I often get asked what type of camera gear I use and what I’d recommend, so I figured it was time to put together a blog post to share all the information about what I use and why.
Having the best camera equipment doesn’t necessarily mean you will take better photographs. You can have all the gear in the world but if you don’t know how to use it, it becomes worthless. It’s the skill set of the photographer that makes all the difference. Knowing how to use your camera properly and how to compose an image are the two most important aspects of making a great image. Sure, having a good camera that performs well in low light situations can certainly help in achieving a better overall image quality but I’ve seen some incredible images taken by people using just their phones.
Below you will find information about the equipment that I use for my photography, some of which may not suit your needs. It’s important to choose the right gear that suits you. I hope this helps if you are deciding which camera equipment to use!
First up is the camera bodies, the very first DSLR that I bought when I first started doing photography was the Canon EOS 550D. I had this camera for a couple of years until one day when I was down at the beach setting up my camera on a tripod on some rocks, it suddenly slipped and fell into the ocean which ended up destroying the camera. After that incident I upgraded to the Canon EOS 7D, which I still have to this day and I now use as a backup body. This is in case something goes wrong with my main camera while I’m out in the field I have access to another camera. My main camera is the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, it’s also the first full frame sensor camera that I bought. I find it produces amazing results and it’s also well suited for the type of photography that I do. One of the main reasons that I decided to upgrade to a full frame camera was due to the limitations of the Canon 7D and not being able to perform as well in low light conditions compared to the Canon 5D Mark III. The only major thing that lacks in it would be the poor dynamic range, however there are other camera brands on the market now that are able to capture a larger dynamic range which I am considering making the switch to sometime in the near future. This will hopefully cut down on post processing time, as I don’t need to spend as much time on blending multiple exposures together to achieve a greater dynamic range which another camera could easily capture in one single exposure.
Lenses are equally important, if not more important than the camera body itself. A high quality lens can dramatically improve the overall image quality compared to something like a cheap kit lens. My favourite lens that I currently own would have to be the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II, it’s my go-to lens for when photographing landscapes as it enables you to capture a wider field of view. The majority of my landscape images are shot with this lens and it also renders very nice looking sun stars. If you’re looking for a great lens for landscape photography, then look no further!
So, when I’m not using the wide-angle lens I’m usually either using the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II or the Canon 70-200mm f/4L. The Canon 24-70mm is really nice to use and tack-sharp. In fact, it’s the sharpest lens I own. These lenses are useful for when I don’t need such a wide focal length or for when I need the extra zoom to remove something distracting from the edges of the frame. I will also use a longer focal length lens when I want to compress the perspective of the scene bringing the background in closer and making it appear larger. For example, when photographing mountains in the distant and they appear too tiny with the wide-angle lens I will sometimes use a longer focal length lens to compress the scene. The images below shows the differences in perspective between a wide angle lens and a longer focal length lens.
Wide-angle image example Canon 16-35mm @24mm
Long focal length image example Canon 70-200mm @90mm
Tripods Tripods are an essential piece of equipment in a landscape photographers kit. I pretty much go nowhere without my trusty tripod and it’s the first piece of equipment I pack when going on trips. They are very useful when photographing in low light situations such as during the golden hour, at night or when neutral density filters are attached to the lens reducing the amount of light hitting the sensor resulting in slower shutter speeds. A good reliable tripod will help provide the stability for the longer exposures and avoid any blurriness caused by camera shake. The tripod that I use is the Benro C2682T Carbon Fiber Tripod with the Really Right Stuff BH-40 Ballhead and an L-plate that attaches the camera to the ballhead. It’s a great compact, lightweight tripod that’s relatively sturdy which is perfect for travelling with.
Filters are another useful piece of equipment for landscape photographers, however, there are a wide variety of filters out there which can make it difficult knowing which ones to choose. Personally, I use two different types of filters, circular polarising filters and neutral density filters. I use NiSi Filters for all my filter needs.
Circular Polarising Filters – A polarising filter can be used to help reduce or eliminate reflections and glare from objects such as water and can also be used to darken the sky. I mainly use this filter when photographing rainforest scenes or waterfalls as it helps reduce the glare on foliage while also increasing the saturation. The effect of polarisation cannot be reproduced or simulated in post processing which makes this filter a must have in my kit.
Neutral Density (ND) Filters – A neutral density filter reduces the amount of light hitting the camera’s sensor, enabling you to keep the shutter open for longer without over exposing the image. This works great for trying to capture the movement of the clouds streaking across the sky or getting that silky smooth water effect in photos. ND filters come in different strengths from 1 stop all the way up to 10 stops and even more in some cases (which I find is way too strong for my liking).
Another option with ND filters is whether or not to get the graduated filters, they are typically used to balance the tonality in high contrast scenes where the sky is much brighter than the foreground.
One question that I get asked quite frequently is how do I take photos of myself when I am standing in the landscape? I use a few different types of triggering systems depending on the situation, which is very simple to do. All that is involved is setting up a camera on a tripod and choosing one of the methods listed below. I will explain about each method in more detail but that can be for a separate blog post.
Wireless remote trigger
Inside my camera bag
Below is a more simplified version of my current equipment list: (updated since my last blog post on my website)
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Canon EOS 7D
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro IS
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Canon Speedlite 580EX II
3x Canon Battery LP-E6
2x Canon LC-E6E Battery Charger
Benro C2682T Carbon Fiber Tripod
Really Right Stuff BH-40 Ballhead
Really Right Stuff L Plate
f-stop Loka UL Bag
f-stop Rain Cover
DJI Phantom 3 Professional
3x Phantom 3 Intelligent Flight Battery
NiSi 10 Stop
NiSi 6 Stop
NiSi V5 Holder + CPL
NiSi 4 Stop Reverse Grad ND
NiSi 3 Stop Soft Grad ND
NiSi 2 Stop Soft Grad ND
Hahnel Combi TF Remote Control & Flash Trigger
Hahnel Giga T Pro II Wireless Timer Remote
2x Intervalometer Remote Control
AEO Photo Lightning Strike MultiTrigger Pro 4.0
Honl Photo 1/4″ Speed Grid
Apple Macbook Pro Retina 13 Inch 2013
Apple iPhone 6s
LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt 1TB
LED Lenser H14R.2 Headlamp
LED Lenser P7.2 Flashlight
2x SanDisk Compact Flash Extreme Pro 16GB – 160mb/s
SanDisk 16GB Ultra USB 3.0 Flash Drive
Sandisk Imagemate All-In-One USB 3.0 Card Reader
Eneloop AA & AAA Batteries
Sanyo Eneloop Battery Charger
Giottos Rocket Air Blower
If you have any questions about the equipment I use, feel free to leave them in the comments below.