It’s one of those questions that’s asked every now and then: “What equipment did Paul use to take that shot?”. The real answer is that it changes each time. There isn’t one perfect set of kit to shoot everything so instead, photographers have to decide which of the equipment they own is the best tool for any given situation.
Paul has detailed below the photographic equipment he owns and uses on a regular basis, along with his reasoning for selecting one item over another. While it won’t give you all the answers for each and every photograph, we’re hoping it’ll at least give you an idea of why he carries 12kg of camera gear with him when travelling… 🙂
camera bodies & digital backs
“Until 2013, I was always pretty much a “Canon shooter”. In fact, I’ve only just given away my 5D mk II which was the camera that helped me create some of my favourite images. But times change and as I found the need to provide higher quality images the lack of larger sensor options in the Canon line just got in the way.
I still keep two of my Canon bodies and lenses as my Phase One equipment can’t do it all – so for concerts etc, you’ll still see me running around with two Canon cameras instead of a Phase One XF but for almost all of my landscape work I’m now shooting with the iQ280 and trialling the new XF100MP 100 megapixel sensor digital back. It’s an amazing piece of kit, and at 80 or 100 megapixels I’m always amazed by the image quality every time I load one from the card.”
“To go with every fine camera you need a fine lens (or 4, or 5, or 6…) In my opinion, it’s true that for every £1 you spend on a camera body you should really look to spend £2 on the glass in front. Sensors are important and so are camera features, but the lens that transmits the light you want to capture onto the technology behind is critical to the quality of the final image.
From an early stage I stuck to buying only the L-series professional lenses from Canon – resulting in a setup that delivers crisp, sharp, accurate images of what I see before me. I’ve carried that importance through to my lens selection for my medium format shooting in both Phase One choices as well as the ultra-high-speed-sync leaf shutter lens from Schneider Kreaunach which is perfect for studio work too.”
Schneider Kreuznach 80mm LS f/2.8
Schneider Kreuznach 55mm LS f/2.8
Phase One 28mm f/4.5 Aspherical
Phase One 45mm f/2.8
Phase One 75-150mm f/4.5
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II
Canon EF Extender 2x L III
Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6
Canon EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6
Nikkor VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6
“In many situations there’s simply no need for a filter in front of the lens. Personally, I find them invaluable in four key situations:
1. When I want to shoot without glare over water – a circular polariser is the perfect tool for that.
2. Shooting in situations where there is high contrast between a bright (sunset/sunrise) sky and the dark landscape below – a graduated neutral density is a must.
3. Slowing down time. If you want to blur water (even when shooting at f/32, ISO35 sometimes) you really need a neutral density filter unless the ambient light is really low.
4. I’ve found one simple thing time and time again: getting it right in the camera saves 10x more effort after shooting and keeps the image quality and integrity at its highest. Filters in Photoshop are all well and good, but each time another piece of software alters an image, you’re risking the fidelity of the picture itself.
My filters of choice? Rollei’s amazing glass filters.
With zero colour-cast (unlike the offer from Cokin) they’re invisible to the final image and in my experience they have a far “cleaner” setup than LEE can offer for my Phase One system. With no light leakage at all, their 150 system is miles ahead of competition too. Cokin’s X-Pro ultra-large format slide in system is my go-to for creative effects when a colour-cast might actually help the image. Finally, for when travelling light (when I know I won’t need an ND-Grad), I use either the impossibly-thin Cokin Pure filters, or Hoya’s series of screw-in glass.”
Rollei Custom 150 Phase One filter holder
Rollei v5 100 filter holder
Rollei Soft GND 8 Filters
Rollei Reverse GND 8 Filters
Rollei ND 1000 Filters
Rollei ND 16 Filters
NiSi Square CPL II Filters
Cokin X-Pro Series Holder & Rings
Cokin X-154 ND8 Filter x 3
Cokin X-121 ND-Grad Filter
Cokin X-121M ND-Grad Filter
Cokin X-121F ND-Grad Filter
Hoya ND400 (67,77,82)
Hoya Pro1 ND8 (67,77,82)
Hoya Pro1 C-PL (67,77,82)
LEE SW150 Filter System
LEE 0.9ND x 3
LEE 0.6ND Grad
“Some of my work isn’t only shooting landscapes, but also commercial images for companies and individuals. For that, I have a range of lighting and associated modifiers to allow me to create the look I want whether out on location or in the studio.
For studio work, I’ve never gone wrong with Bowens kit and their Gemini 500R heads are great bits of equipment. Out on location, it’s a different matter (especially when you need to travel on airlines with all your equipment) so I use Lencarta’s Safari portable system with both lightweight 600ws heads as well as their stunning RingFlash system which produces great results every time.”
“Finally, a few bits and pieces that every photographer needs! I find the tripod-snobbery of many photographers frustrating – the right tripod for you may be very different to the one that’s right for the next person. I have a mix of Manfrotto gear – just like many other photographers – as well as my trusty Giottos carbon fibre setup. Both are lightweight, sturdy and really well thought out.
Then, we come to what you really need for landscape and travel photography – something to carry all your equipment in. Having spent many years (wasted many £££s) finding the bag that worked for me, I got it in the Benro Ranger Pro 500N system. So much so, I bought 3 of them just in case they stop making them! Memory cards? Sandisk, always. I’ve been the victim of other brands failing on me so it’s a personal thing and one I’ll be unlikely to change. Then, two weird ones…
When you have an 80MP medium format sensor to keep clean, an air blower doesn’t always cut it. Visible Dust’s electronic brush solution to this problem is amazing – a real life-saver out in the field. And last but definitely not least, one sure fire way to avoid sensor dust (and water for that matter) is to prevent it getting anywhere near the camera in the first place. When I’m shooting canyons, deserts, or out in bad weather, Rain Sleeves from Op/Tech are invaluable – check them out!”
Manfrotto MT055CXPRO4 Oversized Carbon Tripod & XPRO BHQ2 Head
Giottos YTL Silk Road Carbon Fibre Tripod & 652 Head
Giottos MTL 8360B Carbon Fibre Tripod & 652 Head
Manfrotto 190CXPRO3 Carbon Fibre Tripod & 054 Head
Benro Ranger Pro 500N Backpack
Sandisk Extreme Pro 160MB/s 64GB CF & SD cards
VisibleDust Arctic Butterfly 724