"The Best Camera Is The One That's With You"
On this page, I discuss the equipment I use in taking photos. As some people were also curious about why I took ook photography as a hobby, 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 No-weight, i.e. 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 Ultra-light weight, which involves my mobile phone. My mobile phone has a decent built-in camera. I have considered updating my mobile phone to one with a better camera. However, when taking a serious photo, I still prefer using a camera with a more serious lens. In practice, I mainly use my mobile phone to "scout" for scenes, or to obtain a "GPS-fix" for a location at which I was taking photos with one of my "real" cameras.
3 Light-weight, involving a Sony RX100 V. A really compact camera that produces RAW images, while still easily fitting in my pocket. It definitely takes better photos than my mobile phone. At the same time, it is amazingly compact while still sporting a Carl Zeiss lens. I also have a Sony MPK-URX100A underwater house for this camera, that allows me to use it when diving, as well as a Mengs L-Frame to enable me to connect it to my mini tripod.
4 Mid-weight, involving a Sony A6500 body, with assorted Sony lenses:
- E 16-70mm, F4 ZA Vario-Tessar T*
- E 18-135mm, F3.5-5.6 OSS
- E 10-18mm, F4
- E 30mm, F3.5 Macro
as well as a:
- Walimex pro 8mm, F2.8 Fish-Eye II CSC
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 exploring cities on foot.
5 Full-weight setup, involving two Sony A7R II bodies, with assorted Sony lenses:
- FE 16-36mm, F2.8 GM
- FE 24-70mm, F2.8 GM
- FE 70-200mm, F4.5-5.6 GM
- FE 100-400, F2.8 GM
- SEL 20TC, 2x teleconverter
- FE 90mm, F2.8G Macro
as well as:
- 10mm and 16mm extension tubes from Vello
This is the combination I use for serious landscape photography and photo expeditions.
The A6500 and the two A7R II's use the same batteries, so I only need to invest in one "pool" of batteries.
Tripods & ballheads
I currently mainly (depending on the situation) 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.
3 A Really Right Stuff TFA01 mini (table) tripod with a BPC-16 panning micro ball. This tripod, allows me to take steady shots from the oddest of places. The nice thing about this tripod is that, while it is actually a tripod, it does not look like one to the eye of security personal at e.g. well known tourist locations such as the Taj Mahal. The panning micro ball even allows me to take stable panorama photos.
I also have an older Manfrotto (aluminium) and Feissol (carbon) tripods, which I keep around as spare ones. The Feissol is always in my car, in case I want to mix long exposures with other shots (where I would of course bring both the A7 RII's to the party).
To be able to quickly swap the two Magicball ballheads, and my panorama head (see below), between the tripods, I use Arca Swiss QuickLinks. This is essentially a quick release system for the connection between the tripod and the ballhead / panorama-head.
Next to that, I also have a Novoflex Photo-Survival-Kit with an assortment of clamps to create different camera mounting points in challenging environments. When I'm on a "photo expedition", I will typically throw that one into my check-in liggage.
Quick release system
I use the Arca Swiss system between my three cameras and the ballhead / panorama-head. On the Sony A7R II's and the A6500, I have installed L-Frames from Really Right Stuff. On the Sony RX100 V, I have installed an L-Frame from Mengs.
I use 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 doing macro photography, in particular when there is a need for focus stacking, I will use a Really Right Stuff B150-B Macro Focusing slide.
For making casual panorama photos I use my tripod. When it become slightly more serious, I will use a Mengs PAN-02 panoramic head with a Fotga NNR-200 nodel slide, which I keep in my regular landscape photography backpack.
When it becomes more critical, I will use a Really Right Stuff PG-01 LR compact pano-gimbal head, with a B2-40-LR levelling base, and a MPR-CL compact lever release clamp, which I carry in a separate bag.
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 Formatt-Hitec, while some are from B+W or Hoya.
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.
For the RX100 V, I also have a 42mm Carry Speed CS021 MagFilter, which is a magnetically mounted circular polar filter. The RX100's don't have a thread to mount filters. The magnetic mounting option remedies this.
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
When not using a tripod and walking around with one of my camera'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 cameras.
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 carry too much around. Admittedly, I don't use it much. But, each time I used it, I was happy to have it with me.
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 an external 1TB SSD drive from Samsung to store the photos. I also use an older LaCie external drive to store an extra backup of my photos. During flights, the SSD drive will remain in my carry-on luggage, while the LaCie HDD goes into my checked luggage. Yes. Putting a HDD in checked luggage is a risk. However, I prefer putting that one (with the backup) in the checked luggage than the SSD with the originals.
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. 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 use Backblaze, which is an on-line backup service.