Over time many have asked me what gear I use and what to buy. What camera should I get? What wide-angle lens do you use? Or what do you use for backing up your images? Below I have tried to answer some of these questions, based on what I use and what I would recommend. If I don’t like a thing that I have bought and don’t use it, it will never make it to this list.
I will update this page as my experience with specific camera gear is deepened and when I feel confident enough about the quality of new camera equipment to share it with you.
In time, I will make get into more details with some of the camera equipment and link to it below, but here’s the overview.
Great Camera: Nikon D7100/D7200
This was my first DSLR camera. Even though it wasn’t a cheap, priced just above $1.000, I preferred a camera that I wouldn’t feel lacked essential features as I explored which way my photography journey would take me. Other photographers, that I met started out with very cheap cameras but soon felt they needed to upgrade to a more advanced DSLR. After two or three cameras they ended at the top of the enthusiast range, where you find the D7100/D7200. You might as well begin with a camera that you are satisfied with for at least the first three years. Look here for sample images and detailed information about the D7200.
Compared to cheaper models you get a lot more buttons at the back and more dial control, instead of having to enter the menu system to change settings. You get 24 megapixels CMOS. The build quality is solid and the body is weather sealed. The dials and buttons are almost positioned the same way as on the pro-Nikon D810 body, so switching between the two is easy.
The D7200, which is an upgrade to the D7100, has three times the buffer size plus the latest EXPEED 4 processor. The D7200’s AF-system is also improved compared to the D7100.
I have been very happy with the D7100, and I feel it is the best crop factor (DX) camera around. That is until the D7200 came out!
Camera Choice of Pro Photographers: Nikon D810
This camera will set you back around $3.300 for the body alone, but you’ll get one of the most awesome full-frame cameras for landscape photography. It has got an impressive 36.3 megapixels. It only shoots around 5 frames per second, which might not be enough for fast-moving wildlife or sports. However, add a battery grip and you will boost that with one or two extra frames per second. It has got extraordinary ISO handling and an expose-for-the-highlights metering mode, which is very handy for landscape photography.
Amazing Wide Angle Lens For Full-Frame: Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD
In tests, the Tamron 15-30mm take a small win in regard to sharpness over Nikon’s AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, which is normally considered top of the class when it comes to wide-angle lenses for full-frame cameras. However, the Tamron has a wider focal range spanning over 15mm compared to just 10mm with the Nikon. Furthermore, the Tamron SP 15-30mm is about $700 cheaper. In addition, the Tamron lens offers Vibration Compensation (VC), which the Nikon doesn’t. I have used this lens without a tripod, just before sunrise, and still get sharp results at a shutter speed of 1/10 of a sec. Both the Nikon and the Tamron wide-angle lenses for full-frame need a special filter holder due to the front element on the lenses curves too much. With a smaller price tag and slightly better sharpness and Vibration Compensation, I opted for the Tamron lens, and I have certainly not regretted it. It delivers sharp results every time. This is my new favorite lens.
Great Wide Angle Lens for Landscape Photography on a crop format camera (DX): Tokina AT-X PRO SD 11-16 F2.8 IF DX II
A dedicated wide-angle lens for use on a DX-format camera, like the Nikon D7200. It delivers good sharpness and does very well in comparison to other wide-angle lenses for crop factor DSLRs. I have been very happy with this lens, as it really helped me achieve first good results with my landscape photography. I would recommend this lens to every aspiring landscape photographer.
A Perfect Macro/Portrait lens: Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD (Model F017)
Read the short review of the Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Macro lens with sample images.
To me, this is a perfect match for a great macro photography lens, that can be used for other things as well. It gives razor-sharp results, is very fast and has Vibration Compensation, which is very useful, when shooting in less than perfect lighting conditions at close range, where shaking occurs more frequently. 90mm is a great focal length for doing portraits too. However, I also use this prime lens when on a walk with my family or on occasional street/travel photography sessions, where I want a little distance to my subject.
I have worked with both Formatt-Hitech filters and Fotodiox 145mm ND filters that fit the WonderPana FreeArc system. I am very satisfied with both brands.
The Formatt-Hitech filters, I have used were square ND filters that required a filter holder. While the benefit with square filters using a filter holder is that you can use it on several different lenses, I found that I actually only used it on my wide angle lens. And with square filters false light can more easily sneak through the filter holder, than with circular threaded filters that perfectly fits the lens or required filter holders. So unless you need to use the filters for several different lenses, I would opt for the circular filters you mount directly on the lens.
Especially the Formatt-Hitech Firecrest (13 stop) filter has been of my favorites of this brand. It gives you very long exposure time with no color cast issues.
I use the Fotodiox filters together with the WonderPana FreeArc holder that fits my Tamron SP 15-30mm wide angle lens. This lens doesn’t take filters directly because of the curbing front element and fixed lens hood that protects the front element. The WonderPana system is the best systems that I have seen to solve this problem with attaching filters to wide angle lenses like this. You can also get a version that fits on the Nikon 14-24mm lens.
VANGUARD Alta Pro 263AGH Aluminium Tripod with GH-100 Pistol Grip Ball Head – Medium price range
This medium-priced tripod has been my primary tripod for over a year now. It is very sturdy, solid and flexible. You can take out the center column and attach it sideways, so you can position your camera inches from the ground. This is very handy when doing macro photography. The pistol grip allows for very quick adjustment by just squeezing the grip, move your camera to the right position and let go of it again. You don’t have to loosen and tighten any knobs.
The only thing bothering me with this tripod is if you want to shoot upward into the sky, you need to remove the centre column and re-insert it in the sideway position to get full flexibility on that axis.
There are probably better tripods that cost a fortune, but when on a limited budget this tripod is great and a reliable choice.
Suggested Other Gear
Wacom Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Tablet
This tablet has changed the way I work with my images in post-processing. Everything from edge refinement, creating precise masks, dodge and burn and so on, becomes easier and more precise. Everybody is used to writing with a pencil. It is much more relaxing for your arm and hand, which you can also see in the final results. Click here for my short review of the Wacom Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Tablet.
Suggested Storage & Backup
Backup your images or I guarantee that you at some point will be sorry that you didn’t have a good backup.
For backup I use a small Synology NAS server with 2 hard drives, that are mirrored. This means that in case of a disc failure on one of them, you will have all your data on the other hard drive. Replace the broken drive and your Synology box will synchronize so your data again will be on two hard drives. You can easily configure your Synology box to automatically backup all your files from your computer or Mac (and even keep the 10 latest versions of each file, if that is what you want).
You can also setup your Synology box to upload backup to cloud services like Dropbox, Google drive or a number of other cloud services. This is great in case of a fire in your house or if someone steals your Synology NAS server. A fool proof backup system is in short to: backup your PC to your Synology box and then backup your Synology box to i.e. Google Drive.
Remember you need to buy the hard discs separately.
You can for example use something like: WD Red NAS Hard Disk Drive at Amazon.com