Many of the participants that come to my photography workshops and people who enjoy my work ask me what kind of gear I use. While I believe that equipment matters in photography (except when it doesn’t), I also think that you shouldn’t get hung up on worrying too much about gear, especially if the gear you have accomplishes what you want it to do. My suggestion is to only buy new gear when your current gear falls short of being able to deliver your vision. Through experience I’ve found the following equipment meets my needs.
Photography Equipment Kit
- Nikon D810 – My primary camera. While on paper it looks like a small improvement over the D800, in the field it feels like a huge change.
- Nikon D800 – My backup camera. After years of using it, I’m still amazed by the detail and tonal range this camera can capture.
- Sony RX100 M3 — Known as the “professional’s point and shoot.” It’s hard to believe the quality of images that come off this camera even though it can fit in a pocket. It’s expensive and I’m not sold on the viewfinder, but nothing else in this category has comparable image quality.
- Sony A7 II — A small, lightweight mirrorless camera for when I need lightweight gear on adventures. This is converted to infrared.
- Sony A7r II — A sweet little mirrorless camera with excellent image quality. I use this when I need lightweight gear on adventures.
- Fuji XT-2 — I like the size and the lenses, but I’m not sold on the X-Trans sensor. Put a Bayer sensor in this and I’d name it the perfect travel camera. But, I just wasn’t satisfied with the sensor or handling, so I got rid of this system.
- GoPro Hero 3 Black — Fun action camera or for use as a point-and-shoot.
- Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 – For low light work or when I won’t need to use a filter.
- Nikon 16-35 f/4 – For most work I do. I have a love/hate relationship with this lens. It has been to Nikon six times for warranty repairs. It’s sharper than the 17-35 f/2.8 though. Waiting for Nikon to update the 17-35 f/2.8. Then I’ll upgrade.
- Nikon 20mm f/1.8 – Great prime for landscapes or nightscapes. Makes the best starbursts.
- Nikon 24-120 f/4 VR – I like this over the Nikon 24-70 f/2.8, because I seldom shoot at 35-70. This gives me wide and long on a sharp, light mid-range zoom.
- Sigma 35mm f/1.4 – It’s sharp and has a great look. My copy was way out of whack, missed focus 75% of the time and required a trip to Sigma to fix it. After it came back it was great. Make sure you get a good copy and return it right away if you don’t.
- Nikon 105 f/2.8 – My macro lens.
- Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR – I use this for portraits or when I need a fast lens.
- Nikon 300 f/4 – Great lightweight 300mm prime. The look is dreamy but sharp.
- Tamron 150-600 f/5-6.3 – A heck of a lens for the price. Shoot it at f/8 or f/11 and you won’t be disappointed.
- Sigma 15 f/2.8 fisheye – For night work or when I need a unique look. Using Image Trends Fisheye-Hemi to correct the distortion extends the usefulness of this lens.
- Singh-Ray Daryl Benson Reverse Neutral Density Graduated Filters – 3-stop and 2-stop, 4- by 6-inch size – The 3-stop version is the filter that I use 90+% of the time for my seascape photography.
- Singh-Ray Galen Rowell Soft Graduated Neutral Density Filters – 2-stop and 3-stop, 4- by 6-inch size
- Singh-Ray Mor-Slo Solid Neutral Density Filters, 5-stop and 10-stop, 4- by 4-inch size
- Singh-Ray George Lepp 3-stop Solid Neutral Density Filter, 4- by 6-inch size
- Singh-Ray Thin LB Neutral Polarizer, 77mm
- Sensei 4- by 6-inch filter holder
These are my most used filters. Starting from left and going clockwise:
- Kinesis Photo Gear FilterPouch
- Formatt Hitech 4 by 6 filter holder
- 77mm wide angle adapter ring
- Singh-RayThin LB Neutral Polarizer
- Singh-Ray Mor-Slo Solid ND 10-stop
- Singh-Ray Daryl Benson Reverse 3-stop Neutral Density Graduated Filter
- Singh-Ray Galen Rowell 3-stop soft Graduated Neutral Density Filters
- Gitzo 3542XLS legs – Tall, solid and light! Great primary set of legs.
- Gitzo 1340 legs – my old set still usable but I kinked a leg so I can’t close it.
- Manfrotto 3001BPRO – I use this for Macro work. It gets low to the ground and I can easy put the camera exactly where it needs to go.
- SLIK Sprint Pro GM – Lightweight tripod for kayak and canoe trips.
- Kirk BH-1 or BH-3 ball head – Love these ball heads. They last forever.
- Flashpoint F-2 ball head – A light ball head that works okay. I use it on the SLIK tripod. Not for daily use.