Often I am asked what kind of camera equipment I use. In this article, I will share what I carry with me on most of my shoots and how I use them to create my images.
Alpha 7R IV and Alpha 6400 - Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras
My main workhorse is currently the Sony A7RIV. It has a 61.2MP BSI-CMOS sensor, allowing me to print my photos larger while maintaining good print quality and detail. While I am primarily a landscape and nature photographer, I also enjoy shooting videos of the places I photograph. For video, I use my A7RIV and an a6400. The A6400 is an excellent addition to my bag because it's extremely small. It uses the same picture profiles as my A7RIV, so I can more easily color grade footage and match it from both cameras. I can use the same E-mount lenses I use on my A7RIV on my A6400, which is great for saving space in my camera bag and preventing me from buying the same lenses for a different camera system.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro Drone
Having a drone is a great tool to have in my camera bag. I use it to capture photos and videos. Having a drone allows me to see places from a completely different perspective. I also use my drone for scouting areas that might be hard to get reach. Rather than walking a mile down a coastline to see what's there, I can launch my drone and get a better idea of what I will see first.
12 pro max
The old saying is that the best camera is the one you have on you, but I don't use my iPhone much to capture photos. I like to use the iPhones wide-angle camera to view compositions before taking out my A7RIV. I use it mainly as a tool for planning photos using various apps. There are a few apps such as PhotoPills, Google Maps, Sky Guide, Star Walk, and The Weather Channel that I often use on the go. The great thing about these apps is that they are usually very inexpensive and offer incredible benefits for photographers.
Although I shoot with Sony bodies, I still use a few Canon lenses from when I used Canon camera systems. The main reason is that I have been waiting for Sony to update their new versions of these lenses before I invest in them. I recently pre-ordered Sony's new FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II and plan on purchasing their new FE 16-35 F2.8 GM II when it is released.
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM
For landscape photography, having an ultrawide angle lens is key. Ultra wide-angle lenses help you capture the grand landscape in one shot. I also love this lens for photographing the night sky and the milky way. This lens allows for 82mm filters to be screwed onto the front of the lens, whereas wider lenses generally don't. Because it is a 2.8 aperture lens, it allows more light to come in, which helps you get cleaner photos when shooting in low light.
Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L II USM
The 24-70, while still considered a wide-angle lens, give me more flexibility to shoot more variety of different shots. Its zoom range covers many critical focal ranges. 24mm is a great focal length for shooting landscapes. It is still wide but doesn't make foreground objects look farther away and smaller. 50mm is ideal for shooting panoramic shots. Photos will stitch together better at this focal length and look more natural. Zoomed in to 70mm, you can get very close to your subject and take very detailed close-ups. Although nothing beats an actual macro lens, it can almost serve as a macro lens for macro photography. These are the most common focal lengths I use with this lens.
Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS
The 100-400 is one of my favorite lenses. It opens up an entirely new world of opportunities when shooting landscapes and nature photography. Here on the Big Island of Hawaii, I often use the longer focal length for photographing lava. At this time, the lava is flowing in Volcanoes National Park in an inaccessible area. Having a 400mm lens gets me a front-row seat to view and photograph the lava. If I struggle to find a good shot with my wide-angle lenses, I often throw on the 100-400 and find photos I could not see otherwise.
Sony 1.4x Teleconverter Lens
The 1.4x teleconverter is conveniently small and allows me to transform my 400mm maximum focal length to 560mm. This teleconverter lens takes up little space in my bag where a 600mm lens would not fit in my bag and often stay at home.
Canon EF Lens to Sony E Mount T Smart Adapter (Mark IV)
The Metabones adapter allows me to use Canon EF-mount lenses on my Sony E Mount cameras. It works ok but not great. In my experience, autofocus performs poorly when adapting non-native lenses to my camera compared to using native lenses. The autofocus hunts a lot making the continuous autofocus unusable, especially for video work.
I look forward to replacing these Canon lenses with Sony lenses soon.
Breakthrough Photography Dark Circular Polarizer Filters
I use Breakthrough Photography filters for all of my lenses. I use Dark circular polarizers, which function as polarizers and neutral density filters. I use filters to achieve specific shutter speeds at specific apertures while maintaining the correct exposure values for the scene. These filters are also polarizers which I love to use when photographing scenes with lots of foliage. They help reduce harsh glare on leaves and add a little saturation. A polarizer can also help reduce glare and reflections from the water's surface.
Really Right Stuff TVC-33 and BH-55 Ball Head With Panning Leveling Base
A sturdy lightweight tripod is essential for landscape photography. It is important for achieving sharp photos, especially with high megapixel cameras. The reason is that the higher the pixel count of your camera, the more chance your image will be ruined by any vibration or shaking. The Really Right Stuff TVC-33 is pretty light for how sturdy it is. It is also very weather resistant and durable.
The BH-55 ball head is a very strong and stable ball head capable of supporting cameras and lens combinations much heavier than anything I own. If I did not use the BH-55, which supports the weight of my 100-400 lens, I would opt for a lighter ball head like the Really Right Stuff BH-40.
Another option I have added to my tripod is a panning leveling base. A leveling base allows me to level my camera at the base of my tripod rather than adjusting each leg of the tripod. Doing this helps me get ready to shoot a panoramic photo in seconds, no matter how my tripod legs are positioned.
Zhiyun CRANE-M3 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal
The Crane M3 is a small, lightweight gimbal that I leave in my camera bag. I use this gimbal for stabilizing my Sony A6400 when shooting video. The buttery smooth footage you can get when using a gimble is well worth the extra time to set up. This gimble is so powerful it can even handle some full-frame camera and lens setups!
Sony 256GB SF-M Tough Series UHS-II SDXC Memory Card
I use Sony Tough cards because they are durable and fast. I never thought about a card's durability until one day, I removed a memory card from my computer, and it cracked in half. I was shocked. It only happened once in my lifetime, but I didn't want it to happen again. Sony Tough cards are fast cards that are helpful when shooting bursts of photos when photographing wildlife. When shooting many consecutive shots, the camera's buffer can fill up, leaving you not able to shoot until it writes the information to the card. A fast card helps the buffer on my A7RIV clear faster and get back to shooting.
Sony RMT-P1BT Wireless Remote Commander
I use a shutter release when taking long exposures to help avoid camera shake when pressing the shutter button. I like to use a wireless shutter release for a few reasons. If you use a wired shutter release, it requires you to plug it into a port on the side of your camera. By doing that, you are exposing ports that would be weather sealed by a rubber side flap. When shooting around the ocean or most environments, I prefer not to have those flaps open. One downside to this wireless remote is that it takes a battery, so I can never tell when it will die. This has happened plenty of times during shoots, leaving me with only the option to use the 2-second timer on my camera until I had time to change the battery. This shutter release also can be finicky when connecting to my camera.
Lens Cleaning and Camera Maintenance
I carry a few products to help maintain my camera and lenses on the go. Photographing near the ocean and outdoors, in general, exposes your camera to harmful elements. Dirty lenses or camera sensors can ruin your photos. The products I use last me many years and are pretty inexpensive. Here are a few products I have used for a long time that works well.
- KimTech Wipes
These wipes work great for easy cleaning water, dust, and small particles on my lenses' front element. I usually fill a ziplock bag with these wipes and have them in my pocket while shooting, especially in damp areas.
- Zeiss Lens Cleaner
I use this cleaner and KimTech Wipes to clean my lenses, camera back display, and camera viewfinder.
- Giottos AA1900 Rocket Air Blaster
When I started photography, I bought a cheap camera cleaning kit that included a blower similar to the Rocket Air Blaster, although the quality wasn't good. One day, when I was attempting to blow the dust off a lens, I noticed it was shooting tiny particles of rubber that must have been deteriorating from inside. This could have been bad if I had used it to blow the dust off my camera sensor. I then bought a Giottos Rocket blower and have been using it with no problems for many years.
- VSGO Sensor Cleaning Kits
Changing your lenses outdoors will eventually allow dust to enter your camera body and get stuck to your sensor. Dust spots will show up in your photos. Getting rid of the dust spots on your photos can be easy, depending on where it is on the image. Nevertheless, you want to avoid dust getting on your sensor and clean it when it does. Dust spots on your sensor can ruin your video clips. Luckily cleaning your sensor is pretty easy. I recommend following your camera's instruction manual before attempting this.
My Camera Bag
f-stop TILOPA 50L Expedition Backpack (Anthracite/Matte Black)
The f-stop Tilopa 50L is an amazing bag. It is weather-resistant, lightweight, and has enough room for everything mentioned above. I like all of the exterior straps on the bag to help secure random things such as my skateboard umbrella or anything else I decide to take along that doesn't fit in my bag. The shoulder straps are comfortable, and I find the adjustments on the bag easy to use to find the right amount of support to ease the load of the gear I carry. Of course, right after I bought this bag, a new model addressed a few gripes I had with it. My biggest complaint was the way your tripod secures to the bag. On my model, it is not great but works. I would recommend this bag.