On this page I have listed the gear that I personally own and have tested (and would happily recommend to other Sony Alpha owners). In the comments alongside each product I have listed my reasons for choosing this product and why it would find itself going into one of my six camera bags for a particular shoot or project I am working on. I have also provided a link where you can purchase this product from B & H Photo Video.
The movie above outlines one option for packing 7KG or 15.5 lbs of luggage (including the bag) for carry-on luggage. The gear in the bag changes depending on the shoot but I rarely carry more than 7KG unless the shoot requires lighting equipment.
WARNING: Beware – U.S. citizens traveling outside of the U.S.A. will encounter the 7 KG (15.5 lbs) weight limit when transferring to European and Asian airlines in addition to the size limitations).
RX100: There are five versions of this pocket-rocket. The 1-inch sensor is one of Sony’s most remarkable sensors in recent years. It is used by Canon for its RX100 clone. Combine the quality of this sensor with a stellar wide-aperture Carl Zeiss zoom lens and this compact camera can match entry-level DSLRs for quality. It has a very impressive build quality and is reassuringly solid. As the lens withdraws into the body this camera can easily be put in a jacket pocket or clutch bag. The Mark III, IV and V models have the pop-up EVF – which is worth paying the extra money for. Most compacts these days don’t capture images that are too different to smart phones but this camera is the exception to the rule. It is the pro-photographer’s compact. How Sony crammed all of this into this little bundle-of-joy is a miracle.
Alpha a6500: This is the 24 Megapixel E-Mount Alpha. It has the same lens mount as the A7 cameras but features the smaller APS-C sensor (sometimes referred to as a ‘cropped sensor’). It has really fast Autofocus and can shoot up to 11 frames per second. When I need to travel really light this would be the Alpha that I would choose. The lenses for this camera can provide a substantial weight saving compared to the equivalent full-frame lenses for the A7 Series cameras. The camera provides remarkable performance in terms of dynamic range and high ISO performance, but when the absolute best IQ (image quality) is required the full frame sensors of the A7 cameras will offer superior performance. This camera is an upgrade to my older A6300 cameras and offers a bigger buffer and Steadyshot inside. Like the A6300 it also offers Eye-AF in AF-C which is a great feature to ensure shallow depth of field portraits are reliably sharp.
A7RII: Camera of the year 2015. The original A7R was a landmark camera in the development of mirrorless cameras. The camera did have some quirks that had to be accommodated for the discerning photographer. All of these foibles/glitches were fixed for the second generation A7R. These include a first-curtain electronic shutter that is quieter and a silent shooting mode. A minimum shutter speed can now be assigned in any exposure mode. Steadyshot inside together with the dampened shutter dramatically reduces the risk of camera shake and shutter shock. Add a host of other features including 4K movie recording, 399 Phase Detection points covering a massive area of the sensor, improved EVF, high ISO performance and dynamic range and this camera is certainly a camera to be reckoned with. Probably the most ground-breaking feature for Canon users and the industry as a whole, is that this camera can maintain the AF performance of most Canon lenses via an intelligent adapter such as the Metabones Mark IV.
A7SII: This Mark II version of the ground breaking A7S camera is primarily pitched towards movie makers. The original A7S was also picked up by stills photographers who wanted to capture images in extremely low-light conditions. With its increased low-light capability, the A7RII is now probably the better option for low-light stills. Where the A7SII really shines is its high ISO movie capture capability which cannot be matched by any other ILC on the market. The Steadyshot of the Mark II makes hand-held movies possible in some instances. 100/120 frames per second is now possible at full HD and 4K can be recorded internally to the memory card. The new S-Log 3 Picture Profile of the Mark II is also easier to grade for newcomers to video post-processing. The advantage of the internal 4K over the A7RII is this can be captured using the full sensor without pixel binning. The A7RII can only capture 4K to the card without pixel binning in crop mode (super 35mm). Compared to the competition this is ‘cheap as chips’.
A7II: This second-generation full-frame 24-Megapixel A7 mirrorless camera represents the best value for photographers wanting to upgrade from a cropped sensor mirrorless camera or DSLR. It has great In-Body Image-Stabilisation (IBIS) and its hybrid phase-detection autofocus will allow Canon lenses and Sony A-Mount lenses to be focussed quickly. Photographers interested in capturing fast-action or sports should be aware that the autofocus speed of the A77, A99, A6000 and A7RII would be a more suitable choice as the AF, although accurate, is not blazingly fast. The A7II was my back-up full-frame camera on professional shoots until I took delivery of the A9.
A7RIII: thisthird generationfull-frame 42.4-Megapixel A7 mirrorless camera represents the premium high-resolution mirrorless camera currently available from Sony. Sony appeared to have listened to any criticism levelled at the A7RII (camera of the year 2015) and resolved it with the release of the A7RIII (camera of the year 2017). This is now my primary professional camera (only switching to the A9 when the ultimate action camera is required).
The A9 is the fastest mirrorless camera in Sony’s E-Mount lineup. It is a no compromise 20 frames per second camera built for sports, action and fast-moving wildlife. My extended review of why I use this camera can found here: http://www.markgaler.com/sony-a9-review
SEL24240: This lens is designed for the A7 full-frame mirrorless cameras and has a powerful 10x zoom. It is the lens to attach to an A7 camera if you don’t want to be changing lenses when you are out and about. It is often described as an ideal travel lens as it is a way to reduce the overall weight of your camera kit. The compromise is that this lens is not that bright (you don’t have access to wide apertures – especially at the telephoto end of the zoom range) and most of the 3X Sony Zeiss and Sony G zoom lenses are sharper at all focal lengths. I now use the FE 24-105 as my go to travel lens.
FE1635F4Z: This is one of my go-to lens for Landscape work. It has an impressive 16 mm ultra wide-angle field of view when zoomed out, and is Zeiss sharp with minimal distortion. It has OSS (Optical Steady Shot) which makes hand-held work possible in low ambient light on the A7/A7R cameras. It’s widest aperture is f/4, but this lens does most of its work at f/11 or f/16 for landscape work, in order to increase the depth of field and shoot at the sharpest possible aperture.
ON LONG-TERM REVIEW with the NiSi S5 Filter System
FE 1224 F/4 G: This is Sony’s Ultra Wide Aperture Zoom lens. It has an impressive 12 mm ultra wide-angle field of view when zoomed out, and is very sharp with minimal distortion. It’s widest aperture is f/4, but this lens does most of its work at f/11 or f/16 for landscape work, in order to increase the depth of field and shoot at the sharpest possible aperture. The lens hood is fixed and there is no thread on the front of the lens for attaching ND or Polarising filters. I use this lens in conjunction with a NiSi S5 filter holder that takes two 15mm square filters and a circular polarising filter.
FE2470F28GM: The 24-70 f/2.8 zoom is a classic focal length and aperture for most working professional photographers. This lens was released with the 85 F1.4 GM lens and showed Sony were interested in creating lenses with the highest possible IQ (Image Quality). It is spectacularly sharp and have very fast AF. Sony make a Zeiss F4 24-70 zoom lens for those photographers who are wanting to travel light. For optimum performance, however, (corner to corner sharpness) the GM f/2.8 version is the lens of choice for many Pro photographers. I decided to make the switch to the FE 24-105 as it is a little lighter and I often finding myself working around the 100mm focal length for portraits. I do not miss the f/2.8 aperture as I am usually traveling with two or three wide aperture primes (FE 2.8/35, FE 1.8/55 and FE 1.8/85).
FE70200F4G: This is one of may favourite Sony lenses. It delivers all of the performance that professional photographers expect from this classic telephoto zoom range. It’s f/4 aperture keeps the weight down so you can easily shoot with this lens all day without having to look for the support of a monopod. The lens comes with a collar that allows you to attach the camera/lens combo to a tripod or monopod at its centre of gravity. The lack of f/2.8 is not a concern for me, as images captured at f/4 or f/5.6 with this lens have plenty of background blur when zoomed in. It has a useful 72mm filter thread that is shared with the FE 1635 F4 (one set of filters covering both zooms).
SAL70400 f/4-5.6 GII: This A-Mount lens gave me the reach I sometimes need when the 70-200 was not long enough and before the FE 4.5-5.6/100-400 GM OSS lens became available. It has no internal image stabilisation so is only useful for the series II E-Mount cameras and the A-Mount DSLT cameras that have Steadyshot Inside and Phase Detection AF. I attached this lens to the A7RII using Sony’s LA-EA3 adapter.
FE 100-400 GM OSS: This is the perfect companion lens for the A7RII, A7RIII and A9 cameras when you need maximum reach for sports, action and wildlife. This lens is fast and very sharp at its maximum aperture. When shooting in crop mode on the 42.4 megapixel cameras it provides an equivalent focal length of 600mm while capturing 18 Megapixel images. Alternatively it can be used with the A9 and 1.4X Teleconverter for a reach of 560mm (840mm in APS-C mode).
SEL35F28Z: This is the smallest and lightest FE lens, so if you need to travel light this is the go-to lens. It is one of the first two native Zeiss primes available and was received with excellent reviews. It is very very sharp and is the classic focal length for street photography. I hardly ever travel without this lens in the kit. It is usually attached to the camera as the ‘standard’ lens before swapping out to another lens. There is an f/1.4 lens in Sony’s lineup for photographer’s who need to isolate a subject by blurring the background. Although the 1.4 is even sharper, it does pack a lot of extra weight to achieve the very bright f/1.4 aperture. This lens has a very compact lens hood design that keeps the total size down. Some users who don’t care for the look of this design and replace it with an aftermarket product. Filters can be attached either to the front the lens hood or behind the lens hood using the more common 49mm thread that is shared with the FE 55 F1.8.
SEL55F18Z: This is one of the first two Zeiss primes released with the A7 cameras back in 2013. It was tested as one of the sharpest AF primes ever made. It has had excellent reviews from anyone who has tested or owned this very sharp lens. Although it is more expensive than the Nikon or Canon equivalents, it is also out of the ball park in terms of optical quality. It has been compared with the likes of the Carl Zeiss Otus lens which is more than double the price of this lens. Not all wide aperture lenses are sharp wide open, but this FE 55 is sharp at its widest aperture of f/1.8. This is great for isolating a full length portrait from their background.
SEL35F14Z:This is the second 35mm prime in my lens lineup. It is a good deal larger and heavier than the f/2.8 Zeiss but has the advantage of an f/1.4 bright aperture which is ideal for isolating a subject from their background. This is especially useful for movie recording as it has a ‘clickless’ option for iris (aperture) control. I feel tis is the perfect companion less for the FE 28135 F4 as it can cover the very shallow depth of field that is sometimes required when working at a wider focal length. Needless to say this lens is super sharp.
SEL90M28G: This used to be one of my favourite Sony lenses. Although it is designated as a ‘Macro’ lens that is capable of 1:1 magnification, I typically used this lens for head and shoulder portraits (prior to the release of the two 85mm primes). It is sharp wide open and can capture portraits with zero facial distortions and blur the background. Although f/1.8 and f/1.4 85mm portrait lenses are common, f/2.8 is usually required to ensure both the eyes and eyebrows are sharp when working at close range. The fine degree of control that is available when the lens is set to Manual Focus is great for Macro and Portraiture, but the Continuous Eye AF is usually the setting I use on the A7RII for portraiture these days.
PZ28135F4G: This is Sony’s primary FE lens designed for movie capture. It has a very useful focal range, constant f/4 aperture, a clickless option for aperture control (iris), a smooth and responsive power zoom, plus a large smooth and steady focus control. Objects stay sharp as you zoom in (no need to refocus). It’s matt box (lens hood) looks like something from the Tupperware section but does the job nicely. Match this lens with a 35 wide aperture prime and a videographer has a decent kit to tackle a broad range of video scenarios. If you are not into movie capture but looking to dress an A7 camera up to look like a serious bit of kit, just mount this lens and the vertical battery grip and you have a system that looks like you are either trying to impress an art director or trying to compensate for something!
The 85mm wide aperture prime is one of my favourite pieces of glass. This 85 mm prime is a no-compromise lens that has class leading bokeh and is razor sharp. This lens has an 11-blade circular diaphragm to produce smooth, soft-edged booked – even when the aperture is closed down slightly. This sets it apart from some of the competitor lenses that have octagonal apertures. The G Master branding indicates it is one of Sony’s premium lenses.
SEL85F18: This has replaced the Batis 1.8/85 in my camera bag when I am seeking to travel light. It is just as sharp as the Batis (even when used at its maximum aperture) and is lighter. Along with the FE 28 F/2 It is one of Sony’s best value prime lenses. I also travel with this lens when I am using the A6500 as it makes an excellent 135mm equivalent prime lens for Sony’s crop sensor (APS-C) E-Mount cameras.
The Zeiss Batis Prime lenses are native E-Mount lenses (no adapter is required). AF Performance is not compromised and optical performance is excellent. I use the excellent 18mm f/2.8 as an alternative to the Sony Zeiss 16-35 f/4 zoom when I am trying to keep the weight of my camera bag to a minimum. It is not quite as wide as the 16mm end of the zoom but has excellent sharpness and takes 77mm screw on ND filters without a problem. It is not a small lens but it weighs in at just 11.64 oz (330 g).
The 2/25 lens may not prove to be the most popular Batis lens in the Zeiss line up. It’s 25mm focal length is covered by most photographers who already own a 24-70 zoom. The 2/25 Batis is, however, a stop brighter than Sony’s FE 24-70 GM and offers the level of sharpness we have come to expect from GM and Batis lenses. The Batis may find a following for Sony users who are avoiding zooms who are looking to travel light. I have used this lens on many occasion where the FE2470F28GM stayed at home and has never disappointed.
The Zeiss Batis Prime lenses are native E-Mount lenses (no adapter is required). AF Performance is not compromised and optical performance is excellent.
The 1.8/85 Batis gained an instant reputation amongst Sony A7 Users and it was difficult to get hold of a copy when it was first released (demand outstripped supply). It’s optical performance is excellent and it is sharp wide open. Sony’s FE85F14GM does have the edge on bokeh, especially when stopped down a little, but the GM is also substantially heavier than the Batis. For Sony owners whose budget does not stretch to the GM, and for users who want to travel light, the Batis was the obvious choice… until Sony’s new FE85F18 was released early in 2017. I personally wouldn’t look beyond this three-horse race, as the great advantage to using a native E-Mount portrait lens is the ability to use Eye-AF. Eye-AF makes shallow depth of field portraits child’s play.
The Zeiss Batis Prime lenses are native E-Mount lenses (no adapter is required). AF Performance is not compromised and optical performance is excellent.
The only filters I use on a regular basis are ND filters. I prefer to use fixed density (rather than variable) so will use one of three ND filters for my FE 1635 F4, FE 35 F1.4 and Zeiss 2.8/18 lenses. These ND filters will allow me to either shoot movies with the aperture wide open in bright ambient conditions, while maintaining a 1/50 second shutter speed, or create long exposures (30 seconds and longer) at dawn and dusk. The 72 mm filter thread of the FE 16-35 ZA is also shared by the FE70200F4 G. The Zeiss 2.8/18 uses a 77mm thread which is shared by the FE 100-400 GM and FE 24-105 G lenses.
The Hoya ProND 1000 extends the shutter speed by approximately 10 stops, e.g. a 1/30-second exposure without the filter extends the shutter speed to 30 Seconds with the filter attached.
The Hoya ProND 200 reduces the light by 7.6 stops. I often use a 77mm ND200 filter with the Batis 2.8/18 and if I need to reduce light/extend the shutter speed even further I can add an additional ProND 8 filter. The bell-shaped housing of the Batis enables two filters to be used without clipping the corners of the image. I find it preferable to use a weaker, rather than stronger, ND filter when I can and carry two or three weaker ND filters (rather than one of a higher density) as this gives me more flexibility to choose my desired shutter speed.
The Hoya ProND 64 is a 6-Stop ND filter, e.g. In bright sunlight I would normally have to stop down to f/16 to maintain an appropriate shutter speed of 1/50 second when shooting movies. If I attach the Pro ND 64 filter I will be able to open the aperture to f/2 in order to blur the background and isolate my subject. I find this strength of filter is ideal for videographers who only want to carry a single ND filter. If the reduction of light is a little too much when using the ND64 the photographer can simply raise the ISO to 200 or 400.
SEL1670Z: This used to be my primary lens for my A6K series cameras. Although it is larger than the 1650 kit lens it has a much more useful zoom range (24-105 equivalent). It has the advantage of being a constant f/4 which is useful for natural light portraiture indoors where f/6.3 (when zoomed to 50mm) is not quite bright enough for window lighting where you want to keep the ISO low and and the shutter speed reasonably fast (1/160). You don’t have the power zoom feature of the 16-50 kit lens but I do not miss this feature as I am using the FE28-135F4 on the A7SII which has a much smoother, and therefore more useful, power zoom than the APS-C kit lens for video work. I find my 1670 to be very sharp, although some people have reported some less-sharp examples out there. I recommend a ‘try-before-you-buy’ approach if you re worried about buying a rogue example online.
SEL18135: This is now my primary lens for my A6500 camera. It has a 7.5X zoom range (28-202 equivalent). It is an exceptionally sharp lens across the focal range and is much lighter and smaller than Nikon and Canon equivalents. It is also smaller and lighter than Sony’s own E 18-200 and E 18-105 PZ zoom lenses.
SEL1018F4: This lens carries neither the Zeiss or G badge that is used to denote Sony’s highest quality lenses, but the SEL 1018 F4 is one of Sony’s finest. It is both sharp and free from any excessive distortions the can plague some ultra wide-angle lenses. It also has exceptional coverage and can be used on the full-frame A7 cameras between 12 and 16mm with the crop mode turned off! There is a little distortion in the corners when shooting in this fashion with an A7 camera (not recommended for pixel-peepers), but this lens may present a very lightweight alternative to the FE 1635 F4 for many users. I have used this lens to shoot a lot of time-lapse sequences, where shooting in crop mode is an advantage when you don’t need the full megapixel count that the full frame sensors provide. With crop mode switched on you are still capturing 10-18 Megapixel stills (more than enough for 4K movies) using the A7II or A7RII cameras. It has a 62mm filter thread for those photographers looking to purchase an ND filter for long exposure work.
SEL55210: This is the only native long telephoto zoom available for the APS-C Alpha E-Mount cameras but, despite its diminutive size, its a very sharp lens with a very useful focal range. The 210mm full frame equivalent is 315mm, so it is long enough for everything except birds for most photographers. Carried with the two zoom lenses above, you are looking at a very light kit that has the zoom range from ultra wide-angle to long telephoto. This lens has only two drawbacks. When zoomed to the longer focal lengths the widest aperture available is f/6.3, and for sports action this lens can’t keep up with the very fast AF speed that the A6000 is capable of. If you see these as limitations for your style of photography you would be recommended to check out the FE 70200 F4 lens instead. If, however, your prey is not running at break-neck speed, and the level of ambient illumination is reasonable, it is very difficult to find fault with this lens (especially given its weight and price point).
SEL50F18: If you are using the three zooms above, you could be given to thinking you have all the lenses you need for a lightweight APS-C system. I will, however, often carry the FE 55 f1.8 to give me the capability to shoot shallow depth of field portraits. If the cost of this lens is prohibitive, and you don’t own an A7 series camera, then the SEL 50 f/1.8 is a cost-effective alternative. On an APS-C system the 50 mm lens becomes a useful 75mm portrait lens. It is also pleasingly sharp (although not as sharp as the FE 55).
SEL30M35: This is the small lightweight Macro lens for the APS-C system. I use this lens primarily for recording movies of products that I am holding or the back of the LCD screens. It has also captured a couple of my favourite Macro shots of bugs in my back garden. Perhaps not as useful as the 90mm FE Macro, but then it comes in as an absolute featherweight – which makes the APS-C system a very attractive proposition for some photographers.
The only filters I use on a regular basis are ND filters. I prefer to use a fixed density filter (rather than variable) so have chosen a 10 stop ND filter for my SEL1018 F4 that will allow me to create long exposures (30 seconds and longer) at dawn and dusk.
The B+W 3.0 extends the shutter speed by approximately 10 stops, e.g. a 1/8-second exposure without the filter takes just over two minutes to expose with the filter attached.
The B+W ND 1.8 is a 6-Stop ND filter with a 49mm thread for my SEL50F18 lens that allows me to shoot wide open in bright ambient conditions while maintaining a 1/50 second shutter speed, e.g. If the ambient light requires that I film at f/16 to achieve an appropriate exposure while maintaining a 1/50 second shutter speed, if I then attach the Pro ND 64 filter I will be able to open the aperture to f/2 or f1.8 in order to blur the background and isolate my subject.
MePhoto Daytrip: Small but sturdy. It can be folded down to just 9 inches (smaller than this photo would suggest). The extending legs are useful for levelling the tripod on uneven ground. The ball head uses a mini Arca Swiss head that requires an Allen key to tighten the mount onto the camera. It comes with a carry bag and Allen keys but I often swap out the head for a full sized Arca swiss head or Manfrotto head. Interestingly, the carry bag takes the tripod with a larger head and without having to fold back the legs. Although it is not made from Carbon Fibre and is only a few grams lighter than the Sirui T-025X (see below). I often carry this tripod as it is the only one that fits inside the small ONA or Lowepro Passport messenger bags I own. Although small, I find myself mostly shooting landscapes close to the ground with an ultra wide-angle lens to include the foreground. I often see other photographers working with their tripods fully extended just because they think they should be standing to take photos. Even though these tripods are probably double or triple the weight and are no less study when fully extended.
Sirui T-025X: If you are looking for a well-built carbon fibre tripod that comes in under 1KG (including the ball head) and folds down to under 12 inches then you will invariably end up looking at the Sirui T-025X. It is amongst only a handful of contenders. Fully extended – it is possible to work standing up, but in most cases this tripod is positioned much closer to the ground.
ProMaster 525C: The C stands for Carbon as there is a none-carbon version of this tripod. This tripod is more substantial than the Sirui and you don’t have to fold out the legs to begin working. The Ball head is good quality and you can mount the plate to the bottom of the camera without the use of an Allen Key. I currently use a Peak Design sling strap that uses an Arca Swiss plate as the attachment point for the strap (included with the sling strap) so switching from camera strap to this tripod is very quick affair. I also like this tripod because one of its legs detaches and becomes a monopod.
Manfrotto 494 RC2 Ball Head: I like Arca swiss, but I have to admit to liking Manfrotto tripod heads more. It’s all about quick release – which the Arca heads don’t have. Some of the Arca heads are very slow release if they require an Allen key or 5-Cent coin to remove them from the camera body. This 494 RC2 Manfrotto ball head is as small as I am prepared to go, but still strong enough to be support an A7RII camera with a heavy wide-aperture/ zoom lens.Manfrotto 494 RC2 Ball Head
Lowepro Passport Sling: This is an extremely small and light messenger bag which is deceptively spacious when you start packing your gear into it. There is a padded section with two compartments and at the opposite end a space that can be expanded via an external zip to become quite cavernous and can accomodate the FE 70-200 F4 zoom or the MePhoto Daytrip tripod. There are two small pouches that will take spare batteries and pockets on the outside that will accomodate a drinks bottle, maps or loose accessories. The main advantage of this bag is that it collapses almost flat. This means it can be packed into a carry-on flight bag or checked luggage when traveling. The only downsides to this bag is that it provides minimal protection to any gear not in the small padded section and that the opening won’t stay open when you are swapping lenses over as the bag has no rigid structure to it. When carrying the FE 70-200 F4 I would put this this into an additional padded lens bag.
Think Tank Speed Racer V2: This messenger bag is my largest messenger bag and is deep enough to carry an A7RII with an attached FE70200F28GM soared vertically in the bag with room enough for at least another 3 or four lenses. It will comfortably carry 7KG of camera gear if you are looking for a bag that can be used to carry all of your carry-on gear for International air travel. Go to this video tutorial to check out my review of this bag: https://youtu.be/7PbcwMwzeZs
Think Tank TurnStyle 10: This bag is one of the latest small camera bags that I own. Although it is s all bag if I take out the internal dividers it can accomodate my Sony A9 with FE 100-400 GM OSS. I have adopted this workflow when I am working with the A7RIII and a prime or the FE 4/24-105 G Zoom. If I need quick access to some fast moving action I can park the A7RIII on my Peak Design camera clip and swing the sling bag from my back to my side to gain quick access to the A9. It’s a workflow for those photographers who would prefer to work with two camera bodies to reduce the number of times they are having to change their lens. I have also worked in this manner using the A6500 with E 18-135 lens and the A7RIII with the FE 1.8/85 and a second wide aperture prime in the TurnStyle using one central divider. If you are using it is your only camera bag it would be possible;e to travel with one camera, three small lenses and a small tablet.
Lowepro Inverse-200 AW: This bag is not that much more spacious than the LowePro Passport Sling but it is a bag that can be loaded up for a full day shoot. The bag looks a lot bulkier than the Passport Sling but this is due to the semi-rigid structure that the ample padding provides. The main feature that drew me to this bag (and why I still use it) is the belt that can remove some, or all, of the weight from the shoulder strap. You can load this bag up with 6KG of gear and comfortably carry the bag all day. The bag is also able to carry a small carbon fibre tripod such as the ProMaster 525C or Sirui T-025X which is attached via straps underneath the bag. The bag has small pockets in the opening flap for storing spare batteries, external pouches for carrying a drink bottle (or two) and a rather strange flap that I have used to carry a jacket or jumper that I have removed when the day warms up. It has been in the Lowepro lineup for some time but has recently disappeared from their own site. The closest bag to this one now appears to be the Photo Runner 100.
Ona Brixton Messenger: I was immediately attracted to the Ona Brixton when I first saw it. It shouts quality but doesn’t immediately shout ‘Im a camera bag’. It is spacious enough to accomodate quite a bit of gear (deep enough for the FE 70-200 F4 or MePhoto Daytrip an A7RII camera with lens attached and another large lens. It’s front pockets will take some additional filters and batteries and the rear padded section is large enough to accomodate a 13-inch MacBook Air. Admittedly, with this much gear you wouldn’t want to be carrying the bag for more than an hour, as the shoulder strap is not that broad and there is not option to attach a belt strap to alleviate some of the weight from your shoulder. As the two bags above do not accomodate a laptop this messenger really comes into its own when I am out and about giving talks and need to take my MacBook.
Benro Ranger Pro 500N Backpack: This used to be my bag of choice for carting my Sony A99 and heavy f/2.8 zooms around prior to going mirrorless. It’s a reasonably light bag and I still use it when I need to carry more than 7KG of mirrorless gear to a photo-shoot. It has lots of ways of getting into to access a camera or lens without having to open the entire bag (as seen in illustration), and also has room for a 15 inch MacBook Pro + external means for carrying a large tripod and drinks bottle.
On short trips, and when I don’t want to travel with my Benro backpack, I use a Rolling Tote (50cm carry-on bag) made by Samsonite that weighs just 1.5 KG. Many of these carry-on rolling totes advertised in the USA weigh in excess of 3.5 KG or more than half the carry-on weight limit of many airlines outside of the USA.
Rode VideoMic Pro: This is my shotgun microphone of choice that mounts to the hotshoe of the A7SII camera and connects to the audio-in port of the camera. It seems this microphone is used extensively by many photographers, and for the price, is an absolute steal for near-professional quality audio. I say ‘near’ because if you really value audio quality then you will take a look at Sony’s XLR-K2M unit that ticks all of the boxes – even for audio engineers. If you value audio quality, which you should, then you definitely want to step it up a notch or two and at least invest in this Rode microphone. The only downside to this microphone is that it uses a 9-Volt battery instead of the ore accessible Double-A or Triple-A batteries and is a little bit fiddly to change.
The Sony ECM-W1M Wireless Microphone fits the Multi-Interface Shoe and comprises of a transmitter and a receiver. They communicate wirelessly with each other via Bluetooth. I use this as a livelier microphone when recording my voice. Positioning the microphone close to the person speaking mens that ambient noise or background noise is minimised. The audio is recorded directly to the movie file so does not have to be synchronised in post.
For videographers wanting professional audio they may need to invest in the Sony XLR-K2M XLR Adapter Kit with Microphone. It features a 2-channel XLR adapter box with independent controls that provide recording level adjustment, attenuation, and wind noise reduction. The built-in mic holder lets you mount the included ECM-XM1 shotgun microphone. Also included in this kit is a fuzzy wind screen and a zippered carrying case.
Even though you can charge an A7 series battery in the camera, it is wise to carry an additional battery charger when traveling so that you can charge two at the same time. The BC-TRW is one of a few Sony Battery Chargers for the FW50 (W-Series) batteries. It features a retractable plug for easy storage and travel. The charger runs on 100-240VAC power to enable use all over the world. The BC-TRW also has an indicator light that displays charging status.
Note > Select the BC-QM1 battery charger if you live outside of the USA and require a battery charger that can charge 5 different Sony series batteries and that also has a quick charge function.
I will typically travel with at least four spare batteries and will generally keep one of these in my pocket. I can get through 2 or 3 a day if I am not shooting movies. Given that it only takes 5 seconds to change the battery over you should never be caught short of power.
I tend to only use Sony’s vertical battery grip when shooting movies with the A7SII although many professionals (especially those with larger hands) will opt for this grip. It is especially comfortable when shooting in the vertical orientation. It holds two NP-FW50 batteries, which are available separately, to approximately double your shooting time. The grip uses a battery with lower power first, then automatically switches to the one with greater power when the first runs out. Remaining battery power is displayed as a percentage on your camera’s LCD monitor. Additionally, batteries can be replaced without turning off the camera.
The grip offers an extra shutter button, as well as front/back control dials and Auto Exposure Lock. All controls are placed appropriately for easy, comfortable access. The buttons, dials, battery cover and connecting terminal on the grip are securely sealed for dust and moisture protection.
The RM-VPR1 Remote Control with Multi-terminal Cable for Select Sony Cameras and Camcorders from Sony is a wired remote commander that allows various remote control operations to be performed without handling the camera, therefore eliminating camera shake and providing self-portrait and other control applications. When using the RM-VPR1 with most Sony cameras, you are able to control shutter, optical zoom, digital zoom and bulb function. You are also able to control video recording. The remote is also functional with the Alpha a99, a77, a65, a57 and a37 cameras but only for photo (not video) functions. Both a multi-terminal cable and remote terminal cable are included for comprehensive compatibility.
Operate your camera or a group of cameras remotely using the RMT-VP1K Wireless Receiver and Remote Commander Kit from Sony. The multi-function remote control is compatible with Sony cameras that are equipped with a multi terminal and has further compatibility with MI-show and DI products.
For video or still use, the remote has four available modes: Half-push, Release, Bulb rock, and REC/Zoom. The IR receiver has 360° coverage.
The Multi-Teminal/Micro USB port of the E-Mount series Alpha cameras is relatively new so many Intervalometers that have a 2.5mm jack will require a lead to attach to the camera’s port. This will enable you to use a device such as the Triggertrap or some third party remote releases such as the Vello Intervalometer.
Pixel TC-252/S2 Timer Remote for Sony Alpha E-Mount Cameras: I use this remote for time-lapse photography when I am creating ‘Holy Grail’ time lapses. All remotes send out an autofocus signal between each shot (even if the camera is set to Manual Focus). When the autofocus signal is being sent to the camera the photographer is locked out of making exposure adjustments. This remote has a very short AF signal and it is therefore possible to adjust exposure as the ambient light changes. When making exposure adjustments in-camera during a time-lapse the exposures will need to be ramped using the post-production software LRTimelapse.
The LENSKIRT is a portable, flexible lens hood that features suction cups for helping to block internal environmental reflections on glass while shooting. This allows you to shoot photographs and video through glass without worrying about lights, flashes, or you showing up in the final image. It opens up with a drawstring in order to fit securely around your lens. It is compatible with lenses up to 8″ in diameter, and the 9 x 10″ opening will work with lenses as wide as 15mm.
I switched from using SDHC cards to SDXC cards so I can shoot movies using the superior XAVC-S video codec (less compression than the older AVCHD codec). The speed of this card (95 MB/s read and 90 MB/s write) allows 4K capture. I will often carry 4 or more of these cards when travelling so that I don’t have to reformat the cards while I am travelling.
The LaCie Thunderbolt/USB 3 Raid Drive is an excellent travel companion. It has two 2-Terabyte drives that can be set up in one of two different modes. If you select safety over speed by choosing the ‘Mirrored Raid’ option you effectively create a safe environment to store all of your precious travel photographs.
I use this as my everyday backup drive – Some photographers use it to backup multiple cards at the same time but I use it to backup at the time of importing using Lightroom’s ‘Make a second Copy’ option in the Import dialogue. As there is very little hard drive space on my MacBook Air one copies goes to the upper 512GB SSD removable drive and the backup goes to the second. I have an SSD card reader in a slot between the two removable drives. I leave the lowest fourth slot empty. Some users have found this unit gets hot when the fourth slot is used and the lowest drive seems to be the culprit. The removable drives can be used via USB3 but the station features two Thunderbolt drives which means I can use an eternal monitor and this drive station at the same time (the MacBook Air has a single Thunderbolt port but can daisy chain devices so long as they have two ports).
Four-Bay Hub + 2 x Thunderbolt 2 Ports + 1 x USB 3.0 Port
Peak Design Slide Camera Strap: This is my third sling strap (the previous being an Artisan and a Joby) and it is currently my favourite. It has a broad strap, the length can be adjusted quickly, and can be attached or detached from the camera body in a matter of seconds with its quick-release system. This ‘Slide’ strap includes an Arca swiss tripod head and the sling strap can be attached to either the camera strap lugs or the Arca mount. This means the camera can go from strap to tripod in no time at all. A very well thought-out system. Peak Design seem to be a company to watch, as they do extensive research into what photographers need, and want (check out their new messenger bag). Peak Design Slide Camera Strap
Novoflex Adapter: Before changing to Sony I was a Nikon shooter for over 20 years. When I was shown the pre-release A7 and A7R cameras in 2013 I could see that they would be enormously popular for non-Sony photographers. With an adapter you can effectively use all of your existing lenses on the A7 Cameras. I encouraged Sony in Australia to offer a free adapter with each body-only camera purchased to promote the idea of you can bring your own glass to this system. The adapter that I first purchased and still own is the Novoflex adapter. It is certainly not the cheapest adapter on the market but it is probably one of, if not the best adapter available. Unlike the Metabones adaptors for Canon shooters, this Novoflex adapter does not transfer functions from the camera to the lens, such as autofocus, but automatic exposure metering (stop-down metering/aperture priority) is possible. The lens will also focus to infinity as the adapter is moving the lens forward from the sensor to the position it would normally sit on a DSLR camera.
The adapter does not get used as much as it used to as the Sony native lens system has grown quickly since the A7 cameras were launched.
A very light and portable laptop computer that does not cut any corners in features or performance. The SDXC SD card comes in handy as well as the long battery life. I would recommend purchasing the highest spec model that comes with the i7 processor and the 512 GB SSD (Flash) drive.
This is a streak free solution to be used in combination with a Sensor Swab. Quick and Effective cleaning for your sensor. You can check to see if you have dust spots on your sensor by shooting a sheet of white paper at f/22 and with the exposure set to Auto.
HVL-F20M External Flash: The smallest of Sony external flashes is deal for those looking to add a little fill light to their images or to use as a wireless TTL controller for off-camera flash units without adding too much weight to their gear bag.
HVL-F32M External Flash: This unit is well-suited for use on mirrorless cameras or for those who are simply looking for a lightweight on-camera lighting solution or TTL controller for off-camera flash units.
HVL-F43M External Flash: This flash unit is suitable for photographers who are wanting to create a multiple light setup in the studio or on location. Wireless TTL is possible as both a controller or as a remote flash and the HVL-F43M has the option for ratio control, allowing users to control the output levels of 3 different flash groups (A, B, C) in relation to one another. This unit also features an LED light with an output of 1200 lux at 1.6′, which makes this flash extremely useful to shooters constantly switching between stills and video.
the HVL-F43M features Sony’s Quick Shift Bounce system so you can quickly change from Vertical to Horizontal format shooting while retaining the bounce angle.
HVL-F60M External Flash: This is Sony’s most powerful external flash unit and is suitable for photographers who are wanting to create a multiple light setup in the studio or on location.
Wireless TTL is available with the top-of-the-line HVL-F60M and includes ratio control in addition to the standard wireless controller and remote flash functions. Ratio control enables setting different outputs for three separate groups of flashes in relation to one another. Specifically for videographers, an LED light has been integrated into this model with an output of 1200 lux at 1.6′. Also, this light has a built-in diffusion panel for softer output and the flash comes with a tungsten color conversion filter for it.
Like the HVL-F43M it features Sony’s Quick Shift Bounce system so you can quickly change from Vertical to Horizontal format shooting while retaining the bounce angle.
Sony FA-WRC1M Wireless Radio Commander: Sony’s answer to triggering its HVL flashes off-camera. t is best used in conjunction with the HVL-F45RM flashes which have built-in radio receivers but can also be used with any other flash if you purchase a seperate Radio Receiver
HVL-F45RM External Flash: This is now my preferred flash for the Sony E-Mount cameras, it is light portable and powerful. It also has the added advantage that it can be controlled via Sony’s Radio Commander rather than another HVL flash.