One lens. One lens. That’s all I need to do landscape photography, and it’s all you need too.
For the past few months I’ve been using a very minimalistic setup consisting of one camera body (Sony A7r II), NiSi square filter system (usually with only a polariser and soft grad), a Sony tripod with more rust than a shipwreck, and one lens (Sony Zeiss 24-70mm f/4).
Is there a deep, hipster-nomad reason for only using one lens? No. In fact, it genuinely comes down to the fact I’m broke and can’t afford more lenses. But I want to share the benefits I’ve experienced of only using one lens for everything.
My camera and lens are always joined at the hip – or, erm, mount. They are always assembled in my bag so I can whip it out quickly and shoot right away. One lens means I don’t have to take the time to assess the composition and decide which focal length will work best. Being limited to that 24-70mm and being familiar with what I can get with it, I’m able to set up in less than a minute and start snapping.
Heavy backpacks suck. Yes, even when they are filled with magical camera goodness. Shooting with only one lens means I’m not being weighed down by unnecessary glass. This is extremely important for not only long hikes, but air travel. My current setup, without my tripod, is just over 7kg which is already pushing the carry on weight limit. If I relied on a roster of lenses I’d find myself having to pay for additional baggage allowance; and as we’ve learned before, I don’t like spending money.
Changing lenses = missing moments.
Ed Gregory claims that every photographer should be able to change a lens in 10 seconds or less. If you can change a lens that quickly in wet, salty and cold conditions then you are a better person than I. I pay a lot for my gear, and I’m not going to risk dropping anything – sometimes putting my bag down and swapping lenses can take up to a minute or longer.
But as we all know, every second counts out in the field, especially when it comes to light and colour. Taking the time to change your lens means you could miss out on some banging shots.
Want wide? Shoot a pano!
I’m well aware of the fact different focal lengths create different perspective shifts in the scene. And I’m not saying I’ve never been in a situation where 24mm wasn’t wide enough. However, when those moments happen I have two choices: either think outside the box and improve my composition skills, or stitch a few images together in Photoshop. Spoiler alert, I like both of those choices.
Panoramas are a great option when you want more scenery. Not only can you get the details you want (and sometimes more), they’re just fun to do!
Restrictions = freedom.
In my blog about my photography rules, I mentioned how I prefer to find creative freedom in a limited environment. I love how the 24-70mm keeps me limited and makes my compositions that much more intentional. Usually everything I need fits perfectly in that margin, and when it doesn’t I need to put my thinking cap back on and find something new – often coming back with something more solid than I originally intended.
So, shooting only with a 24-70mm is the perfect option, right? Well, no. There’s plenty of things that are a set back to this setup, so why not find out what I hate about using only one lens?