Dan Allen Recommended Gear Kits at Various Price Levels

February 14, 2024

If one had to start from scratch to acquire gear, what would I recommend? Price is always a concern, so let's look at various price points. Gear includes computers, cameras and lenses, multi-tools, and essential accessories.

For these kits, I exclusively used B&H for pricing. I leave phones to the side for now, as B&H does not sell iPhones. Taxes are not included.

Minimal PC Laptop : $1K

Gear B&H Price Notes
Acer 15.6 Aspire 5 15" w/Intel 13thGen i7/16GB/1TB SSD/Ethernet
$550
A nice laptop, which I would immediately put FreeBSD on.
Seagate 5TB Expansion Portable USB 3.0 Hard Drive
$120
Small, portable, slow bus-powered drive for backups.
Sony MDR-7506 Headphones
$85
Excellent over-ear studio headphones.
Leatherman Rev Multi-Tool
$50
A simple 13 tool multitool with a 420HC steel blade.
TP-Link Archer A54 AC1200 WiFi5 Wireless Router
$35
A basic 802.11ac basestation for the home w/4 Fast Ethernet ports.
SanDisk 256GB Ultra Dual Luxe Flash Drive
$23
Slick portable backup device for a keychain.
Ruggard Slim Briefcase for 16" Laptop
$20
A nice nylon carrying case.
Pearstone Cat 6 Network Patch Cable 3' Blue
$3
Quality Gigabit Ethernet cable.
Total:
$885
A decent laptop kit for under a grand!

Minimal Mac Desktop : $1K

Gear B&H Price Notes
Mac mini M2 8C/8GB/256GB/Gigabit Ethernet
$499
Small, nearly silent, excellent little machine, but the M1 was better!
Seagate 5TB Expansion Portable USB 3.0 Hard Drive
$120
Small, portable, slow bus-powered drive for backups.
LG 24MP400 Full HD IPS Monitor
$100
1920x1080 24" monitor, connects to Mac via included HDMI cable.
Sony MDR-7506 Headphones
$85
Excellent over-ear studio headphones.
Leatherman Rev Multi-Tool
$50
A simple 13 tool multitool with a 420HC steel blade.
TP-Link Archer A54 AC1200 WiFi5 Wireless Router
$35
A basic 802.11ac basestation for the home w/4 Fast Ethernet ports.
Logitech MK270 Wireless Keyboard & Mouse
$28
A basic combo that has a USB-A dongle that plugs into the Mac mini.
SanDisk 256GB Ultra Dual Luxe Flash Drive
$23
Slick portable backup device for a keychain.
Pearstone USB 3.0 Type-A Male to Female 3' Cable
$5
A very well made USB extension cable.
Pearstone Cat 6 Network Patch Cable 3' Blue
$3
Quality Gigabit Ethernet cable.
Total:
$947
A decent desktop system for a grand!

Upgraded Mac Desktop : $1.5K

Gear B&H Price Notes
Mac mini M2 8C/8GB/512GB/Gigabit Ethernet
$699
The M2 256GB drive is slow; this 512 GB improves perf & capacity.
Seagate 18TB Expansion Hard Drive
$300
Fast, quiet main backup drive for desktop system.
LG 24MP400 Full HD IPS Monitor
$100
1920x1080 24" monitor, connects to Mac via included HDMI cable.
Logitech Yellow Wireless POP Keyboard & Mouse
$90
Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, with a pop of color.
Sony MDR-7506 Headphones
$85
Excellent over-ear studio headphones.
TP-Link Archer AX21 AX1800 WiFi6 Router
$85
A 802.11ax wireless basestation w/4 Gigabit Ethernet ports.
Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool
$70
14 tools with a 420HC steel blade, and sturdy.
SanDisk 512GB Ultra Dual Luxe Flash Drive
$44
Slick portable backup device for a keychain.
SecureData Micro-USB to USB-C 1' cable
$8
To connect the backup drive.
Pearstone USB 3.0 Type-A Male to Female 3' Cable
$5
A very well made USB extension cable.
Pearstone Cat 6 Network Patch Cable 3' Blue
$3
Quality Gigabit Ethernet cable.
Total:
$1,489
A better desktop system.

Minimal Mac Laptop : $2K

Gear B&H Price Notes
Apple MacBook Air 15" M2 8C/16GB/512GB Midnight Blue
$1,499
A nice fast laptop.
Seagate 8TB Expansion Hard Drive
$160
Fast and quiet 7200 RPM 3.5" external hard drive for backups.
LG 24MP400 Full HD IPS Monitor
$100
1920x1080 24" monitor, for a second screen.
Sony MDR-7506 Headphones
$85
Excellent over-ear studio headphones - nothing basic here.
Leatherman Rev Multi-Tool
$50
With 13 tools and an 420HC blade, this is a basic multi-tool.
TP-Link Archer A54 AC1200 WiFi5 Wireless Router
$35
A basic 802.11ac basestation for the home w/4 Fast Ethernet ports.
Pearstone USB Type-C Male to HDMI Male 4K 6' Cable
$23
A USB-C to HDMI cable for the LG monitor.
SanDisk 256GB Ultra Dual Flash Drive
$23
A backup for your pocket.
Ruggard Slim Briefcase for 16" Laptop
$20
A basic nylon laptop bag.
SecureData Micro-USB to USB-C 1' cable
$8
To connect the backup drive.
Pearstone Cat 6 Network Patch Cable 3' Blue
$3
Quality Gigabit Ethernet cable.
Total:
$2,005
A basic Mac laptop setup for $2K.

Deluxe Mac Desktop & Laptop : $5K

Gear B&H Price Notes
Apple MacBook Pro 14" M3 Pro 11C/18GB/1TB Space Black
$2,199
Compact, lots of ports, and great for software dev.
Nikon Z50 w/DX 16-50 & 50-250 lenses, 64GB SDXC card, bag
$1,247
Ken Rockwell's 2nd fav APS-C, w/24-75mm & 75-375mm lenses.
Mac mini M2 8C/8GB/256GB/Gigabit Ethernet
$499
This is setup as a server and 2nd machine.
Seagate 16TB Expansion Hard Drive
$329
An excellent, fast, capacious, quiet, 7200 RPM hard drive.
SanDisk 2TB Extreme Portable SSD Monterey
$180
Main backup drive for the MacBook Pro, very fast.
LG 24MP400 Full HD IPS Monitor
$100
A basic 1920x1080 HD monitor, with included cable for Mac mini.
Logitech Yellow Wireless POP Keyboard & Mouse
$90
Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, with a pop of color.
Sony MDR-7506 Headphones
$85
Excellent over-ear studio headphones.
TP-Link Archer AX21 AX1800 WiFi6 Router
$85
A 802.11ax wireless basestation w/4 Gigabit Ethernet ports.
Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool
$70
With 14 tools and an 420HC blade, this is a great multi-tool.
SanDisk 512GB Ultra Dual Flash Drive
$44
A lot of data, for your pocket.
Ruggard Slim Briefcase for 14" Laptop
$18
A basic nylon laptop bag.
Sony MDR-E9LP Blue Earbud Headphones
$9
Handy lightweight headphones.
SecureData Micro-USB to USB-C 1' cable
$8
To connect the backup drive.
Pearstone USB 3.2 Type-C to Type-A 6" adapter
$8
A very well made USB-C dongle.
Pearstone USB 3.0 Type-A Male to Female 3' Cable
$5
Very well made USB extension cables.
2 Pearstone Cat 6 Network Patch Cables 3' Blue
$5
Quality Gigabit Ethernet cables.
Total:
$4,981
A deluxe Mac setup, as well as Nikon mirrorless, for $5K.

Pro Gear w/Canon : $17K

Gear B&H Price Notes
Apple MacBook Pro 16" M3 Max 16C/64GB/4TB Space Black
$5,199
The latest and greatest laptop made.
Mac mini M2 Pro 10C/16GB/4TB/Gigabit Ethernet
$2,499
A Mac mini with a lot of storage.
Dell UltraSharp 31.5" 4K HDR Monitor
$700
A nice big 31.5" 4K monitor for the mac mini.
Logitech Yellow Wireless POP Keyboard & Mouse
$90
Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, with a pop of color.
Acer 15.6 Aspire 5 15" w/Intel 13thGen i7/16GB/1TB SSD/Ethernet
$550
The main FreeBSD machine.
Canon EOS R6 Mark II
$2,300
Ken Rockwell's favorite full-frame mirrorless camera these days.
Canon RF 14-35mm f/L IS
$1,300
A terrific ultra-wide zoom.
Canon RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS
$900
Ken Rockwell's favorite do-it-all lens: from wide-angle to telephoto.
Canon RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS
$650
Lightweight, a bit slow, but excellent optically.
SanDisk 256GB Extreme Pro UHS-II SDXC Memory Card
$100
The memory card for the EOS R6 Mark II.
Seagate Exos 20TB 7200 RPM Hard Drive
$400
The fastest and largest 3.5" spinning hard drive you can get. Quiet too.
Seagate Expansion 18TB Hard Drive
$300
Another large 7200 RPM drive, for redundancy. Also quiet.
SanDisk 4TB Extreme Portable SSD
$280
Primary backup drive for the MacBook Pro.
Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Gen USB-C
$240
Noise cancelling audio goodness for use with the MacBook Pro.
Leatherman Free P4 Multi-Tool
$150
This is the mult-tool of choice for Shawn James of My Self Reliance.
SanDisk 1TB Extreme Portable SSD
$110
Main backup drive for the FreeBSD system.
TP-Link Archer AX55 AX3000 Wireless Dual-Band Router
$95
A 3 Gb/s 802.11ax wireless basestation, w/4 Gigabit Ethernet ports.
SanDisk 1TB Ultra Dual Flash Drive
$90
An awful lot of data, in your pocket.
Sony MDR-7506 Headphones
$85
Excellent over-ear studio headphones.
Sabrent External Drive Lay-Flat Docking Station
$35
The case for the Seagate Exos drive.
Ruggard Slim Briefcase for 16" Laptop
$20
A basic nylon laptop bag.
2 SecureData Micro-USB to USB-C 1' cables
$16
To connect the backup drives directly to USB-C.
2 Pearstone USB 3.2 Type-C to Type-A 6" adapters
$16
Very well made USB-C dongles.
3 Sabrent USB 3 Type-C to Type-A cables
$10
Never can have too many dongle adapters.
2 Pearstone USB 3.0 Type-A Male to Female 3' Cables
$10
Never can have too many dongle adapters.
2 Pearstone Cat 6 Network Patch Cables 3' Blue
$5
Gigabit Ethernet cables.
Total:
$16,150
An upper-tier Mac setup, w/3 lens Canon mirrorless outfit as well.

Camera Outfits

Here are a few recommendations for just camera outfits.

The Minimal Nikon Outfit : $1.4K

Gear B&H Price Notes
Nikon Z50 w/DX 16-50 & 50-250 lenses, 64GB SDXC card, bag
$1,247
Ken Rockwell's 2nd fav APS-C, w/24-75mm & 75-375mm lenses.
SanDisk 256GB Extreme Pro UHS-II SDXC Memory Card
$100
A good memory card to hold thousands of shots.
Total:
$1,347
All you really need for great photos. The Z50 also has a built-in flash.

The Minimal Canon Outfit : $1.5K

Gear B&H Price Notes
Canon EOS R10 w/RF-S 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM
$1,379
A 24 megapixel camera, with a built-in flash and 29-240mm kit lens.
SanDisk 256GB Extreme Pro UHS-II SDXC Memory Card
$100
A good memory card to hold thousands of shots.
Total:
$1,479
A basic Canon outfit, for those on a budget.

The Nikon Outfit : $1.7K

Gear B&H Price Notes
Nikon Z50 w/DX 16-50 & 50-250 lenses, 64GB SDXC card, bag
$1,247
Ken Rockwell's 2nd fav APS-C, w/24-75mm & 75-375mm lenses.
Nikon Z DX 12-28mm f/3.5-5.6 PZ VR
$357
The equivalent of 18-42mm, a nice street photo range.
SanDisk 256GB Extreme Pro UHS-II SDXC Memory Card
$100
A good memory card to hold thousands of shots.
Total:
$1,704
An amazing system for the price!

The APS-C Canon Outfit : $3K

Gear B&H Price Notes
Canon EOS R7 w/RF-S 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM
$1,799
Ken Rockwell's APS-C choice, w/auto-leveling & 29-240mm kit lens.
Canon RF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM
$329
Superwide zoom, an equivalent of 16-29mm.
Canon RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS
$650
Superb wildlife lens, an equivalent 160-640mm!
SanDisk 256GB Extreme Pro UHS-II SDXC Memory Card
$100
A good memory card to hold thousands of shots.
Total:
$2,878
A complete system, for those on a budget.

The Full-Frame Canon Outfit : $5K

Gear B&H Price Notes
Canon EOS R6 Mark II
$2,300
Ken Rockwell's favorite full-frame mirrorless camera these days.
Canon RF 14-35mm f/L IS
$1,300
A terrific ultra-wide zoom.
Canon RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS
$900
Ken Rockwell's favorite do-it-all lens: from wide-angle to telephoto.
Canon RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS
$650
Lightweight, a bit slow, but excellent optically.
SanDisk 256GB Extreme Pro UHS-II SDXC Memory Card
$100
A decent memory card for the EOS R6 Mark II.
Total:
$5,250
An excellent full-frame outfit.

The Sony Pro Outfit : $23K

Gear B&H Price Notes
Sony A7R V Camera w/128GB Sony SDXC, ThinkTank bag
$3,898
Sony's top resolution 61 megapixel camera.
Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM
$1,598
Fast ultra-wide-angle lens.
Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM
$1,400
Fast general purpose wide-angle lens.
Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM
$1,998
Ultra-fast standard lens.
Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM
$1,798
Fast portrait lens.
Sony FE 300mm f/2.8 GM
$5,998
Lightest 300mm f/2.8 ever made, by anyone. (Come on Canon!)
Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II
$2,298
Fast standard range zoom.
Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II
$2,798
Fast internally zooming top-notch telephoto zoom.
Sony FE 2x Teleconverter
$550
The 300/2.8 becomes 600/5.6, the 70-200/2.8 becomes 140-400/5.6.
SanDisk 1TB Extreme Pro UHS-II SDXC Memory Card
$300
Large and fast, to handle 10 fps.
Total:
$22,636
A very complete camera outfit, for stills or videos.

The Canon Pro Outfit : $23K

Gear B&H Price Notes
Canon EOS R5 Camera
$3,000
Canon's top resolution 45 megapixel camera.
Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM
$500
Fast wide-angle lens w/macro. (Canon needs an RF 35mm f/1.2L.)
Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM
$2,200
Ultra-fast standard lens.
Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 L USM
$2,600
Ultra-fast portrait lens.
Canon RF 14-35mm f/4 L IS USM
$1,300
Ultra-wide zoom lens.
Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 L USM
$2,800
Innovative ultra-fast standard range zoom.
Canon RF 100-300mm f/2.8 L IS USM
$9,500
Fast uber-telephoto overpriced zoom.
Canon Extender RF 2x
$600
With this the RF 100-300mm f/2.8 becomes a 200-600mm f/5.6.
SanDisk 1TB Extreme Pro UHS-II SDXC Memory Card
$300
Large and fast, to handle 12 fps.
Total:
$22,800
A very complete Canon camera outfit.

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Created:   3 Jan 2024
Modified: 14 Feb 2024