We sometimes get questions about the kinds of photography equipment we use to create our images. We also briefly touched on this topic in the Adventure Photography class that we recently taught at the REI in Asheville. As a result we decided to create a post that we can point people to! The following is all about equipment in an effort to answer the following question. Photography gear: what camera, lenses and accessories do we use?
Camera Body Type: Mirrorless Digital Cameras
What’s a mirrorless camera?
Basically mirrorless cameras (in very watered down terms) is lacking a mirror that most SLR cameras have in them. This makes mirrorless cameras smaller, lighter and quieter. Some people were hesitant about mirrorless cameras when they first came out and some people still don’t like them at all but I am head over heels with mine and would not trade it for another. It’s all just a matter of preference and what you’ll be using your camera for.
The setup we use the most often is the Fuji X-T2 with a 16mm lens.
The X-T2…ahhh, how to explain this camera. I had my eye on the X-T2 for a while and after working as a second shooter for a wedding last November, went the very next day and traded all of my Nikon gear in for the X-T2. I purchased the body-only instead of the kit and bought the 16mm lens to go with it as well as the 35mm lens shortly thereafter.
I love the quality of images that this camera offers. At 24 megapixels, there’s enough information in your photos to print them with confidnce AND print them large. It also offers 4K video for those of you out there that also want to be able to take moving pictures. This camera feels good in my fairly small hands and the controls are located easily enough so that you can manipulate them pretty quickly and with a little practice without having to take your eye away from the viewfinder.
I also love that this camera has two memory card slots, is Wi-Fi capable, weather sealed and even shoots Ultra HD movies. My favorite feature of all though? The joystick that allows you to quickly choose your focal point. This is a huge upgrade from the X100S that forced you to use the arrows in order to control focal point, sometimes unfortunately causing you to miss shots because you’re fiddling with a small button. Not anymore. This joystick is intuitive and awesome whether your shooting portrait or landscape.
From an aesthetic point of view, I also just like the way the camera looks. People regularly ask if it’s an old film camera (it’s not) because of the design: square angles, rugged body and classic lines.
Most of all, this camera is just plain fun to shoot with and I already had confidence in the brand because of my experience with the Fuji X-100S.
I started traveling with this camera a couple of years ago. The first time was on a trip to the west coast. I had shot with a Nikon D7000 for a couple of years and had several different lenses for that camera body. Most of the time I used the 70-200 but I also had a fisheye and several other prime lenses. Still, for this particular trip I knew we’d be doing a lot of hiking and so I wanted something smaller and lighter. My friend, David King, a professional shooter and one of my photography mentors, suggested I look into the FujiX100S. He said I could expect a lightweight and compact design as well as something that offered high quality images. Was it too good to be true? He hadn’t steered me wrong thus far, so I went ahead and took his advice. And he was right. The camera performed better than my expectations.
The X100S has been on numerous trips with me and continues to be a camera that I value and hold onto, even though these days I’m shooting almost 100% of the time with my Fuji XT2. It makes a great backup camera and is the one I reach for on expeditions because of it’s compact size and low weight. For those of you looking for more of a wide angle lens, you can achieve that with the conversion lens pictured above.
And last but not least, the Fuji X-T1!
Caroline shot with this camera for about a year before making the jump to the X-T2. It was her first camera and we think it’s a big step up from the X100S but also a step down from the X-T2. Though this camera jumps up in megapixels, it still forces you to focus with the small buttons like the X100S. This camera also doesn’t have quite as big a range of ISO, it only goes up to 25600 ISO (great compared to older cameras but no match for the X-T2).
If you choose wisely, you may own certain lenses for life. Good glass really never goes out of style. And if you stick within a certain family, you may be able to use your lenses on several different bodies. For example, we can interchange our lenses on both the X-T2 and the X-T1.
Before investing, first determine whether or not you prefer prime lenses or zoom lenses. The debate about which photographers choose to use is a lengthy one but ultimately has to do with preference.
We shoot with prime lenses because we prefer to move our feet to get our shots, love the clarity and sharpness that prime lenses offer and also require really wide apertures that our primes give us. We have nothing against zoom lenses (like I said earlier, one of my favorite all time lenses, the 70-200 was a zoom lens) but for what we’re doing these days, we love primes.
This is our go-to lens. We shoot almost all of our work with this lens except for weddings and engagements. It’s super-wide which allows us to share a lot of information about a place or space. It also does so without distortion. The lens gives you great bokeh (the blurry effect that people love!) and the aperture range goes from f/1.4 to f/16.
The 56 mm lens is a beautiful lens and is perfect for portraits and weddings and engagements where space is critical to making your subject(s) comfortable. After all, who wants to feel like they’re having their pores being photographed? No one! If we want our subjects to relax into the moment we need to give them a little bit of space.
This is also a great lens for portraits, weddings and engagements. It’s a lot of people’s go-to lenses. If you are just starting out and only want to invest in one all-around lens, we recommend this one.
Other gear we’re using:
BLACKRAPID Camera Straps
Wrist Strap Breathe – This is the strap I use most often when we’re walking around in a new city. It keeps the pressure and weight off of my neck. It also allows me to shoot something at a moment’s notice since my camera is literally at my hand. I also have the confidence in it to not worry about drops or accidents when I’m not shooting.
Curve Breathe – We also get a lot of heavy use out of this strap. It does a great job at reducing shooting fatigue by keeping the weight off your neck. It also distributes the camera lens and body weight evenly and is a great way to explore on long outings with your gear.
I bought this tripod a few years back and it’s been super durable and withstood numerous adventures. It’s made of aluminum and though there are lighter ones on the market, this one isn’t too bad weight-wise coming in at 2.6 pounds. It also folds down pretty small and is quick to set-up. Not recommended with very large lenses or in high winds! You’ll definitely want something way more sturdy for that. It’s good though for most situations and with the gear we use and is how we’ve done most of our self-portraits and astro-photography!
Photography gear recap
One thing we can’t over emphasize is that though the kind and type and quality of gear you have will have an impact on your photos, it will never supersede the actual person creating the images.
There are so many features and functions and brands of cameras these days but we’ve just chosen to highlight what we use and love. It’s by no means the end all be all of photography gear.
We recommend shooting photos with anything and everything you an get your hands on. If you have a phone and it takes pictures, shoot with it!
If a relative no longer wants or uses a camera and wants to give it to you, try it out! You will learn something from every single piece of gear you use. The most important thing is to just get out there and shoot. It’s not the camera that makes the photographer.
What questions do you have? Please leave them in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer them. Are you happy with your camera gear? We’d love to hear about your experience even if it’s not a Fuji you’re working with.