Sony a7rIII next to Nikon D810UPDATED WINTER 2019:
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 work, I currently shoot with the popular Sony A7r III, and for situations where I need a really small and light camera, I shoot with the Canon M6. I have also shot 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 its slight advantages/disadvantages and 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.

Sony A7 Series Full-Frame Mirrorless Cameras:

I have to admit that I'm one of those CaNikon shooters who switched to Sony because I wanted a high-resolution mirrorless camera that was lighter and smaller than a big brick of a dSLR. The 42mp Sony A7r III has pretty much exceeded my expectations in image quality even at higher ISOs, and while its controls aren't very intuitive by default, it is possible to customize the buttons, joystick, and touchscreen to give yourself a fairly pleasant user experience. This has been my go-to camera for over a year 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.



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 (NEX) camera systems. Now I have to admit that I actually love the Fujifilm X System more; Fuji has a very mature line of cameras and lenses that make photography feel artistic and fun. Why do I 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 and still get SLR-quality results, the Canon EOS M6 (24mp APS-C sensor) makes for a wonderfully simple and compact kit. (As confusing as Canon's model numbering is, the M5 is actually the SLR-like flagship model, while the M6 is the compact alternative.) I really enjoy shooting with the little Canon M cameras despite people scoffing at how they don't have all of the frills of their competitors.

Echo Canyon (Zion National Park) -- © 2017 Joe Braun Photography
Rappeling in Echo Canyon.
Canon M6 with EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM.



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, 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-1004KX 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.


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.
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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