My Kit Bag
In case you ever wondered what's in my camera bag!
I started learning photography with an entry level Canon DSLR. I soon discovered that it was a big, heavy and not great to carry around your neck for a 20 mile hike on the coast path! So, a few years ago I was an early adopter of Sony mirrorless cameras, which were smaller and lighter than traditional digital SLR cameras. I started with a Sony A6000, eventually upgrading to a full frame Sony A7RII. Last year I added a second camera body with the Sony A7RIII; a stunning 42MP camera for landscape photography.
Zeiss Loxia 2.8, 21mm
Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 G Master
Although I always tell my students that you should always buy the best lenses you can afford, I didn't follow my own advice and initially bought some mediocre mid-market lenses. I soon realised the error of my ways, traded them in, and now have this fabulous set of high quality lenses which take me all the way from ultra-wide at 14mm focal length, to moderate zoom at 200mm. As primarily a landscape and commercial photographer I don't find much use for ultra zoom photography, but I do also have a Tamron 200-600mm lens, but I rarely use it (other than the occasional shot of the moon). Apart from the Tamron, which isn't great quality, I would highly recommend any of these brilliant lenses.
Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 DG DN Art
Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 G Master
Filters are a critical addition for landscape photography. Circular Polarising (CPL) filters allow you to reduce glare on water and wet leaves, particularly important for photographing waterfalls and allowing you to see rocks below the water on photos of still water. CPL filters either screw in to the front of the lens, or can be used as part of a filter holder system (see below)
Neutral Density (ND) filters are like sunglasses for your camera and allow you to achieve slower shutter speeds during the daytime. ND filters are described either by the number of stops of light they reduce by (1 stop is a halving of the light entering the lens, 2 stop reduces the light by a factor of 2x2=4 etc). Another number used to described the light reduction is the ND number, which is the actual reduction in light e.g. a 2 stop might also be described as an ND4, a 3 stop as an ND 8 (a reduction of 2x2x2). The standard set of ND filters that I use are 3, 6 and 10 stop filters (ND 8, ND64, and ND1000 respectively). This allows you to achieve shutter speeds of anything between a second or so, to 30 seconds or more in the daytime. ND filters can be stacked to achieve even slower shutter speeds (e.g. a 10 stop plus a 3 stop produces 13 stops of light, or a reduction factor of 8,000 which allows a shutter speed of several minutes during the daytime. ND filters can be circular and screwed into the front of any lens with a lens thread, but this is rather limiting as you will need a different filter set for each lens diameter. The better option is to use square filters with a filter holder, which can be attached to any lens with a front thread, using an appropriate adapter ring. Cheaper filters are often Perspex, which work fine but can produce a colour cast on images (which can be removed in post processing). Glass filters are more expensive but better quality.
A second type of ND filter, is the graduated ND filter. These filters are clear at the bottom, and progressively darker from the middle towards the top; these are used at sunrise or sunset, by placing the dark portion over the bright sky, and the clear portion over the darker foreground in order to produce a more balanced exposure.
There are many filter systems available, but in my opinion, the best optically and practically are produced by NiSi. They provide high quality filters and are used by professional photographers globally. One of the key unique features that attracted me to NiSi was that the CPL filter can be easily used at the same time as square filters are used; the CPL sits behind the square filters and can be rotated by a small wheel at the back of the filter holder. On other filter systems, the square filters have to be removed in order to adjust the CPL. In my experience, the cheapest prices on NiSi filter holders and filter sets is generally directly from the NiSi website. They often offer a discount for new customer too. [Note that the link above is an affiliate link; it won't cost you more if you use it, but NiSi will pay me a small amount for sending you to their website]
NiSi V5 100mm filter holder, with landscape CPL (for use with all lenses except Sigma 14-24mm wide)
NiSi 100mm x 100mm ND filter (3, 6 & 10 stop in kit bag)
NiSi 100mm x 150mm ND grad filter (ND2 and ND4 in kit bag)
NiSi S6 filter system for Sigma 14-24mm wide angle lens
NiSi 150mm professional filter kit for use with S6 system on Sigma 14-24mm wide angle lens
Tripods are an essential piece of kit for landscape photography. As soon as the light gets low (around sunrise and sunset or after dark), or you want to do artistic long exposures using ND filters during the daytime, you have to use a tripod to avoid blurred photos. There are a huge variety of tripods available; cheaper ones tend to be made of aluminium (nice and sturdy but can be quite heavy) or of carbon fibre (sturdy but lighter, and tend to be more expensive). The most popular brands tend to sell for a premium price, so my choice is a lesser known brand called Rollei, who produce a range of excellent quality carbon fibre tripods at reasonable prices. My choice is the Rollei Rock Solid Gamma mark II tripod; an excellent carbon fibre tripod with a good balance between weight, size and stability - light enough to carry on a long hike, yet stable enough to do long exposures, even on a windy day. It even doubles up as a monopod. Better still, it's less than £200; a great price for a professional quality carbon fibre tripod.