We get a lot of questions about camera gear… probably more than anything else. If you want to know what we shoot on and why, here’s our complete list of camera gear that we currently own and use on a daily basis for all forms of photography including astrophotography. We currently use Sony cameras, but we have experience shooting on most of the major camera brands, including Canon, Fujifilm, Pentax, Olympus and Nikon.
The links on this page are affiliate links that help us earn fees if you buy through them. We keep this page updated periodically as our kit gets changed and refined. We pretty much love everything on this list and wholeheartedly recommend every item here. It’s up to date as of Feb 14, 2022.
The Quick List
Cameras: Sony a7III, Sony a7C
Lenses: 18mm/2.8, 24mm/1.8, 55mm/1.8, 100-400mm/4.5-5.6
Tripods: LP-284C, LS-255CEX
Computing: M1 Max MacBook Pro 14″, iPad Air
Drone: DJI Mavic Air
Bag: REI Ruckpack 28
Primary Photography Gear
Sony a7III – The a7III is our most used camera body and primary stills shooter. We bought this camera the first week it was released in spring of 2018 and we’ve had it ever since. Even 3 years later in 2021, the Sony a7III is still our favorite overall camera available on the market. It’s still one of the best low-light performers of any full-frame camera (it’s basically as good as the Sony a7S line but with twice the resolution, and better in low light than its predecessor, the a7IV) and that’s why we love it for astrophotography. For everything else, it’s extremely fast at autofocus and shoots at 10 frames per second, it shoots 4K video and has a brilliant amount of customization for configuring exactly how you want it. Its battery life is amazing, it has built-in image stabilization, and it’s got dual SD card slots. For the price, we think the Sony a7III is still arguably the best mirrorless camera you can buy under $2000. Read our full review of the a7III here.
Sony a7C – This one is a new addition in 2021 and our new primary video shooter. Ian previously shot on the first generation a7S but has since upgraded to the a7C for video, vlogging, and stills. The a7C had basically the same exact specs and capability as our a7III, but in a more compact body and with a fully-articulating screen that allows it to be more easily used for creating videos for our YouTube channel. It loses some things like the AF joystick and front control dial of the a7III, but makes up for these shortcomings with customizability and a significant reduction in weight and size. Its suggested retail price is also less than the a7III was at launch, which makes arguably an even better deal. If you prefer a smaller camera or the rangefinder like camera body style, definitely consider the a7C. Our full review of the a7C is still pending.
Rokinon AF 18mm f/2.8 – The Rokinon 18mm f/2.8 replaced our Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8. It’s an ultra-wide angle prime lens that’s perfect for landscape photography. It’s lightweight and very small and its f/2.8 aperture is fast enough for low-noise landscape astrophotography. This is a budget priced lens, but it’s also an excellent performer. It produces nearly aberration-free images, it focuses extremely quickly and has no focus breathing, perfect for video creators who rely on autofocus, particularly with the latest firmware from Samyang. We liked this lens enough that it replaced a lens almost 5x the price. Watch our video review of the Rokinon AF 18mm versus the Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 here.
Viltrox AF 24mm f/1.8 Lens – This is the newest addition to our lens lineup and one of the most surprising lenses we’ve ever used. For the price, this lens far exceeded our expectations. It’s priced like a budget lens, but built better than any of our other prime lenses. Viltrox is a lens manufacturer to watch. With the latest firmware, it’s AF works just like a native Sony lens: it’s fast and silent. It’s excellently sharp, especially stopped down just a bit. Wide open, it’s got a small amount of sagittal astigmatism, but that clears up quickly by f/2.2. A great budget choice for astrophotography and a wonderful portrait lens as well. Its bokeh has a very attractive look in our opinion and so when it’s not shooting star trails photos, it’s making photos of our baby girl.
Sony Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA – The Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 is our go-to for high resolution medium format astrophotography panoramas. This was one of Sony’s first lenses produced for the full-frame E mount and it still holds up as one of the sharpest standard prime lenses on the market. It’s very small and lightweight while still having a relatively fast aperture of f/1.8, perfect for low-light photography. We’ve owned this lens longer than any other in our kit and I don’t see us ever parting with it as long as we’re shooting on Sony camera bodies.
Sony FE 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6 GM OSS – Diana is a huge animal lover so this is our wildlife and long reach lens. It’s surprisingly lightweight for the amount of reach it has and it’s spectacularly sharp at all focal lengths. This is the lens that gets us the shot when nothing else can and we personally feel like a super telephoto is essential for any photographer’s kit. We found this lens essential for our trip to the Galapagos Islands, right before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This lens has also become our large format panorama lens for most ultra high resolution daytime panoramas.
Leofoto Ranger LP-284C and LH-30 Ballhead – This is our favorite standard travel tripod. It’s sealed and weatherproof design with titanium hardware and carbon fiber legs. It’s small enough to fit into a standard carry-on bag, but tall enough for nearly any situation. It’s a 4 section design which makes it even sturdier than a 5-section tripod. Leofoto also has variations of their Ranger series in pretty much any size you can think of. They also have the “EX” versions of the Ranger tripod with a built in leveling base, which is our next piece of gear below:
Leofoto Ranger LS-255CEX and Custom DIY Panorama Head – This tripod is very similar to our LP-284C, but it has a built-in half-ball leveling base at the apex of the tripod and is a more affordable non-sealed leg design. The LS-255CEX is also a taller 5-section tripod while still being just as compact when folded as the LP-284C. It has a higher max height than our LP-284C when fully extended, so it’s perfect for Ian since he’s a littler taller than Diana. The built-in leveling base is particularly helpful when shooting large format panoramas to ensure a perfectly level pan. This tripod is a little less stiff than the LP-284C, so we usually use with with our lighter a7C body and lighter lenses.
Essential Devices and Storage
SanDisk Extreme Pro Memory Cards – We’ve always relied on SanDisk Cards for our cameras. Their Extreme Pro line is particularly essential for wildlife shooting or video shooting in order to handle fast frame rates or 4K video. We judge our memory cards particularly by their read/write speeds for massive file transfers from the SD card to our computers. Being able to transfer hundreds of gigabytes of images in just a few minutes makes a big difference in our workflow, especially when on the go. The UHS-II Extreme Pro card can transfer the entire 256GB SD card in about 15 minutes to the SSD of a Macbook Pro. Most of all, our SanDisk cards have been extremely reliable and that’s why we recommend them.
14″ M1 Max MacBook Pro – We both use Apple Macbook Pro computers for literally all of our photo and video editing, web development and even a little gaming. We’ve owned MacBooks for over 10 years now, and our computers have been all around the world with us and neither has missed a beat. Our first Macbook Pro was bought new in 2012 and it still runs like new. We’ve since upgraded to the latest M1 Max version of the MacBook Pro, which has made 4K video editing and 3D rendering for video game development fast and easy. We chose the 14″ model because of the extra portability.
DJI Mavic Air – This is the drone we use for recreational flying and the occasional video shot. Super easy to fly. It takes off, returns home, and lands automatically and takes 12MP stills and 4K video. Its safety and autonomy features are the reason we love it and feel confident flying it. We’ve even had our smartphone disconnect while controlling the drone and a long-press of the Return to Home button and the drone just flies right back to the spot where it took off from. If we were just getting started into drone flying today, we’d probably start on one of the new DJI Mini series of drones which are basically identical in capability to our current one, but smaller, safer and have better flight times. The Mini series is also under the 250g weight above which the FAA requires a drone be registered even if flown recreationally, although I do recommend at the very least taking and passing the FAA’s TRUST test for learning some essential knowledge and safety tips for piloting a drone.
iPad Air – Our iPad is our mobile editing and computing platform for when we need to travel extremely light. On trips where we leave the laptops at home, we’ll bring just the iPad Air and a small USB OTG card reader for dumping photos.
REI Ruckpack 28 – This is what Ian uses to carry all his camera gear. It’s simply the best backpack we’ve ever used. It’s perfect as an under-the-seat personal item but spacious enough to carry a camera with a couple lenses, a tripod, laptop and a packing cube or two with enough clothes for a multi-month international trip. Ian has traveled abroad for months with nothing but what he could fit in this backpack.
Google Pixel 4a – Google makes the best low-light smartphone camera. We really enjoyed the astrophotography mode of the Pixel 4 that we reviewed, and Diana loves smaller phones, so we chose the Pixel 4a.
Moto G Stylus – Ian abuses smartphones to no end so he opted for the super affordable Moto G Stylus. It’s cheap, has a big screen and has room for a micro SD card slot for using as portable photo backup storage. With the hacked Urnyx Google Camera app port, we can also use its ultra wide angle, standard, or macro cameras with the Google Pixel astrophotography and night sight modes, as if it were an actual Google Pixel camera.
Google Fi Mobile Service – Pre-pandemic, we traveled A LOT and Google Fi was essential for keeping connected in any part of the world from the rural US to the remote Galapagos islands. We love the simple way that Google Fi works internationally pretty much anywhere without any extra fees or charges, regardless of what country you are in. You can read our full Google Fi review on North to South. Even during the lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic, Google Fi was really nice for keeping our bills low since you only pay a base fee of $20 if you use no mobile data while staying at home.
Sony Vlogger Accessory Kit – This is a small table top tripod and selfie stick that works great for vlogging. It wirelessly pairs with our cameras (which has always been perfectly seamless to connect) and allows control of the shutter, record button, clearImage zoom, and one custom button (which we have to enable APS-C mode). It’s very robustly built and nearly always lives on our a7C body when we’re making videos.
Ultrapod II – We’ve had this little tabletop tripod longer than pretty much any piece of camera gear. It’s perfect for trips when you can’t carry a full-size tripod and it’s strong enough to support a medium sized camera and lens. Its built-in velcro strap also allows it to be secured to railings, tree branches or any pole-like object.
Peak Design Capture Camera Clip v3 – Peak Design’s Capture Clip is one of our essential on-the-go pieces of gear, particularly for hikes and travel. It’s Arca compatible which makes it perfect for going from handheld to a tripod in seconds.
Wine Country Camera Filter Holder – This is our favorite square filter holder system. It’s simply the best overall filter system available on the market.
SharpStar2 Filter – This is our custom designed focusing filter for astrophotography. It’s one of our essential tools for ensuring perfect focus on the stars.
PureNight Filter – This is our custom designed light pollution filter for astrophotography. It’s perfect for filtering out the orange glow of light pollution from your photos.
Haida 12 Stop ND – For ultra-long daytime exposures, this is the best, most neutral ND filter that we’ve ever used. It’s also multi-coated so it’s really resistant to ghosting and flare.
Rode VideoMicro Shotgun Mic – This mic is a game changer for vlogging video work and anything in the field . It’s very compact and has excellent sound quality. This one is the gold standard for compact video mics.
Uniqlo Airism Base Layers – We absolutely love Uniqlo’s t-shirts and underwear as our everyday base layers. They’re extremely lightweight, fast-drying and durable.
Planning Software and Apps
PhotoPills – This is our favorite planning software. It has the best interface design of any planning app and makes it perfect for visualizing things like sunrise, sunsets, the Milky Way, and eclipses. It’s available for Android and iOS.
Stellar Tour – This planetarium software has the best AR visualization of the Milky Way in addition to a ton of learning resources about what you’re seeing in the night sky
Stellarium – This is a planetarium software that’s available in different flavors for Desktop, iOS and Android.
Adobe Photography Creative Cloud with Lightroom Classic CC and Photoshop CC – This one is pretty obvious. We use Lightroom Classic CC for organization and most edits. Photoshop CC picks up the heavy editing when needed.
PTGui Pro – PTGui Pro is simply the best panorama stitching software on the market.
Starry Landscape Stacker – This is simply the easiest software for stacking landscape astrophotography exposures for noise reduction.
Kandao Raw+ – This is a free alternative to Starry Landscape Stacker. It’s limited to only 16 exposures per stack and is completely hands-off for stacking which makes it both easier to use, but also much less powerful.
Sequator – This is a similar software to Starry Landscape Stacker but it’s for PC only and it’s free.
StarStax – This is one of the easiest ways to stack multiple exposures together to make a star trails image.
TLDF – This is a simple program for compiling timelapse sequences. It also automatically adjusts the brightness of each frame for smoother exposure changes.
Siril – We use Siril for processing more “pure” astrophotos of deep sky objects, such as those made from telescope.live
DaVinci Resolve Studio 17 – We use Resolve for editing all of our videos. It’s just as good as Premier or Final Cut, but much faster than Premiere, more powerful than Final Cut and has a free version.
In addition to our M1 MacBook Pros, Ian built a custom PC for working on a new secret project and for handling things like gigapixel panoramas and 8K video. Here are our desktop PC specs:
- Ryzen 5 3600 CPU
- Asus Rog Strix X570-I Motherboard
- Crucial Ballistix 16GB DDR4 3200
- 1 TB NVMe SSD
- EVGA Nvidia RTX 2060 GPU
- Fractal Design Node 202 Case with 450W PSU
- 2x Noctua a12-15 Case Fans
Seagate Slim External Hard Drive – We have a dozen of these as our photography backup drives.
Just for Fun
Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide Camera – We always like to have at least one film camera of some kind at any given time and this time it’s the Lomo’Instant Wide. We’ve loved using the Fujifilm Instax Wide cameras in the past and this one can do some advanced stuff like multiple exposures and bulb exposures.
Instax Wide Color and Instax Wide Monochrome Film – For the camera above. We try to always have a couple packs available and we tend to buy expired stock if we can as it’s usually cheaper.
Logitech G305 Lightspeed Wireless Mouse – This one is for playing video games on our Macbook Pros. We love to play Dota2 together.
Nintendo Switch – This is for entertainment on the go and on the couch.