Thursday, December 17, 2015

My Camera Gear & Accessories

Over the past couple of months I've received quite a few emails and messages asking about camera brand, lens choices and accessories.  I  remember asking other photographers the same questions  and I found their insight helpful. Sure, there are some lenses I wish I would have purchased earlier and some later. But regardless of which lens I had or didn't have, I kept shooting.  The best lens is the one that you have in your hands at that moment - you make it work!

A favorite family subject!  by Sheen Watkins
Camera Brand
I use Nikon and have never regretted this path.  Their glass is terrific and I find the cameras to be solid.  I would add that Canon, Sony and other brands are high quality and get the job done.

It's a competitive landscape (pardon the pun) which means reputable camera manufacturers will continue to bypass and catchup quickly on features and functions.   The camera brand is important, but it's the lens selection based on your photography goals that should heavily influence your decision.  Even then - they are all close with a few differences.

Camera Bodies
For birds and wildlife, the Nikon 7100 is my camera body of choice as of today.  The cropped sensor format is ideal for photographing birds and wildlife.   For landscapes, macro, portraits and street photography, I used Nikon's 810.  The bigger sensor renders beautiful details, colors and tones.

For information on cropped versus full framed sensors, check out my Light Stalking article: Cropped vs. Full Frame Sensor

Nikon Lenses - zooms:
14-24mm 2.8 extra wide angle
24-70mm 2.8 mid range zoom
70-200mm 2.8 telephoto
When do I use zoom lenses? Travel photography, when I'm photographing multiple subject types, when I don't know what I'm going to shoot and want flexibility, landscapes, wildlife.

Dania Pier by Sheen's Nature Photography using a 14-24mm wide angle lens

Nikon Macro (Nikon refers to them as Micro)
105mm 2.8

Nikon Lenses - primes:  
28mm 1.8
50mm 1.8
85mm 1.8
When do I use primes?  Walk around photography, out on the town with friends, areas where that focal distance 'works' (i.e. 28 mm for landscapes, 85mm for portraits) nature walks where I have limited time, when I want to act like I have a point & shoot.

A Prime Sunrise by Sheen's Nature Photography using 50mm

Non-Nikon Lens/Tamron: 150-600mm Tamron
Teleconverters:  Nikon 1.4 III
Speedlight:  Nikon 910

Schneider Optics B+W:  Circular Polarizer, Neutral Density Filters - a 6 stop and the Big Stopper
Lee Filter: 150 Extra Wide Filter System for the Nikon 14-24mm

Tripod: Manfrotto mt190cxpro4 Carbon Fiber Tripod
Tripod Head:  Really Right Stuff BH-40-LR
Remote Shutter Release: Promaster

Camera bags:
Golden by Sheen's Nature Photography 70-200 2.8
Tamrac 7X - this is discontinued but here is their current model: Tamrac Anvil.  This is a big beast that holds a lot of gear and laptop.  When fully loaded, you'll get a workout as the weight adds up.  I use this bag when traveling on large planes or on a road trip.  This is  partnered with one of the following for travel as this bag is too large for me to hike with.
Lowepro Flipside sport 20"  This is a lean machine.  I typically pack my 810, 14-24mm, 24-70, 70-200 and the needed filters in this streamlined bag.
Tenba Vector Daypack that's no longer produced, limited availability out on the web.    This weighs two pounds, holds a 15" laptop and it's completely customizable inside.  Great for day trips and hiking.  I have two so that when I travel on small planes one goes under the seat and the Lowepro goes in the overhead.

Camera gear is an investment and it is costly.  Initially I started with one camera and two lenses.  Over time my decisions were made using my own research which included feedback that I used and chose not to use from others.

Happy Shooting!