I get asked quite a bit what gear I use to make my photographs. To be completely honest, it doesn't really matter what camera I use. Throughout this website, there are images captured with cameras from Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Fujifilm. What truly matters is knowing the capabilities of the camera in your hands, and working with its strengths while minimizing its weaknesses. As a professional, of course I selected my camera based on its abilities, but also based on knowing how I use it. Read on and I'll explain my reasons below.
What's In My Camera Bag?
My current primary camera is the Sony A7R IV (ILCE-7RM4). In 2020 I decided it was time to move to a mirrorless camera from the DSLR I had been using. The camera itself is smaller and lighter than the DSLR I was using, and is the highest resolution camera on the market, along with the more recent A7R V that Sony released at the beginning of this year. The imaging sensor is a 61-megapixel sensor and offers about 14 stops of dynamic range, capturing more detail in the highlights and shadows than most other cameras on the market. Dynamic range is incredibly important to me, since I spend a lot of time photographing at sunrise and sunset, when the contrast of the scene can challenge even the best cameras.
The other reason I went with Sony was lens selection. At the time I switched to Sony, in early 2020, both Canon and Nikon were still early in developing their mirrorless systems. There was a lack of choice in terms of native lenses, and I was not enamored with the idea of using adapters. For Nikon's part, their road map included lenses that didn't interest me, particularly at the wide end of the range. Their top level wide angle lens is the 14-24mm and would require a special adapter to use filters, and possibly larger filters, which means more stuff to carry. The goal when in the field is to carry as little as possible, so that was a nonstarter for me. Canon's mirrorless offerings went in a similar direction, which, when added to my own personal feelings after having worked for Canon USA for nearly seven years, made that option a no-go.
Sony, on the other hand, offered a stellar option in their 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master, which a more traditional focal length at the ultra wide angle end of the lens range. While not as sexy as something like the 14-24mm or even the 12-24mm options, this lens allows me to mount filters without the need for larger sized filters or unwieldy adapters. The 16-35mm focal length has long been my go-to lens, regardless of system, so this made making the switch much easier.
Most times, the midrange lenses come down to something like a 24-70mm or a 24-105mm lens. But when Tamron announced their 35-150mm f/2-2.8 lens, I knew it would be perfect for me. Why? Well, first off that range means I am covered for a variety of situations. 35mm is moderately wide and perfectly bridges with the 16-35mm lens. And zooming all the way to 150mm gives me a lot more flexibility when I need some extra reach. Previously, when using a 24-70mm lens, I had a gap between 70mm and 100mm, and if I needed anything longer, I needed to be sure I had my 100-400mm lens in my bag. That lens is large and heavy, so on longer hikes, if I can leave it at home, I will. While I'll still need the longer lens for anything really far away, the 35-150 means I can feel better about leaving the 100-400 behind on those longer hikes.
The last go-to lens in the bag is my Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master. I jokingly call this my "Just In Case" lens, as most often I find myself working wider than this lens allows, but there are times when I see an eagle or an owl or an otter or a bear cub and I need that longer focal length. But I also love the 100-400mm for compressing perspective and creating more graphic landscape images, like Appalachian Sunset II, below. I definitely find myself looking for opportunities to use this lens when I do carry it. I only leave it behind on the longest of hikes.
Those are the three lenses I use most often. I do have a Sony 20mm f/1.8, a Tamron 35mm f/2.8, and a Sigma 105mm f/2.8 Macro, but those lenses are for specific circumstances and don't often come out for the majority of my work.
What's next in my bag? Filters! Filters are pieces of glass used to manipulate exposure. I use three types of filters. The first is a circular polarizer, which can help control haze and reflections in an image, much the same way polarized sunglasses work. Next is graduated neutral density filters, which I use to help control contrast in a scene. In my case, this is typically at sunrise or sunset, when the sun gets low, the sky is still bright, and the foreground has gotten dark. This is evident in "Clearing Storm in the Badlands", and "Thor's Well" below.
The final type of filter I use is neutral density filters. These are just dark pieces of glass that help reduce the amount of light coming through the lens to enable me to use longer shutter speeds, like in the image below, "I Am a Rock, I Am an Island". I used a 10-stop neutral density filter (essentially black glass) to allow me to keep the shutter open for four minutes. This created some awesome movement in the clouds, and really calmed the water nicely. I did also use a graduated neutral density filter to help hold back the brightness of the sunset. I normally carry 3 neutral density filters in my bag; a 3-stop, a 6-stop, and a 10-stop. This allows me enough flexibility to do what I want to do in terms of exposure.
There's a few other items in the bag but nothing too crazy. I have an intervalometer that I can use as a remote trigger as well as a timer to take multiple exposures at given intervals. This is nothing special. I have one I get off Amazon for like $20. These tend to go bad over time so I don't spend a ton on them.
Finally, there's my tripod. I carry it everywhere. I use an Induro tripod that is no longer available now that Benro and Induro have merged or whatever went on there. I'll probably be in the market for a new tripod later this year so I'll have to do some research and see who has what. Open to suggestions!
That's really it. I carry Deep Woods Off in the summer, and hand warmers in the winter. I have spare batteries and memory cards, and I keep an Allen key to tighten my tripod up when needed. On longer hikes I also bring an osprey bladder to make sure I have water. If you have any questions, just let me know!