Equipment - EPx
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"The Best Camera Is The One That's With You"

Chase Jarvis


On this page, I discuss the equipment I use in taking photos. As people were curious, I have also created a separate page on how I ended up taking photography as my primary hobby and passion.

Cameras & lenses

In line with "The Best Camera Is The One That's With You", there are currently five camera set-ups that I might bring along in different combinations:

1 My Eyes. The most important camera are my own eyes. Even when not carrying a real camera, it is still fun to try and spot nice things to take photos off. Next to being a good exercise to train one's "photographic eyes", it is also a good way to relax a bit. A good way to slow down. 

2 An iPhone 6s. This phone has a decent built-in camera. Obviously, I have this one usually with me, while its also easy to grab and take a photo with. 

3 A Sony RX100. A really compact camera that produces RAW images, while still easily fitting in my pocket. It definitely takes better photos than the iPhone or the DSX-TX30, but it is amazingly compact while still sporting a Carl Zeiss lens. I also have a Hydronalin MPK-RX100 Pro underwater housing for this camera, that allows me to use it underwater. 

A Sony A6500 with assorted Sony lenses:

- E 16-70mm F/4 ZA Vario-Tessar T*

- FE 70-300mm, F4.5-5.6 G 

- E 10-18mm F/4

- E 30mm F/3.5 Macro

This combination allows me to travel rather light, while still providing me with a good range of lenses. A great combination to bring when travelling for work, or when mainly visiting cities.

A Sony A7R II with assorted Sony lenses:

- FE 16-36mm, F4 ZA 

- FE 24-70mm, F2.8 GM

- FE 70-200mm, F2.8 GM

- SEL 20TC, 2x teleconverter

- FE 90mm f/2.8G Macro

and 10mm and 16mm extension tubes from Vello.

This is the combination I use for serious landscape photography.

When I'm going on a photo "expedition", I prefer taking both bodies. The A6500 then functions as a backup, or allows me to zoom further because of its 1.5 crop factor.

Tripods, ballheads & quick release system

I currently use three tripods:

1 A Benro C1692T with a Novoflex Magicball Mini ballhead, which is a light and compact tripod I use when I want to travel light and still want to have a tripod with me.

2 A Benro C4770TN with a Novoflex Magicball 50 ballhead, which is my preferred tripod. It's still not too heavy, but a bit too bulky to take with me on e.g. business travel.

A Really Right Stuff TFA01 mini (table) tripod, which allows me to take steady shots from the oddest of places.

Next to that, I also use a Novoflex Photo-Survival-Kit with an assortment of clamps to create different camera mounting points in challenging environments.

I have standardised on Arca Swiss as a quick release system. On the Sony A7R and A7R II I have installed L-Frames from Really Right Stuff, while I have Really Right Stuff clamps (the one with the quick release lever) on the two Magicballs on the tripods, as well as Really Right Stuff mini clamps on the mini tripod and the Novoflex survival kit.

When not using a tripod and walking around with one of the A7R's, I use a Black Rapid strap that is attached to a small Arca Swiss Mengs clamp, which in itself can then be attached to the L-Frame of the camera.

For situations where I can't really bring a tripod, I also have a SteadePod, which is essentially a "wire", where one end (with a quick release) connects to your camera, while you stand on the other hand. This provides you with a few stops more stability, in a very small package. Great for hiking and/or walking in cities, when you don't want to cary too much around.

In addition, for making panorama photos I use, when it really counts, the following components :

- 1x Mengs DY-60N leveling base

- 1x Mengs BPL-01AL large L-frame

- 2x Mengs PAN-02 panoramic heads

- 1x Mengs FNR-140 nodal slide with clamp

- 1x Fotga NNR-200 nodal slide with clamp

- 1x Mengs DV-50 dual quick release clamp

When combined, these components create a multi-row panorama setup. When travelling light, one of the PAN-02's with the FNR-140 still allows me to do basic panorama photography, albeit not using a multi-row (for which I would need the 2nd PAN-02, the BPL-01AL and DV-50 as well). The FNR-140 is also useful as a slide for macro photography.

Filters 

On each of my lenses I use a UV filter, and I also have a circular polarisation filter for each of the lenses. Mostly they are from Hitech-Formatt and some are from B+W.

Next to that, I also use a 100mm Formatt-Hitech holder system (with adaptors for all my lenses), with different ND filters and gradient filters.

Other stuff

Some other stuff I have in my camera bag:

- Several spare batteries, and chargers, for the cameras

- IR  remote control(s) for the cameras

- A Sony HVL-F43-AM flash and batteries (and adaptor to the new hot shoe)

- A Seagull Angle Finder for the A7RII.

- A Neewer filter wrench set ... great for stuck filters on lenses.

- A small torch, with a traditional lightbulb, to light up details when doing long-exposure macro work.

- Several cleaning cloths, brushes and blowers to remove dust.

- Screw drivers, allen keys, etc.

Hardware & software for post-processing

I guess I can be really short about this. I use Lightroom and Photoshop on Mac hardware. I have always believed in the stability of Unix. The only Unix on which Lightroom and Photoshop runs is of course OSX, so this leads to an obvious choice for an Apple based system.

In terms of hardware, I usually use my Macbook Air 11" when editing on the road, while using two LaCie rugged external drives to store and backup my photos. One of these will remain in my carry-on luggage, with the other one in my checked luggage. At home I use a 27" iMac with a second thunderbolt display for editing.

Am I an Apple fan? Well, I'm primarily a Unix fan, and I like good design. It just happens to be that Apple combines these elements fairly well. I would have loved to use Linux with hardware that looks as good as Apple hardware and OSX, while still being able to use Lightroom and Photoshop (natively).

At home, I store my photos on a Drobo raid system connected to the iMac I use for photo editing, which is backed up to another Drobo connected to my media server. Both Drobo's are set to use maximum raid protection. What I like about the Drobo system, is that it allows me to easily increase the actual storage capacity by exchanging individual hard drives. Next to that, I also keep an extra copy of my photos on a regular external hard drive, which I store "off site". In addition I also use Backblaze, which is an on-line backup service, as a "last resort" backup in the cloud.

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