My Gear

Originally written as a post. But I think it's worth keeping as a page in its own right.

I often get asked what I use to take my photos. Mostly the questions are about either the camera or whether I use filters. The question about filters, I think, is another way of asking whether I've done things to my photos or not using software like Photoshop. I'll explain my processing approach in a future blog.

So, let's see what I use.

On my back

This is what I take with me when I go out taking photos.

Tripod - Manfrotto

I have a Manfrotto 055B tripod with a carrying bag.
The head is a Manfrotto RC2 ball head. Ball heads let you easily adjust the position of the camera.

It weighs about 3.5kg. I wasn't prepared to pay the price for the magnesium or carbon fibre tripods.

Backpack - Kata

I have a Kata R 102 bag for carrying all my equipment. I love it - it is a delight to carry as the straps are wide and nicely padded. The outside of the bag is hardened to protect the contents. It has an access section that lets you get at the camera only, or you can open it up completely (as shown in the photo).

The interior is yellow! What a great colour, because it makes it easy to find your gear and yellow is one of my favourite colours. It has partitions with Velcro ends so you can configure the space to suit you.

And it 's big enough for me to carry all - yes, that's right - all of my camera equipment.
Fully loaded my bag weighs 6.6kg.

Camera - Canon 7D

My camera is a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) Canon 7D. It has 18 mega pixels (MP), an APS-C sized sensor, user-defined settings, and a large viewing screen. I've had the camera since November 2012.

I have my camera set as a default to RAW, aperture priority, ISO 100, f/16, mirror lock-up, and a 2s delay.

Lenses

They are all zoom lenses, which allows me lots of flexibility whilst carrying the least amount of equipment.
  1. Canon EFS 10-12mm
  2. 14% of the photos I take are using this lens. This is my wide angle lens. Because my camera has an an APS-C sized sensor, you need to multiply the lens size by 1.6 to get the effective size in a 35mm format. Or in plain English, things look bigger in my camera than  in a 35mm camera, so I need a really wide angle lens to take wide angle shots. By the way, the "S" in EFS stands for "short" and it means that this lens can only be used in Canon's APS-C cameras and won't work in full-frame sensor cameras like the 5D or 1D.
  3. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L
  4. 33% of the photos I take are using this lens. The "L" means this is a Canon professional-quality lens.
  5. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L
  6. 51% of the photos I take are using this lens. Because of my small sensor, this lens is equivalent to a 110-320mm.
  7. Canon EF 2x II Extender
  8. I only bought this recently to extend the reach of the 70-200mm lens. With this extender sitting between the lens and the camera, the lens becomes a 140-400mm lens, or in 35mm terms, a 220-640mm lens.

Filters

I have a number of different filters I use:
  1. Cokin Z-Pro filter holder
  2. It lets you slide in filters rather than screw them on the lens. Gives you a lot more flexibility. Works well, but I have to be careful with wide angle lens or the holder shows up in the shot. The X-Pro holder would avoid this, but that would add to the cost of the filters. I find the Z size holder a good compromise between functionality and cost.
  3. Hoya Pro1 Circular Polarising Filter (CPF)
  4. I use it mainly to cut reflections on water, reflections on leaves, and darken the sky. Occasionally I'll use it to increase the timing of an exposure because this filter loses about 2 stops.
  5. Cokin 2-stop ND Grad soft
  6. Singh-Ray ND Grad 2-stop hard, 3-stop soft, 4-stop soft, 3-stop reverse
  7. I started out with set of three Cokin neutral density graduated (ND Grad) filters, but have switched to Singh-Ray filters because they add infrared (IR) reduction to their 3- and 4-stop filters. This reduced the magenta colouring you get when using ND Grad filters early in the morning. I've slowly added to my collection of filters. The 3-stop soft is the one I use the most.

Other stuff

Here's a list of the other stuff I have in my bag:
  • Level: it sits on the hot-shoe of the camera and helps you get the camera set up level. This was a gift from a friend and is the most useful small piece of equipment I have. Thanks Edmund! Note: since I upgraded my camera to a 7D, which has a built-in level indicator, I've not needed to use the level gadget.
  • Cable release: so that I can press the shutter release without moving the camera. 
  • Spare battery
  • CF memory cards: 16GB SAN in the camera and a 4GB spare
  • Soft lens cleaners
  • Compass: for working out where the sun will rise/set
  • Camera manual
  • Antihistamine tablets (in case I get stung by a bee or bitten by a nasty bug)
  • Lens cap keepers: the lens cap on all my lenses have keepers on them (they attach the cap to the lens body) since I lost a lens cap a few years ago.

    At home

    The equipment I use at home is basically camera and lens cleaning equipment and the software and display for editing my photos.

    Cleaning

    I use Eclipse cleaning fluid and 10cm PecPads as wipes and Sensor Swabs to clean the camera sensor.

    Software

    I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom just about exclusively for all my photo management and editing. On the very, very rare occasion that I need to do major surgery on an photo, I use Adobe Photoshop CS4.

    Hardware

    I have a Dell U2711 monitor (27in screen) that I calibrate every three months using a ColorVision Spyder 2.

    Travelling

    If I go travelling for more than a day or so, I'll take with me a portable hard drive that reads the CF cards directly. It's an 80GB Nexto OTG. Alternatively, I'll take my laptop with me and load the photos straight from the camera onto the PC.
    I'll also take the cleaning equipment with me.