When I run workshops at some point during the day conversation will invariably turn towards camera gear. As a professional photographer I am in the fortunate position of owning a wide variety of lenses, cameras, filter's, bags and lots of other bit's and peices. Looking down at the list of equipment every single item is reguarly used, and has it's place in my set-up. I have always used Canon cameras for digital photography, having bought into the system I have no desire to change manufacturers. I have seen just about every make of DLSR there is used by clients on my workshops and I am pleased with my choice, I don't feel I have made any compromises by using Canon gear.

I now only use prime lenses for landscape photography, having become obsessive about sharpness it seems pointless spending huge amounts of money on a high resolution camera and then having to compromise on image quality. Prime lenses are not only sharper, they force you to think more about your composition. Definately the thinking photographers choice. Use them and I guarantee your photography will improve.

Landscape photography equipment - Copyright John Walmsley

Landscape photography.

Canon 5D Mk3 (x2) - The improvements from the 5D Mk2 are huge, definately worth the upgrade. It boasts the same autofocus system as the top of the range Canon 1DX, the 5D Mk2 autofocus was dreadful you could only rely on the centre autofocus point. Now you can use them all, all 61 of them compared to the 5D Mk2's 9. Anyone whinging about it 'only' having a 22MP sensor needs to see a large print taken by it using a good prime lens. Absolutely stunning.

Canon 24mm f3.5 II L Tilt and shift lens - For wide angle landscape photography I see the world in a 24mm focal length and this lens is superb. Manual focus, razor sharp right up to the edges, although image quality suffers if you shift it too far but none the less it's one of my most used photographic possessions.

Canon 35mm f1.4 L lens - An amazingly sharp optic with stunning contrast. With a maximum aperture of f1.4 it lets in loads of light, great for handheld low light situations. However... the hyperfocal distance markings on the lens barrel are not accurate. If you set the focus using the hyperfocal distance markings for f11 the background isn't sharp, and at a cost of £1200 you would of thought it would be spot on. I have found that to get sharp results at infinity using the hyperfocal distance markings you need to use the mark before the one you want. For example if I was to use f16 I would set the hyperfocal distance markings to f11. Also the lens hood is an incredibly irritating shape that means you cannot put it on the floor with the lens hood on as it rolls over. This has caused me no end of frustration in churches when I am trying to work quickly, you would of thought I have learnt by now but when I am in hurry to change lenses I still forget. I am assuming it has to be this shape otherwise it would intrude on the image, all the same it winds me up. It is amazingly sharp though...

Canon 50mm f1.2 L lens - All photographers should own a 50mm prime lens, they are small, sharp, discreet and excellent in low light. The 50mm f1.2 is not only optically superb the images have a totally different look to the 50mm f1.4 lens. The sharpness at f2 is amazing, colours are vibrant and provided you get the focusing bang on you can get some really special images. I had some back focusing issues to start with but the lens micro adjustment on the 5D Mk3 sorted that out, although it did take me three days to get right.

Canon 85mm f1.8 lens - One of my favorite lenses, excellent autofocus, superb bokeh and although it was bought for portrait photography it see's a surprising amount of action for landscape photography especially for detail shots.

Canon 90mm TS-E f2.8 lens - Manual focus tilt and shift lens. This lens has brought me a new found inspiration for detail and abstract photographs. Corner sharpness is amazing even when shifted. My second most widely used lens after the 24mm tilt and shift.

Canon 100mm f2.8 Macro lens - Canon has released an L version of this lens for twice the price. A workshop client had one and I tested it along side mine. There was no discernible difference in image quality between the two lenses. I prefer my 85mm lens to this one but it still gets a fair amount of use for detail shots.

Canon 300mm f4 IS lens - I used to have the Canon 100-400 L lens which was slow, heavy, about 3 foot long when fully extended and sucked in dust so I sold it and bought this one instead. It's very sharp has a built in lens hood and the image stabilisation is excellent. The maximum aperture of f4 is not ideal, would of liked the Canon 300mm f2.8 lens instead but couldn't afford it. I still can't...

Lee filters - graduated ND filters (hard) 0.3, 0.6, 0.9, (soft) 0.6. ND filters 3 stop and 10 stop. Circular polariser. Quite simply the best filters that money can buy.

Manfrotto Carbon fibre tripod with Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head - The head is an amazing piece of engineering and is very heavy, but reasurringly so. The tripod being carbon fibre is very light yet incredibly rigid at the same time. A solid tripod and head is the backbone to a good landscape photography setup and I wouldn't be without mine, ever.

Shutter release cable - essential for perfect timing in coastal photography when trying to capture surges of water. Works as it should do. I also have a third party intervalometer, but found I spend enough time sat in front of a computer without making timelapse films as well so it's sat in my cupboard gathering dust.

Camera bags - Lowpro Nature treker AW II, Lowepro Dryzone 200, Lowpro Toploader Pro 75 AW, Lowpro Toploader Pro 65AW, Lowpro Photo Sport 200 AW, Billingham 107, F-stop Tilopa BC, Lowpro Inverse 200 AW, Domke F4, Lowepro Stealth Reporter D400 AW. Looking at my embarrassingly large collection of camera bags I assure you that each is good for a specific purpose and I do use them all. As for the perfect camera bag: for me the F-stop Tilopa BC probably comes the closest to that rare accolade, although no where near as waterproof as I would of expected. The optional rain cover is essential. If you also need to also carry anything other than your camera equipment, which realistically if you are outside for any length of time you will do, it has plenty of extra space and has been very well designed. It is that good here is a link to their website: fstopgear.com

Extra bits.

Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L lens - This was my lens of choice when I photographed weddings and I did intend on selling it when I stopped. However it is an amazingly sharp lens that delivers a lovely bokeh when shot wide open. The flexibility it gives you, particularly when photographing in a city, makes it worth a place in my kit. The only downside is it's size and weight but its optical performance more than makes up for this.

Canon 600EX-RT Speedlight x2 - Again used when photographing weddings. They don't see a great deal of action but they do still get used from time to time. As one flash unit controls the other wirelessly there is no point in me selling one so for the time being two remain in my kit bag. I bought these to upgrade from the two 540EX II I used with pocket wizards for off camera flash.

Quantum turbo battery pack - Essential for powering a flash. If you are trying to take a succession of quick photographs to catch that one good portrait where the subject has their eyes open and doesn't look like they are sucking on a lemon, without the battery pack the flash will only fire once every few shots. You can guarantee that without it the one good shot you get the flash won't have fired. Expensive but unfortunately essential for portrait photography.

Monopod - only really gets used with my 300mm lens or for mounting a flash on to be held by someone else.

Reflector - essential for still life and portrait work.


Adobe Lightroom 5 - Used for 90% of my editing and is a superb. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Adobe Photoshop CS6 - Used for the remaining 10% of my editing and unfortunately I could not manage without it.

Silver Efex Pro 2 for black and white conversions - delivers the best straight black and white conversion I have seen.

VSCO film presets - integrated within Lightroom they saved me days of work when I photographed weddings, the film grain presets are particularly good as are the black and white film presets.

Outdoor clothing.

I mainly use Paramo, Patagonia, Mountain Equipment and Rab outdoor gear. As long as it’s used for what it’s designed for I have never had any problems with anything I have bought. I seem to be particually unlucky with ripping the arms on down jackets though, every one I have owned I have managed to ruin.