My landscape travel kit is in constant flux and it changes as my needs change and as I refine my choices. My goal is to have the simplest, lightest and most efficient kit that still supports the types of photography I am planning for each trip.
We travel to Hawaii 3 time per year for my wife's business. Maui in February & July and Kaui in October and I take a pretty consistent kit for each trip. Typically my Hawaii photographic interests are Landscapes, Long Exposure, Panoramas & Flora & Fauna. In addition, this trip I want to experiment with time lapse and night photography of the milky way.
This is an unusual trip for me in that I sold my Sony A7R in preparation for the soon to be released Sony A7RII. I have taken almost all my landscape and interior real estate photos with the A7R since I purchased it so I will be relying on my "backup" Sony A7II.
The foundation of my landscape kit, and my real estate kit as well for that matter, are my Canon tilt shift lenses. These lenses give me the capability to shift my horizon, maintain perspective, enhance my depth of field and stitch shifted shots to produce quick panoramas in the 2.5 to 1 ratio that I like. In addition to the tilt shift Canon glass I also took 2 Sony FE lenses: the 28mm f/2.0 and the 70-200mm zoom. I'll be trying out the 28mm to see if works as my small carry lens and night / milky way lens. It's small, relatively fast and sharp so I'm hopeful it can be the jack of two trades and find a permanent place in my bag. I have to admit that I don't regularly use the 70-200mm telephoto zoom, although when I need it, I need it. But this trip I'm going to pair it with a set of extension tubes and see how I like it for flower photography.
- Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Tilt-Shift
- Sony FE 28mm f/2
- Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 Tilt-Shift
- Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8 Tilt-Shift
- Sony FE 70-200mm f/4.0 G OSS
My filter kit is probably standard fare for the landscape / long exposure photographer, polarizer and neutral density filters. What's missing is graduated neutral density filters. The big reason I move on from my Fuji X-T1 system (which I highly recommend btw) to Sony is for the increased dynamic range. This increase has, in most cases, eliminated my need for graduated nd filters for the types of photography that I do.
I have standardized on two filter diameters, 49mm and 82mm. The 49mm works without step rings on my Sony FE 28mm, 35mm & 55mm. For all my other lenses I use step rings to get to 82mm.
An integral part of my filter kit is the XUME magnetic filter holders. I love these things. Their only downside for me is that they can cause vignetting at the wide end of my Sony FE 16-35mm zoom and on my Canon 24mm ts-e during extreme shifts. The pluses are huge. I can quickly change out filters as needed and there is no light leak between the front of the lens an the 10+ stop neutral density filters. Which can be a problem with slide in filters.
- Hoya 49mm HD Circular Polarizer
- Hoya 82mm HD Circular Polarizer
- Hoya 82mm Variable Neutral Density
- Formatt Hitech 82mm Firecrest IRND 3.0 10 stop
- Formatt Hitech 82mm Firecrest IRND 4.8 16 stop
- 49mm 3 Position Rubber Lens Hood
- 82mm 3 Position Rubber Lens Hood
- XUME Magnetic Filter Adapters
Camera Support Gear
For me, this is one of the most difficult pieces of camera gear to choose and pack. On one hand I would like the smallest lightest tripod setup possible. But then "you get what you weigh for" with tripods. So I have settled for an in between choice. The Arca Swiss P0 is an unusual type of ball head in that is basically upside down. So when the camera is level, so is the panning base.
- FEISOL Traveler CT-3441T Rapid Tripod Legs
- Arca-Swiss Monoball P0 Head
- Really Right Stuff B2-AS-II-M6: Lever-release clamp
- Single Row Panorama Setup
- (2) Opteka RC-3 Wireless Remote Control for Sony Alpha
- (2) Sony NPFW50 Rechargeable Battery Packs
- Sony BC-TRW W Series Battery Charger
- EACHSHOT DG-NEX Aluminum Auto Focus AF Macro Extension DG Tube
- LensPEN Lens Cleaning System
- Lenspen LENSK1A Sensorklear Ii with Articulated Tip
- Rocket Air Blaster Air Blower, Large
- Zeiss Lens Cleaning Wipes Pre-moistened Wipes
- Petzl Zipka Improved Lumen Output Plus 2 Headlamp
So how'd it go?
Well let's start off with the successes and then move to the not so goods. The combination of the extension tubes with the Sony 70-200mm zoom is feeling like the solution I have been looking for in my close-up flower photography.
The magnification factor goes from 0.26x at 200mm to 0.5x at 70mm and this range fits my style of close-up photography quite well. In use, I use the zoom to rough frame my subject and then tap the shutter to lock in the autofocus. It can still hunt a bit but it wasn't too bad.
Night photography / Milky Way
I'm still on the steep part of the learning curve with respect to nighttime landscape photography. I used the Sony FE 28mm for all my night shots on this trip and used it in portrait orientation for stitched panoramas. So far I'm liking it, but I'm also wishing it was a bit wider.
My big lesson on this trip was I need better scouting. Almost every shot I scouted for a possible night shot location had some stray light that drastically altered my composition. It's pretty obvious which image was on the red side of the traffic signal and which was on the green. In the future scouting at night would be way more useful.
I spent a fair bit of my time on Maui shooting time lapse sequences. And I quickly found out it's just not as easy as it looks. I mean it's pretty easy to get a series of shots but to adjust the exposure to compensate for dynamic changes in light and then produce an enticing, flicker free video... With every test shot I gain a bunch more respect for the stunning time lapses I've seen.
In any event I made a ton of progress and plan to continue to shoot and learn this art.
Things I'll likely change for my next trip
- Carry a spare camera body cap and rear lens cap
- Not a absolute necessity, but I like to be able to store all my lenses and camera bodies with caps.
- Take my a small flashlight as well as my headlamp
- Take my dedicate hood for the Canon 24mm ts-e
- The screw-on 82mm rubber one vignettes way too much.
- Add Formatt Hitech 82mm Firecrest ND 3.9 13 stop ND filter.
- Too often 10 stops is little and 16 stops is too much.