Graham Harris Graham | My Toolbox


My Toolbox


I'm frequently asked, "What camera do you use?" My response usually begins with, "Well, some of the images were created using an 8 year old Canon 5D Mark II (35mm) camera and others on an equally old Mamiya 645AFDII (medium format) camera. But if you can tell which camera was used to capture which image, you can keep one of the images for free." No one has yet taken up my offer.


Canon5DSr & EF 50mm f1.2L Canon600EX-RT   Carl ZeissZeiss Distagon 25mm f2.0

Because up to a point, the specific camera brand & model is irrelevant. A fancy camera won't fix poor light nor will it make a good composition from an empty, emotionless landscape.

Creating & selling images is my business. Above all else, the most important criteria for choosing particular equipment is reliability & efficiency. I simply don't have the time to spend goofing around with gear that works intermittently or is prone to breakage so I buy the best I can afford & avoid cheapo Chinese copies. Getting 3rd party stuff fixed when it is imported from Asia is almost impossible or takes too long so I use big brand names that have service centres nearby.

I also don't have lots of free time to develop images & prepare them for print so the fewer technical imperfections at the beginning, the less time I have to spend correcting them. I don't have/use Photoshop so the images must be close to my vision straight out the camera.

Here's what is currently in my toolbox;

  • Canon 5DSr - 50 MP full frame (35mm) body

My primary camera body for landscapes, architecture & portrait work.
  • Canon BG-E11 grip

Holds two batteries which means I never have to worry about a dead camera even when shooting all day long.
  • Haoge vertical shoot L plate

Makes switching to portrait mode faster & it keeps the camera's centre of gravity over the tripod head making it more stable.
  • Kessler Crane Kwik Release receiver

The L plate won't fit onto my Manfrotto quick release receiver so I need this receiver to accept it.
  • Manfrotto RC-2 quick release plate

And the Kessler receiver won't fit onto my Manfrotto head so I use an RC-2 bolted to it so it will sit snug on the tripod.
  • Canon wireless controller set LC-5

A stupidly expensive infrared remote control which allows me to operate the camera from up to 300 feet away. Useful when flash illuminating or light painting far away objects. So I always buy second hand gear in mint condition which reduces costs by 20% to 30%. If it still carries a warranty, even better because someone else paid for it.
  • Canon remote controller TC-80N3

A tethered remote switch with time delay & intervelometer features to minimise touching the camera during long exposures.
  • Canon EF 24mm TS-E f3.5 tilt & shift lens

Fabulously complicated lens that keeps verticals straight for architectural work & used to alter the plane of focus to effectively increase the depth of field. It's also surprisingly sharp despite the complexity.
  • Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 25mm f2.0 ZE lens

Designed in Germany & built like a tank by Cosina in Japan, this manual focus lens makes capturing narrow streets a breeze. It also captures huge skies & wide panaoramas. It's a bit soft in the corners & does suffer from chromatic abberation but that's an easy fix in Lightroom.
  • Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f2.0 ZE lens

This beautiful lens is sharp across the field of view & the microcontrast it creates, especially in B&W is epic. Built like a tank. Perhaps the best manual lens ever made.
  • Canon EF 50mm f1.2L lens

Sharper than Lanark Blue cheese & faster than a pickpocket from Kabul, this wide eyed monster produces either creamy smooth, blurry backgrounds or crisp, high contrast images despite mediocre chromatic aberration which can be fixed in post production anyway. It feels heavy until you pick up a Zeiss.
  • Carl Zeiss Planar T* 85mm f1.4 ZE lens

Useful when a bit of reach is needed, this 85mm Planar from Zeiss produces images sharper than a Sushi chef's knife. It is brilliant.
  • Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 135mm f2.0 ZE lens

One of the sharpest lenses ever made. Like all my other Zeiss glass, it's strictly manual focus but who cares when it's this good?
  • Minolta Autometer IVf light meter with spot, incident & flat sensors

Once the gold standard of light meters. But it's no longer made by a company that no longer exists. Yet it runs on a single AA battery which seems to last forever. If only all other modern electronic equipment were this reliable & efficient, eh? It's especially useful for complicated light situations, measuring flash output and saving time by not bracketing lots of images just to get one correct exposure.
  • Canon 600 EX-RT Speedlite flash

This is decent sized flash that features a 2.4 GHz radio transmitter which allows tethering to a stand alone transmitter or other similarly enabled flasheads. It allows me to position the flash away from the camera and trigger it remotely. It has a guide number of 60 metres (197 ft) at ISO 100 & (200mm) so quite powerful.
  • Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter
This unit sits on the camera & facilitates radio-controlled, two-way wireless transmission up to 98 feet away with radio enabled flash heads like my 600 EX-RT. Handy for illuminating subjects when I want to have the flash set well away from the camera & a cable would be impractical.
  • Manfrotto MT055XPRO3 055 aluminium 3-Section tripod 

This is a heavy but dependable tripod. I've abused it yet nothing on it has ever fallen off or stopped working. You get what you pay for. Well, except when it has "Metz" written on it.
  • Manfrotto MHXPRO-3W 3-way pan/tilt head

I prefer a 3 way head rather than the more fashionable ball head. It's more precise even if it might be slower to fine tune. But it's rock solid & made from quality materials that let you adjust the friction to your liking.
  • Manfrotto 338 QTVR Leveling Base

This is really useful when you want to fine tune the levels on your tripod. It means you don't have to crop images when post processing and guarantees vertical lines when capturing architectural subjects. It's made from solid brass & steel & feels like it will last forever. I don't care that it's heavy. In a howling gale, heavy gear is good.
  • Two Sandisk 64GB 80MB/s Ultra SD cards

Why Canon thought having two card slots on the 5DSr but of different card formats was a good idea is a mystery. The other is a CF or Compact Flash format. Now you are obliged to have two formats. Why is this a good idea?
  • Lowepro Pro Trekker 650 AW bag to hold all that stuff

An all weather bag that you wear like a rucksack which makes carrying all this stuff a bit easier.
  • Hip flask containing 150ml of Balvenie Double Wood single malt whisky

For emergency use only. Which is usually once a day. At least.