Equipment - Rick Bowden

For those people that might be interested, I thought I'd detail the equipment I use and a few thoughts and opinions on them. .


Camera Bodies

Since taking up photography as a young lad I've had many different cameras from Olympus to Nikon to Canon. After many years using film I switched to a digital SLR in 2004 and I can honestly say I haven't looked back since.

Canon 5D mkII (retired)

Fuji X-E1 (retired)

Fuji X-T1 (retired) I've been very surprised by how good the files are from this APSC sensor. Certainly a match for my old Canon 5D mkII in my opinion and a lot easier to carry on a long walk.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 II (my current body) I recently switched to using an this micro four thirds camera and have been truly surprised how good the files are. 


Lenses

Olympus m.zukio 12-40mm f2.8 Pro. A stunningly sharp lens and built very well. I love the clutch manual focus too.

Olympus m.zukio 9-18mm. For when I need something wider. The performance of this little beauty belies it's tiny size.

Olympus m.zukio 40-150mm R. It's nicknamed "The Plastic Fantastic". It's not built well but it produces some nice images and weighs nothing so is very easy to carry all day.


Fujinon 18-55mm A very good kit lens for the fuji X cameras. Better corner sharpness than the Canon L lenses.

Fujinon 35mm f1.4 Stunningly sharp and lovely bokeh.

Fujinon 55-200mm Stunning. Lovely bokeh and very sharp.

Fujinon 10-24mm Stunning ultra wide lens. Very sharp and very low distortion. A cracking lens.

Fujinon 18-135mm A surprisingly good lens for a super zoom and weather sealed.


Canon 17-40mm L A good ultra wide lens. I mainly use this lens for buildings or when I want to make a small foreground object look larger. It gets a lot of use in seascapes.

Canon 24-105mm IS L A great standard lens for a full frame sensor. I use this for most scenes that don't need a massively wide angle of view. It's a good walk around lens too with its long zone range and image stabiliser. If I just had to carry one lens (and sometimes you do) this would be the one.

Canon 70-300mm DO IS This is rather a special lens. It uses Diffractive Optics technology which results in a very compact lens for it's focal length. I use this as my medium to long telephoto when I have to carry equipment a long distance.

Canon 100-400mm IS L My long lens of choice when I'm not walking too far (as it weighs quite a bit) or when I fancy a spot of wildlife photography. Good resolution and focusing and good IS.

Canon 50mm f1.8 Probably Canon's cheapest lens. Some argue that you should buy the f1.4 lens rather than this one as it's a better performer (and it is) but the beauty of this lens is it's very compact and at only 130 grams, extremely light. So much so that you don't even have to think should I take it or not, just throw it in the bag, you won't even notice it's there.


Tripod

Arguably the most important piece of kit a landscape photographer can own and one that should not be skimped on. Like many other photographers I've had a number of tripods. Starting with cheap flimsy ones (you might as well put your camera on a jelly), then several "do-it-all" that where small and light to carry but ultimately not sturdy or flexible enough for proper landscape work.

I've now settled on a Manfrotto 055CXPRO3. It can go from over head height to practically floor level, it's very sturdy and doesn't wobble and due to it's carbon fiber construction is still reasonably light at 1.65kg.

I've also purchased a Giottos Vitruvian tripod which has a folded length of 32.9cm and makes an excellent travel tripod.


Filters

Another essential item for the landscape photographer. Some people believe they don't need any filters, you can just shoot multiple exposures and join them together. Well that's a useful technique but I won't always work and besides I think it's always better to get it right in camera. It saves lots of darkroom work and all that storage space for the original files.

Today I use a LEE filters, and more recently the Seven5 system with the Fuji bodies.


Bags

Ask a photographer how many camera bags they've owned and probably won't be able to count them on one hand. We're all looking for the perfect bag. Most of us end up with several different types. A shoulder bag for say walking around a city, quick and easy access but painful to carry if you take too much stuff. A rucksack when you have to walk some distance over rough ground, very comfortable when carrying a lot of gear but slow to access as you have to take it off put it on the floor each time. For most of my photography I use a rucksack as it invariably involves walking some distance and landscapes don't generally run away when you stop to get your gear out!


Other Accessories

Hat, gloves, warm clothes and a flask of coffee are probably the best accessories I own. Standing in the cold before sunrise waiting for the first rays of sunlight to paint the landscape can be pretty chilly to say the least.

Add to that a good pair of neoprene wellies. I don't know why I didn't invest in some sooner.

Other than that I'd have to say that my iPhone is the most useful accessory I have. I use it as a sun compass with sunrise and sunset times. A depth of field calculator for those tricky to judge shots. Weather reports, tide tables, maps. All very handy, as well as some music and the odd TV show to pass the time.


Digital Darkroom

I use a mac, mainly because I was fed up spending time fixing Windows and fancied something that just works.

Many years ago I switched over to using Adobe Lightroom and so far I've been very pleased. Sure you can't do all the things I could in Photoshop but it does make you pay more attention to getting the image right in camera instead of relying on software too much. It's also much quicker for comparing and tagging multiple photos.

I now also sometimes use Iridient Developer for processing the Fuji RAW files if I'm not happy with the Lighroom processing.


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