Over the years I've always looked at the pages showing which gear other photographers are using, so I felt it only right to include this information too. Although you should know up front that it doesn't really matter that much. There is of course very large difference in quality and technical capability between a mobile phone and a DSLR, but I'm presuming that if you're reading this then you have or are interested in owning a DSLR, Mirrorless System or something similar. From this point, at least for the areas of photography I'm interested in, there isn't really a great deal of difference.
There is one thing though that I feel is missing from a lot of gear advice, but nevertheless important, especially if you are just coming into the hobby. This may seem strange, but it's 'look and feel', you have to be comfortable with your choice of camera. You will use something more, if you enjoy using it.
Another big point is the budget. It's important to remember that the camera is just part of what you are going to need, depending on your interests they'll be other lenses, a tripod, filters, etc. Lenses are not an area to skimp on, the quality of the lens is in some ways more important than the camera. There is no point spending a lot of money on a camera with a high quality sensor, if you're going to put low quality glass in front of it. The same goes for filters too.
I use the Sony A7 system. At the moment I have the Sony A7 mkIII, a Sony A7 mkII and a Sony A6000. I like to carry two bodies most of the time. Being lucky enough to have a choice of crop and full frame as the second body opens up different opportunities with reach.
I tried in 2017 to use the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, but I had some issues that I couldn't get around, so I moved back to Sony. You can read more about this in my blog.
Support - Tripod / Monopod
This was another learning curve. I knew that I needed a tripod as a wanted to use slower shutter speeds, but at the time I thought that one tripod was just as good as the next at keeping the camera steady. I was wrong.
Before going into my tripod story this is the compact version of what I have learnt:
- There is really no point buying a cheap tripod. It will not hold the camera as steady as you want it to and it will fall apart quickly.
- It is worth spending the bit extra to get the carbon version. It is not only lighter but also more stable and resistant to vibrations.
- If you do decide to go with the cheaper version, you will soon go out and get the other one. It might be more expensive at the time, but it is cheaper than buying two!
I started with a very low cost tripod. It was compact, small enough to fit in a bag and seemed to be exactly what I needed. After a while of use the leg clamps got looser, tightening them didn't help, this meant it was shaky. Compact, well compact actually translated to incredibly small. I needed a new one!
Still not that experienced and not entirely sure what I was looking for, I went to a local photography shop for advice (Side note: There are some photography shops that will base their advice on what they need to sell, and not necessarily what you really need). I ended up purchasing a tripod, that was very good but didn't really fit to what I wanted to use it for. I happily used this tripod for a few years, it held up very well on a number of hikes in a lot of weather conditions and took quite a beating without taking any real damage. I sold this one recently as I no longer used it much. As it didn't really fit, I never really felt that comfortable with it I'd purchased a second tripod which was sturdier.
With the experience of other selections behind me, I had a better idea of what I was looking for. With a little more online research I narrowed it down to one from either the Gitzo Systematic range or the Sirui Reporter range. I finally went for a Gitzo, specifically the GT2542LS. Due to a very lucky set of circumstances, I now have the GT2542LOS.
I am very happy with my choice, the stability is incredible, the weight is a little more than I had before, but I now don't mind carrying more weight if it means I gain the stability. On top of this, although not important to the function, but does go back to the statement of using something more if like it. For me, it is a stunningly beautiful design. It is very rare that I will be out taking pictures without this tripod
I have three other means of support, a Manfrotto Manfrotto MT190CXPRO4, it's lighter and more versatile in respect to macro work, a Sirui P-306 monopod and a very light and compact 3 Legged Thing EVO3 Punks Rick.
I use two heads on the GT2542LOS, a FLM CB-48FT II ball head with the additional 15° Stop function paired with a Sirui PA-20 Panorama head and a SIRUI PH-20 gimbal head depending on the situation, but primarily the ball head.
FLM is a local German company that make a well engineered and sturdy product.
I've also been very pleased with the quality of Sirui products.
- Sony - SEL1635Z
- Zeis Batis - 2.8/18
- Sony - SEL90M28G
- Sony - SEL100400GM
- Sony - SEL1670Z (APS-C used on the Sony A6000)
- M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm 1:2:8 PRO
- M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12‑40mm 1:2.8 PRO
- M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40‑150mm 1:2.8 PRO
- M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 300mm 1:4.0 IS PRO
- M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm 1:2.8 MACRO