Explore the
Universe

Step 1 of 2

Create your profile to get all your Alpha Program notifications in one convenient location.

The Basics

Must contain at least 8 characters, an uppercase character, a lowercase character, a number and a symbol.
Next
By joining the Alpha Universe community, you agree to the Terms and the Sony Electronics Inc. Privacy Policy and certify that you are a U.S. resident. (CA Privacy Notice).

Personalize Your Profile

Step 2 of 2

Create your profile to get all your Alpha Program notifications in one convenient location.

Your Specialty *

(Select All That Apply)


I am a... *

(Select All That Apply)


(Optional)


What kind of camera(s) do you shoot with? *

(Select All That Apply)

https://alphauniverseglobal.media.zestyio.com/Alpha-Universe-WIMB-Michael-Castaneda-Gear-Updated.be110857376e1c1dc5afaa178864837f.jpg

What’s In My Bag: A Complete Sony Alpha Kit For Stunning Landscapes

Michael Castaneda (@_mcastaneda_) uses his photography as a method to stay connected to the planet. Using his Sony Alpha system, he captures some of the most beautiful natural scenes across the world. In this article, Castaneda shares with us the Sony Alpha cameras and Sony lenses he uses to create such stunning landscape and lifestyle images.

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α7R III. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. 2-secs., f/7.1, ISO 50

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α7R III. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/250-sec., f/7.1, ISO 100

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α7R III. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 8-secs., f/7.1, ISO 100

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 190-secs., f/8, ISO 320

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/100-sec., f/8, ISO 160

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/200-sec., f/11, ISO 160

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α6000 Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/250-sec., f/11, ISO 100

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/3-sec., f/5, ISO 250

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α7R III. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/6-sec., f/3.5, ISO 100

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α7R III. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. Foreground: 1/8-sec., f/10, ISO 100. Sky: 305-secs., f/2.8, ISO 320

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 5-secs., f/16, ISO 100

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α7R III. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/320-sec., f/5, ISO 200

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α7R III. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/800-sec., f/4, ISO 100

Michael Castaneda's gear for landscape and lifestyle photography

Michael Castaneda (@_mcastaneda_) has a passion for photographing unique landscapes that showcase and highlight the beauty of the planet we call home. His moody images target light sources and how they contrast with the shadows and dark areas of any natural setting. He creates these unique images using a combination of Sony Alpha cameras and Sony G Master and G lenses. We connected with him to learn more about the gear he packs in his bag.

Photographer Michael Castaneda gives us a look inside his bag and walks us through the mirrorless cameras and three essential lenses he uses to create his gorgeous landscape photos.

Michael Castaneda's gear for landscape and lifestyle photography

Cameras 

Sony Alpha 7R III: I’ve had this camera for a couple years now and it’s very hard for me to even consider moving off from it. The battery life can take me deep into a shooting session and the built in intervalometer is perfect for capturing timelapses. The Dynamic Range is absolutely insane and just that part alone allows me to bring back a lot of the detail in the shadows when I need to move to faster shutter speeds. I like to have incredible detail from top to bottom of my images and with 42.4 MP, detail is never an issue for me. The touch screen on the back also allows me to quickly target points in the frame for accurate and precise focus stacking. The most overlooked, yet most important quality of this camera for me is the size and weight. I often find myself deep in the wilderness so every little ounce matters when you’re traversing miles of rocky and mountainous lands. Overall, this body is a workhorse for me, and I absolutely love having it in my bag.

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α7R III. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/250-sec., f/7.1, ISO 100

As we were leaving The Wave, I looked back to see my fiancé standing near this puddle. The morning light was shining brightly on the wall behind her but still offered me plenty of shadow and darkened color for the foreground. Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α7R III. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/250-sec., f/7.1, ISO 100

Sony Alpha 6000: This was my original camera body, and it still holds a valuable spot in my bag. Its small, compact size makes it the perfect camera to quickly pull out for behind the scenes work when I need that extra detail. At 24.3 MP, it still packs a powerful punch despite is compact size. Much of what I initially learned in photography started with this body so it will always have a special place with me.

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α6000  Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/250-sec., f/11, ISO 100

While shooting a timelapse in the opposite direction, I turned back to see the sun shining on this sand dune and knew it was a moment that needed to be captured. I quickly slapped a lens on the a6000 and had my fiancé walk up the dune to capture this image. Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α6000  Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/250-sec., f/11, ISO 100

Sony Xperia 1 III: There's no shoot in the world that I would ever go to without my Xperia. The ability to quickly transfer information between Sony devices is only a fragment of the uses I rely on with this phone at my side. Behind the scenes work becomes very quick and simple when I really need something on the go and with the camera settings mirroring the Alpha series, shooting with my phone looks almost identical to shooting with my camera when it comes to settings and control. Throw in a true 70-105mm tele and a 4K OLED screen and I have the perfect weapon for all my on the go needs. I go way back to the Nokia days and have used both Android and iOS over the years following but I can say with confidence that this Sony phone is the best one I've ever used.

Lenses

Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master: The title of most used lens in my bag belongs to this one. The detail of this lens is remarkable. As a landscape photographer, I used to think wider was better, but the mid-range of this lens is where I now feel landscapes are best captured from. The AF on this lens is very fast and the 2.8 allows me to capture some spectacular star scenes with my astro work.

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/200-sec., f/11, ISO 160

The most incredible experience I’ve ever encountered inside this park, we had full fall color with almost a foot of overnight snow. Shooting here felt like being inside of a snow globe. Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/200-sec., f/11, ISO 160

Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master: When I said I used to think wider was better earlier, well this lens is the counter to that statement. This lens captures so much of landscape while still providing incredibly sharp detail. One shot from this can replace a three-shot pano with a 24mm so it is a must have for landscapes. Every time I want to pull closer into a landscape, I find myself still pulling this out to ensure I capture the entire scene as well. This lens is particularly exceptional inside of caves since it allows me to capture more of the walls that provide some moody shadow work that perfectly compliments my light source. Another 2.8 lens means that this one is also perfect from nighttime astro work.  

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α7R III. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. 2-secs., f/7.1, ISO 50

After 5 miles of hiking on top of solid ice, we finally made it to an opening to get inside the ice. Ice caves are a sight that cannot be described but with the 16mm I was able to get wide enough to at least give an idea of how the moment felt inside. Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α7R III. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. 2-secs., f/7.1, ISO 50

Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G: The 24-70 might be my most-used lens, but this lens is my favorite. For landscapes, the compression from this lens allows me to create unique compositions while still retaining a landscape feel to the scene. It is one of, if not, the sharpest lenses in the Sony arsenal and makes for an incredible portrait and lifestyle lens.

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α7R III. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 8-secs., f/7.1, ISO 100

June gloom in Los Angeles is the best time to capture fog rolls in the Santa Monica mountains. The 90 macro gives a great compression of the scene while also keeping the aspect of a landscape in play. Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α7R III. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 8-secs., f/7.1, ISO 100

Accessories

Sony RMT-P1BT: This remote is one of the best items I have ever purchased. When doing ultra-long exposures, it allows me to easily navigate the Bulb function. Since its Bluetooth, it offers me freedom from the camera and the autofocus feature on it makes focus stacking super easy.
 
Slik CF-633 Tripod With Acratech Nomad Ball Head: Lightweight and sturdy, this combo is perfect for all my outdoor adventures. Remember earlier when I said every ounce matters when hiking distances, well this tripod is the perfect example of saving that weight. I’ve had this tripod for a couple years now and I’ve yet to encounter a situation that it was unable to stand strong in.

Slik SGH-300: This gimbal head is perfect for longer lenses. The weight of any lens I might use is never an issue once secured to this and the maneuverability is almost effortless.

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α7R III. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. Foreground: 1/8-sec., f/10, ISO 100. Sky: 305-secs., f/2.8, ISO 320

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony α7R III. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. Foreground: 1/8-sec., f/10, ISO 100. Sky: 305-secs., f/2.8, ISO 320

Cokin NX Series Filter System: You will always see a polarizer and filters in my bag no matter where I go. I like to carry the ND8, ND1024 and the Nuances Clear Sky Filter in my bag and with the NX series holder, it allows me to shoot at 16mm without any vignetting. The aluminum frames around the glass make switching in and out very easy and the gear wheel on the side makes spinning the polarizer a breeze. 

Lume Cubes and Lume Cube Panel: Lighting is always important and Lume Cube has me covered. With small stands to mount them on, lighting a scene is simplified while still being extremely portable.

Move Shoot Move Star Tracker: Very small, very portable, and very effective. This tracker takes night photography to a whole new level and allows me to get the absolute most out of my Sony lenses when pointing up to the stars.

Headlamps: Hiking lights are a must for any landscape photographer. Many times, I start my hikes in the dead of the night to capture first light at the desired location.

Sony Noise-Canceling WF-1000XM3 Headphones: Music is an important part it my editing flow and with 360 spacial sound, these headphones allow me to get the sound I need while editing. The small size makes me hardly realize they're even there yet there is never an issue of them falling out. Definitely a must have in my bag for all trips.

Liquid IV: A staple in my bag. Throughout the summer, I find myself in some extreme heat situations and Liquid IV is always there to help keep me hydrated and focused on working.

See more of Michaela Castaneda's work on Instagram @_mcastaneda_.

Did you like what you just read?

Take a minute and share this story with your friends.


Banner image