I had this article prepared for quite a while now but never got around to publish it. I know a lot of readers on here always ask me what camera I use for my pictures, so here is the full article with all my gear.
But before we get into it, if you're looking for specific mobile photography/editing tips, I've already published an article previously which you can read here.
Generally, this article is about my particular camera setup. When it comes to cameras it's almost like religion, everyone believes in something different, and that's okay. I will try to list my reasons below as good as I can, but if you're looking for particular tech reviews, you might just do a quick Google search.
Nr.1 - My All Round Camera
The Fujifilm X100T has been one of my favorite cameras for a couple years now. It's the camera that really got me into photography, even though I had a big Canon DSLR sitting at home, this is the camera I ended up using all the time.
Most of my pictures you can find on Instagram are either made with my iPhone, or the Fujifilm X100T. Pretty much the majority of all my travel photography from the last 3-4 years has been made with either the X100T or the X100S (which was the previous model).
The black version just looks beautiful. Not cheesy retro, but classy. It's just a nice piece hardware you feel good about having it hanging around your neck or shoulder.
This camera is small, compact and light and in my opinion incredible durable. There is a saying that the best camera is always the one you have with you. And it's true. The X100T is always with me, while my big Canon DSRL camera was sitting at home collecting dust. I've dropped the X100T several times, used it in rain and other harsh environments without any issues.
The X100T won't let you change the lens. Which means, you're stuck with a 22mm/F2 fixed lens. However, I personally see this as a PRO rather than a CON. Why? Because I don't have to think about it. There is no way to switch lenses, so I don't have to think about it. If I want to zoom in, or out, I literally have to be creative and physically around to capture the perfect angle.
Other Pro's are:
Integrated WiFi (for direct transfer to my phone)
Integrated Fujifilm classic film effects (Chrome is my favorite)
All settings needed are physical dials on the camera (not digital)
Allows for minimal customization if needed.
The sharpness of the pictures is mind blowing to me.
It has a built in macro mode & digital viewfinder.
The X100T is incredibly good in low light for some reason.
You don't look like a stalker or paparazzi while still taking great pictures.
The battery life is a joke. But it's a small camera, so just buy extra batteries. Usually the X100T already comes with two batteries.
Holding it with one hand is not super comfortable, but if you add the thumb extension (see below) it works.
The auto focus is slow. If you're thinking about sport photography, forget about it. You need a still subject, otherwise it will always be blurry. Since I don't photograph any fast moving objects up close, it works for me.
You can't switch lenses, but like I said above, I don't mind it and actually appreciate it that this camera takes the decision taking away from me.
I customized my X100T a little bit. First I added a little thumb grip (I think this one is a must, it makes the camera so much better to hold). I also installed a UV Filter which serves as lens protection, and a little lens cap which protects your lens even more in case you drop it. I'm one of these guys who doesn't use a case or lens caps. I have no patience for these things and they only get in the way of taking pictures quickly.
For $1299 I think that the Fujifilm X100T is one of the best cameras you can buy in that price range. Knowing that there is no big selection of lenses guarantees that you won't spend more money on this particular camera.
The X100T is basically the best complimentary camera you can get if you are planning on having two setups like I do.
For me it's important that I CAN'T change the lenses with this camera. Because when I leave the house, I just grab it. No decisions, I just take it without thinking about what lenses I should take with me. There is something nice and uncomplicated about this.
Here are some random pictures taken with the Fujifilm X100T
Nr.2 - My Main DSLR Camera
Next to my X100T, I completely fell in love with the Sony A7Rii. Compared to the Fujifilm which costs you $1200 for a full camera, the Sony A7Rii already costs you $3200 for only the body, and thats without a lens. It's a completely different beast and definitely much more than just an amateur camera.
Generally, the Sony A7Rii is pretty much up there with any other professional DSLR camera such as the Canon 5D Mark III line. The main difference is, the A7Rii is a mirrorless camera.
We could get into the specifics here, but let's keep it simple: Making it mirror less means the camera can be much smaller & lighter. As a result, the A7Rii is about half the weight as a regular DSRL camera. The main issue I had (and maybe that's just a personal one) is that I never carried my big Canon DSRL camera because it was too heavy and I just didn't bother.
While the Fujifilm X100T made me more active in photography, the A7Rii took it to the next level. And I can promise you, the main reason was the size & weight of the camera. With any other large DSRL I would have never photographed as much as I did with my Sony camera.
While Sony doesn't claim the A7Rii to be water proof, I never had any issues photographing in rain so far.
I used to be a Canon user, but since then completely switched over to Sony. I'm sure you will find enough technical comparison articles online, but here is my personal PRO & CON list:
Extremely light & small, perfect for traveling.
Integrated WiFi for easy transfer to your mobile phone
Records in Full HD and even 4K video + has autofocus for video
The LCD display can be moved for flexible shooting
It can be charged via USB (like a USB battery pack)
Camera goes up to 120.000 ISO, incredible in low light.
Adapter allows me to use my old Canon lenses.
Smaller camera means smaller battery, means less battery life. (50% less than regular DSRL cameras have)
Choices for native lenses are still limited because new technology.
Metabones adapter for other lenses seems to be a bit buggy sometimes.
Generally I would say the Sony A7Rii is one of the best cameras out there. If you're like me, you will appreciate a camera that gives you all the capabilities of most professional DSRL cameras, but at the same time gives you the freedom to fix most things in post production.
I'm personally not a great technical photographer and I have little patience when it comes to camera settings. All I want is to shoot my pictures fast, and then fix things such as exposure later on without loss of quality. The A7Rii is the perfect for just that and very forgiving especially in low light, while other DSRL cameras require very specific knowledge about it's settings to get quality pictures.
Alongside the Sony A7Rii I use the following lenses & accessories:
Probably my all-time lens when it comes to flexibility and a left over from my old Canon camera. Unfortunately not a native Sony lens, but one of the best lenses out there, incredibly sharp and just perfect for most scenarios. Since this is a Canon lens, you have to use the Metabones adapter which is another $400 and sometimes has some bugs where the autofocus doesn't work. The adapter only makes sense if you or your friends have a lot of Canon lenses you want to use.
If I can't decide for a specific lens, or only want to take one lens with me, it's usually this one because it allows me to do pretty much anything I need.
PS: At the time when I got the A7Rii, Sony did not have a native 24-70 f/2.8 lens. However, they launched one earlier this year. Only reason I haven't bought it yet is the price point, and the fact that I already have the Canon one.
Easily one of the best prime lenses out there and a MUST HAVE in my opinion. I use this lens mostly for portraits or anything where I like to achieve a beautiful depth of field. Also, next to my 24-70mm lens, this is probably the sharpest lens you can get right now, at least from my experience.
This is my smallest and therefore my most portable lens. I usually chose this lens when I'm strolling through a new city photographing architecture and city landscapes. Using this lens, my camera comes close to the size and weight of my Fujifilm X100T, which means my Sony becomes extremely light and portable. It's a good prime lens to have in your collection.
I bought this lens right before my Iceland trip earlier this year and I'm glad I did, I used it a lot! It's a zoom lens and perfect for landscape or architecture photography. (actually works fairly well for portraits too, if you have the space)
Now, when I purchased this lens, Sony did not have a f/2.8 version yet, but just recently announced the f/2.8 version for almost $2500 which is a shy $1000 more expensive than the one I have. However, I can guarantee you that I never had any issues with mine and currently see no reason to upgrade. But if you have the money, get the f/2.8 version.
Below some pictures I took with this lens:
Lens wise these are pretty much all the ones I have. (I have another 24-70mm lens from Sony for video because it supports auto focus) but otherwise I'm doing fairly good with this set of lenses.
Of course you can imagine there are many more on my wish list.
This lens is the latest addition to my lens collection. I haven't used it too much yet, but my intention is to use it mostly for architecture and landscapes. So far my widest lens has been my 24-70mm lens, but now with this 18mm lens I'm prepared for every scenario.
From my experience so far, I love the lens. The distortion isn't that crazy and can be easily fixed with Lightroom, and the sharpness is just impressive. I wouldn't recommend this lens early on, but if you have some extra money and already own most of the lenses above, this one is a great addition to your collection.
Here is an example image I took in New York around 6pm (low light), about an hour after sunset. I did not edit this image on purpose, this is pretty much straight off the camera.
Currently I use a GorillaPod from JOBY ($96) which is one of the best flexible tripods I've ever used. I rarely travel with a big tripod, but this one fits on my backpack easily and is just perfect.
On top of it I use the JOBY camera strap ($29) which attaches at the bottom of your camera rather than the sides which makes the camera so much easier to use.
Then for video I use an additional RODE shotgun microphone ($229) which gives you much better audio compared to your onboard microphone. It just plugs straight in your onboard audio jack on the camera. I also have a mini tripod ($25) and extension cord in case I want to position the microphone not straight on the camera itself.
In addition I sometimes use this battery grip (see below) for my Sony A7Rii. There a couple positive and negative things about it, but the positives sometimes outweigh the negatives. First of all, it makes a camera that I valued for being small and light more bulky and of course a little heavier. The other downside is that when using the battery grip, I can't charge the batteries anymore by just plugging in the camera via USB. I basically have to take out the batteries and use the charger. However, the positives about this battery grip are twice as much battery life, and then of course, much better handling when shooting mostly in portrait format, which I do a lot. PS: The battery grip works even better in combination with a wrist strap, you know one of these tiny ones just for your wrist for stability & security.
And then we have the fantastic B Grip Uno. It's a little thing that you can either mount to your belt or to your backpack strap. I use it mostly on my backpack strap and I like it. It easily holds your camera even with the biggest lens and gives you quick access to whenever you need your camera. I'm generally not a huge fan of regular camera straps, so this is just perfect for me. See below.
And then of course, my backpack which is my absolutely favorite camera bag. I've been on the look for a camera backpack that I can customize and also use for other use cases, and this ProTactic 450 from Lowepro ($177) backpack has been nothing short of amazing.
All components inside the backpack can be taken out or re-arranged and it has a couple of extra modules you can attach on the outside of the backpack. On top of it, it works perfectly for any laptop up to 15" size and offers a ton of small little compartments. It was also important for me that you can access your gear from every possible side of the backpack for easy access, which in this case, you can. Especially the quick access from the side is worth the money for this backpack. Hands down, best backpack I ever owned.
I hope you enjoyed this article about my camera gear. If there are any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @vanschneider and I'd love to answer your questions.
Thank you very much for reading,
**In the spirit of full disclosure, this article contains one or more affiliate links, which means that I may get a small commissions if you decide to purchase any of these products from Amazon. Of course, I only recommend products & services that I use and love myself, so I know you’ll be in good hands.