Everyday Backpack (V1)

I bought this backpack in 2017 and use it nearly every day. It’s a camera bag, it’s a computer bag, and it’s even been a diaper bag. The attention to detail and quality are immediately noticed (and appreciated).

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Peak Design Medium Camera Cube

Peak Design Medium Camera Cube

Although I keep commonly-used gear in my backpack at all times, I often want to bring along non-macro lenses or extra gear. This cube keeps everything safe and tidy. I can even attach my Slide Lite to carry the cube like a bag!

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Peak Design Cuff

Peak Design Cuff

This wrist loop is one of my favorite accessories. The Cuff attaches and detaches via Peak’s patented anchor links, can convert to a bracelet when not attached, and will automatically cinch down if you drop your camera.

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Peak Design Slide Lite

Peak Design Slide Lite

When I’m on longer walks or want to let go of my camera for a while, I switch from the Cuff to the Slide Lite. This neck strap is easily adjusted and also connects to my camera with Peak’s versatile anchor links.

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Peak Design Tech Pouch

Peak Design Tech Pouch

This is where all of the ‘extras’ get stashed. My Tech Pouch is always loaded with a phone charger, disposable AA batteries, random adapters, and whatever else I think might come in handy while traveling.

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Honsky SD Card Case

Honsky SD Card Case

This splash resistant SD and microSD card case is pretty basic, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great accessory. At just $9, it’s a cheap and effective way to keep tabs on (and protect) your spare memory cards.

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Additional Equipment

Beyond the standard gear, I rely upon a variety of other items while in the field. Although they may seem somewhat miscellaneous, the products in this category can be really helpful.

Raynox DCR-250

Raynox DCR-250

If I’m looking for extra magnification when photographing particularly small (and cooperative) subjects, I’ll sometimes attach this Raynox adapter to my macro lens. The adapter can be quickly threaded onto the 60mm Macro by using a 46mm to 43mm step DOWN ring. If you want to use the universal squeeze adapter, grab a 46mm to 58mm step UP ring.

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Fotga Extension Tubes

Fotga Extension Tubes

Extension tubes are an inexpensive way to get more magnification out of any lens. These Fotga tubes will do the trick, but they sometimes lose connection. Since I don’t shoot with tubes particularly often, they’re good enough for my needs.

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Olympus Tough TG-6

Olympus Tough TG-6

This little go-anywhere, do-anything camera is waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof, and crushproof...but it isn't just for underwater and adventure shooting. It also has some awesome macro functions that yield incredible magnification, features a high-speed F2.0 lens, and even produces raw files!

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Olympus M.Zuiko 1.4x Teleconverter MC-14

Olympus M.Zuiko 1.4x Teleconverter MC-14

The MC-14 is placed between the camera body and the 40-150mm PRO lens to extend reach (112-420mm FFE). Since it doesn’t increase the minimum focusing distance, the MC-14 gives a slight magnification boost over the lens on its own.

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Anker 537 Power Bank

Anker 537 Power Bank

This portable power bank packs a massive 26800mAh capacity. It has a 45W USB-C port and two 15W standard USB ports to keep my camera and other electronics charged while I'm in the field. Not only will it charge my camera, but thanks to the OM-1's USB-C power delivery feature, I can power my camera while shooting!

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Eneloop Pro AA Batteries

Panasonic Eneloop Pro AA Batteries

These rechargeable batteries come with their own charger and keep my flash firing. Delivering up to 2550mAh, they seem to last much longer than disposable AA batteries and can be recharged up to 500 times! I always keep a spare set of disposable AAs in my bag, but I rarely need to reach for them.

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Lexar Professional UHS-II SD Cards

Lexar Professional UHS-II SD Cards

When I upgraded to the OM-1, I also upgraded my memory cards. Lexar Professional 1800x SDXC UHS-II GOLD Series cards offer super-fast read speeds up to 270 MB/s and write speeds up to 180 MB/s. The extra speed is welcome when it's time for rapid-fire bursts, focus bracketing, and/or in-camera focus stacking.

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Leatherman Skeletool CX

Leatherman Skeletool CX

I love me a good multitool, but I don't need an entire toolbox in my pocket. The Leatherman Skeletool CX is an ultra-light, full-size multitool that includes the tools you're most likely to need while in the field. It has a 154CM stainless steel blade, pliers, bit driver, pocket clip, and carabiner/bottle opener.

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Spriak Rechargeable Flashlight

Spriak Rechargeable Flashlight

This 1,000-lumen, 3-in-1 USB-rechargeable flashlight is just what I need to find my way at night, locate subjects, and bring a little extra light to my photos when shooting in the dark. It has IPX5 weathersealing, let's me use white, red, or black light, and just happens to perfectly match my Olympus/OM lenses.

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LensPen Cleaning Kit

LensPen Cleaning Kit

Never get stuck with dust, dirt, or water spots on your lens. This cleaning kit has everything you need to clean your lens, viewfinder, and filters. The entire kit wraps together nicely in a microfiber carrying pouch.

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Olympus STF-8 Macro Flash

Olympus STF-8 Macro Flash

The STF-8 is purpose built for macro photography. It's compact, weatherproof, and offers a lot of control. When I first got into macro, I tried the STF-8, but eventually gravitated back to a traditional shoe-mounted speedlight. I recently decided to give the STF-8 another try. Stay tuned for details.

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Focus Bracketing Reference Sheet

Focus Bracketing Reference Sheet

Have you ever struggled to determine the appropriate focus differential and/or number of shots to produce a great focus bracketed series of images? Struggle no more! Reduce guesswork and nail your settings with this handy reference sheet for OM-1 and 60mm Macro users.

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Software and Apps

Once my photos are captured, it’s time to finish them on my phone or computer. If I’m traveling and/or want to share right from the field, I’ll simply process images on my iPhone. For more complex edits or focus stacking, I’ll sit down at the computer.

Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom Classic

This is where the most of my photo finishing happens. I’ll modify composition, tweak color, push shadows and highlights, address noise, etc. It's awesome to seamlessly bounce between the traditional desktop solution and what has become a robust mobile solution.

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Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop

I’ve been a (very) frequent Photoshop user for over twenty years. I’m probably more comfortable in PS than in any other program. Even so, I prefer to process in Lightroom. Typically, I only go into PS for very specific retouching or manual stacking.

Get Photoshop
Topaz Photo AI

Topaz Photo AI

Some photos need just a little bit of extra help. Photo AI magically delivers extra sharpness and eliminates noise. It can even upscale and enhance images. When I want more fine-tuning options, I'll use Topaz's Sharpen AI, Denoise AI, or Gigapixel AI standalone apps.

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Olympus OI.Share

OM Image Share

OM Image Share is OM SYSTEM's remote control and wireless transfer app. I use it almost every time I shoot. I love being able to capture an image, import it to my phone, process on my phone, and share directly to social media.

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iNaturalist

iNaturalist

Identifying macro subjects can be a difficult task. Field guides, Google searches, and sites like Bug Guide are great, but the iNaturalist app is my favorite timesaver. Think of it as Shazam for bugs. Upload a picture to see suggested IDs. Give it a try!

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Helicon Focus

Helicon Soft Helicon Focus

If you're interested in focus stacking, I highly recommend trialing Helicon Focus. Although Photoshop can get the job done, HF is significantly faster, has multiple rendering methods, and lets you easily tweak your results.

Download Helicon Focus