Lately, I've been getting more and more emails about the camera gear I use, so I figured I would write up a blog post and explain a bit about what I use and why I use it. I firmly believe that gear is a tool and doesn't define a photographers style or ability, but we use what we use for a reason and my goal is to shed some light on the choices I make when shooting. Below are my top 4 lenses and preferred camera bodies for my outdoor adventure, travel, and music photography.
*UPDATE 2018: I have since sold the A7II and now use the A7III. I have also added a Mamiya RZ67 to my gear lineup. Fully updated gear post coming soon!
About a year ago, I made the switch from Canon to Sony after testing out the Sony A7 alongside my Canon gear. I quickly realized that working with two different camera systems simultaneously was becoming a hassle, so I decided to sell everything and completely switch to Sony. To be 100% honest, it hasn't been perfect and I'd by lying if I said I haven't considered switching back.
What I love:
It took some getting used to, but now that I have it, I don't want to go back to an optical viewfinder. I love being able to see exactly what I'm going to get before taking the shot. It allows me to be more in the moment, rather than fiddling with settings.
This was one of the major reasons I started looking at Sony, and let me tell you, the size and weight of this camera is incredible. Packing is easier, my back thanks me daily, and it is far less obtrusive than a DSLR. This helps people to be more comfortable in front of the camera and makes it a bit easier to capture more authentic and spontaneous moments.
The Image Quality
The image quality and dynamic range of this camera is insane. I opted for the A7II as opposed to the A7RII because for the majority of what I shoot, 42 MP is not necessary. At 24 MP, this camera gives me everything I need (without slowing down my computer). Coming from Canon, I can say that the dynamic range and shadow recovery is much, much better in the Sony.
What I don't like so much:
It is both what I love and hate about this camera. Having a fully electronic camera has it's drawbacks. I have found the camera to be much more finicky than my DSLR and random things happen at random times that I can't always explain. The LCD will turn off, the camera will freeze up, it will completely miss focus at f/8...things like that. I've now had to send it in for repair twice. I worry more about this camera than I ever did my Canon, and being limited by your camera while shooting is never a good thing.
Obviously, the pros outweigh the cons, or I would've switched back a long time ago. It is important to note that my camera is one of the earlier generations of the Sony Mirrorless system, and many of these issues could very well be a nonissue in the A7RII and A9. But I felt it necessary to detail some of my gripes with the system. I am very hopeful for the upcoming release of the A7III and feel that there will be many improvements.
All photos below are shot with the Sony A7II. Because I recently switched to Sony, these photos are not fully representative of my portfolio. If you are curious about my older work, everything was most likely shot with the Canon 6D and Sigma 35mm ART lens.
SONY FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA
This lens is big and heavy, but wow the optics are amazing. 35mm has always been my favorite focal length, and I shoot probably 70% of my work with this lens. It allows me to capture the energy of the moment, without being too wide that it's distracting. In comparison to the Sony 55mm, it is a much softer lens, but the color is great and reminds me of the Sigma 35mm ART lens I used to use.
ZEISS BATIS 85mm f/1.8
I.love.this.lens. I only recently started shooting more at the 85mm focal length, but it is an incredible tool to have for shooting landscapes and concerts. It is great for getting up close detail shots of landscapes when the environment doesn't allow me to get closer myself, as well as compressing the background to get that larger than life feel. When I shoot American Ninja Warrior, this lens is always on my camera.
SONY FE 55mm f/1.8
I use this lens when the 35mm is giving me a bit too much wide angle distortion than the situation calls for. It is great for portraits and allows me to capture more of what my eye sees, but I tend to use it less than the 35 or 85.
ZEISS BATIS 25mm f/2.0
I don't use this focal length too often, but when I do, this lens consistently delivers. I often use it when shooting concerts, as the wider field of view translates the energy of a live show better and more accurately than a 35mm. I seem to use it more out of necessity rather than creativity, but when you need to capture the wide expanse of a landscape, nothing beats it. Best of all, it is small, light, and very pretty to look at.
MINOLTA CLE (+Voigtlander 40mm)
I use this 35mm film camera for all of my personal work and have recently started incorporating it into my commissioned work as well. I won't go too deep into why I love shooting film, but there is a freedom in it that I do not get when shooting digital. Especially when traveling for personal reasons, it allows me to recognize the moments that I want captured much more easily and naturally, and then once the shot is taken, forget about it. A lot of times when shooting digital, I find myself taking the shot, looking at it, and then thinking about how I'm going to edit or what I need to do differently or "dang, this doesn't look nearly as cool as it does in real life." All these things distract from the moment, but when shooting film, I can capture the things that matter, and then very quickly shift back into being in the moment. The Minolta CLE itself is small, straightforward, and just really fun to use. I shoot primarily with Portra 160 and push one stop.
I am a big fan of their products and regularly use their camera strap and capture clip system. With those fancy little dongles on my camera at all times, I can easily switch out between different kinds of straps and attach the camera to the shoulder strap on my backpack so it is always accessible. For concerts, I use their Sling bag and for travel, I use the Everyday Backpack. (If interested in their products, click here to receive a discount on your next purchase!)
I use their money maker strap when I am shooting American Ninja Warrior. I'd say, on average, 10 people a night ask me about it. It looks super cool, but it is also incredibly comfortable and helps me keep my back in good posture when shooting long nights.
I use their accessory bags to carry all sorts of things and love their Mountain Pack with an added camera insert when I don't have to carry as much camera gear.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out!