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equipment & gear

More than a few people have asked about the gear that I use when I’m traveling or shooting. This is where I list all the gear and equipment and talk a little bit about the tools of the trade.

[Bodies / Lenses UPDATED for 2016]


Primary Camera Bodies

Canon 7d MkII with Vertical Grip | my primary action body

  • Crop-frame body that’s durable and durably built to handle the elements
  • High-resolution sensor with good-to-excellent color and contrast reproduction
  • Offers 10fps continuous shooting with or without the attached grip (weight saver)
  • Killer lowlight performance and file quality (even at high ISO)
  • Grip and ergonomics that are friendly to a regular shooting position

I previously noted that I was shooting with a standard 7d. This body has since been retired.

Canon 5d Mark II | for travel, portraits and anything requiring full-frame shooting

  • Full-frame body that reproduces color beautifully and offers superior image quality over the 7D
  • Non-weather sealed and the menu structure is far from intuitive, even after regular use
  • HD video capable, full-frame sensor offers superior depth of field for FF-compatible lenses

Other Cameras

Mamiya 645 MF

  • Medium-format film format
  • Comes with 80mm 2.8 lens
  • Tons of film-bang-for-your-buck

Canon s110

  • High-quality sensor for its size
  • F2.0 lens at widest setting, full manual capabilities
  • ISO 80 low setting
  • Slides into the pocket of your jeans easily

Camera Lenses

Canon 24-70mm 2.8 | travel shooting and candid portrait lenses

  • Pro-quality lens, excellent bokeh and build quality
  • Coupled with 5D this takes care of most travel, lifestyle, and portrait needs without having to swap lenses
  • Heavy

Tamron 28-75 2.8 | used for do-it-all shooting when backcountry ski touring where weight and size are major concerns

  • Produces sharp images from 2.8 on up for its cost
  • Compact, relatively lightweight, and in my experience, durable
  • Cheap enough so you won’t feel bad if you blow it up while in travel or out in the action

Canon 70-200mm f2.8 | bread and butter action lens

  • Not as sharp as the newer generation 70-200mm Canon teles but sharp enough
  • Covers important focal length for action, 80% of the action shots taken with this lens
  • Heavier than f4 version and debatable as to quality comparison, consider f4 if you want something smaller / lighter

Canon 70-200mm f4 IS | my new lighter bread-and-butter action lens

  • At f5.6 with IS turned on, this thing is as sharp as most people will ever need
  • Shorter AND lighter than the 2.8 version which means it’s easier to pack, easier to handle, and easier on your back

Canon 14-24mm f4

  • Distortion and vignetting are noticeable
  • Sharp enough for do-it-all wideangle lifestyle, travel, or on-the-fly shooting needs
  • Lens hood takes up just as much room as lens
  • Lighter than comparable 2.8

Canon 16mm 2.8 Fisheye | specialized action, some travel

  • Compact, but heavy little sucker
  • Coupled with 5D it covers all super-wide needs
  • Distortion correction on this lens results in some fun-house-type effects
  • Almost always carry this with my 50mm on a bare-bones kit

Canon 50mm 1.8 | portraiture

  • Light, sharp, shallow depth of field and CHEAP
  • Buy one, don’t think about it
  • Couple this with a fisheye and there’s very little you won’t be able to capture in a creative way

Canon 85mm 1.8 | exclusively portraiture

  • Shallow depth of field and beautiful color reproduction
  • On full frame body I find it as the go-to full body or headshot portrait prime
  • Buy this if the 2.8 mid-zoom or tele (24-70 or 70-200) you have just isn’t providing the DOF or the crisp, isolated aesthetic you’re looking for

Canon 100mm 1.8 Macro | exclusively macro

  • Dedicated macro offers closest focusing distance
  • Relatively lightweight for what it is
  • Price is right
  • Shoot nature and lifestyle details that a mid-zoom would struggle to reproduce

Canon 1.4x Teleconverter | exclusively action or wildlife

  • More range from your tele without spending crazy $$ on a 300 2.8 or other prime / zoom-tele
  • Lose moderate amount of sharpness and light, but when you need the extra length it’s worth it

Photo Software

Adobe Lightroom (90% of my workflow)

  • Offers import, organization, meta, and post-processing capabilities
  • A one-stop solution for 90% of the work I do
  • High-end editing or post is taken to Photoshop, LR is no substitute

Photo Mechanic

  • The fastest way to separate the selects from the garbage after a big shoot
  • Limited post-processing capability (everything goes to LR or Photoshop after selections are made)

Photoshop

  • The standard in image-editing software
  • Useful for post-selection color or editing work

Adobe Premiere

  • Cloud-based application feature is a godsend for staying updated
  • Often faster than Final Cut Pro for the majority of HD SLR workflow
  • Natively imports 5dMkii and 7D files (although transcoding saves space)

Strobes & Off-Camera Flashes

Ranger RX Speed with A Head

  • Ultimate lighting power, in 1 stop increments
  • Clean, easy to modify light
  • Professional-grade built and top-shelf quality
  • Ideal for FREEZING action

SB-80DX Hotshoe Flashes

  • Small, light, and cheap (now)
  • Built-in optical slave
  • Perfect for multi-light location setups when space/weight are a concern

Alien Bees Strobes 1600, 800, 400 Heads with Homemade Battery Packs (thanks to my roommate Erik Seo)

  • 400 > 1600 increases in power
  • Short duration times, ideal for freezing action
  • Cheap, light(er) than some pro setups

Canon 580ex II and Orbis Ringflash Adaptor

  • 580 does all the fancy wireless, optical stuff you need for weddings/off-the-cuff shooting
  • Enough power for one-light lighting setups
  • Ringflash gives a high-end look at a low cast, can be layered with other lights and used as fill

Camera Bags

Burton F-Stop Bags

  • Heavy and burly-built bag with excellent padding on the shoulder straps (rare)
  • Easily fits body with mounted 70-200, a second body, two primes, mid-zoom, a fish, and PocketWizards in the padded compartment area

Burton Zoom Pack

  • Smaller, lighter than F-Stop bag so it’s easier to carry on the planes

Dakine Hand-Me-Down Bags

  • Hand-me-down backpacks are great as ‘strobe packs’
  • Just pile the batteries, head(s), cables, and toss a Pocketwizard inside and hand it to an assistant
  • Look for heavy padding but don’t worry about weight (assistant will be carrying it)

Light Modifiers & Flash/Strobe Accessories

Photoflex Small Square Softbox

Photoflex 7′ Ocotobox

Paul C Buff Beauty Dish

Paul C Buff Collapsible 1×3′ Strip Boxes

Alien Bee Long Throw Reflectors

Photoflex to Alien Bee Speedrings

Lighting Supports & Gear

Bogen Manfrotto Tripod + Three-Way Head

Bogen Standard 9′ Lightstands

Bogen Collapsible Lightstands

Avenger Convertible Boom Stand


Other Stupidly Expensive Electronic Necessities

Pocketwizard Plus II Wireless Radio Transmitters and Receivers

Apple MacBook Pro 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 12gb of RAM

G-Tech External Drives

Apple iPhone (4S)

Rode Shotgun Mic

NEC MultiSync 23in E-Ips Monitor


Outdoor Gear: Backcountry Ski Touring & Avalanche Safety

Arc’teryx Arrakis 40 Backpack

  • indestructible, carries well, fits all avalanche safety gear plus a few extras and the Mountainsmith small cube

Mountainsmith Small Camera Cube

  • fits one body w/out vertical grip + one 70-200mm and two, compact lenses

Marker Duke / Baron Bindings

  • heavy-duty touring and sidecountry bindings that double as in-bounds everyday bindings

Salomon Quest 12 Ski Boots

  • Use the alpine soles NOT the Tech Inserts, strong and comfortable boots for those with wide forefoot and high instep

Black Diamond Flicklock Adjustable Poles

  • absolutely necessary, few others get it THIS right

Black Diamond Acension STS Skins

  • secure tip and tail attachments, rock-solid reliability

K2 Coomback 181 Alpine Skis

  •  lively feeling underfoot, early-rise keeps you on top of the DEEPEST conditions, lightweight design makes touring easier on the legs

Voile Square Blade Guide Shovel

  • strong is an understatement, square blade makes clean snowpack-test pit digging simple

Black Diamond Quickdraw 300cm Guide Probe

  • long, strong and easier to engage quickly

Backcountry Access Tracker DTS 1 Beacon

  • simple and easy to operate for just about anybody, easy to hand to a friend if they forget a beacon

BCA Snowcard / Snowstudy Tools

Black Diamond Snow Saw

Leatherman Juice CS4 Multi-Tool

  • never go into the backcountry without it

Black Diamond Icon Headlamp

  • dual-mode spot and wide angle, comfortable band won’t slide around while you’re skiing, tons of light

Black Diamond Avalung II

  • short of carrying a heavy airbag pack into the backcountry, this adds peace-of-mind in case you’re caught in a slide

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