Friday, 21 March 2014

Equipment overview - Part 3


We all have our favourite accessories in our camera bags, here are mine which I carry with me most of the time. Hopefully it may give you some handy tips for what I find useful.


  • It goes without saying you need to take spare batteries with you, sometimes when I'm only out to take a few shots I do sometimes wing it. A few years back on a cold morning in Cambridge I did find myself warming up my flat battery in a trouser pocket which was sufficient enough to get me a few more shots.

Cleaning cloths:
  • Very useful, spend a bit extra and get a few decent ones. I also use lens tissues which pack down very small and weigh next to nothing.

Cable release:
  • I did buy a cheap cable release, but it didn't last. I then decided to get the RS-80N3 this has lasted quite a few years, but recently the cable started to split at the base of the switch. I've bodged it with some insulation tape must get a replacement soon.

Bubble level:
  • I find a bubble level as vital as a tripod, I'm not too great at getting horizons spot on and this certainly helps. Beware cheap eBay knock-offs I bought one for 99p and popped it on my kitchen worktop and it was way off!

Rain cover:
  • If the weather isn't looking too good and I'm going to be out in all weatheres I pop an Optech rainsleeve in my bag, cheap and cheerful, weighs next to nothing, but does a good job.

Torch / whistle:
  • I often get caught out in the dark, so a tiny torch makes perfect sense an LED Lenser P3 is perfect. I've also got a Petzl Tikka head torch if I'm out early or late. I'm often taking landscape photos in somewhat remote locations on my own so I always carry a tiny whistle with me. I've never had to use it yet, but it could be a life saver. There are lots of places in the UK where you can't get a phone signal. 

  • Sunrise/sunset compass, I still like using paper maps especially OS Landranger  and this comes in very handy.
  • Quick ND reference card, I've printed out common shutter speeds and their equivalent when you pop on a high density ND filter - There is a handy app for that if you prefer.
  • Drinks stirrer - now I've got you puzzled! Occasionally when I'm taking a photo direct into the sun flare ruins the shot. Bring on the drinks stirrer, set the camera to manual on your tripod take the first shot then hold the drinks stirrer over the sun and take your second shot, blend the two together in Photoshop and no lens flare!

Lots of flare

Drinks stirrer in use - no flare

Final processed image

Monday, 10 March 2014

Equipment overview - Part 2


Filters play an important role in my photography, I would much rather try and get it right in camera than spending time on the computer back home. Lightroom does have many great features for highlight recovery, boosting shadows & graduated filters which I frequently use to fine tune my images. However, there are some effects which are very difficult to replicate in software.

My collection of filters & filter accessories

Circular filters:
  • Almost all my lenses have standard or pro Hoya Skylight 1b circular filters attached for lens protection. When I'm using any other filters with these lenses the protection filters are removed to prevent vignetting.
  • My largest lens diameter is 77mm so I've only bought specialist circular filters in this size and combine them with step-down rings for all my other lenses.
  • Circular filters do have their limitations, but they much cheaper than their slot in comparisons.
  • I've got a Hoya pro circular polariser, B&W 3.0nd (10 stop) & B&W 1.8nd (6 stop).

Slot in filters:
  • I use Hitech 100mm ND grads, I've got a set of hard & soft in the following strengths: 0.3, 0.6 & 0.9 I've also got a non-grad 0.9  

Holders & pouches:
  • I've got a Cokin Z-Pro holder, with 2 mount rings, 77mm & 67mm. I can also use my step-down rings in combination with the 77mm ring if needed.
  • Lee filter wraps provide great protection for my Hitech filters and pack down really small, you can fit three filters in each wrap.
  • I've also got a few filter pouches for my 77mm filters, with a small cardboard separator in so you can store two filters or a filter and a step-down ring in each pouch.

If I was buying again, not on a budget and prepared to wait for availability I would probably buy Lee filters, but I've been very happy with my current set-up.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Equipment overview - Part 1

Cameras & lenses

This is list of all my equipment, even on an extended trip I wouldn't take it all. I like to travel as light as possible and on most shoots will generally take 2 to 3 lenses and 1 body.


  • Canon 5d mk2 - my main workhorse purchased in 2012. Great camera all I would change is weather sealing, 100% viewfinder and a few more stops dynamic range.
  • Canon 5d - my first DSLR bought back in 2006, great camera only let down by a poor lcd.
  • 400d - bought as a backup to my 5d when I was doing weddings. Hardly been used, but I'm keen to use it for time lapse when I get the chance.


  • Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 - my general walk around lens, fast sharp (when stopped down a little) light weight and cheap. Focusing is a little slow and the build quality isn't up to Canon L series, but for landscapes from f8 to f16 it's sharper than my Canon offerings. 
  • Canon 17-40mm f4 - good for wide angle work when stopped down a little, but probably the least sharp of my lens collection.
  • Canon 70-200mm f4 - great zoom range, sharp and it's the lightest 70-200 in the range. 
  • Sigma 50mm f2.8 macro - great little compact macro, focus is poor and does a lot of hunting, but I usually use it in manual mode. If I were buying again I would probably have gone for the Canon 100mm macro. The sigma is much cheaper and is tack sharp.
  • Zuiko 50mm f1.8 - fantastic tiny cheap lens, everything is manual although I do get focus confirmation via a Big-Is OM-EOS adapter. I picked my copy up on eBay for £40.
  • Zuiko 135mm f2.8 - another Zuiko gem, cheap small and great bokeh.
  • Kenko 1.4x teleconverter - very rarely finds it's way into my camera bag even though it's quite small.