OUR STILLS EQUIPMENT
Shooting really high quality still photographs is an extremely challenging yet rewarding component of any of our travel adventures. To try and really capture what you see and make it available for others to see is extremely difficult, and whilst a good tradesman doesn't blame his tools, they certainly need to be the best they can be to get the job done right. Never has this been truer than when your talking about photography.
We use a range of Canon cameras and lenses to shoot our stills and the primary camera used is the EOS 5D Mark III. The 5D Mark III allows us to capture exteremly high quality images courtesy 22.3MP Full Frame CMOS sensor. The 6D's robust designmeans that it is capable of withstanding a whole bunch of abuse, which, whilst abusing our camera gear is something we try and avoid, it's nice to know that a few hard knocks on a trip like this shouldn't mean the end of road for this fantastic piece of kit.
We have a variety of lenses for the Canon 5D Mark III and starting off at the wide end of the spectrum is the 17-40mm f4 L Series lens. Generally used for landscape shots and interior shots where you need as wide a field of view as possible, the lens in pin sharp and extremly small and light, especially when compared to the more expensive 16-35mm f2.8 variant. It's also excellent valuse for money and when you consider that in both of the intended applications it will be tripod mounted so the need for a 'fast' lens is negated. My advise is save your bucks and get the 17-40mm f4, just be careful with your landscape compositions as it's very easy to make an extremely boring image if there's not enough content to capture the viewers imagination. Shooting at a focal length of around 24mm will help as opposed zooming right out 17mm. We learnt this from my first day out with this lens fitted when we sat around the camp fire and down loaded the days pics only to find them lacking any sort of dynamic quality.
Next up is the real workhorse for many photographers, the 24-70mm f 2.8. Being a nice fast lens that is pin sharp with a fairly flexible focal range it's this lens that spends most of it's time attached to the 5D. Sure it's fairly heavy being an f2.8 lens but you learn to live with it and the image quality from L Series lens and full frame sensor of the 5D means that 90% of what we shoot is done with this lens. If your upgarding your kit to Pro series stuff, this is the combination that we recommend. Like we say it's heavy but it will get you the images you are looking for in most day to day travel photography type of situations where you chasing something sharp and crisp, the lens is also pretty handy when it comes to portrait work and even some sports photography if you can get close enough.
Next up is probably one of the most popular lenses going around and once you have your 24-700, this is the next piece of kit that most photographers buy, the 70-200mm f2.8. Again it's an L Series lens so the image quality is second to none and the distinctive grey body of Canons L Series telephoto lenses are easily recognisable at many sporting events around the world. So if your looking a action and sporting photography this is piece of kit is a must have and we used it almost exclusively when photographing the Isle of Man TT races. It also has an excellent reputation with many portrait and model photographers. When added to the two lenses above it also allows us to cover the full focal range with quality L Series glass, a great combination for all types of travel photography situations.
Lastly we have the only non Canon lens in our arsenal, the Sigma 150-500mm f5-6.3. Initially purchased for use with motorsport photography we have to concede that the decison was made purely on bang for buck, this lens cost us about a $1000.00 and to be fair whilst it has some flaws in terms of aouto focus speed when shooting in Servo mode it has served us well. We have had many motorsport shots published in some the countries leading motorcycle publications that were taken with this lens and when you consider that to get a 600mm prime L Series Lens from Canon would set you back about $12-13,000.00 it's hard to argue with the economics, especially when you consider how much magazine editors pay these days! We wouldn't normally carry this lens when travelling due to the cumbersome nature of a lens of this size, but seeing as how we will be away for such a long period of time we have decided to include it just in case we feel the need for a spot wildlife photography. This lens was used to take the images of us on our jet skis that appear on our 'About Us' page, so have a look if you want to check the image quality.
To help us with lighting we use a pair of Canon 430 EX II's. These light weight, fully controllable flash units give us complete control over any low light situation and they are excellant when it comes to filling in shadowed areas when shooting protraits in full sun light. We can either use a single unit mounted directly on the 5D's hot shoe or we can mount them on a light weight light stand and trigger them via a remote system. As you'd expect these flash units are fairly hungry when it comes to battery consumption and we always try and use Energizer Lithium batteries, whilst being fairly expensive they cope very well with repeated firing on the flash and seem to hold a charge fairly well when not being used for a while. Once the batteries start to get a bit tired we hang onto them and re-use them in our camp lights.
For off camera remote triggering we use Hahnal Combi units, with a sender on the camera and the receivers mounted on the bottom of the flash heads we can place our flash units wherever they will be most beneficial. There are certainly more expensive units on the market but for the price of the Hahnel units you can't really go wrong, particularly if your only going to use them infrequently.
Of course being in the digital age decent software is needed for post processing and for this we use the industry standard Adobe range of products. We utilize Lightroom for filing and basic editing purposes and Photoshop when we have time to get a little more creative.