- DuraDiamond™ 315D HT nylon diamond ripstop material with environmentally responsible C0 DWR & TPU
- Contoured BLOOM™ EVA padded hip belt with super-duty dual density BLOOM™ EVA padded shoulder straps
- Internal metal frame
- 70D Nylon Ripstop lining fabric with 500mm Polyurethane coating
- Heavy-duty stitching with industrial-bonded thread
- Weatherproof heavy-gauge zippers
- 50-liter capacity, with a 39-liter main compartment and various smaller pockets on the top, bottom and sides
- 25.4 x 30.5 x 55.9 inches in size
- 45-day full satisfaction guarantee - you get a full refund if you don't like the bag
- 20-year warranty against manufacturer defects
Each year, I put together a "best of" list that enumerates some of the most innovative and impactful photography companies and products that I've come across.
It's difficult to pare the list down to just ten examples, but I've managed to do it.
Below, you'll find some common and well-known names like Apple and Canon. But there are many more that you might not have heard of, but should.
In each case, I have personal experience with each of these companies or products, which gives me a deeper insight into why these companies are at the top of the heap for my best photography companies of 2021.
Let's get to the list!
Metal Mouth Prints
When talking about innovation, you might wonder how anyone could possibly innovate the metal print industry.
Yet, that's exactly what Metal Mouth Prints did in 2021, and that's why they are in the top spot of this list.
The innovation I'm speaking of is their éZi Mount mounting system.
Where traditional metal prints come with a mounting system attached to the back that allows you to hang the print on the wall, the éZi Mount attaches to the wall, and then the print attaches to the mount. So, what's innovative about that?
It's simple - with this system, you can swap out prints to your heart's content!
Just leave the mount on the wall and change the print that's attached to it as you see fit. The print floats in front of the frame to give it some depth for a nice three-dimensional look.
When you want to change the print, just remove the existing one and install the next one in a matter of seconds.
Best of all, there are no tools required to swap out prints!
There is nothing else like this on the market. It is truly a new innovation that I believe will change the metal print industry forever.
It's been quite a few years since I got my first Holdfast product. Yet, here we are, all this time later, and I'm still blown away by the products that Holdfast produces.
When I think about the best of the best, I think of companies that have a commitment to quality, reliability, and durability. It doesn't hurt if a product is easy on the eyes, too!
And that's exactly what you get with Holdfast...
Their bags, harnesses, camera straps, and other leather goods are beautifully made by hand, right here in the U.S.
My first experience with Holdfast was with their Roamographer camera bag.
This bag is big enough for a professional's photography kit, and with the removable organizer, you can keep all your camera bodies, lenses, and accessories neatly stored away.
The Roamographer is impeccably designed, beautifully crafted using the finest materials, and it’s versatile, too.
For instance, the camera insert can be removed to create a cavernous main compartment that can be used as a weekend getaway bag when you aren't traveling for photography purposes.
Another product I've enjoyed using is their MoneyMaker Solo camera strap.
Once I switched to mirrorless cameras a few years ago, I needed a strap that allowed me to "run and gun" with a light kit - like my old Canon EOS R and a 50mm lens.
The MoneyMaker Solo is the perfect strap for traveling light - it's got a nice, big shoulder strap, an integrated stabilizer strap to keep your camera from bouncing around, and the strap is made of the same leathers and metal materials as Holdfast's impeccable MoneyMaker dual camera strap.
Here's where even more innovation comes in...
The MoneyMaker Solo has a Belt Anchor that keeps your camera locked in place. This means that when you're walking around, bending down, or kneeling down to take a photo, your camera stays right in place.
Just pull the release tab on the Belt Anchor and your camera is set free so you can get the shots you need. Then a simple one-handed action is all it takes to re-engage the Belt Anchor.
It's designs like that that make Holdfast one of the Best of 2021!
Best Ever Backdrops
I've worked with many of the companies on this list for years and years - but I didn't learn about Best Ever Backdrops until this year.
The fact that they are making an appearance on this list should tell you something about just how impressed I am with their products!
I was immediately impressed with Best Ever Backdrops and have found their products to be among the very best backdrops in the business.
For starters, unlike many backdrops I've ordered over the years, Best Ever Backdrops actually look the part - they are truly so photorealistic that when you touch them it's surprising that you don't feel the texture of what's pictured.
Secondly, I've recently gotten into food and product photography, and these backdrops are perfectly sized for it - at 24 x 36 inches, they are plenty big for the small vignettes I need to photograph.
Of course, that size has another advantage - these backdrops are easy to pull out and use and put away when I'm done.
I work out of my home, so storage space is at a premium. I didn't want a huge roll-up backdrop because, quite honestly, I don't need something that large for what I do.
My backdrops from Best Ever Backdrops slide right under the bed or in the corner of the closet with ease. They are easy to grab when I need them and out of the way when I don't.
Another feature of these backdrops that really impresses me is that they are double-sided. So, rather than getting just one backdrop, you get two!
Not only is this a money-saving feature, but it also means I don't have as many backdrops to organize and store.
Add to that the fact that these backdrops are lightweight, durable, stain-resistant, waterproof, and have a matte finish to minimize glare, and you can see why I've been so impressed!
PGYTech MantisPod Pro
I've used all sorts of handheld mounts over the years, but have been a loyal GorillaPod user for quite some time.
I have to say, though, the PGYTech MantisPod Pro has taken over as my primary handheld mount.
This thing is so impressive because it can be used in so many different ways.
For example, it has seven different modes of use to give you the ultimate in flexibility. This includes being able to hang the mount in "mantis mode" so you can record footage or take photos hands-free.
In addition, the MantisPod Pro comes with a mini phone holder and a cold-shoe mount to give you even more flexibility. The cold-shoe is compatible with microphones, lights, and many other accessories that allow you to have a complete vlogging setup if you like.
The mount also features a SnapLock mini reverse ballhead that allows you to shoot in landscape mode, portrait mode, or do 360-degree panning.
Of course, all this is wrapped into a mount that's small enough to put in your pocket. With that kind of versatility, functionality, and portability, how could I not include the MantisPod Pro on my list of the best photography gear of 2021?!
Manfrotto Pro Light Reloader Tough-55
Next on my list of the best of 2021 is this bad boy - the Manfrotto Pro Light Reloader Tough-55.
What's so impressive about this hard case is that you can fit a ton of gear in it, yet it's super easy to maneuver around. That's because it's got big, beefy wheels and a telescoping handle so you can roll it behind you as you make your way through the airport.
But this isn't just a great carrying case for photography gear if you're jetting off somewhere.
In fact, I use it most frequently to carry my photography gear on my overlanding adventures and weekend camping trips.
When you're a landscape photographer like me, you need a hard case that protects your gear no matter if you're driving on a paved highway or crawling over a rough dirt trail.
This case certainly does the job...
There's four layers of foam on the bottom and convoluted foam on the lid that offers your gear complete protection.
When the case is closed, the inside becomes airtight to keep dust out.
The case also has pull release latches, padlock attachment points, and you can add optional accessories that attach to the metal pins on the outside of the case.
It's simply an innovative, well-thought-out case with loads of benefits for photographers!
I've used f-stop bags for years now, and one of my absolute favorites has been the Tilopa.
Well, this year, f-stop updated the Tilopa...
At first, I couldn't figure out what f-stop could possibly improve - in my view, the Tilopa was as close to a perfect bag as one could find.
Yet, f-stop did manage to improve it, and the new Tilopa has become my new favorite bag.
I mean, get a load of some of these specs:
Aside from the fact that this bag comes with a 20-year warranty and you get a 45-day full satisfaction guarantee, you also get a laundry list of incredible specs.
The new DuraDiamond™ 315D HT nylon diamond ripstop material looks great, is incredibly durable, and is environmentally friendly to boot.
The heavy-duty stitching is something I especially appreciate since I'm a landscape photographer and my bags usually get knocked around pretty well. The weatherproof zippers are another feature I really appreciate as a landscape photographer.
And despite the fact that this is a good-sized bag - it can hold 50 liters of gear - it's an incredibly comfortable bag to carry. That's due to the Contoured BLOOM™ EVA padded hip belt with super-duty dual density BLOOM™ EVA padded shoulder straps.
Honestly, I can carry this bag fully loaded all day long and feel great at the end of it all.
It's truly one heck of a bag and is my go-to choice for my photography adventures!
CanvasHQ has been my go-to canvas printing company for years and years. They have proven time and again to produce some of the very best canvas prints on the market. After all, they've won our Canvas Print Shootout three years running!
From a materials standpoint, CanvasHQ is so impressive because they use only the finest components to create their prints.
They use archival-grade canvas, UV-resistant inks, and the frames that support the canvas are made of kiln-dried wood.
Speaking of the frames, they're handmade to ensure they are straight and true. And unlike some canvas print companies, CanvasHQ incorporates tons of bracing to keep the frame straight and true for the life of the print.
But it isn't just the quality and craftsmanship of their prints that earned CanvasHQ a spot in this Best of 2021 list...
These guys have a commitment to quality and customer service that you seldom see these days.
If you have a problem, just give them a call and you can speak with a real, live human being.
If you need to return a print, no worries! CanvasHQ offers a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. If there's an issue, simply return the print within 30 days and CanvasHQ will either remake it or refund your money in full.
On top of all that, CanvasHQ offers quick turnaround times, fast shipping, and great prices. It's a trifecta!
I've got dozens of canvases from CanvasHQ in my home. And even though I have so many prints from them, I'm still so impressed each time I unbox a new order.
If you want to get the highest-quality prints backed by the best customer service in the business, consider working with CanvasHQ!
Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 Lens
One of the primary reasons why I switched from Nikon to Canon a few years ago is because Canon had a much more robust slate of lenses for their EOS R ecosystem than Nikon had for their Z-mount system.
The only "problem" with Canon's R-mount lenses is that there initially weren't many affordable options.
But the RF 50mm f/1.8 STM certainly fits the bill for affordability at just $199.00.
Ask any photographer and they'll probably tell you that a 50mm lens is a must-have for anyone's camera bag.
These lenses are hugely versatile, offer bright apertures (f/1.8 in this case), and are small, lightweight, and portable, which makes them a great option as an everyday lens or travel lens.
This lens has excellent image quality (though it can't match the L-series lenses), the standard RF lens control ring, a 12-pin connection for faster data transfer, and a host of other features and benefits that make it a must-have for Canon EOS R shooters.
GoPro Hero 10 Black
I've used GoPros for years, and every iteration has been better than the one before.
The GoPro Hero 10 Black is no exception...
GoPro pulled out all the stops with this thing. For example, it has a brand-new 23-megapixel sensor and a brand-new GP2 processor that enables the GoPro to process data more quickly.
It has some hold-over features too, like being waterproof to 33 feet, voice control, and various video and photo capabilities like TimeWarp 3.0, HDR, RAW, and SuperPhoto, to name a few.
Of course, the Hero 10 is also compatible with Hero 9 accessories, including the media mod, so if you have a Hero 9, upgrading to the Hero 10 won't cost you all those add-ons.
Apple Macbook Pro M1 Max
I've had a long line of Macbook Pros over the years, and while they have been more and more impressive with each iteration, the current generation of Macbook Pro with the M1 Max chip is hands-down the best computer I've ever had.
Obviously, the big draw of this particular Macbook is the top-of-the-line M1 Max chip.
When Apple came out with the first M1 chip, everyone was astonished at its performance. Well, the M1 Max is all that and more...
With this machine, I can multitask to my heart's content without worry of diminished performance. I can have dozens of browser tabs open and not worry about the spinning wheel of death popping up. I'm unconcerned about downloading multiple files or uploading multiple files at the same time, either.
Additionally, I do a lot of video editing, and the M1 Max Macbook Pro is a beast for that kind of task. The rendering times are absolutely mind-blowing!
My machine is the 16-inch M1 Max variant with a 10-core CPU, 32-core GPU, 16-Core Neural Engine, 64GB RAM, and 4TB SSD storage. In other words, it is about as good as it gets.
And while the price was eye-watering, this machine has proven to be worth every penny thus far!
This computer has tons of ports, a gorgeous Liquid Retina XDR display, a backlit keyboard, and so much more.
All I can say is, if the M1 Max chip is this good, I can't wait to see what the M2 chip will be able to do!