My Gear

I get a lot of questions about the gear and lenses I use, and in particular, which lenses are good for which circumstances. As you may know, certain lenses are much better at portraits compared to landscapes or night photography. So, I’ve compiled this quick guide detailing all the gear in my backpack.

THE CAMERA
I shoot exclusively with a Sony A6000 camera. This is a fantastic camera that is part of Sony’s large line of mirrorless cameras. Mirrorless camera offer all the same functionality of a typical DSLR but are often smaller, lighter-weight, and more compact. I needed something that would be easy to carry around in a backpack, so a mirrorless was a great choice. This camera is an awesome introduction camera for anyone looking to try their hand at photography. It is 24.2 MP with a 3-inch screen, OLED Viewfinder, and ISO up to 25,600 and typically comes with a standard 16-50mm lens.

Pros:
Picture quality: As I mentioned above, the camera shoots in 24.2 MP, which, despite the camera being 3 years old, is still near the top of the class in the industry. The pictures are crystal clear, and if you’re looking to just share pictures socially (i.e. with friends, on social media), this camera is your answer.

Ease of Use: This camera is very simple to use and the controls and settings are very intuitive. If you’re a first-time photographer and want a camera that can help you learn, this one is super beneficial. I shot in “Scene Selection” mode for the first couple months of use and that did just fine.

Battery life: For the every day photographer, the battery life on this is awesome. You can shoot for an entire day and not need to charge or replace batteries. I can remember quite a few instances where I turned it off and on and on and back and forth about 100 times and it still lasted throughout the day.

Lifespan: Sony continues to innovate and add new cameras to their mirrorless lineup. With that, plenty of companies continue to make high-quality e-mount lenses. This is great because you will never have a shortage of lenses and accessories with this camera and you can continue to use it for a long time.

Low-light capabilities: This camera performs excellent in low light. With ISO settings up to 25,600 and as low as 100, this camera is effective in the middle of the night or in daytime. I’ve found it an especially great camera for night photography.

Cons:
Price: While I would argue that it’s a reasonable value for the features you get, the starting price point of $600+ can be a turn-off for some. It is a great camera for every day use but you may be able to find cheaper options if you’re not willing to spend that much.

Non-touchscreen: This isn’t a huge hit against the camera. It would have been helpful if the back screen was a touch screen, as a few other LCD screens on other cameras are, but the camera functions just fine without it.
Overall:

This is an AWESOME camera. I can’t recommend the Sony A6000 enough. It has been phenomenal for both landscape and portrait photography and has allowed me to take professional-level pictures with ease. If you are in the market for a camera, this one will do the trick, no matter what you’re looking for.

THE LENSES
Sony 16-50mm f3.5
Focus Type: Autofocus
Best Use: Landscape, Portrait
Example picture:

Denali National Park Alaska
Fall colors across Denali National Park in Alaska

The base lens is excellent for landscape shooting and portrait shooting. I always tell people that if you are a beginning photographer looking for a great learning kit, this camera/lens combo will be awesome for about 90% of the things you need.

Rokinon 12mm f2.0
Focus Type: Manual
Best Use: Landscape, Night shots with foreground subject
Example picture:
IMG_8520
This is my go to lens for both landscape photography and night shots. It has a wide range of focus and does excellent in low-light. It it especially useful when you have an object in the foreground (such as a tent or tree) and you want to focus on the Milky Way in the background, like the picture above. Aside from night photos, I keep this lens on to shoot for most of my landscape pictures as well. It is an awesome all-around lens that is effective for many purposes. This is a manual focus so at first, it can be tough to understand just how to focus the camera and what settings to use. I remember it took me a couple weeks/months to figure out how to get the shot I wanted. But once I figured it out, I never took it off. This is an amazing lens which I highly recommend.

Rokinon 50mm f1.4
Focus Type: Manual
Best Use: Portraits, Night shots with no foreground subject
Example picture:

Capitol Reef National Park Utah
The Milky Way lights up the night sky over Capitol Reef National Park in Utah.

This is a lens I just started using recently for night photos. I primarily use this for portrait photography, but someone recommend I try this for Milky Way shots too. This has a much closer zoom than the first lens. In the pciture above, the lights/cars/mountains are about a milke away. But on the flip side, I produces clear, quality shots and I’ve been really pleased with the pictures I’ve taken with it. Again, this one is a manual focus so it can be tough to understand the settings right off the bat. But it’s an awesome all-around camera.

Sigma 30mm f1.4
Focus Type: Autofocus
Best Use: Portraits, Landscape
Example Picture:

Plain of Six Glaciers Trail
The end of Plain of Six Glaciers Trail in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.

This is my most recent lens purchase. It is a small, compact autofocus lens that I use for both portraits and landscape photography. The low aperture makes for a nice blurry background and a crisp, clean subject in the foreground. It is perfect for if you’re shooting a person or group of people with a nice blurry background behind them. It is also a great lens to simply leave on the camera and take every day pictures without having to worry about focusing the lens.

Kamlan 50mm f1.1
Focus Type: Manual
Best Use: Portraits, Macro Landscape
Example Picture:

Overlooking the Cascades.
Peering out over a hazy day across the Cascades in Central Washinton.

This is my newest lens, but also my go-to for portraits. The f1.1 is as strong as you will find anywhere on the market. It produces crystal clear pictures with excellent bokeh. Secondly, it is a small, intuitive lens. It is easy to use and I had no trouble adjusting for clarity while shooting. It is a little heavier than a few of the other lenses I have but I won’t knock it for that. It is excellent for macro photography (such as far-off landscapes) and INCREDIBLE for portraits. It delivers comparable quality to similar high-end lenses in the market but for a fraction of the cost.

OTHER GEAR
Abonnyc Camera Backpack
This is an absolute beast of a backpack. It is comfy, durable, waterproof, and has room for thew camera and between 4-6 lenses (depending on size). I take this thing everywhere, as it also has room for my tripod, my laptop, and food/water if necessary. The backpack is such a crucial part of lugging around gear, so I highly recommend this one.

Sony Tripod
A tripod is a MUST if you’re looking to shoot at night. It is also required if you are interested in shooting long-exposure landscapes, such as the “smooth water” effect on a waterfall or river. This is an excellent choice for a cheap but durable tripod.

Wireless Remote Control
This piece of equipment isn’t super necessary, as I hardly use it. This remote allows you to control the shutter from around 30 feet away. It is useful if you’re looking to set up the camera and get a group picture or if you want to snap a picture without having to touch the camera.