What gear is in my bag? My favourite camera is the Sony A7RII with it’s rugged build, versatility, compact size and ability to handle almost any kind of photographic situation. I am a travel photographer so my gear goes everywhere with me and size and weight become important factors. I use the Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 bag which can hold all my gear when on location and the Tamrac Evolution 6 to carry all my gear when traveling. It is big enough to carry my macbook and numerous other things in addition to camera’s and lenses and it’s small enough to carry on to an aircraft. I have used this bag for the last five years and it’s still going strong despite some serious abuse. This travel/camera bag was on my radar for sometime and after my first child was born I found myself searching for diaper bags. They are all crap and expensive. Then the thought came to me. How well would this function as a travel, camera and diaper bag. It turns out to fit all three roles perfectly. Everyday Backpack 20L and the Travel Backpack 45L from Peak Design.
Sony A7RII – Incredible hight quality images come from the sensor in this beast. Large dynamic range and 42 Megapixels. In body stabilisation and being mirrorless its small and affordable when compared with other manufactures DSLR cameras.
Sony A6300 Mirrorless Camera – A super camera to start out with and one that you can keep using on a daily basis even when your a professional. It’s an all round winner and excellent travel camera. I keep it in my bag all the times and it doubles as a backup if I break or loose my FF.
Google Pixel 4 – Try and discern the difference between my edited A7RII images and my edited Google Pixel 4 phone camera images. Even if your really good you will struggle to tell the difference.
Insta 360 – Who does not make time for a little fun? I usually have one in my back pocket and you can show a whole lot more of what your experiencing with a 360 still or video. Part of the skill of ‘normal’ photography is choosing what NOT to include in the frame.
Sony FE 12-24mm f4 – As a predominately landscape photographer I am a big fan of ultra wide lenses. This particular one is sharp and when your in terrain with large fluctuations in elevation it will be your go to lens.
Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 – Expensive and fast autofocusing. Very sharp portrait lens. It’s the biggest and heaviest lens I have for my Sony system but it is super sharp and renders the images beautifully. The cons are sometimes in low light the autofocus ‘hunt’s a little which can be annoying but I am very happy with it. I also like being able to change the aperture on the lens itself.
Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 – I use this lens about 80% of the time. It’s the largest FF Sony lens I have but it is worth it’s size and weight. Most of my images are landscapes and I love wide angle shots. At f4 it’s not very fast but that does not matter to me as I am usually on a tripod and shooting bracketed images. Sometimes there is a need to have all the range you can get Sony FE 24-240mm
Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 – Awesome but I dropped mine off a cliff. This is a small, fast and very sharp lens. Combined with the in body stabilising on the A7RII I can hand hold it down to about 1/10th of a second making it perfect for twilight shooting in the streets. It’s always in the bag.
Sony E 10-18mm f/4 – I have been using this lens for a while now on my full frame camera. You can see a strong vignette in the corners at 10 mm and 18mm but from 11-17mm it works fine. It’s a little soft around the edges but I have generally had good results with it and I love the super wide field of view and it’s small size. It might just be replaced real soon with this Voigtlander 15/4.5 III Leica M Aspherical Super Wide Heliar. Here is a review by Jacob Surland.
Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f/1.2 – This is a fantastic low light lens and I have got some great star shots with it.
Cannon ‘Old” FD 85mm/f1.2 – One of the best things about the Sony system is that you can use just about any new or used lens out there from any manufacturer. Yes, most of them will only work in manual but this gives you a huge choice of lenses. This 25 year old magical lens gives a beautiful boke when shot wide open and it’s sharp. For optimum sharpness it’s best around f2. I use the Metabones adapter and turn on focus peaking and the magnification mode when using it. Shooting in manual slows me down a little and it takes practice to nail your focus overtime but it’s a fun challenge.
Voigtlander VM-E Close Focus Adapter – I use this to connect my Voigtlander M mount lens with my Sony cameras. I also use this one Novoflex Adapter for M mount. It’s neat because you can fine tune your focus using the adapter. I also use the Sony remote.
The A6500 I have found is all you need for traveling with three lenses. The three of them together with the body fit in a really small camera bag. Here is another point. You can start out by buying the older A6000 with two of these lenses for around $900 on Amazon.
Sony 10-18mm f4 – Ultra wide but reduced by a 1.5 x crop factor.
Sony 50mm/f1.8 – Fast prime. Good for low light, street shooting and portraits.
Sony 55-210mm – With the 1.5 crop factor this gives you about 82-315mm FOV.
If you’re interested in a complete hands on review of all mirrorless systems every built jump on over to Steve Huff’s ‘mirrorless central’ page.
LIGHTS & TRIGGERS
Have you ever shot with an ‘off camera’ speed light? If you want to learn fast follow this free blog. Strobist – Learn how to light.
Godox AD200 pro – Everything you want in a speed light. Godox is leading the way and no other company is keeping up with them. Shoot portraits in the middle of the day with your fastest lens wide open using HSS and your Sony camera. Have full control over both the ambient light and your flash remotely. Quality and reliability at a reasonable price. Trigger sold separately, check out the link below.
Godox Xpro-S trigger for Sony– Well priced flash trigger for Good0x AD200 pro on the Sony A7R series.
Pocket Wizzard Plus III – The best all around triggers for quality and reliability.
Jinbei HD601 600W Mono light – used for HSS on the Sony system. Works perfectly and it’s cheap.
Peak Design Travel Tripod – I have had four tripods in my life and this one might just be the best for me when it’s released.
Phantom 2 Vision + – Fun and easy to fly. Take pictures with a birds eye view and in places you could never photograph before. It fits in a small backpack and travels well.
DJI Inspire One – Big but fun. One person flies the drone and the other one controls the camera for capturing video or stills.
Sometimes I’m out flying the big stuff too!!!
NIK Collection by DxO. I use Veveza a lot and do most of my black and white conversions using Silver Effex Pro 2.
Skylum – Aurora HDR 2019 – If your into HDR and taking lots of bracketed images than Aurora HDR is the only software for processing. It works well with single images too. Trey has some neat presets you can buy over on his site Stuck in Customs.
Skylum – Luminar 4 – Lightroom is a thing of the past. Luminar 3 gives you a ‘filing’ system for all your images no matter how many external hard drives and computers you have. It’s also super intuitive to learn how to use the built in photo editor.
Tips and Tricks for Sony Cameras
Here is a really helpful video if your new to the A7R on how to use the new person tracking and eyeball focusing functions while shooting portraits. It’s really cool but it does require setting up your camera correctly. It does not work with the default settings. Gary Fong again to the rescue with a short video on how to set it up.
For those of you who know your way around Photoshop try working with luminosity masks. They will quickly give you the ability to improve your images. Greg Benz offers some free plugins for the masks which you can download from his website here.
Here is another one. Your A7R does (HSS) with a moonlight using the these flash triggers. This gives you control of the ambient light while shooting portraits outdoors and allows you to use your fast lenses wide open in mid day sun. I love being able to take beautiful beach portraits without getting up for sunrise or having to wait for sunset. But then I’m a landscape guy for the most part and I like being there when the sun rises and sets just for the experience with our without a camera. If you want more details check out this video by Jason Lanier.
Links to other things that I spend time doing.
Hilltopper Bikes powered by Dakota Lithium batteries. – Convert your bicycle to electric in five minutes.