Camera Equipment & Tools

If there’s one thing photographers like almost as much as taking pictures, it’s talking about taking pictures. Or more specifically talking about their cameras, lenses and generally geeking out on gear. Now the last thing the internet needs is another photography blog so doubt I’ll be populating this tiny corner of the world wide web with too many musings. But I like finding useful, well-thought-out hands on experience when I’m planning either a major camera/lens purchase or preparing for a new type of photographic challenge so in that spirit I’ll see what insights I can share.

First things first – and keeping in an imaging theme… some perspective. I often get asked if I’m a ‘professional’ photographer? To be honest I’m not sure. I mean yes I’m a photographer that makes money from photography but I don’t have a listing in the Yellow Pages and the last wedding I shot was on Ilford 100. Oh wait I lie, I did shoot a wedding with a D200. But still you see what I mean. Where my photography works is in my own publishing ventures be that local tourism publications, web sites or in the line of guidebooks I publish.

Additionally I work with several tour companies shooting images for their marketing needs and/or working with their guests instructing/coaching on camera use, tips etc.. so they get the most out of their adventure-vacation experience. All in all it’s a good gig.

Getting eye to eye with Weddell Seals in the Antarctic Peninsula

Getting eye to eye with Weddell Seals in the Antarctic Peninsula

Like most photographers my equipment is a direct reflection of my budget. I shoot Nikons and there’s no shortage of beautiful Nikkor lenses to part with ridiculous amounts of money on. But I try to be a sensible entrepreneur and balance my lust for fast glass with the realities of what I need and what kind of return I can expect to make. For most of my publishing work I could get by with pretty basic equipment: entry level camera bodies and budget lenses would get most of the shots I need. And indeed some of the mountaineering adventures I embark on dictate a pretty basic, lightweight kit. But when I work as a photographer for others there’s a certain expectation – not just in the tools of the trade but to offer instruction I need a working knowledge of a range of camera types. Which is all to say I aim to work with as good a selection of equipment as I can justifiably afford, reasonably travel with and get the job done.

As for the type of photography I do? My style I’d describe as: with people – candid reportage; landscapes I look for both moods, engaging light but often particular angles of an area to illustrate it in a guidebook; I love shooting wildlife especially. It’s not that I make money directly from the wildlife images but usually more it’s about passing on skills and tips to guests and wanting to be proficient to be able to do that with some authority. And I do love the intimacy of watching undisturbed wildlife going about their day to day – oh I wonder what it would be like to be a Grizzly Bear? for a week.
In terms of specific gear here’s a rough breakdown of some of my current equipment and the types of photography I would use it for.

Lightweight Backcountry
Camera Body: Nikon D5100 or D7200
Lenses: Nikon AF-S 12-24mm f4 G DX, AF-S 24-85mm f3.5-4.5 G, AF-S 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 VR

Wildlife & Nature
Camera Body: Nikon D500 and/or D7200
Lenses: Nikon AF-S 35mm f1.8 G DX, AF 105mm f2.8 D Micro, AF-S 200-500mm f5.6 G VR, TC 14e lll Teleconverter

General Adventure Travel
Camera Body: Nikon D750
Lenses: Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f4 G VR, AF-S 24-120mm f4 G VR, AF-S 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 G VR

Custom Shoots – Portraits
Camera Body: Nikon D750
Lenses: Nikon AF 35mm f2 D, AF-S 50mm f1.8 G, AF-S 85mm f1.4 G, MF 105mm f2.5 AI-S, AF 135mm f2 DC

Of course these combinations can be mixed and matched and I often do. But this gives an idea of the equipment I’ve chosen to invest in and for what main situations I selected it for. I think you can see if you know your Nikons that my gear would be considered a solid ‘semipro’ selection. Leaning more to portability on the practical side and affordability on the reality side!!

Secret Weapon!
Camera Body: Olympus TG-4
Lenses: FCON-T01 Fisheye Convertor, TCON-T01 Teleconverter

This is a great little camera which can do so many things a DSLR can’t. Having had a passing run with GoPro I’m now thoroughly hooked on the TG-4 for its rugged build and awesome creative possibilities: microscope mode, underwater abilities including white balances and all in optional RAW format!! great!

Nikon D500

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