I currently shoot with a Sony APSC mirrorless system.
My primary camera is a Sony A6500, which I acquired in August 2017, replacing its predecessor – the Sony A6000 that I’d had since November 2015. At 24MP, the A6500 offers large files in a compact body which offsets the crop sensor. It does very well in most light conditions. Given that I predominantly shoot landscapes and cityscapes, it makes for the ideal urban travel camera, which fits in perfectly along with three lenses into an over-the-shoulder camera bag. It performs well in low light conditions up to ISO1600, before noise becomes an issue.
I use the following four lenses:
- a Samyang f/2.0 12mm wide angle lens,
- a Samyang f/1.8 20mm lens,
- a Sony 24-240mm f/3.5 – f/6.3 telephoto lens, and
- a Samyang 8mm f/2.8 fish-eye lens.
The small size of my gear allow me to shoot quickly without drawing attention to myself, and keeping down the weight that I carry over my shoulders.
I rely on Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. I am a Creative Cloud subscriber and I highly recommend this to anyone who is serious about pursuing photography in any capacity.I also use the Nik Collection plugins which is now free, thanks to Google. Last, but not least, I use a noise reduction plugin from Imagenomic called Noiseware, which in my opinion, is the single best noise reduction product out on the market.
My preferred camera for travel videos is the DJI Osmo X3. It is a somewhat unique form factor, and has excellent response to varying light levels along with a stabilising gimbal and in-camera stabilisation.
When I’m looking for something a bit larger and more robust, I turn to a traditional handycam – my Sony HDR-PJ820. at 24.5MP, it has good sensitivity in most light conditions, and allows me enough manual control to get the results that I need without become too bulky. It also has a generous 64GB of onboard storage in addition to an SD Card slot which will allow me to add up to 256GB of additional storage. The HDR-PJ820 comes with an IR remote control, and in-camera stabilisation.
I rely on Adobe Premiere, and Adobe AfterEffects – also through Adobe’s Creative Cloud. I will occasionally use Apple’s iMovie application to slap a quick home movie together – but that is more the exception rather than the rule.
What? No full frame camera?
In the past, this would have been an issue. However, since 2012 or so, sensor technology had moved along to a point where cropped sensor cameras did a perfectly decent job in about 95% of scenarios to where, for most photographers, as long as you were comfortable controlling the hardware, the size of the sensor became irrelevant once the megapixels got big enough.
I’ve had two full frame cameras in the past – a Sony A7R which I absolutely loved, and a Canon 5D Mark II which I also loved. Both cameras are awesome and have the capability to take amazing pictures. I stepped away from the Canon to find something smaller and lighter. The Sony A7R came with, at the time, the best sensor on the market for a lighter body, cheaper price tag, and more megapixels when compared against the 5D Mark II. I also picked it up for a bargain at the time (there was a major promotion going on).
The Sony A7R performs really well in low light conditions, shooting 40 second exposures at up to ISO3200 with little to no degradation from noise.
When I moved to Singapore, I realised that I would have less access to dark skies, and would probably be visiting cities with a lot of light pollution over the next couple of years. I decided to sell the A7R while it still held its value (also noting that Sony had released the A7R II).
I’ve also found that while owning both the A7R and the A6000 at the same time, I shot 75% of my images on the A6000 (Lightroom has a tool that allows you to calculate these statistics). I had valid data that was sufficient for me to make the decision to downsize and stick to the compact APSC camera.
My philosophy on gear and photography
I’ve been shooting since 2006, and seriously since 2008. What I’ve learnt is that after a while, the gear becomes irrelevant. It is a true representation of the law of diminishing returns.
I also like to minimise the amount of gear that I carry, so that I can focus on getting the shot, rather than juggling all the stuff that I am carrying.
I’m a firm believer that the best camera is the one that you have with you, and that less is more when it comes being in the field and getting the right shot.
I’ve found that there is such a thing as having too much gear, to a point that it gets in the way. What really matters is:
- being present at the right time to capture the right image, and
- being in the right frame of mind to be able to see a scene for it’s aesthetics.
The first can be achieved by merely showing up and being disciplined. The second is a far more fleeting and less tangible item. It is fickle as the weather and can come and go depending on what is going on in your life.
In my experience, I come away with the best images when I am at peace with myself and have managed my stresses well. It allows me to focus and be present in the moment, to see what is in front of me for what it is, and how it may be perceived as beautiful.