Gavin Hardcastle - Photography Gear List

I often get asked about the equipment that I use to make my images, so I thought I'd put together a list of items that I use on a regular basis along with a brief summary of what I like about a particular piece of kit. Most of these I've purchased and some of them I rent.

If you're considering purchasing any of these items please use the links provided on this page as I receive a miniscule commission which helps me to continue running this site. It won't cost you a penny more to purchase via these links and it might mean I can afford to pay next months bill from Adobe 😉

Cameras

Sony A7RII Mirrorless Camera

Sony A7RIIIn 2015 Sony launched the giant slayer of a camera, the Sony A7RII with it's 42 megapixel sensor, built in 4k video recording and 5 axis stabilization. It also features some improvements over the A7R with it's ability to draw power from an external batter while shooting and the 'silent shooting' mode which makes for much sharper images on fast exposures due to the complete lack of shutter shock.

In addition to that the A7RII had a firmware update that allows the camera to shoot 14 bit uncompressed RAW files.

Needless to say, I didn't have to think long about going for the update.


 

Sony A7R Mirrorless Camera

Sony A7R II Mirrorless CameraAs many of you know I switched from Canon to Sony back in 2013 and I've got to say I've never looked back.

The Sony A7R is an amazing camera with super high resolution and excellent dynamic range.

I highly recommend this camera to anyone whose either converting from DSLR or buying a camera for the first time.

Read my full Sony A7R review here.


 

Sony A6000 Mirrorless Camera

Sony A6000 Review FototripperIn a way, I love this camera even more than the Sony A7R. That's mainly because of the price.

With a 24MP sensor and the right choice of lenses you can produce stunning images with this tiny little camera. It also does a great job of recording video too.

It's so small and 'toy like' that it's easy to believe it's not a serious camera but I've found it to produce gorgeous looking RAW files that rival or exceed the image quality of most high end DSLR cameras.

If you like the idea of great image quality at a small price the Sony A6000 mirrorless camera is the one for you.

Strap on a Zeiss Touit lens and you've got some serious image quality in a purse sized package.

Read my full Sony A6000 review here.


 

GoPro Hero 4 Silver

GoPro here 4K SilverFor around $400 you can buy this action cam that records crisp 4K video and takes decent stills.

I was so taken with what this tiny little toy could do that I made 95% of the film 'Thaibodia 4K' with just this camera.

If you're thinking of filming with a drone the GoPro Hero 4 Silver fits into pretty much all of the most popular drones.

I wouldn't use this is my 'A' camera for shooting stills but as an easy to carry addition to my camera bag I've found it has a permanent place in my kit list when I need to shoot quick 4K video or 120 fps 1080p.


 

Lenses

Canon 24-105mm f/4.0

Canon 24-105mm lensI originally bought the Canon 24-105mm as a kit lens with my Canon 5D MK II way back in 2010 and to be honest it never really impressed me in terms of sharpness.

That quickly changed when I used it on my Sony A7R for the first time and saw the true capabilities of this superb lens.

Now it's my 'go to' lens when I need sharpness and a little more reach than my super wide lenses.

As an all rounder landscape lens, the Canon 24-105mm is worth every penny when used with the right camera.


 

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 II USM

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 lensNot only is this a super sharp lens but the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 is plenty fast enough for astrophotography and delivers great sun stars.

I find that the zoom range of 16-35mm on a full frame camera is the closest thing to what I see with the naked eye so it's really easy to compose the shots that I see in my head.

There's a newer, sharper Canon 16-35mm f/4.0 version of this lens from Canon which is much sharper in the corners but a little slow for shooting the Milky Way.

I don't own the f/4.0 lens but it's a top renter.


 

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM

Sigma 85mm 1.4 lensThis is my favourite lens for creamy bokeh.

For street, travel and people photography, this is the lens I reach for automatically.

The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 is also great for nature shots where you need to isolate a subject like a tree with lovely shallow depth of field.

It's big and heavy but the autofocus works great and the sharpness is superb even wide open.

It's available for Canon and Nikon mounts so I have to use an adapter to make it work on the Sony cameras.


 

Sony 10-18mm f/4.0

Sony 10-18mm f/4.0 lensI bought the Sony 10-18mm lens because I can attach it to both the Sony A7R and the Sony A600 and get great results.

On the A7R you get a ridiculously wide field of view and on the A6000 I get about the same coverage as the Canon 16-35mm on a full frame camera.

When you consider this lens in combination with the A6000, you're getting a whole lot of wide angle image quality for not a lot of money.

I regularly post images shot using the Sony A6000 combined with the Sony 10-18mm lens and people can't believe this is an APS-C lens/cam combo.


 

Samyang/Rokinon 14mm f/2.8

Samyang 14mm f/2.8 lensThis Samyang/Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens is a cult classic for astrophotography and for the sub $400 price tag you just can't go wrong.

It's also great for daytime landscapes if you stick to f/8.Other apertures are less than ideal for daytime shoots so get used to focus stacking if you want corner to corner focus.

The thing I love most about this lens is that is has a manual aperture ring and that's great for avoiding 'aperture flicker' when shooting timelapse.

The Samyang 14mm f/2.8 is available for Sony E-Mount, Canon and Nikon.


 

Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro

Tokina 100mm Macro lensI rarely ever shoot macros but the Tokina 100mm Macro Lens does a brilliant job of producing a pleasing bokeh and unbelievable sharpness wide open.

It's also really good for portrait work if you don't mind standing on the other side of the street.

One of my favourite tricks with this lens is to shoot a multi-gigapixel landscape pano with shallow depth of field. I then stitch those images together to create a unique perspective.

The autofocus is not as rapid as the Sigma 85mm 1.4.


 

Zeiss 21mm Distagon f/2.8

Zeiss Distagon 21mm lensIf you want amazing sharpness, contrast and image quality, the Zeiss 21mm Distagon f/2.8 lens will make you very happy.

It's terrible at sun stars and has some awful lens flare when shooting into the sun but if you're not bothered by that I highly recommend this lens.

The build quality is superb and the feel of the manual focus wheel will spoil you.

Even Canon EF lenses will feel cheap and nasty after you've used this lens for a couple of days.

You can read my full Zeiss 21mm Distagon review here.


 

Tripods

Manfrotto Tripod http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1010694-REG/manfrotto_mk190xpro3_bh_aluminum_tripod_with.html/BI/19776/KBID/12701/kw/MA190XPRO3B/DFF/d10-v2-t1-xMA190XPRO3BI use a selection of Manfrotto tripod systems but the two I like best are the MK190XPRO3-BH Aluminum Tripod with 496RC2 Ball Head and the MT055CXPRO4 Carbon Fiber Tripod with 496RC2 Midi Ball Head.

The aluminum one is much sturdier but it's heavier.

The carbon fibre version has legs that tend to close on your fingers pretty quickly so be careful when carrying.

Both feature the robust 496RC2 Ball Head which I have battered and abused. Keep it well oiled and it can take a lot of punishment.

Both tripod systems feature Manfrottos 90° Center Column which allows you to get really close to the ground.


 

Filters

I only ever use two filter types. Polarizers and neutral density (ND) filters. As long as you're not buying the cheapest Ebay crap you should be fine to use any of the decent name brands.

For polarizers I've used Heliopan, Tiffen and Hoya with great results.

For ND filters you can either buy Variable ND filters which allow you to choose between 2 to 8 stops or you can buy fixed ND filters which are not variable.

I tend to pay extra for the 'low profile' filters so that if I decide to stack an ND on top of a polarizer I wont see a nasty vignette.

Timelapse Gear

Software

Fell free to ask any questions about my kit list and let me know how these products perform for you.

Cheers

Gavin Hardcastle

Published by Gavin Hardcastle

Gavin is a professional landscape photographer from Calgary, Alberta. He teaches photography workshops all over the world and writes extensively about his experiences on location. You can read his photo guides and tutorials here at Fototripper.com.

9 Comments

  1. Gavin, thank you so much for this information! Can you please clarify what you meant when you said: (Regarding the Samyang/Rokinon 14mm f/2.8)

    “It’s also great for daytime landscapes if you stick to f/8. Other apertures are less than ideal for daytime shoots, so get used to focus stacking if you want corner to corner focus.”
    I’m not sure what focus stacking is?
    Thanks!
    Helen Watson

    Reply
    • Hi Helen,

      At f/8 you won’t be able to get focus in your entire image from front to back so you’d need to use a focus stacking technique to achieve front to back focus. The reason I mention f/8 is because that’s the aperture that will give you sharpest results. All other apertures on my lens loose sharpness the further away you get from f/8. That’s the main drawback with this lens – that and the fact that it’s a bugger to get the focus just right due to poor build quality. I’d happily pay double for this lens if it was made better.

      Gavin

      Reply
  2. Hi,Gavin,

    I have a question in regards to portraiture with a7r.
    Would the 35 mm be a good lens for portraiture on this camera?
    I like the size of the lens. 130g small.

    I tested the 10-18 mm on my a7r, but found that when I took portraits, cropped the pics went into extreme digital form.
    While some posters say you still retain the 36 mp.
    I found the pic broke down., reminded me of the 80’s first digital cameras.
    Is there something I’m missing?

    Reply
    • Hi Yve,

      If you mean the Sony/Zeiss FE 35mm, yes that is an excellent lens but check out the Zeiss Loxia also. Not sure what you mean by ‘extreme digital form’ but I wonder if you had the A7R set to crop mode when shooting with the 10-18mm which I would never advise as a portrait lens.

      Cheers
      Gavin

      Reply
  3. Hi Gavin thanks for the quick reply.

    What I ment in regards to the 10-18 mm is, I took a pic of a person across the table.
    When I cropped the pic. for a close look, the picture quality degraded and would not be useable.
    When I took a similar pic. with a different lens, including 10-24 Nikkor, lens and camera, the picture did not degrade to that leve and was useable.

    Some people are pleased,with this lens on a7r. Perhaps the one I tested was no good.
    Not sure if camera was set to crop mode as you suggested.

    I definitely liked the weight, size of the lens.
    The pic looked fine until I cropped it for a close look for details which then were degraded.
    Maybe I should give it another try?

    Reply
  4. Very nice website!! As for your gear, what bag do use to carry your equipment while you go hither and yon to make your images?

    Reply
    • Hi Pat, I use massive LowePro bag but in all honesty it’s a total pain if any kind of hike is involved. Check out Tamrac as I’ve recently been impressed by their quality and usability.

      Reply
  5. Hi Gavin,

    What adapter did you use for canon lens on a7r II? Thanks!

    Reply

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