JOE BRAUN PHOTOGRAPHYCitrusMilo.com

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CAMERA EQUIPMENT

Sony a7rIII next to Nikon D810UPDATED SUMMER 2020:
People often ask me what camera gear I use, so I thought it would be fun to do a little write-up. As a hiking and backpacking photographer, I have found myself constantly trying to balance the pursuit of better image quality (higher resolutions and more dynamic range) with the desire to carry smaller and lighter gear on my adventures. Every piece of camera equipment is some sort of compromise between size, image quality, and price. And while big dSLRs used to be the mark of serious photographers, smaller mirrorless interchangable lens camera systems have really taken off in the past few years, giving people many different lighter, but not necessarily cheaper, alternatives.

For serious high-resolution landscape work, I shoot with the popular Sony A7r series cameras, and for situations where I need a really small and light camera, I shoot with the Canon M6. Previously I used to shoot with Nikon dSLRs for over a decade as well as Micro Four Thirds (Panasonic and Olympus) and Fuji X cameras. It's important to note that while each of these systems has their own slight advantages/disadvantages as well as quirks, they all allow photographers to take great photographs. It's really up to you to learn how to get the best out of whatever gear you have and do something artistic with it. But below I'll give a shout-out to some of the gear that I love!

Sony A7r Series Full-Frame Mirrorless Cameras:

Although I've shot with Nikon cameras since I first started, I made the switch to Sony because I wanted a high-resolution mirrorless camera that was lighter and smaller than a big brick of a dSLR. The current Sony A7r IV has a whopping 60mp of resolution and handles just like the previous generations. Image quality is fantastic even at higher ISOs. And while its controls and menus aren't very intuitive by default, it is possible to customize the buttons, joystick, and touchscreen to give yourself a pleasant user experience. The Sony A7r has been my go-to camera for several years now.

Zion Narrows (Zion National Park) -- © 2017 Joe Braun Photography
A beautiful corner of the Zion Narrows bathed in golden light.
Sony A7rIII with Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 G.

Pros:

Cons:

Zion Narrows (Zion National Park) -- © 2017 Joe Braun Photography
The Milky Way glows brightly above Zion Canyon!
Sony A7rIII with Tokina FiRIN 20mm f/2.

Favorite Sony FE Lenses:

University of Michigan Museum of Art -- © 2018 Joe Braun Photography
The immaculate Alumni Memorial Hall at the University of Michigan Museum of Art.
Sony A7rIII with Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G.
Canon EOS M Series Cameras:

Canon M6 next to Fujifilm X-T2Like Nikon, Canon is best known for its big SLRs and was a bit late to enter the mirrorless camera market when it introduced its first M-series camera in 2012. The "M" line is based on the smaller APS-C sensor size, similar to the Fuji X and Sony E camera systems. Now I have to admit that I actually enjoy shooting with the Fujifilm X System more; Fuji has a very mature line of cameras and lenses that make photography feel artistic and fun. But I choose to shoot with the Canon M line because it's cheaper, lighter, and smaller. If you need to go as small and as light as you can on an adventure and still get fantastic high-resolution results, the current Canon EOS M6 mkII (32mp) paired with the 11-22mm wide-angle lens makes for a wonderfully simple and compact landscaper's kit. I really enjoy shooting with the little Canon M6 cameras despite them not having all of the bells and whistles of their competitors.

Parunuweap Canyon (Zion National Park) -- © 2019 Joe Braun Photography
That magical slot canyon glow!
Canon M6 mkII with EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM.

Pros:

Cons:

Climbing Lady Mountain (Zion National Park) -- © 2017 Joe Braun Photography
Climbing up Lady Mountain.
Canon M6 with EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM.

Favorite Canon EF-M Lenses:

Olmsted Point (Yosemite National Park) -- © 2017 Joe Braun Photography
Sundown at Olmsted Point, Yosemite National Park.
Canon M6 with EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM.
TRIPODS AND ACCESSORIES:

Tripods, like cameras, are a compromise between stability and portability. I typically like to have two types of tripods ready for different shooting situations, a heavier and sturdier one for maximum stability for solid time exposure shots and alternatively, an altra-lightweight one to bring on long hikes where weight matters. While there are many big names out there from Gitzo to Manfrotto and dozens of others, I'm a big fan of the relatively unknown Asian company, SIRUI. The Sirui N-1004SK Tripod is my reliable main tripod that easily supports a big heavy SLR and features a removable monopod and interchangable middle columns. The Sirui T-005KX Tripod is a good backpacking tripod when you want to go light, but it's a bit short and wobbly for long time exposures. As for lens filters, I sometimes use ND (neutral density) filters and polarizers. Polarizers can often make the sky more dramatic, bring out details in clouds, and remove unwanted reflections in water, but when overused, they can also make water look lifeless and turn the sky to an ugly dull shade of blue.

Little Hunters Beach photo (Acadia National Park) -- © 2013 Joe Braun Photography
Mystical sunrise in Acadia National Park.
Nikon D800 with Nikkor 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G at 18mm.
CONCLUSION:

If there is one thing I have learned, it's that you can get great results from just about any camera system if you're willing to study it and make it work for you. And while it's always fun to look at and fantasize about the latest gear or debate which brand is better than the other, remember that it's not just about gear! Technique and composition make the difference. Below are some of my favorite images listed with the random gear that was used. Whatever camera equipment you use, get out there and have fun!

Wahclella Falls, Columbia River Gorge photo -- © 2015 Joe Braun Photography
Wahclella Falls in the Columbia River Gorge.
Nikon D810 with Nikkor 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G at 18mm.
Barton Dam (Ann Arbor, Michigan) photo -- © 2020 Joe Braun Photography
High water at the Barton Dam.
Sony A7rIII with Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 at 19mm.
Pine Creek canyoneering (Zion National Park) -- © 2016 Joe Braun Photography
Rappeling in the golden light of Pine Creek, Zion National Park.
Fujifilm X-E2S with 14mm f/2.8.
Western Point Star Trails -- © 2013 Joe Braun Photography
Magical light show above Western Point, Acadia National Park.
Nikon D800 with Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 at 14mm.
Pictured Rocks Winter Trek (Michigan) -- © 2015 Joe Braun Photography
Pink winter sunset under Chapel Rock.
Fujifilm X-T2 with XF 18-135mm at 24mm.

Joe Braun Photography

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