Photography Gear Reviews

What a $10,000 vlogging setup looks like

In this video we look at what is included in a $10,000 vlogging set up and why.

I know a lot of you are starting your own vlogs so I wanted to make this video to share a couple of gear issues I have come across over the last two years of vlogging. Like you I don't just have $10,000 lying around, I've worked hard and built this up patiently. Hopefully it will help you decide which gear is right for you and for your vlog.

A lot of money

The other day it came time to renew my camera insurance and I realised I had left most of my vlogging equipment off. I suddenly realised the gear I am using amounts to about $10,000. I am not saying this to brag, in fact, I found it frightening and so started to reassess and ask ‘why’ am i all this vlogging gear. 

It needs to be said that I do not have $10,000 dollars lying around at any one time. I have worked hard and bought these items over time and there’s lots of other things that I don’t spend money on. They are also the tools of my trade that I have expanded as I employ different cinematography techniques.

Canon 800D

The main part of my vlog setup is the Canon 800D/T7i. I use this as my main walk around camera for shooting myself. I use a DSLR over other more compact camera’s because of the bigger sensor and slightly better image quality.The Canon 800D is slightly cheaper than the Sony mirrorless cameras and the interchangeable lenses provides versatility. It doesn't do 4K but I guarantee the vast majority of people are not watching 4K. Its also much harder to edit and store 4k footage. The dual pixel autofocus provided by Canon on all their new cameras is second to none, since I have been using this camera to vlog it has never missed focus on my face once. The Canon T7i also has an external microphone port which is vital for capturing good sound. The on board sound on most cameras sucks.

The Lens

Most compact cameras have a focal length of 24-70mm. This just puts you a little too close to the camera for my liking. I use this Canon10-18mm lens which has an equivalent focal length of 16mm and just gets you abit further away in the image and feels a little more natural and lessintrusive. It’s also cheap, it’s light and it has image stabilisation.


At the moment I am using two microphone systems. I am looking to keep things as simple as possible so I want sound going directly into the camera. Recording separate audio is the best method when creating video but when shooting by yourself it is an extra hassle that you do not need.

First is the Rode Video Mic pro. This provides high quality sound and is very easy to operate. It is susceptible to wind noise though and can also pick up the sounds generated by the camera and lens autofocusing. 

I now mostly use the Rode Filmmaker kit. This gets the mic away from the camera but the wireless system still puts the audio straight into the camera. A lavlier mic is also perfect for windy conditions, simply turn your back to wind and you get nice clean audio even on extremely bad weather. 

Next level B-Roll

B-Roll is hugely important to keep the interest up during the course of your vlog. Most of my B-Roll is now captured on my Canon 5D Mark IV. The quality of the image is superb and it also has the ability to capture footage at 120fps which creates some awesome slo mo footage. 

Another good tip is getting a variable ND filters. These cut the light entering the lens and let me capture footage with a shallow depth of field even in very bright conditions. Its also a great way to smoothly adjust exposure during a shot so you just don't notice. 

DJI Mavic Pro

Next is the drone. Literally taking things to the next level these set the scene with the aerial perspective. Flying this thing is pretty easy. Getting good, cinematic footage is much harder. But it's been a fun learning process for me and they add a lot to my films. 


I then also have other accessories like bags, tripods, various lenses and you never want to run out of batteries and memory cards. 

Is it all necessary?

So is all this gear necessary? if you're thinking about starting your own vlog or making your videos you definitely don't need all this gear. You and the story you are telling are much more important. The phone you are watching this on can do pretty much everything I've described. The most important thing is to start and gear can be improved and developed as your vlog starts to take off. 

Canon 800D (T7i) Review

I review the new Canon 800D (T7i) DSLR camera and head to the Lake District to put it through it’s paces from a landscape photography perspective.

  • Buy the Canon 800D in the US -
  • Buy the Canon 800D in the UK -

Follow First Man Photography for the latest updates:

Photography Gear Reviews

There are a lot of great camera and lens reviews out thereon YouTube that provide technical details, breakdowns and clinical assessments of gear. Check out Chris Winter and Christopher Frost Photography. My camera reviews aim to give a more ‘real world’ perspective of what it’s like to actually go out and use a camera or lens in the field. They will generally be in a landscape photography theme and there are not many gear reviews out there that cater for this.

Canon 800D

The Canon 800D came out a few months ago and seems to provide an accomplished looking package for the price. I picked mine up slightly more recently and am intending to use it as my main vlogging camera to replace the older Canon 700D. The main reason I upgraded was the updated video features. For the first time Canon is offering the Dual-Pixel autofocus system on an entry level camera. This has been present on higher end cameras like the Canon 5D Mark IV and the 80D for sometime and offers smooth, fast and accurate autofocus for video that makes filming very easy. It locks onto a target, like your face, and doesn’t lose it. It will also allow you to do some beautiful cinematic focus pulls. It genuinely is a magnificent system and is a pleasure to use.

Video Stats

Other video features include 50/60 fps at full HD (1080P). This has been lacking for a while in the lower end cameras so it is a welcome addition to the 800D. Sadly though, it is still lacking 4K. At the current time this is not a deal breaker but as more people transition to 4K it will be something I need very soon.

Still Photo Performance

On the stills side, the 800D has an APS-C 24.2 MP sensor with an ISO sensitivity of 100-25600, following the trend of ever increasing low light ability in digital cameras. It has a 45 point autofocus system that is fast and accurate and very impressive on a camera at this price point. The autofocus point selection is more limited than on the higher end cameras but will be more than adequate for the majority of users.


Alternatives come from the Nikon 5600. This is a great camera but the video features are not up to the Canon standard. The Canon 77D, which was released at the same time as the 800D, is another alternative. The 77D is just an 800D in a slightly bigger, more robust body. Not worth the extra £200. If you want something more rugged the Canon 80D is a better way to go.


The Canon EOS 800D (T7i) is a very capable shooter at a very attractive, entry level, price point. The EF-S mount allows all EF lenses to attach to the camera meaning you can easily upgrade your glass as you gain experience. It has the ability to capture beautiful landscapes, fast enough to capture some good wildlife photography and is more than adequate for capturing some beautiful family portraits. This is an accomplished all rounder and is my new recommendation to people looking to purchase their first DSLR.


4.5 out of 5. 

  • Buy the Canon 800D in the US -
  • Buy the Canon 800D in the UK -

Canon PIXMA Pro-10s Photo Printer Review

A review of the Canon PIXMA Pro10-s photo printer.

This excellent printer creates fantastic professional prints that are indistinguishable from those made in a lab.

The Canon Pro-10s is a professional photo printer that sits in middle of the pro line of printer from Canon between the Canon Pro-100s and the Canon Pro-1. All three printers will print all sizes from 4x6 inches up to an impressive A3+ size. 

The Canon PIXMA Pro-10s strikes the right balance between quality and value. It has a 10 ink system where as the Canon Pro 100 has eight and the Canon Pro 1 has twelve.

Chroma Optimizer Ink

Like the higher end models this includes the Chroma Optimizer ink. This is a special clear ink that helps produce deeper blacks, adds a uniform glossy finish prints and expands the colour gamut. You have the option to switch it on or off. When you used with the luster paper the final prints have an ultra professional look that exudes class. Using it with full gloss paper creates a dreamy saturated finish - especially good for my water drops photography.

The Canon Pro-10s is also compatible with the Canon Print Studio Plugin for Adobe Lightroom. This is missing from the lower end Canon Pro 100 but it makes printing an absolute breeze. You can adjust the settings, tell it which paper you are using and preview print profiles. You can also set up a series of prints, stack the printer with the right paper then leave it to do the rest.


Connectivity comes in the form of either USB, Ethernet or wireless. I have had mixed success with the wireless printing. It works well most of the time but on a couple of occasions I have suffered connectivity problems with the printer, when this happens the printer just gives up and spits the paper out at whatever stage of completion it happens to be in. This is not ideal, especially when you consider the cost of the paper you are feeding through.

I have settled for using the ethernet connection. I have the printer wired into my router and then I can still print wirelessly from my laptop. This has been flawless up to now with no more failed prints.


This printer is not going to be for everyone as the costs can quickly add up. I picked this up for just under £500. It comes with a set of starter inks but the ink costs about £100 for a full set. The printeruses the inks at different rates so after the initial purchase you should only need to replace each individual ink as and when you use it. This is actually a benefit of the 10 ink system because you are not wasting inks in multi ink cartridges.

The paper is of varying costs depending on which type you get. There is no doubt this is an amazing thing and having the ability to print your work to a high professional standard is very addictive. If you are selling prints then the maths might work out for. Having said that we think nothing of buying thousands of pounds worth of camera gear and lenses so spending a few hundred on a printer like this might be what you need to put the cherry on top of your photography cake.

The images created by this printer are truly stunning and I found them to be indistinguishable from those made in a lab.

Why I bought this printer

I have now generated enough interest in my work to justify buying this printer. To create a new outlet for my work I am happy to announce that from today I have relaunched the first man photography website. I will put a link down below and I would love it if you will check it out. You can see all my work, purchase prints, pick up the awesome First Man T-shirt and still see all the content from the channel over in the Video section.

I am going to be offering more prints for sale from my portfolio over the coming weeks. And as I continue to document my journey in the landscape photography vlogs, some of the best work will then be available as soon as the video comes out. Giving you the option see the whole story of my work from it's very concept and creation to the point where the finished piece lands on your wall.

Subscribe to the YouTube channel

Irix 11mm f4 Blackstone Lens review

A review of the astonishing new Irix 11mm f/4 ultra wide angle lens.

This Irix 11mm wide angle lens that is designed for full frame cameras. The lens comes in a variety of mounts including Canon, Nikon and Pentax. When mounted to a full frame camera the 11mm 126 degree field of view is astonishing and opens up new realms of creativity for landscape, architecture photographers and even some scenes close in.

Low Distortion

iris 11mm f4 review
iris 11mm f4 review

The Irix 11mm f4 lens is not a fish eye. It is rectilinear with minimal distortion thanks to the '4 high refractive lenses, 2 ED lenses and 3 aspherical lenses that guarantee minimal distortion'. Irix claim distortion is as low as 3.13%. If you want a full technical breakdown of the lens there are some excellent channels out there. I am more interested in practical applications of gear and I can say that distortion handling is excellent, particularly across the centre of the image. Horizon lines remain perfectly straight and vertically down the middle as well. There is some distortion towards the corners of the image but if used correctly this can compliment the image. Its not ideal if you have people in the corners but this is not really a portrait lens.

Image Quality

iris 11mm review
iris 11mm review

The lens is nice and sharp but does produce a small amount of vignette and also Chromatic abberation. This was within perfectly acceptable boundaries for me and is very easily removed in post processing using Adobe Lightroom. The vignette is also reduced by stopping down a bit.

Blacktone or Firefly

The lens comes in two varieties to suit the style of photography you are doing. The Irix 11mm f/4 Blackstone is the flagship version. There is also a cheaper and lighter version, with the same high quality optics that may be more suited to photographers wanting to travel light. This is called the Irix 11mm f/4 Firefly Lens.

Build Quality


The build quality of this Blackstone version is excellent. The metal body is well constructed and feels so solidly built that it could survive some serious punishment. The focus barrel is reassuringly stiff but rotates smoothly and accurately. There is a focus lock to ensure there is no slippage in focus and the engraved markings on the Blackstone glow in the dark.

The lens is manual focus. I am sure if you're looking seriously at this lens that will not be a concern for you. The distance markings are there to assist but I did the majority of my focusing using the camera’s zoomed live view function. Quick and easy. The lens is so wide that most things are in focus anyway.

Weather Sealed

The Irix 11mm is weather sealed on all parts apart from the front element. It is splash proof and I used it in the rain without any problems. The lens hood is permanent and protects the bulbous front element.

The Firefly is built using high quality plastic to save weight and bring cost down but is still weather sealed the same as the Blackstone.

Alternatives from the much more expensive Canon 11-24mm F/4 lens and Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8.


I have loved using this lens. It has allowed me to get shots that I otherwise would not have been able to achieve. The wide angle rectilinear perspective gives you a really interesting point of few and opens up new creative possibilities. It is not a lens I would use for every shot but it is relatively unique and having it in your arsenal is a real benefit that will allow you to get shots that other people cannot.

11mm is very wide and captures a large portion of your field of view. The amount of bokeh you get will be limited so it really forces you to think about every single area of your frame and you need to carefully compose your shot. This is a good thing and can result in some really exciting shots.


At the point of release.

Irix 11mm f/4 Blackstone - $799 / £771

Irix 11mm f/4 Firefly - $599 / £567

You can find a list of dealers at -

Subscribe to the YouTube channel

Follow me on Instagram

Amazon Echo and Alexa Review

Alexa, "What can you do"

A review of the Amazon Echo featuring the assistance of Alexa, your personal bot assistant. Listen to music, podcasts, news and more.

Photographers spend a lot of time sat at their computer editing photographs. Whiling away the hours becomes much easier when listening to music. I am constantly in search of new way and better ways of listening to music, whether it is headphones, bluetooth speakers or now the Amazon Echo.


At first the Amazon Echo appears to be like any other bluetooth speaker. As soon as you switch it on though it becomes so much more. You are instantly introduced to Alexa. Alexa is a cloud based assistant who operates the Amazon Echo for you. Speak to her and ask her questions and she will carry out tasks for you. For example,

“Alexa play music by the Stone Roses”

“Alexa, tell me the latest news”

“Alexa, what will the weather be like in London on Friday?”

“Alexa, turn off the lights”

Alexa will do all of these including turn off the lights when linked into a smart light system such as the Phillips Hue system.

Alexa and the Echo is set up using a phone app that is compatible with IOS and Andriod. The app can also be used to add functionality to Alexa and review this things you said to improve accuracy in future.

Amazon Echo - Microphone Technology

The Amazon Echo has a clever microphone arrangement that will pick up your voice anywhere in the room. It is a very effective system and works surprisingly well. As long as you ask a question Alexa is capable of answering, the Echo seems to understand you no matter how strong your accent.

The Echo links with Spotify and also Amazon Music.

One of the only downsides is the sound quality. Whilst reasonable for radio and podcasts, for music, the Echo is not up to the standard of of other bluetooth speakers especially in the bass department.

Another option is to buy the Amazon Echo Dot. This smaller version still contains Alexa but comes with a very small speaker. This can easily be hooked up to a bluetooth speaker, or amp, instantly giving Alexa the sound quality of your favourite speakers.

Even with the less than perfect sound, the Echo and Echo Dot are very interesting. There more than enough functionality to justify the £150/$150 price and even more so with the £50/$50 Echo Dot.

Buy Amazon Echo in the US -

Buy Amazon Echo in the UK -

Buy Amazon Echo Dot - US -

Buy Amazon Echo Dot - UK -

Subscribe to the YouTube channel.

Landscape Photography - Hiking and Backpacking Gear

We look at all the hiking and backpacking gear I use when I am out shooting my landscape photography.

In a couple of my recent vlogs I have mentioned the importance of having the right gear to keep you safe when you are hiking and backpacking up mountains and tough terrain to capture your landscape photography. Since then there have been a number of requests to share what hiking and backpacking gear I am using including the clothes I wear.

Clothing in layers

When it comes to clothing the most important thing, to help you enjoy the great outdoors in comfort, is layers. Using layers of clothing has two main benefits. Each layer traps a thin veil of air that warms up and provides insulation to your body and keeps you warm. It also means that you can control your temperature more easily by adding or removing layers. In the video I show you each aspect of my photography clothing and links can also be found below.

Navigation Tools

When venturing out into the wilderness, navigation is also vitally important. If you are up a mountain and the weather moves in it can become very difficult to find your way even if you are just trying to re-trace your steps. Relying on a mobile phone is a risky move. Many of the nav features on a phone require a 3G signal and the remote locations we visit often leave us without signal. They also have a habit of dying quickly and fading when at altitude in the cold wind and weather. A map and compass is the cheapest option but a specialised GPS navigation system is also an option.

Survival Gear

Finally there a number of extra little safety items like a first aid kit, a survival bag, a knife, a lighter and a torch. You can see what i use below in the affiliate links below.

And remember - do not forget your food and water!!!!

Subscribe to the YouTube channel.

Canon 5D Mark IV vs Sony RX100 V

Comparing the Canon 5D Mark IV and the Sony RX100 V.

How does the best compact camera compare to one of the best overall cameras on the market?

On the face of it this may seem like an extreme comparison. And it is. However with modern cameras and as electronics get smaller, the gap between top end and lower end is not as big as it used to be. We compare the Canon 5D Mark IV and the Sony RX100 V to test where that gap lies today.

We compare various aspects of each camera to see how they shape up. We are going to look at:

  • Weight
  • Cost
  • Lenses
  • Focusing Speed
  • Bokeh
  • Sensor
  • Image quality


When it comes to carrying a camera around all day, lighter is better. The best compact cameras really excel in this department and the Sony RX100 V is no different. It is light but well made, compact and easy to carry around all day. The Canon DSLR is heavy. Fact. Score one for the Sony.


These are both expensive cameras but they will reduce in cost overtime to fall in line with more budgets. The Canon is about three times the cost of the Sony so that is round two to the RX100V.


The Sony scores an early point in this round thanks to actually coming with a lens. It has a fixed 24-70mm lens that is a perfect range for many situations. The DSLR on the other hand does not even come with a lens. Lenses are hugely expensive and add significant cost to the ownership of a  DSLR camera. However, the ability to change lenses means the camera is much more versatile allowing shots from a super wide to a super zoom. This round is a tie.

Focusing Speed

The focus system on the Canon 5D Mark IV is one the best ever to be placed into a camera. It is fast, accurate and rarely misses but also functions in very low light. However, Sony claim the focus system on the RX100V is the fastest ever to be produced focusing in just 0.05 seconds. In the video we put this to this test and discover the Sony is ever so slightly faster. Impressive.


During testing both cameras were packing a 24-70mm lens capable of shooting f2.8. My old friend Optimus Prime stepped in as model and some carefully positioned fairy lights were employed to create some bokeh balls. The Sony produces a decent amount of blurred background but the quality of this, or bokeh, is not massively high. The bokeh balls are small, squidgy and misshapen and not hugely pleasant to look at. On the other hand the 5D produces beautifully round bokeh balls that are dreamy and delicious. Score one for the Canon. Not surprising given the larger lens and larger sensor.

Sensor and Image Quality

The Sony boasts an impressive one inch sensor considering the overall size of the package. It is right in line with Sony's current trend of creating great sensors. It produces excellent images in most conditions including low light. Sadly size matters when it comes to sensors. Having the ability to physically capture more light gives the full frame Canon 5D mark IV the juice to capture some truly spectacular images. This is two points to the Canon.

Adding up overall we have a tie game. This is fitting. Whilst the Canon 5D Mark IV is a much better camera in terms of image quality, it is not for everyone. It is expensive and DSLR's can initially be more complicated to use than other cameras. On the other hand the Sony RX100 V is very straightforward and easy to pick up for the first time and start capturing images. It is less versatile than the camera but also cheaper and lighter.

Overall we are not currently at risk of retiring our DSLR's but the compact camera definitely packs a much bigger punch than its small form factor would suggest.

Please leave a comment down below and let me know which you prefer and and what you think of the extreme comparison.

Subscribe to the YouTube channel.

Sony RX100 V Real World Review

We take the Sony RX100 V up a very pretty mountain.

The Sony RX100 V is a compact camera that packs a much bigger punch than its small size would suggest. It is a mirrorless camera with a one inch sensor that shoots 4K, captures 20 megapixel images and has an auto focus system that challenges even the very best DSLR's.

My previous real world review of the Canon 5D Mark IV proved very popular so this is going to be similar. I take the RX100V up a mountain in the Peak District hoping to capture some beautiful landscape photography. In the video I climb Mam Tor but also try to capture this amazing site of Winnats Pass, a collapsed cavern that has created and incredible natural scene.


The Sony RX100 V is currently priced at £1000 in the UK and around $1000 in the US. The price hikes that UK residents are currently suffering are becoming relatively irritating. Regardless it is an expensive camera so in the video I discuss who the camera is for and who would be likely to buy the RX100 V. It is an excellent camera for vlogging given the flip up screen. It would serve as a very good compact camera for a professional photographer. Or it would be especially good for a family who want something small, simple and with great quality.

One of the big selling points of the new model, especially since the Sony RX100 IV is still a great camera, is the sheer processing power. It is essentially a little computer. It has the ability to shoot 24fps which is simply insane. It's a nice feature to have but how much use of it you will get is a vital question. This is not a sports or wildlife camera where a fast burst rate is important, especially given the fixed 24-70mm lens. It is too short for those photography genres. It would however be useful to capture images of your children in short bursts.

Dual Autofocus

The most important upgrade is probably the dual autofocus system. Employing contrast and phase detection it rivals that of top end DSLRs. It focuses fast and accurately and makes shooting stills, fast and filming video a breeze. However it does not have a touch screen which means touch to focus is not an option and this was a feature I really missed.

The Sony RX100 V is a decent improvement over the Sony RX100 IV which was already better than the offering from Canon in this field, the Canon G7X Mark II.


I fully enjoyed shooting with this camera and it made a pleasant change from lugging around a DSLR, especially when I was out with the family. It takes high quality images and is also packing some hefty features. At a £1000 this is very expensive for a compact camera but in two or three months time when prices started to fall it could be a very serious contender for a lot of people.

Subscribe to the YouTube channel.