Manfrotto 055XProB tripod
Speaking of heads, I own both pan/tilt and ball heads, and both have their uses. Pan/tilt heads, like my Manfrotto 804RC2 ($65), are good for panoramas, portraits, and other applications where you want to be able to adjust each axis individually. Ball heads work better for sports or macro work, where you need to adjust the head at odd angles or do so very quickly. I own a couple older ball heads bought off Craig's List, and I cycle between all of my heads pretty much equally. If I had to choose just one, I'd probably go with a ball head. Just make sure you get one that's sturdy enough to support more weight than your heaviest camera/lens combo.
Canon 7D body
I've gotten so spoiled by this body that I can hardly tolerate using my 400D as a second camera when shooting events, so I'm currently looking for an upgrade that costs a fair bit less than the 7D.
Canon 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 lens
Canon 430EX II flash
Rosco Strobist gel pack
So here you have it -- a list of some of my must-have pieces of photography equipment. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend any of these pieces to any of my picture-taking friends, and I've never regretted purchasing any of them. There are plenty of other pieces that I enjoy, but these are the must-haves.
What other bits of gear could you not go without? I'd love to hear your recommendations in the comments below.
I hope all of my readers enjoy this time of year and the festivities that come with it. Most importantly, don't forget the reason we have to celebrate.