Time and time again you hear the same phrase, “It’s not the gear that makes a good photographer, it’s knowing how to use the gear.” While this may be true, there are limitations on what you can create with the equipment available. At the same time, thousands of dollars of camera gear won’t take award winning photos itself. I’ve put together a list of my most essential items that never leave my bag, so let’s dive right in.
Believe it or not, I started my photography career a bit backwards. Starting mirrorless in 2013 on a Samsung NX1000, I quickly found myself in the hands of a Canon DSLR due to lack of lens selection. A year or two pass and I’m asking myself, should I go back? After all, Sony had already released the Alpha line and held down the mirrorless fort with no competition. It was a long argument with myself, but I just couldn’t go back. Sure, mirrorless is smaller and lighter, but I’m a 6 ft. 200lb construction worker. Those few ounces aren’t life changing to me. Weather sealing was important, and Sony just didn’t cut it. Constantly shooting the coast, I’ve caught myself under a few waves that left me soaked head to toe.
The main reason? I had too much time and money invested in Canon to teach myself the muscle memory and familiarities of another camera system, which is why I currently shoot with a Canon 5D Mark IV. The dynamic range of that camera is so impressive, I can pull details out of shadows and reduce highlights that I thought were too far gone, a necessity in landscape photography.
I decided to go with Tamron for my glass. After reading an article by astrophotographer Michael Goh, he stated that the lens he used was the Tamron 15-30mm F/2.8 SP. As an astrophotographer myself, I need a lens that is tac sharp corner to corner, and this lens delivers. The lens itself is quite large, heavy, and boasts a HUGE spherical front element. But it can take a beating, and is an exceptional lens with a not so scary price tag.
To accessorize the 15-30mm, I purchased the SW150 system from LEE Filters. Because of the spherical element, a special filter system is needed. I use a 1,2, and 3 stop ND Grad to balance the light between the foreground and sky, as well as a 10 Stop ND filter to cut light altogether for those smooth long exposures.
Another great lens by Tamron is the 150-600mm F/5-6.3 SP. Whether I’m capturing wildlife, or getting those really punched in, compressed shots, this lens is perfect. Again, it’s extremely sharp with a large enough focal range, that you really don’t have to worry about missing a photo.
Of course, a large system like this needs a steady base, so I’ve gone with the MeFOTO Roadtrip Aluminum Tripod. This set of legs is light enough to take on long hikes and durable enough to withstand all the elements. My favorite part, the legs are easily disassembled for easy maintenance and routine cleaning. The ball head shows no mercy holding up my camera fully loaded, and preforms exceptionally well in high winds.
My bag is loaded with other miscellaneous items that get me through day to day shoots, but these are definitely the most important. They are the backbone to my landscape photography, and the bread and butter to my creativeness. Equipment is most definitely subjective, and differs with the comfort from person to person, but I’ve found what works best for me.