- Sony Alpha 7 RII – Camera.
- Zeiss Loxia 21mm F2.8 – Lens. Very sharp.
- Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM – Lens.
- Voigtländer 15mm F4.8 – Lens. A great wide angle lens.
- Sony FE 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 G OSS Lens.
- B+W Premium XS-Pro Digital – Clear filters, for all my lenses.
- B+W Premium XP Pro Digital – Circular Polariser for my Zeiss Loxia 21mm.
- 4 x Spare Batteries,(NP-FW50) for the Sony Alpha 7 RII.
- Peak Design: Capture Pro, Capture Lens and Shell
- Sirui W1204 Waterproof and Dustproof Tripod.
- Mefoto Backpacker Travel Tripod
- Joby Focus Tripod with a ball head.
- Sirui TY-A7IIL L-Bracket Plate (for Panorama shots).
- Tamrac Goblin Lens Pouches – soft, and in bright colours, Ideal for low light.
- Spudz 10×10 Microfibre Cleaning Cloth – clips to your pack.
- LensPen Elite Original Lens Cleaning Tool.
- Zeiss lens cleaning spray (a must against sea spray).
- Sony FDR AX-53 4K Camcorder.
- GoPro Hero 4 (with most of the housing & mounts to cope with the elements).
- Rode Film Maker – wireless microphone.
- Feiyu Tech G4 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal for GoPro.
Miscellaneous Electrical Hardware
- Petzl Nao Headlamp (2014 version).
- Petzl E-lite LED emergency headlamp (I keep one permanently in each of my three backpacks).
- Nite Ize Spotlit LED light
- BaoFeng UV-5R Two Way Radio – for emergency use, and for listening to the FM broadcast band. Insanely cheap, probably illegal!
- Garmin Vista HCx GPS (old, but it works).
- iPhone SE – with ViewRanger software loaded, and the Sun Surveyor App
- Anker PowerCore power bank – with USB leads for my camera and my phone.
- Leatherman PS Keychain Multitool
- Spyderco Schemp Rock – Knife (almost a machete)
- Spyderco Resilience folding knife
- Reflective Arm Bands
- Cigarette Lighter
- Nite Ize Knotbone Bungee Size #9 (to secure my tripod to the ground via a tent peg)
- Tent peg (to attach the bungee to)
- Various Niteize Gear ties (in loud colours)
- Zip ties
- Matador Waterproof Blanket
- LifeVenture Travel Towel – great for you, or your equipment. There are many different brands of travel towel.
- Multimat Sit Mat – there are so many sit mats out there, I chose Multimat.
Clothing (kept in a rucksack, and according to season)
- Rohan Escaper folding Baseball Cap. Folding peak for easy packing. Cord system to tighten the fit. longer peak than normal caps. – (UK) – (USA)
- Vallerret Photography Gloves – Markhof Pro Model. These are expensive but well worth it – Europe – USA
- Rohan Elite Waterproof Over Trousers – (UK) – (USA)
- The North Face Thermoball Jacket
- Rohan Merino Neck Tube – (UK) – (USA)
- Lowepro Whistler 350 BP AW – all the above-listed items will fit into this backpack!
- Lowepro Flipside Trek 350 BP AW – for lighter days, but could still take most of the above – but I would only carry a Mefoto Travel Tripod, or maybe the Joby Focus
- Lowepro Slingshot Edge 150 AW – Camera plus two lenses, and a few bits and pieces – ideal for easy days in the outdoors, or city day trips.
How do I rate it
Sony Alpha 7 RII
- 42 Megapixels – 7952 x 5304 Image Size – A good size for going to print. Printing at 300 PPI = 26 inches x 17 inches
- 14 Bit Depth shooting with Raw using Sony’s proprietary ARW format. Basically, this means lots of dynamic range, i.e. the camera can capture more of the scene
- Low noise due to the backlit sensor – great for Astro Photography.
- Insanely large ISO range up to 25600 (native). I can theoretically go up to ISO 102400
- Focus peaking (essential if you use a manual focus lens)
- Zebra Assist (to show you in live view areas that are overexposed)
- The built-in Panorama and HDR modes are surprisingly good – JPG only though.
- Built-in image stabilisation. I go down to shutter speeds way below the recommended minimum for handheld shots, with no problems.
- The camera is good value for money. This is what has made this camera very popular.
- Exposure dial on the top of the camera cannot be locked down. Consequently, the exposure dial is very easy to jog. I’ve ruined many a shot, by not noticing I moved the dial accidentally.
- Battery life is not good compared to the competition. I carry 5 spare batteries and a power pack on a big day out.
- Complex menu system backed up with a manual that can be confusing. Too much choice can be a bad thing.
- Slow focusing, and continuous shooting modes. Not a problem for most Landscape Photography. But, this ‘slowness’ seems to be the big annoyance for some. As a Landscape Photographer – I’m fine with it.
- Only one SD card slot. I’ve never had an SD card fail on me in 15 years. But, others have, so maybe another card slot would have been ideal. As of 9th November 2017, the new Alpha 7 RIII has two SD slots.
- Very long turnaround times for camera repairs – in the UK at least.
Zeiss Loxia 21mm f2.8
- This lens is sharp, very sharp.
- The focal length of 21mm is wide enough to capture most scenes.
- The wide open aperture of f2.8 combined with 21mm width, make it ideal for Astro Photography.
- I like manual focus. I could have gone for the Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8 autofocus. But from what I’ve read I believe the Loxia 21mm f2.8 is a better lens, and that is borne out by the Loxia’s higher price.
- It’s small and easy to carry and makes the camera behave well on a small to medium tripod head.
None from my point of view. I find autofocus a pain for most of my landscape shots. With Focus Peaking on the camera, manual focusing is not a problem.
Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM – Lens
- As sharp as a zoom lens can get. But, it will never be as sharp as my Zeiss Loxia 21mm f2.8.
- Beautiful bokeh. This is one of the lens’s unique selling points. For most landscape photography Bokeh is not an important feature. But, for portrait work and close up work, the Bokeh is very pleasing on the eye.
- It’s a great compromise lens for a light, one lens only, day out. 24-70mm focal length is ideal for most landscape shots.
- If you were starting out in Landscape photography, and you wanted just one lens, the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM, would be it – at a hefty price.
- Not cheap!
Voigtländer 15mm F4.8
- Nice price
- Surprisingly little distortion
- Sharp corner to corner
- Minimal vignetting in corners
- Great for architectural photography
- Lens has an infinity stop, which helps with focusing.
- Manual focus only, but with Focus Peaking on the Sony Alpha 7 RII, it’s not a problem
I’m seriously thinking about purchasing more Voigtländer lenses in the future. By the way, both my Zeiss lens and this Voigtländer, are manufactured in Japan by Cosina.
Sony FE 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 G OSS Lens
- Not overly expensive
- Built-in lens stabilisation – which is very good.
- Surprisingly sharp in Good Light
- Great for compressing Landscapes that would look dull with a wide angle lens.
- If you fancy a bit of wildlife with a reasonably priced zoom lens, the FE 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 G OSS would be an ideal lens
- Not good in low light
- The focal length ring is quite hard to rotate. Not a massive problem until you wear gloves. This said I’d rather it was slightly harder to rotate than being too easy to rotate unintentionally.
I keep Clear Filters on all my lenses for protection. B&W, also known as Schneider Glass, is the best. Make sure you are buying the ‘Premium XS-Pro Digital’ range.
Any glass added to the front of your lens will affect the quality. For minimum impact on quality, expect to pay around USD 120, or GBP 100, or more for good quality Clear filters.
I do have a B&W Premium XS-Pro Digital Circular Polariser for my Zeiss Loxia 21mm. I don’t keep it on permanently. For me, it’s only necessary when I’m shooting water, and I don’t want reflected light. Sometimes I do want reflected light – so I take the polariser off. Keeping a Circular Polariser on permanently is not advised.
I do have some B&W Neutral Density (ND) filters, I very rarely use them.
Graduated filters are not necessary, in my opinion. Remember, famous Landscape Photographers are often given free graduated filters in return for a plug of the product. Forget the mantra from the owners of Graduated filters, “It’s best to do it in camera”. Just shoot in exposure bracketing, or shoot different exposures manually. This yields better results when processed correctly in Photoshop.
Finally, don’t put anything in front you lens, except the scene you are seeing – unless you absolutely have to.
The only waterproof tripod on the market. By, waterproof, they mean the seals. It will take a dunking in seawater, which has put my previous tripods into early graves.
I really only use my tripod for those shots I’ve planned, and I want perfection. Just a heads up, a strong wind and a tripod do not mix. I’d rather risk a bit of blur on my shot than break my camera.
I rely less, and less on tripods as stability gets better in lenses, and cameras. You don’t have to shoot at f11, and above to achieve sharpness. My motto is: If it’s not sharp to your eye, you ain’t going to make it sharper by upping your aperture. As a general rule 1/30, second is seen as the lowest you can go handheld. With my Sony A7 RII, I can go much lower, and still get quality shots. Think about upping your ISO, and risking f8 instead of f16.
It’s ok for light wind days with a lightweight lens. It becomes trickier in strong winds, or with a heavy zoom lens. To be honest I don’t use it much.
Miscellaneous Photographic equipment
Sirui TY-A7IIL L-Bracket Plate
You’ll find that having your camera in portrait position will yield the best results for Panorama shots – you’ll capture more of the scene. And, of course, you might want to take single portrait position shots with a tripod. Though this version is for my Sony Alpha 7 RII, Sirui does make other versions.
This tripod is very capable of handling heavy loads 5 kg/11.00 lbs. With my 300mm on it’s still very stable. It’s great for doing ground shots or wrapping around a fixed feature like a fence post. Usually sells without the ball head, so be careful when buying. There have been complaints that top ball connection can be detached too easily.