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The Gear I Use... And Why I love The Mirrorless System

Updated: May 31, 2019

For those of you who do not know me, let me first introduce myself. My name is Mike Soulopulos, most people call me "Soul", and I am a travel and adventure photographer from Laguna Beach, CA. I got my start in photography about a year after High School when I got my first photography internship for Surfing Magazine (shadowing Peter Taras), where I learned everything from the ins and outs of magazine creation, to file organization, to the editing and selection process of taking thousands of photos and narrowing them down to a select few for a full page spread in a magazine. Soon after that I continued shooting in the water every chance that I could, photographing random surfers at the beach and slipping into the water down at Lowers Trestles, while the best pro surfers in the world warmed up pre-heat.

Following a few years of following my passion of surf photography, I received word from the boys over at Chris Burkard Studios, that they had chosen me for the photography intern for the summer of 2017. I was beyond stoked to hear the news, and was so excited to move to the Central Coast of California as I shadowed Chris and his team on how to run a successful business as a photographer.

So let's jump into the details. After interning for Chris Burkard and his team, and getting to play around with the cameras that he uses, I got deeply attached to the Sony mirrorless system. So what do I use as a my main setup? ... you guessed it... the Sony A7riii.

I switched from Canon over to Sony a few years back, starting out with the Sony A7rii and loved it. The main reason that I switched over to the A7riii was for the faster frame rate, larger dynamic range, longer battery life, as well as better video capabilities. Oh and I love having the ability to shoot pin sharp photos at 42 megapixels so that I have the option to crop in however I like, without having to worry about loosing quality of the image! It is also awesome having the option to switch the camera over to the crop sensor mode with the press of a button while still retaining 24 megapixels, great if you want to get a tighter shot, but don't have the lens to achieve that with; it gives a bit of a different feel without having to drop hundreds of dollars on a new lens.

Now on to lenses. I have used a variety of Sony's lenses, but at the moment, only own two, The Zeiss 16-35mm f/4 and the 85mm f/1.8.

The 16-35mm f/4 which is a great wide angle lens and is sharp from corner to corner. This is a well built lens and quality you can feel. If you want a wide angle, but don't want to drop thousands of dollars on the 16-35mm G-Master f/2.8, then this is a great buy. I use this lens for pretty much every shoot, and with a polarizer filter on top, this is a great landscape lens, but also works well at 35mm for close up portraits with little to no distortion, which can easily be fixed in post processing. Below are some examples of photos that I have taken with this lens.

Next up is the 85mm f/1.8. Now this is no G-Master lens, but for the price of $549.99, this is a great lens that I highly recommend if you are into portrait photography or just like the buttery look and feel of a focused photo with a nice blurred bokeh behind the subject.

I use this lens whenever I want to stray from the traditional wide angle look and get a little more depth and layers within the photograph. This light weight, but well built lens packs a powerful punch and is a great lens for video as well. The 85mm f/1.8 has a very nice focusing ring and transitions cleanly and smoothly while in video mode without any jitters or big jumps while trying to autofocus. Below are some examples of photos that I have taken with this lens.

Next up is the drone. Everyone loves drone photos and it is one of my favorite pieces of equipment to use. However, it was recently banned in Laguna Beach, CA (where I am from), but I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to drone in Laguna before they restricted use of it at the beach.

The DJI Phantom 4 drone is a light-weight, high quality drone that produces amazing photos. It is user friendly, and fairly easy to fly (just takes some practice). The only downside to this drone is the size and ease of travel, which is why DJI has made smaller drones like the Mavic, for better portability. The Phantom 4 is great for wide-angle aerial landscape photos and holds up great in windy conditions. Below are some examples of photos that I have taken with this drone.

The last piece of equipment is probably my favorite piece of equipment besides my camera. This wonderfully built piece of equipment is my Aquatech water housing. For those of you who are not familiar with water housings, a water housing is a shell that you insert your camera into, that creates a water tight seal, so that you can go in the ocean or pool with your camera. This was one of the first pieces of equipment that I started using when starting out in photography.

Aquatech has done a great job designing this piece of equipment and has great customer service to back their products. They are super helpful and are always there when you need them. The water housing has buttons on the exterior that line up with the camera's buttons on the inside, so that you have a fully functioning camera, and have full access to all buttons when you are in need of changing settings. The four clamps on the outside of the water housing make it easy to take the camera out when in need of a lens change, and the housing works with a full range of different ports for the front end that allow you to use your favorite lenses in the water, whether that be a big 70-300mm lens, or a small fisheye lens that requires a small dome port for smooth over/under photos in the water. Below are some examples of photos that I have taken using the Aquatech water housing.

I hope that you enjoyed reading about what's in my camera bag, and what I take to every shoot, whether it's taking photos from the sky or the water and everywhere in between. If you have any questions about any of the gear that I use or just want to say hi, leave a comment below or head over to my contact page to shoot me an email!

Thanks for reading!

- Mike Soulopulos

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