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MPB used kit challenge: get a pocket-friendly fashion photography setup

MPB used kit challenge: get a pocket-friendly fashion photography setup
(Image credit: James Artaius)

Getting photography equipment is a big investment. And whether you’re just shooting for fun or you’re taking on work or paying customers, you need to have the right tools to capture the images you want – but buying those tools doesn’t have to break the bank!

Instead of purchasing everything brand new, you can save serious cash and get kit every bit as good by buying used kit. It doesn’t matter if you just need a new lens or you want to completely switch camera system – your budget will go much further by shopping second hand, and you have a significantly larger selection of kit to choose from. 

Indeed, not only can it be cheaper, you can actually get a better setup if you buy used gear. Obviously cameras and lenses become more affordable on the second-hand market, giving you a bargain on cutting-edge kit, but you also have the choice of all the legacy and even discontinued bodies and glass – many of which can do an equal or even superior job! 

We're putting this to the test with MPB, the world’s largest digital photography gear resale platform (opens in new tab), and every month we'll be putting together our dream setup for shooting specific areas of photography for a fraction of the price of buying new.

This month we've assembled a fashion photography kit that offers phenomenal value, whether you’re a practicing professional or an eager enthusiast! 

Canon EOS R

(Image credit: James Artaius)

New price: £1,879.99
MPB price: £1,399.00 (excellent condition)

The Canon EOS R (opens in new tab) is the manufacturer’s first full-frame mirrorless camera, possessing a powerful 30.3MP image sensor that captures stunning levels of detail and dynamic range. Its electronic viewfinder and rear LCD screen give you a real-time, ‘what you see is what you get’ look at your exposure and settings, so there’s no guesswork in what your shot will look like.

The EOS R has a ferocious autofocus system, with 5,655 AF points and Canon’s fantastic Dual Pixel AF system that finds and follows subjects like it’s stuck with superglue. The latest firmware delivers brilliant Eye AF, and the camera can autofocus down to -6EV – which makes it brilliant for shooting in low light.

Its fully articulating screen isn’t just for vloggers and videography – it enables you to shoot in portrait-orientation from low angles without having to get belly down on the floor (and it’s also great if you’re used to shooting with waist-level viewfinders). 

A high-resolution image sensor enables you to capture every fiber of detail in your shots  (Image credit: James Artaius)

Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R

(Image credit: James Artaius)

New price: £119.99
MPB price: £100.00 (excellent)

The Canon EOS R features the manufacturer’s cutting-edge RF mount, which boasts some of the best glass in the business – but these new optics can be very pricey. With the Mount Adapter EF-EOS R, however, you get native performance from existing EF-mount lenses with all the benefits of Canon’s powerhouse mirrorless technology.

Forget what you think you know about lens mount adapters – putting an EF lens on the EOS R gives it the same performance as you’d expect on a Canon DSLR. Indeed, there are a couple of lenses that receive a boost from the faster RF mount connections and processor – giving them AF performance that’s actually better than on a DSLR! 

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

(Image credit: James Artaius)

New price: £399.99
MPB price: £249.00 (good)

If you’re shooting close-ups for fashion, beauty, makeup or jewelry, then you absolutely need an 85mm lens. It’s the classic focal length for portraiture, which is ideal for capturing headshots due to its minimal distortion and ability to compress perspective. In this respect, it’s very flattering on your subject and their features – in crude terms, it ‘makes noses shorter’! 

The fast f/1.8 aperture serves a dual purpose for portraits. Shooting wide open enables the lens to gather a huge amount of light, making this a great lens for shooting in low light conditions. At the same time, f/1.8 delivers beautifully soft background blur and bokeh (the out of focus areas of the image), and enables you to create subject separation from a busy background. 

And for studio work where you’re in control of the lighting, or other situations where you want more depth of field, you can of course stop it down to its f/8 sweet spot for peak optical performance.

Perfect for tight headshots, an 85mm f/1.8 lens also enables you to separate the subject and blur the background (Image credit: James Artaius)

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

(Image credit: James Artaius)

New price: £119
MPB price: £89

Canon’s trusty nifty fifty is a must-have lens, regardless of what you take photos of. If you shoot people, though, it’s another essential optic that every portrait photographer needs to have in their toolbox. 

While not ideal for headshots, due to the unflattering distortion, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM (opens in new tab) is great for upper body and three-quarter length portraits, where a little more of the subject or the environment is required. Again, the super-quick f/1.8 aperture makes this a great performer even in challenging light conditions, as well as a powerful creative option to blow out your backdrop. 

Where the 85mm is a specialist portrait lens, the 50mm is an all-purpose optic thanks to its ‘standard’ field of view – so it’s also perfect for street, travel and everyday photography. You really don’t get better bang for your buck than with this lens!

A 50mm lens is ideal for capturing three-quarter shots (Image credit: James Artaius)

Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM

(Image credit: James Artaius)

New price: £529.99
MPB price: £259.00 (good)

You might think that a 35mm lens is an unusual choice for fashion, since it’s more commonly associated with reportage, photojournalism and documentary work. However, for shooting full body shots (especially in a studio) you need a wide-angle lens – and this 35mm f/2 is perfect for the task.

Not only does the wide focal length give the ability to shoot head-to-toe images in the portrait orientation, it can also be used to capture environmental portraits and shots where you want to include more of the set and surroundings. Urban fashion benefits tremendously from an urban setting, while fairytale gowns come to life in magical forests – a 35mm enables you to add that storytelling to your shots.

As an image stabilized (IS) lens, adding 4 stops of stability to your shots, you can shoot handheld and at slower shutter speeds than usual to get really bold with your composition and creativity. 

Shooting with a wide angle enables you to fit your whole subject – and even the environment – into frame (Image credit: James Artaius)

Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite

(Image credit: James Artaius)

New price: £328.94
MPB price: £184.00 (excellent)

If you’re shooting fashion, your shots are going to benefit from the introduction of supplemental lighting – and this Speedlite is the perfect way to start exploring the power of flash without breaking the bank. 

With its built-in radio triggering, the Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite is ideal for the kind of off-camera flash that elevates your shots to the next level. The head can tilt, swivel and zoom from 20-200mm, giving you incredible control over your light whether you use it on or off-camera.

With a guide number 60 (m, ISO 100, at 200mm), fast recycle times and a 30m trigger range, this is one of the best flashguns (opens in new tab) you can buy for the money – and you can link up to 15 units if you want to get really elaborate with your lighting setups!

A touch of flash can transform humdrum rooms into locations worthy of lifestyle shoots (Image credit: James Artaius)

Affordable fashion photography

(Image credit: James Artaius)

Fashion photography setup 

New price: £3,377.90
MPB price: £2,280.00
Total saving: £1,097.90

Instead of buying everything new, you can pick up a complete kit for shooting fashion photography built around Canon’s fantastic full-frame mirrorless camera and save over £1,000! 

So whether you're looking to pick up an extra lens to complement your existing system, or you want to build a whole shooting setup from scratch, make sure to check the wealth of used options available from MPB (opens in new tab) to get great results and great savings.

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