Choosing a camera system to shoot with can turn into a decision far more complicated than it needs to be. Let me begin by saying that it really doesn’t matter what camera/ lens combination you use - pretty much any modern camera (and all film cameras of course) are capable of capturing professional quality images. I know you’ve heard this 100 times before, but seriously, stop stressing about which camera brand you should use and which lenses will be the sharpest. The best camera you can have is the one you use the most, the one you enjoy using and the one you that works for you. That being said, there are several reasons why I use the gear that I use, and Ill try go through it all bellow.
SONY A 7RII
Earlier this year I took the plunge and purchased a Sony A7Rii for a number of reasons, but mainly to satisfy my growing need for increased video quality. Initially, I was not a big fan of this camera at all - it felt too electronic and not nearly as solid as my trusty Canon. Over the past few months however, this camera has grown on me - a lot. I now love (almost) everything about, and it is quickly becoming my most used camera. I mainly use it the for video, but its great being able to shoot high quality stills without having to switch bodies. It shoots 4k and Full HD at 60fps, but my favourite feature is the Super 35mm mode, which makes it super versatile. It is small, tough (already had a couple of falls) and extremely capable, plus I still use all my canon glass so its really the best of both worlds.
I’ve used a heap of Canon cameras, but the 6D is my favourite due to the full frame sensor without the additional size of other full frame cameras like the 5DmIII or the D810. Despite all of the Sony's fancy features and impressive specs, nothing can replace that solid and reliable feeling of DSLR. The 6D is the perfect size for me, and despite its plastic construction its held up extremely well in some stupidly tough conditions. The 6D also handles low light conditions amazingly well - making it perfect for astro photography. As I said before, don’t stress too much about which camera body you own, don’t let anyone make you think the crop sensors or compact cameras have a huge negative effect on image quality - the difference is so minute that most people would never notice it. Spend your money on something you like using, and something that fits your needs.
CANON 17-40MM F4L
This is by far my most used lens. Almost every image I’ve sold was taken on this lens. Its cheap, wide enough that I can use it for landscapes or van interiors, and at 40mm, its perfect for a huge range of situations. Its built extremely well and has been in the ocean twice, and survived without any damage each time. It isn’t extremely sharp, but in real life this really doesn't matter. I’ve never had a client turn down an image because “the lens isn't sharp enough”. The other thing I love about this lens is that it has a 77m filter thread, which is the same as most good lenses, making switching filters a breeze. If you want a lens that is wide enough for most landscapes, but still long enough for a variety of travel shots - this is the lens for you. Its also the Cheapest L series lens, meaning you can spend more money on plane tickets and fuel.
CANON 70-200 mm f4L
This lens is my next favourite travel lens. I previously had the f2.8 version of the lens, but unfortunately like most of my other gear - this was stolen. I’m sort of glad it did however, as this version does pretty much everything the previous version did, but is way smaller and less “pro” looking. On hikes or overnight walks, a big lens can really take its toll on your back, but this lens is light enough that I take it everywhere. A good zoom is a must have for travel photography, and with most modern cameras handling high ISOs so well these days, having a 2.8 zoom really isn't necessary. Most people tend to think that a telephoto is only for sports or wildlife shots, but having a lens in this focal length really opens up a variety of options for landscapes, portraits and all kinds of travel photography. It offers a perspective which iPhones and other common cameras can’t achieve, which will make your images stand out from the crowd.
CANON 50mm 1.8
This has to be the single best value lens on the market. It was one of the very first lenses I bought for my first Canon camera, and it is still going as strong as ever today. I grew tired of the 50mm focal length for a while, but recently I’m using it more and more. Its so small and light that you’d never notice in your pack, and the images it produces can be amazing. On a standard hike all I bring now is the 17-40, 70-200 and this - I think its pretty close to the perfect set up for me.
SAMYANG 24MM 1.4
There is nothing wrong with third party lenses. In fact, in the past few years several third party lenses have become far superior to their native counterparts and for a fraction of the cost. Although my all time favourite prime is the Sigma 35mm 1.4, the Samyang 24mm 1.4 is a close second. It offers a unique perspective of a wide angle image, with an extremely narrow depth of field. I don’t use it often, but for interior shots its my go-to lens. It lets in a heap of light and creates a super blurry background, and is also super sharp. The main reason I chose this lens was for Astro Photography, but I find it to be too long for this use.
SAMYANG 14mm 2.8.
This is my go to Astro Lens. It is is super wide (pretty much the widest non-fisheye you can get not counting the new 11-24 Canon) and also has a wider aperture to let in heaps of light. This makes it perfect for taking images of the Milky Way, as you can capture a huge range of the night sky in a single shot, and because of the 2.8 aperture - you can get your ISO half has low as a similar f4 lens. At around $500 brand new this lens is a steal, and if you are interested in taking shots of the milky way arching across the nights sky - it’s a must have.
SIGMA 85mm 1.4
There was a time where the only lenses I used for the 35, 50 and 85mm primes. Prime lenses are usually far sharper than zooms, and have extremely wide apertures, making for silky smooth backgrounds. The 85mm 1.4 is my favourite portrait lens, combining a long focal length with a stupidly wide aperture, it creates the blurriest background of all the lenses I own. Its awesome for portraits and travel shots and forces you to move around, rather than just sitting back and zooming in and out. Theres something about the images that this lens produces that I love. Again, I don’t use it very often, but when I do nothing comes close to the images it creates.
A quality tripod is a pretty important part of my kit - not only for longer exposures but also for those classic selfies. Siri makes well priced, quality tripods - mine is Carbon Fiber, making it super big lightweight, and it is also completely sealed, meaning, using it in mud and sand is never a problem. Despite the size, I take it on even our longest hikes - having a solid tripod can really make or break an image.
ZHYUAN TECH GIMBAL
Another new addition to my kit is a Zhyuan Tech Gimbal. For silky smooth footage, a quality gimbal is a must, it creates awesome cinematic shots and is small enough to easily take on hikes. If you are looking to purchase a gimbal in Australia, I’d highly recommend SkyTech Technology - they are hands down the best gimbal and drone suppliers I have come across.
DJI MAVIC DRONE
Previously I used a Phantom 3 but eventually I got tired of lugging it around on longer hikes, so now my drone of choice is the Mavic. It’s super portable and still captures great quality footage and stills. It doesn't get too much use, but its always good to have to capture those unique angles.
The HP Sprocket is one of my most recent additions to my kit, but over the last couple of months its come to be a unique and important part of my work flow. Its a portable printer which prints quality photos via Bluetooth and uses no ink (don’t ask me how that works…). Its super handy being able to instantly print out some of our favourite photos - to put on the wall, in your wallet or to bring along to a location. It’s also awesome being able to print off an image for some new friends you meet on the road, or even a business card for a potential client. There are so many uses that I'm discovering on the daily.
Filters are a super important part of my kit. I use a filter for almost every single image I take, and it seriously makes a massive difference to the look of a photo. My most used filter is a CPL - or circular polarising filter. They are designed to cut out reflections but if used correctly they just make everything look better. They make the water look clearer, the sky look more blue and trees more green. They are a must when shooting on the beach or any location with water.
The other filter I commonly use in an ND Filter, which blocks out a large amount of light, meaning you can shoot longer exposures even in the middle of the day. I currently use a 100mm Square filter system which allows the use of CPL and ND Filters simultaneously. The build quality however is a joke, so I’d avoid a certain brand which begins with N…
Another piece of gear that doesn't get as much use as it should is my Audio Gear. I use a combination of Rode mics to capture ambient sounds and some occasional dialog to add a bit of depth to certain film projects. The VideoMic Pro is stupidly easy to use, and the quality for such a compact mic is pretty incredible.