Gear

Here’s an overview of the equipment that usually finds its way into my backpack on a regular basis. Together this gear forms a rugged, (reasonably) lightweight and highly mobile travel photography kit that’s focused on landscape work.

Camera Body

To call Sony’s latest high-megapixel body a capable landscape photography camera would be to do it a disservice. Upgrading from the 1st generation A7R body was a night and day difference in build quality, speed, handling and resolution. Even if you leave the upgrades to autofocus and video recording to one side, what you’re left with is a camera body that excels for high-resolution landscape images. In my opinion, Sony has finally reached build quality parity with Nikon/Canon and the materials used all feel hefty and top-notch.


Studio Software

PhotoLab is my RAW processor of choice. Of the popular applications out there, I find its lens profiles, sharpening and noise reduction to be the most capable. With the latest DeepPrime noise reduction in version 4, this has been improved even further; some of my bird photos retain plenty of detail even though they were shot at ISO 20,000! The interface is uncomplicated and easy to get to grips with, and the licensing doesn’t follow the Lightroom ‘infinite subscription’ model which is a big plus for me.


Lenses

To keep total kit weight under control I tend to stick to three lenses in the field. For landscape photography, a selected set of primes and f/4 zooms can be an attractive choice with little compromise in quality. The A7R-IV’s crop mode results in 26MP images so in many cases there’s no need to carry either longer or “in-between” lenses to get a particular focal length.

Zeiss Loxia 25mm

Many photographers choose the 21mm Loxia over the 25mm, especially since there is little to distinguish the two in overall image quality. I reviewed the images that I’d taken with my (now rehomed) Sony 16-35 f/4 to evaluate how often I used a focal length below ~24mm and that informed my decision to go for the 25mm Loxia.

Zeiss Loxia 35mm

The Loxia 35 is often regarded as being the weakest lens in the Zeiss MF line-up for E-mount and that criticism has some value if you’re shooting at wider apertures between f/2 and f/4. Where it excels is in its landscape rendering and colours and, of course, for most wide-angle landscape work I’ll be shooting it at f/5.6 and above.

Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2

An optical masterwork that lends itself well to tighter landscape images where a sweeping panorama isn’t required. It also produces beautiful sunstars so it’s the lens I reach for first when the sun is heading for the horizon.

Sony 70-200mm f/4 G

Used for more intimate landscape images with a tighter field of view. I find this lens to be a good workhorse. It doesn’t really have any outstanding qualities yet neither does it have any major flaws; it’s simply a sharp, reliable zoom that I don’t hesitate to reach for when 50mm doesn’t cut it for the shot I’m after.


Accessories

L-Bracket

You can get by without an L-bracket for landscape work but for the times you want to frame something in portrait, it saves a lot of hassle re-orienting the tripod ball head. I like the extra chunky feel as it makes gripping the body easier. The only downsides are weight and bulk – not too bad in this case as it’s milled from aluminium.

Wrist Strap

When setting up a scene and swinging the camera around I’d like it to stay in my hand and not on the floor. At this price point the strap justifies itself, no problem.

Backpack

On the road I need a pack that’s small enough to be unobtrustive while cycling, water resistant enough to handle a quick downpour, yet large enough to cope with at least three lenses and accessories. The 350 AW strikes a good balance – it’s comfortable and light, with a stuffable rain cover and front, top, left and right pockets. You’ll want to keep your camera gear in dedicated waterproof bags inside if you expect to see a lot of rain, however.