Hey there, my name is Steven Schultz! I am a film photographer and documentary filmmaker based in Chicago, Illinois.
I bought my first point-and-shoot when I was thirteen and got my first DSLR about five years after that when I left for college. I’ve been a photographer for about a decade now, much longer than I’ve been a filmmaker, but I think the two disciplines are deeply intertwined.
As you’ll see in my kit, my gear encompasses stills and cinema cameras, which is a reflection of how I operate holistically as a visual artist.
Let’s get started!
Nearly every piece of gear I mention here is one that I’ve stress-tested in a wide variety of work environments. I started on the Canon 60D nearly ten years ago, which evolved into the 5D III, then the Canon R, and now the R5 and C70.
I’ve loved using Canon cameras and lenses for all of my digital work.
They work perfectly for my specific needs, and I think that’s what every person should look for in a camera kit, regardless of brand. I’m a big believer in keeping barriers to creativity at a minimum, which includes refining my camera kit to the essentials.
You’ll see a few types of cameras mentioned (cinema, mirrorless, 35mm film, and 120 film), and they each have a specific purpose in my kit.
Canon R5 – this is my go-to stills camera and also serves as an excellent b-cam to the Canon C70. I shoot a lot of my YouTube videos with it, and I actually get quite a lot of use out of the 8K RAW as well.
This was an especially helpful camera to have on hand as we filmed our feature documentary because we could easily fly it on a gimbal and trust the autofocus to track our subject, whether we were filming from a car, electric skateboard, or bike.
Canon EOS C70 – this camera has everything I want in a cinema camera with very few compromises. It’s especially well suited for the type of work that we do, documentary, short form, narrative, YouTube, and run-n-gun. The DGO sensor provides a gorgeous image, built-in NDs are extremely useful, and the in-body mini-XLR inputs are incredibly versatile.
Mamiya 645AFD – this workhorse film camera has influenced my style more than any other camera I’ve owned. The form factor is familiar, and the autofocus is fantastic, so there are very few barriers between the idea and the conception of an image.
I’ve put somewhere between two fifty and three hundred rolls of film through it in the last two years that I’ve owned it, and it shows no sign of slowing down. It’s easily one of my favorite cameras ever.
Leica M6 – this is the most recent addition to my camera kit. I had no plans to purchase one, but this particular camera was gifted to me by my friend, Joe. In the brief time I’ve owned it, I can already feel how it is changing the way I create images.
This is my daily camera, and I’m especially interested in bringing it on set as I direct or DP to document the behind-the-scenes of it all. This is a true legacy piece in my kit.
Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L – my favorite autofocusing lens, period. I’ve owned it for nearly four years and have taken over 100,000 photos with it. I could go on and on about it, but I’ll spare you the reading and point you to my video review of it instead.
Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 IS L – this is the lens we use most often on the C70. The approximate 22-50mm equivalent on the Super 35 sensor is perfect for nearly every scenario. The image rendering is beautiful, and the image stabilization is fantastic.
Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L – this is the first 70-200 I’ve ever cared to own because the size and weight of most 70-200s previously deterred me. Not only is this new design extremely travel friendly, but the sharpness across the focal range is exceptional, and the image stabilization is unbelievable.
I can get usable handheld footage at 200mm, so it feels like you are cheating.
Aputure 300X – these are some of the best lights I’ve ever used. We have two of them in our studio that we use for everything from YouTube and social videos to product and commercial work. The total output of the light is excellent, but the real selling point for us is the bi-color flexibility.
Aputure MC – these little lights are incredible! They’re one of those rare tools that invite you to be creative and find ways to use them. Great battery life, full RGB color, USB-C charging, and tons of creative options right in the palm of your hand.
Sennheiser MKE 600 – this microphone punches way above its price point. The audio quality is full and clear, it works very well as a boom or on-camera mic, and you can choose to power it via phantom power or with a AA battery. Plus, it includes an XLR-to-3.5mm cable, which gives you the ability to use it with cameras that do not have XLR ports, for example, mirrorless cameras.
Sony TX660 – this has become one of the most-used mics in our studio. The sound quality is surprisingly great, and it’s especially useful for weddings because of how small it is. This is a no-brainer backup audio source for any situation, and I always keep one in my bag.
Rode VideoMic GO II – I use this as my travel, on-camera microphone. It’s compact and lightweight, and it’s passively powered by the camera, so I don’t have to worry about batteries. Just like the Sony, this mic stays in my bag at all times.
ThinkTank Roller Derby – the big selling point for me is the four-wheel setup, as it makes traveling so much easier. Factor in the great build quality, tons of capacity, and multiple grab handles, and you get my favorite carry-on camera bag. Highly recommended.
Compagnon Element – this is the closest thing I’ve found to a perfect camera backpack. It fits under a plane seat, holds an ample amount of gear, is built with robust x-pac fabric and waterproof zippers, has load lifters and a rigid plate in the back panel, and so much more.
It’s the most comfortable, durable, and protective camera backpack I’ve found that also looks cool and doesn’t scream “camera bag.”
Clever Supply Co. Sling – in my opinion, this sling perfectly marries form and function. It’s made with rugged, weather-resistant materials, looks fantastic, and easily holds everything I need for a day out shooting.
This is my go-to lens bag at weddings and my everyday 35mm film photography bag.
Peak Design Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod – you know the saying, “the best camera is the one you have with you?” Well, turns out the same is true for tripods. I’ve never enjoyed using tripods, but the size of this one has encouraged me to bring it more places and therefore make more images that I otherwise couldn’t have.
Hardware & Software
Apple 16” M1 Max MacBook Pro – I feel bad sneaking this in at the end because it’s the best purchase I’ve ever made for my business. If I could have only made one investment in 2022, it would have been this computer. It might sound dramatic, but it has completely revamped my post-production workflow and saved me so much time.
Adobe Creative Cloud – Lightroom, Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, and Audition are my most used apps in Creative Cloud, and I often tap into Adobe Fonts as well. Plus, the included cloud storage is awesome for saving project files and documents on the go.
Clever Supply Camera Harness & Straps – these are my favorite leather straps and camera harnesses. The split ring versions look great on film cameras, and the straps with Peak Design hardware are a total game changer. Just quietly, you can also get ten percent off any Clever product with code “SCHULTZ” at checkout.
Tiffen Glimmerglass 1 Filters – I have experimented with a ton of dream filters, but this one is my personal favorite. It gives my footage a subtle softness that maintains contrast in the shadows while letting the highlights glow just a bit.
Lastly, I keep a bunch of different just-in-case items in my bags at all times, Tylenol, Tums, Band-Aids, Neosporin, face wipes, protein bars, cash, etc.
Thanks so much for spending your time with me! I hope you found something useful here to apply to your own kit.
As I mentioned at the top, I firmly believe that photography and filmmaking are deeply intertwined, and it’s the habit of practicing both simultaneously that keeps my creativity honed. If you’re ever feeling depleted or lacking direction, maybe try to introduce a brand new creative outlet into your life, as you never know where inspiration can come from.
If you’re interested in more of my work or have any questions about my kit, check out the links below!