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What's in my camera bag - 2017 edition

The most typical question I get is what do I currently use for my photography. So here is the 2017 version of the gear I use daily in my photography and also some unusual stuff such as my favorite books at the moment. 

Camera Bag

Let's start with the obvious, the camera bag. I have used plenty of different camera bags most of them from Lowepro. Currently, I use a Lowepro Protactic 450 AW. The customizability and size are perfect for my equipment. 

What's on my shopping list

The f-stop SHINN looks impressive for long hikes when you need to have room for all of your gear and essentials. 

Cameras

I use two camera bodies the Nikon D810 and D800. Mostly I just have the D810 with me, but for longer travels, I have the D800 as a backup. I also use the D800 to shoot timelapse while I have the D810 to shoot stills. 

What's on my shopping list

Nothing. I'm very pleased with the D810 at the moment, but if Nikon releases a successor to the D810, I'm sure I will be considering an upgrade. 

Lenses

To be honest, I have too many lenses at the moment. Most of which I leave at home and don't use at all. I'll be selling those because I don't need them anymore. Recently I received a Laowa 12 mm f/2.8 ultra wide angle lens which is excellent for night sky photography. What I love about the Laowa is the smooth focusing in the dark because of the hard mechanical stop for infinity. 

In My Bag

Nikon 14-24 mm f/2.8 - My go to lens for landscapes and star photography - sharp! 
Sigma 20 mm f/1.4 ART (Canon version here) - My newest lens is a great addition capturing Milky Way - so good!
Nikon 50 mm f/1.4 G - A great low light lens for shallow depth of field. Weights nothing!
Nikon 70-200 mm f/4.0 VR II - Sharp telephoto lens for landscapes and detail shots. 
Laowa 12 mm f/2.8 (only Canon and Pentax mounts avail at the moment in Amazon) - Excellent for astrophotography, weights about half of the Nikon 14-24 mm. 

Lenses I use sometimes but not often enough

Sigma 24 mm f/1.4 ART Nikon (Canon mount) I use this for northern lights, it's sharp from 1.4!
Sigma 35 mm f/1.4 ART Nikon (Canon mount) I hardly put this lens on, sometimes when I capture our dog... 

Lenses I don't use anymore and will be selling

I first bought most of these when I switched to the D800, and since then have been gradually upgrading to the ones I have in my bag. All of these would be good enough for what I do. I think the upgrades have not really impacted the quality of my work so remember that when you first start. 

Nikon 16-35 mm f/4.0 VR - Great sharp wide angle for landscapes with screw on filters.
Nikon 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 VR- Small, cheap and light tele zoom.
Nikon 105 mm f2.5 AI - A legendary sharp lens for tight landscapes and smooth backgrounds.
Samyang 14 mm f/2.8 - Light and sharp astrophotography lens with huge wave distortion  (fixable though).
Sigma 50 mm f/1.4 - As sharp as the Nikon I use, but much heavier, so it has been sitting on the shelf for too long.
Sigma 70 mm f/2.8 Macro - Excellent for macro photography, sharp but slow autofocus.

What's on my shopping list

I will be getting a Nikon 28-300 mm f/3.5-5.6 VR soon as a travel lens, and it is what I will be carrying with me for the long hikes accompanied with an ultra wide angle lens for landscapes and star photography. 

Tripod & Other Accessories

I recently bought a Really Right Stuff TVC-24L Tripod with BH-40 LR Ballhead and quick release lever. I also got the TA-3-FRC Rock Claw Foot for it. These are fantastic for a slippery surface and of course for rocky terrain. The best choice was to get an L-plate for the Nikon D810. It makes it so much faster to change from vertical to horizontal and likewise. The only thing that is a bit annoying is that when it's freezing, the quick lever seems to jam in the middle. If I want to change the camera to the horizontal position I need to slide it from the end of the quick release platform and slide it back and then lock it in the position. 

Remote Controller

I use a standard Pixel remote controller for time-lapse work. And a Hahnel Giga T Pro II when I need more than 20 second's to get in the frame of my shot. Usually, I use the self-timer on my camera to get sharp images with either 2 sec or 5 sec timer. 

Filters

I recently received a set of Nisi filters with the filter holder for the Nikon 14-24 mm f/2.8, and I must admit the holder feels much more robust than the equivalent Lee holder. The only downside to the Nisi holder is that it seems to jam the zoom slightly when you screw it on the Nikon 14-24 mm which makes the zooming feel uncomfortable. 

Nisi Soft IR GND8 (0.9) - soft grad for balancing the exposures. 
Nisi IR ND1000 (3.0) - 10 stop filter, excellent for long exposure. Seems to have less vignetting than the Lee Big Stopper. 
Nisi HD Polarizer - This is a great filter to remove reflections or boost them. You can quickly rotate the holder so it's adjustable. 

Mavic Pro

I recently purchased a DJI Mavic Pro fly more combo to widen my possibilities in capturing different perspectives. I love using the Mavic Pro. The drone is small and easy to operate, and it fits perfectly with the rest of my gear in the camera bag. 

Favorite Resources

I'm currently reading

I used to have a lot of different books lying around my office, but once I got the Amazon Kindle, I have been using it a lot. It's so convenient to take with you rather than all the 40+ large books I have stored in it. I love the look of the display and I can read it in complete darkness when my wife is sleeping, and don't want the lights on anymore. If I really enjoy a book I will get a printed copy as well. 

Tim Ferris - Tools of Titans. Fantastic book with insight to some of the World's most successful people. 
Dan Brown - Deception Point. A fiction book with an unusual and intriguing story of Nasa and science discovery. 

I'm currently watching

Chase Jarvis - Inspiring photographer, entrepreneur and creator
Casey Neistat - Probably the most watched vlogger at the moment
Marques Brownlee - Tech review guy on YouTube
Peter McKinnon - Great source of inspiration and tips for photographers
Tales by Light - Inspiring photography documentary on Netflix

Apps I'm Using

Photographer's Ephemeris - Great tool for sunset and Milky Way scouting
PhotoPills - Another tool to make plans and see the Milky Way location
Star Walk - A stargazing app, great to learn stars and planet's

Milky Way & Aurora

A couple of weeks ago I went on a six-day road trip with Sami (@samiheiskanen) from Helsinki to Utsjoki to all the way up to Varanger, Norway. Even with over 4500 km's of driving we had an excellent photo journey there. 

For the final day in Norway, we had a chance to watch the Northern Lights dance over the clear sky near Vadsø. I captured this view from a nearby small river. 

Exif & Equipment

Nikon D810, Nikkor 14-24 mm f/2.8 & Manfrotto MT190CX Pro tripod. 
Two horizontal photographs ISO 6400, 30 sec., f/2.8 @ 14 mm 

Post-processing

I blended the two vertical images manually in Photoshop CC. If you wish to learn this blending technique go and see my ebook Star Photography Masterclass. After combining the images, I opened the final work in Lightroom and edited it with Saga Lightroom presets Star Landscape - Born and Split-Toning - Blues.  

Milky Way & Aurora - Vadsø, Norway - 2016

Way Of Light

Driving around Western Finland in pitch black night I found myself looking at train tracks to the horizon. Focusing on getting the settings perfect while the train sounds were breaking the silence of the night. It was a feeling to remember. While I was nowhere near the upcoming train, the moment certainly made my heart rate go up. Be safe out there, don't do anything stupid. 

I hope the image conveys the feeling I had in that specific moment. 

Exif & Equipment

Nikon D810, Nikkor 14-24 mm f/2.8, Sirui Tripod & Ballhead
Two horizontal photographs with settings: ISO 6400, 2.8, 30 sec. 14 mm. 

Post-Processing

I used Lightrooms built-in panorama function to stitch the two images together. I edited the colors with Phase Preset: Hazy Night and edited the basic settings. I also enhanced the Milky Way in Photoshop with my Fine Art Action: Enhance Stars. 

Way Of Light - Western Finland, 2016

Glow

Capturing Perseid Meteor Shower is one of the things I try to shoot each year. This year we had luck with the weather and we headed to the coast with Konsta and Juuso. I set my time-lapse rail to a place I thought might work and set it to shoot for four hours. While my other camera was capturing the time-lapse, I took a bunch of different still images of the location. We were amazed at how bright some of the meteors were. 

For this photograph, I ended up using three horizontal images.

Equipment & Exif

Nikon D810, Nikkor 14 - 24 mm f/2.8, Manfrotto Tripod
Three Exposures ISO 4000, 14 mm, f/2.8, 30 sec. 

Post-processing

I used Lightroom CC to stitch the panorama together. First I edited the basic settings and added light to the detail with one of my Saga Presets: FG & Stars - Smooth. For colors, I used a Phase Preset: Color - Oldie. 

Glow - Emäsalo, Finland - 2016

Descent

After the bright summer nights, I'm excited that the astrophotography season has started in Finland. A couple of weeks ago I made a trip to Emäsalo, Finland. It's one of my favorite seascape places in Finland. I ended up going there four nights in a row to capture some time-lapse footage and still images. 

There are not many places in Finland where you can view to the sea without being on someone's private property. Which is a shame. So this place is rather unique. Standing there is a calming experience when the only noises you could hear are the subtle wind and crashing waves. I placed my camera low and set the self-timer to 20 seconds so I had time to walk to the frame and stand there for 30 seconds. Luckily I also captured a satellite in the frame which gave the image nice balanced look.

Equipment & Exif

Nikon D810, Nikkor 14-24 mm f/2.8 & Manfrotto Tripod
ISO 3200, 14 mm, f/2.8, 30 sec. 

Post-production

Color edit with Lightroom CC basic settings with my Phase Presets: Hazy - Movie Look & Contrast - Night. I also added a Saga Preset: Enhance Stars - Med 2/3 to add detail to the stars. 

Descent - Emäsalo, Finland - 2016