Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs


Bettina + Uwe's Camera/Lens Sets 2006/2007

report by Uwe Steinmueller (last updated 12/30/2006)



Selecting the right camera/lens sets can be quite challenging. Over time our sets got smaller and lighter. If the sets are too big there is a fair chance we won't carry them at times and that results in missing opportunities.

You all know the questions people often ask: "What camera and lenses should I buy?". The key to the answer is first to understand yourself and ask a few questions:

  • What do I want to photograph?
  • Weight limits?
  • Size?
  • Price/Quality compromise (don't forget good lenses)? Better use fewer good than more not so good lenses.
  • Wide angle, normal, tele, extreme tele, macro, flash

Some rules to remember

  • Nothing can replace good lenses
  • Zooms with a range wider than 3-4x will likely be not that great.
  • Prime lenses are cheaper and better but are not as convenient.
  • Fixed f-stop lenses are often better (f/4 or f/2.8, f/5.6 may introduce problems with auto focus)
  • Only buy f/2.8 lenses if you need to use them wide open or there is no alternative for this range as an appropriate quality level
  • Don't forget good tripods, heads and plates


Note: Right now we have only Nikon, Leica and Canon lenses. That is why only these brands would be an alternative in our decision process. This does not mean that Pentax, Sony or Olympus cameras/lenses could not be the alternative for you.

Consider that we are two photographers (we always photograph as a team and define our sets for our planned/anticipated shoots). That is why we will often carry two or even three of these camera/lens sets with us.


Core Set


Core Set

As the name suggests this is the set we use as our core working set. The set is the best compromise we found between weight, size, versatility and image quality. We just acquired this set recently (before we used the "Extra Work Set" below as our "Core Set"). Defining a new "Core Set" is evolving all the time and not a trivial decision process.

Here are the elements of our "Core Set" and some rational:

  • Canon 70-200mm f/4 IS : We are still testing this lens but are optimistic that it can replace the larger and more heavy Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS (see below). We use this focal range in about 70-80% of our photos and don't want to miss image stabilization. Actually because Nikon does not have any equivalent lens (they have only the excellent but unfortunately larger Nikkor AFS 70-200mm f/2.8 VR) Canon was clearly our choice here.
  • Canon 5D (our review): Clearly one of the best high ISO cameras in the market. Full frame only matters to us because of the image quality we can get (larger pixels matter).
  • Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS: We just bought this lens. It seems to be sharp and if needed the quite strong lens distortions can be fixed using PTLens (PC) or LensFix (Mac).
  • Canon 50mm f/2.5 Macro: Excellent and cheap lens
  • Canon Elura Videocam: Has nothing to do with our photography but hopefully serves as our video notebook.

We think this set is very compact for the quality we can archive and carrying it all day is not problem.


Extra Work Set

Extra Work Set

As mentioned above this was our previous "Core Set". In reality we left this set too often home to save weight and size.

Here are the parts of our "Extra Work Set":

  • Canon 1Ds Mk. II (our review): Our work horse for the last 2 years. Great camera but also heavy and big.
  • Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS: This is the lens that clearly produced the most of our portfolio shots (we have even two of them because quite often both of us wanted to use this lens at the same time).
  • Canon 24-70mm f/2.8: Also an important lens for us and if we are not happy with the 24-105mm f/4 IS lens it will be replaced by this lens (again we have two of them for the same obvious reasons as above).
  • Canon 17-40mm f/4: Rarely used so far but we should explore this lens more.

If we are on a dedicated photo trip we will use this and the "Core Set". Uwe will likely carry the more heavy one (in the past also Bettina had no problems to carry this equipment) but the cameras and lenses will be switched between Bettina and Uwe all the time.

Leica M8 Set

Leica M8 Set

The Leica M8 Set is used to explore using a smaller and lighter rangefinder camera. The lenses are great for sure and we expect to have fun using the M8.

  • Leica M8 (our review): Our first Leica and also our first rangefinder camera.
  • Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH: A bit to explore more some light wide angle lenses
  • Leica Summicron-M 50mm f/2: More a focal length we are often using

Likely we carry most often the "Core Set" and the "Leica M8 Set".

Conference Set

Conference Set

Sometimes we need a camera to take snaps at shows. This often also requires some simple flash.

  • Canon Rebel XTi/400D (our review): Small yet quite powerful
  • Canon 17-85mm IS: Useful range and ok for this kind of work. If needed it can produce very nice results (see below).

Steam Engine (Canon 400D + 17-85mm IS)

Specialty Cameras

More lenses

We have more lenses than we need. Always hard to sell one :-).


Other Sets (less in use right now)

  • Nikon D2x with a good set of lenses: Excellent camera but mixing Nikon and Canon lens sets has also its limitations
  • Canon 1Ds : Is a great camera but the 1Ds Mk. II and Canon 5D improved on it.
  • Canon 1D Mk. II: Great for high speed wildlife photography.



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