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Photography Equipment

 

There's no denying that photography is a powerful art form, just as painting, music, and sculpture are. If you look at the history of these disciplines, you'll find another similarity. Those who enjoyed long term success did so not by following current trends, but by paving their own way. This of course is no easy feat, perhaps best expressed by Alfred de Musset who said "How glorious it is - and also how painful - to be an exception". Whether it's your choice of gear, or the subject matter you focus on, throw out the rule book and follow your own heart.

 
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In late 2015, I switched from a Canon Full Frame body to a smaller, more portable micro four-thirds mirrorless system. Although larger sensors have their benefits, I find the ability to carry a lightweight system to be invaluable, especially for my travel photography. The image quality is outstanding, and this has translated into more creative work, and increased image sales. To manage and edit my growing collection of images, I find Adobe Lightroom to be a superb tool.

All images are real moments captured in time. There are no HDR composites, green screen, or background changes. My goal is always to get the image right at the time of the exposure using manual metering, quality cameras, lenses, filters, tripods, and flash systems that extend the dynamic range of what is normally possible. Post production is limited to occasional black and white conversion, cropping, subtle vignetting, white balance adjustment, increased saturation, all of which retain the full integrity of the original scene.

The Pen F is one of my favorite cameras, and the one that gets carried with me most often. With its creative art filters, monochrome modes, and 20 megapixel sensor, it has a full set of features in a super portable package. 

The EM1 MKII is a small powerhouse of a camera. It's the body I use most for wildlife and sports photography. With an amazing autofocus system and blazing speed, it's possible to capture the decisive moment even in high-speed action situations. With a weatherproof body, it can withstand even the most demanding conditions. The comfortable grip also provides excellent ergonomics when using longer telephoto lenses. 

The OMD EM10 MKII is the most underrated camera in the Olympus line. It may not be as fast as the OMD EM1 MKII, but it's perfect for capturing scenics and landscape photography. Many of my favorite images from Iceland were captured with this body. 

 
 

It's challenging to find a lens that is both ultra-portable and of superior optical quality. The Panasonic 20mm f1.7 is a rare exception however. Known as a "pancake lens" due to its diminutive size, it barely protrudes from the camera body making it a pocketable companion for everyday shooting. With its wide aperture, it's possible to create beautiful bokeh in the background while keeping your subject tack sharp. This lens is a constant companion to my Olympus Pen F. 

At just 0.26 pounds, the Olympus 17mm f1.8 is a lightweight phenom of a lens. With a classic 34mm equivalent focal length, it's ideal for city and street scenes. It's unobtrusive size makes it easy to blend in, and shoot without drawing unwanted attention. At f1.8 there is enough light to shoot in lowlight conditions while also creating super shallow depth of field.

Perhaps my most used lens, the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 Pro is capable of handling just about anything. It's sharp, focuses fast, and while not a macro lens, has surprisingly good close-up capability. With an equivalent focal range of 24-80mm, this is a travel photographer's dream lens. Good things can come in small packages and this lens proves it. Built to last, this has a weatherproof design, making it usable even in the rain. 

If you're looking for an ultra sharp telephoto lens, you'll be hard pressed to find a better option than the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 Pro. With an equivalent focal length of 80-300mm, this is the perfect telephoto lens for wildlife, birds in flight, aviation, and sports photography. Believe it or not, it also doubles as an outstanding closeup lens. I've used it to photography insects, flowers, and butterflies with frame-filling success. This is always paired with my OMD EM1 MKII for a super fast combo. 

When a little extra reach is needed, the Olympus 1.4x converter is an outstanding addition to your kit. When paired with the 40-150mm f2.8, this becomes a 420mm f4 at the long end. This makes it powerful enough to capture clear images of distant wildlife and birds.

 
 

A circular polarizer is one of the most important tools you can have in your bag. Not only does it make skies pop, but it eliminates the glare on non-metallic surfaces. For dramatic landscapes, the Hoya CPL is the way to go. 

For the last 10+ years, I've used one tripod, the Gitzo 1325 Carbon Fiber model. It has taken a beating and is still in great shape. FInding the right tripod is no easy task as there are a lot of variables to consider. This one was the best balance of stability, weight, and ruggedness. Best of all, there is no center column which makes it really simple to compose from the ground. 

Paired with my Gitzo 1325 is the Kirk BH3 ballhead. I prefer ballheads to the traditional pan and tilt models which are hard to maneuver into position. With the ballhead, you can put the camera in nearly any direction quickly. 

 
Wrist Strap on PenF
 

Can something as simple as a wrist strap change the way you shoot? I didn't think so, but after trying one, I've made the switch! Better late than never I guess. The reason for the change is actually quite straightforward. When the camera is no longer strapped to your neck, it frees you up to move it into more creative positions. It's totally secure so there is no risk of dropping or breaking it. Now, I would imagine this gets a bit uncomfortable with a heavy lens, but I use it with the Panasonic 20mm f1.7. By having the camera in my hand at all times I'm ready for anything.

Photographic success is not just about getting the equipment. And you can’t market yourself without a portfolio. If you love photography enough, the equipment will come, the portfolio will result and if you enjoy the process, successful will follow. You will evolve your own formula.
— Bruno Schreck