Gear

The most common question I'm asked is; "What gear are you using?"  

     Everyone has their preferences for equipment, how they carry it and their style of shooting.  As time went on and I experimented with different styles more, I started picking up more and more gear.  I had to figure out how to carry everything from when I'm rolling through TSA in San Francisco International Airport or lugging lenses and supplies in a rucksack through miles of swampy bog in the Irish countryside. In the military, teams and equipment are deemed mission capable when they are ready to perform any operation within their scope. Wherever your missions take you, you should be able to depend on your gear to help you achieve your objectives and get you home safely.  You will often find that cheaply-made equipment simply will not rise to the occasion when you need it the most. Below are some of my all-around favorites. I've also linked them so you can check out the exact specs, price, and details.  

     It's also important to note that while it pays to be prepared; the gear doesn't make the adventurer. So get out there and see something new. #AdventureIsOutThere.


 
 

Cameras & lenses

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This camera is my workhorse.  It's great for photos, it's great for video.  It shoots 4k at 60fps and 120fps at 1080p for those buttery-smooth slow-motion shots.   The autofocus is incredibly accurate and fast, the color is great, and it works like a charm in the dark, through the trees.  If you work in extreme conditions regularly, the 1DX MK2 is the tool for you.  You cannot take it underwater; But it is the most well sealed camera that Canon makes. Which means that this body holds up excellently when taking photos of Skógafoss.  A downside is the weight, it's 54.0 oz./1,530 g with battery and card, add a hefty telephoto lens and holding this up for a video shot becomes a stamina exercise.

I love primes, but some events don't allow time to switch lenses, so this lens is a good catch-all for most situations. The Tamron 28-70mm 2.8 is a great all-around lens that stays on my 1DX maybe 80% of the time.  What's particularly great about this lens is that it comes with a built-in image stabilization (Tamron calls it Vibration Compensation) which the Canon version does not! It's also great in low-light and is very quick and quiet to auto-focus. This lens has some solid weather sealing which will help keep out the drizzle or waterfall misting.   The Tamron is also about $550 cheaper than the canon equivalent!

The Sigma 20mm 1.4 is a great super-wide prime that does great in low-light shots. The 20 millimeter 1.4 Art is the widest large aperture Sigma Art lens to date and It has very little chromatic aberration, distortion, and ghosting.  This lens is great for landscape shots, videography, astrophotography, lowlight or indoor and event photography.  This is my favorite lens to shoot starry landscapes with because it's super sharp as a prime lens.

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The Tamron 15-30mm 2.8 is my go-to for tight spaces and extremely wide, sweeping landscape shots.  It wins out over many other lenses in the same category because it is extremely fast at 2.8, comes with image stabilization, and is less than $1,500.  It's pretty hefty at 2.5 lbs because it has that nice expanded Glass Molded Spherical element on the front of the lens as well as several low-dispersion elements inside the lens to reduce aberrations like geometrical distortion and lateral color. There is a tiny bit of barrel distortion at 15mm but is easily corrected in Lightroom. The auto-focus motor is smooth and quiet and the aperture is a wide 2.8 all the way through the zoom range.

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This lens is my go-to for telephoto, high background-compression shots and b-roll. This lens is incredible quality at a fraction of the price. It’s tack-sharp and f/2.8 all the way through the zoom range. The depth of focus is incredibly soft at these focal lengths (both a blessing and a curse). The focus and zoom rings are buttery smooth. What’s nice about this lens is the option to adjust the autofocus distance for 3m-∞ for a quicker focus time.

A bit of a dinosaur, but the α100 is the first digital single lens reflex camera sold by Sony.  It was a product of the purchase of the Konica Minolta camera division.  It's held up surprisingly well over the years and survived lots of dust, mud, ice, and rainfall across several international trips.  The downside to this camera is that it's an APS-C sensor instead of full-frame and uses the Sony A-mount which limits the availability of aftermarket lenses. The 3-fps continuous can be limiting if taking action shots and the camera is lacking video capability. All that being said, I've still captured some great stories with this SLR.

The Gopro hero 5 is quite possibly the most versatile camera I own. It's waterproof to 10m (33 ft) without a housing. Has a 2" touchscreen, voice control and built-in stabilization.  It's what I started shooting video on.  It shoots video in 4k at 30fps, 1080p at 120fps and still shots at 12MP.  Both an advantage and a disadvantage of the GoPro is that it has a wide angle lens (about 170°)  If you don't have a camera and you want one for adventures, pick up one of these.

A dome lens is great for shooting half-in half-out water shots. It works by putting space in-between the camera lens and the water, allowing you to shoot both an above-water subject and a below-water subject.  Shoot also makes a great product that does this for the GoPro Hero 3 and 4, which I like a little better because it has the petal shaped lens hood. The Amazon branded one doesn't have a lens hood so it's good to be conscious of additional non-image forming light that might give you some artifacts.  It still does a great job and fits the Hero 5 quite well. Keep in mind that the smaller the port, the calmer the water will need to be in order to have a thinner meniscus (curve of water against the dome port).

The Karma Grip is the official GoPro branded handheld stabilizer.  I've used no-name brand stabilizers in the past and haven't had a great experience with them.  This one is particularly nice because of the built-in remote control in the handle.  Just the difference in shot quality alone makes the hefty price tag extremely justified. This video of mine was shot entirely on the GoPro Hero 5 black using the Karma Grip Stabilizer.

iPhone 8 Plus

I believe that the most important thing when taking pictures is simply to be present with a camera. Some of my best photos have been the ones where I looked up from my phone, swiped over to the camera and snapped the shot.  It also doesn't hurt that the iPhone 8 Plus has a 12MP wide-angle, a 12MP telephoto lens, optical image stabilization, and 2x optical zoom. 

Bags & luggage

 
 

The Elite Carry-on is made of lightweight injection molded HPX high performance resin - polypropylene and polycarbonate. It features a TSA approved combination lock, a self-regulating vent, stainless-steel hinge pins, and a fabric interior.  The Elite has passed submergence tests for one hour at a depth of one meter, and free-fall impact tests with up to 25 pounds of weight. TSA Still managed to mess up my luggage in one of these, but that's a story for another time.  For air travel, the Elite meets airline carry-on regulations and is my favorite carry-on because it also doubles as a stool in the airport when seating is hard to come by.

The GR2's simplicity, functionality, and focus on organization take inspiration from Special Forces medical rucks. It's as durable as it is beautiful. Constructed with YKK zippers with silent, glove friendly zipper pulls made of parachute 550 cord, 1000 denier CORDURA, and heatshrink pulls. The GR2 features a internal kydex frame sheet to distribute weight comfortably and a false-bottom to protect your laptop. The idea is to get as much weight next to the wearer’s spine as possible for load distribution.  High stress points are strength tested at over 400 lbs. The GR2 is capable of holding more weight than any human should ruck with.  To this date this is my favorite rucksack that I have ever owned or used. I carried one 33 miles through the surf and the mud in a GoRuck Heavy event and I'm lucky enough to have had the opportunity to meet the founder Jason. He's an awesome person and he does a fantastic job describing the inspiration for this bag here. And traveling with the bag here.


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