Top Photographers Share Their Picks for Best Gear Under $100

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Any top photographer will tell you that it’s not about the gear, it’s about skill. Award-winning photographer Scott Robert Lim says, “upgrading your gear doesn’t upgrade your talent.” In other words, you don’t have to clear out your bank account to shoot like the pros. This is great news, but what are the inexpensive essential items that the pros carry in their gear bags? We reached out to some of the biggest names in the industry to find out their favorite items under $100.

Get out your notepads ladies and gentleman, these items should be on your Christmas list.

Chase Jarvis – Co-founder of creativeLIVE,
world renowned photographer


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“The Nikon 50mm 1.8 lens is one of the best kept secrets in photo gear. It’s made of plastic, but it kicks ass.”

Chase’s pick is just over $100 (currently selling on Adorama for $109), but this pancake lens is a fantastic, versatile lens for you gear bag. It’s durable, interchangeable, easy to clean, lightweight, and everything you want in a quality lens. 

Adventure photographer, videographer, DP, bad ass
Corey Rich – Adventure photographer, videographer, DP, and all-around bad ass


“Honestly, you can never have enough Gafe tape.” 

Corey, one of the MacGyver like characters of photography, uses Gafe tape on almost every shoot and recommends that everyone has a roll in their gear bag. There are 2 types of Gafe tape: Premium and Professional. The premium is thicker, stronger and leaves less of that sticky residue. Professional is a bit thinner and works better for people on tight budgets and who work in warmer climates as it sticks better when it’s really humid.

Scott Robert Lim - photographer,  master of light
Scott Robert Lim – Photographer, master of light

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“My Big Boy Bar. It gives me the ability to create multiple light sources and really, really big light.” 

The big boy bar is the perfect tool for grouping flashes together like never before. Grouping flashes together gives you the ability to generate plenty of power to create stunning images with rich color and detail. 


Chris Lin  – Co-Founder of SLR Lounge and Photographer with Lin and Jirsa Photography


“The best piece of photography gear you can buy for under $100 is a $30 Westcott 40 in ch 5 in 1 Reflector.  The quality of light you can get with this simple tool can separate professional photography from amateur photography.”

What else could you ask for in a reflector? It’s easily collapsible, versatile in the field and in the studio, and provides the perfect shadow-lightning detail you look for in a quality reflector.

Lindsay Adler - photographer, Photoshop and retouching artist
Lindsay Adler – Photographer, Photoshop and retouching artist




“My homemade lens-flare crystal filter.”

Lindsay whips out the glue gun and gets crafty with her pick. Here’s how Lindsay and fellow photographerJeff Rojas put together their custom filter:

1) A UV Hoya Filter  ($35 from Adorama)

2) A large chandelier crystal ($25 on ebay or esty)

3) Hot glue gun (to put them together)

Here’s what this baby can do.

Check out more of Lindsay’s cool techniques on her site.

Topher Kelly FOLLOW >

Topher Kelly is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and editor at CreativeLive. Follow Topher on Twitter@Topher_LIVE.