Equipment

I started in 1994 with a 640KB Sony that included a simple case.  It fit easily in my computer bag and was easy to use and carry.  My journey began with this simple beginning and progressed to more sophisticated, complex and bigger equipment.  Along the way, I made just about every mistake possible.  Almost every time I tried to save, I eventually spent more than initially planned even, in some cases, when I was given advice.  I guess you can call that experience.

  • Lowepro Flipside Sport 15L AW
  • Sony A6000 25 megapixel APSC Body
  • Sony A7R 36 megapixel full frame Body
  • Sony 16-35 f4 Lens
  • Sony 24-70 f4 Lens
  • Sony 70-200 f4 Lens
  • Sony 16-50 Lens
  • Sony 5-210 Lens
  • Minolta Rokkor 28 mm f2.8
  • Minolta Rokkor 50 mm f1.4
  • Minolta Rokkor 135 mm f2.8
  • Minolta Rokkor 200 mm f4.5
  • Minolta Rokkor 2x tele converter
  • Tamrac 5788 Evolution 8 Photo/Laptop Sling Backpack
  • D600 Nikon camera body
  • D7100 Nikon camera body
  • 24-85 VR Nikno lens – primary lens for D600
  • 17-55 mm f2.8 Nikon lens
  • 70-200 mm f 2.8 Nikon lens
  • 20 mm f2.8 Nikon D lens
  • 35 mm f1.4 Sigma lens
  • 60 mm f2.8 Nikon lens
  • 85 mm f1.8 Nikon G lens
  • Two Nikon SB900 Flash guns
  • Screw-on 77 mm and 67 mm Circular Polarizers
  • Cokin P Filter system including
    • 6, 4, 2 and 1 stop ND filters
    • 6, 4, 2 and 1 stop graduated ND filters
    • Circular Polarizer
  • Cokin Z Filter system for use with wide lens
    • 4, 2 and 1 stop graduated ND filter
    • Circular Polarizer
  • Right angle viewer
  • Plugin shutter release
  • Remote shutter release
  • 2 8GB SD Memory cards – Extream Pro
  • 1 16GB SD Memory card – Extream Pro
  • 1 32GB SD Memory card – Extream Pro
  • Really Right Stuff L-bracket
  • Acratech GV2 Ballhead/Gimbal Head
  • Slik Carbon Fiber Pro 814CF tripod

 CAMERA BODY

Current equipment is Sony.  I purchased a NEX 7 for travel in 2014.  I shot it along with my Nikon D600 on a morning shooting a blood moon.  It was easy to shoot and the photos came out better {color) than the Nikon shots.  So when I traveled to on a trip to Hilton Head SC and Sea Island GA and wanted to travel light i decided to take the NEX 7 instead of the Nikon.  After shooting several hundred shots and seeing the results I decided to make the switch.  I traded all my Nikon equipment for Sony equipment.  Now, my bag is much lighter and I can see what my photos will look like as I take them.  Now I am using an A6000 and an A7R.

Last Nikon Equipment.  D600 Camera body with 24 MP FX CMOS, 1080p HD Video, 3″ LCD Display, twon SD card slots and 39 point auto focus system.  I’m also using a D7100 Camera body with 24 MP  DX CMOS Sensor, 1080p HD Video, 3″ LCD Display, twin SD card slots and 51 point auto focus system. Prior to this body, I was using a D7000. I upgraded because:

  • 9 MP extra sensor size and as before size does matter (see upgrade from D300 to D7000 below).
  • Full Frame sensor – increase separation at low fstops..
  • Best DXO digital camera rating

Change second camera from D7000 to D7100:

  • Same resolution as D600.
  • 51 point focus rather than 39.
  • 2x crop mode.

Upgrade from D300 to D7000:

  • 4 MP extra sensor size – yes, size does matter at least in digital photography.  I first saw this with 2 MP cameras.  The improvement in photographic depth was dramatic when the D2x came out.  Photos no longer seemed two-dimensional.
  • 2 stop increase in ISO range – the D300 was ok up to ISO 1200 but after that
    noise made it difficult to use.  The D7000 has the increased range and the lower range is more usable.
  • Increase from 300K dot display to 900K dot display – this one is minor but you can see what a photo will look like better with the increase in display resolution.
  • Silent mode – sometimes it’s nice to keep shutter noise down to so folks don’t realiz you are snapping photos.

On the downside, lost 12 auto focus points and this is annoying because they are near the
edges of to frame.  So far, I have been able to get around the issue and I hope to solve it with a D400.

The shooting buffer is smaller (10 NEF shots instead of 25) but that is important sports shooters not me.

Before the D7000 is was using a D300.  I upgraded from a D200 because the sensor changed from CCD to CMOS and the ISO usability increase from 600 to 1200.

I ordered a D700 when they first came out but canceled the order when I considered the
additional cost associated with moving from DX to FX camera system.

LENSES

Ok, what can I say – put your money in glass first.

Three Sony full frame lenses, 16-35 mm, 24-70 mm and 70-200 mm.  All are f4 and have vibration reduction.  As with 17-55, 98% of my shots are taken with the 24-70 range on the A7R and 16-35 on the A6000.  I do have a pancake 16-50 lens for the A6000 when I want to go really small but the quality is less.

I have four legacy lenses, Minolta Rokkor, that are manual focus.  The shorter, 28 mm and 50 mm can be used with a tilt adapter to obtain incredible depth of field.  I will be experimenting with this in some future landscape shoots.

17-55 mm f2.8 – I use this lens for 98% of the photos I take.  Friends ask “what camera would you buy as a first camera” and I usually tell them to get something with a normal range (24-70 mm in full frame or 17-55 mm in DX).  More often than not, they purchase a camera with a big zoom.  Ok, they will get over it if they continue with photography – I did.  One of my first lens was a 80-400 VR lens with f5.6 minimum aperture.  It was too slow and way bigger than I needed.  I also had a 24-120 VM also f5.6.  It was too slow and not small enough.  We all seem to have to learn the hard way don’t we?  F2.8 is expensive and the lens is big so what is the big deal.  Three stops of light – did you see the photo I took in the surf in the post Holden Beach before Hurricane Irene?  It was handheld at ISO 1000.  If I used a cheaper lens, ISO would have been 3000 or more.  Oh, another note, I do not use protective filters on my lenses because they can cause lens flair.

70-200 f2.8 – occasionally I need length and I use this lens by itself or with a 1.4 extender.  I use my feet if I need to get closer.  Again, the best I could buy.  This is also a good lens for portraits because it keeps faces slim.

11-18 Tamaron f4.5 – just as I occasionally need length I also need width.  When I was in Arizona photographing horseshoe bend, I needed 13mm to get the complete shot.
I it was a real need.  You see, at horseshoe bend you must stand almost at the edge of the cliff to include the entire river in the frame and to do that with a DX camera requires 13 mm or more lens.  When you spend to money to travel to a location you cannot visit, often you need equipment to take advantage of the opportunity.  I have heard it said, “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation”.  Therefore, you might say I was lucky that day
I visited horseshoe bend.  That photo won second place in the Raleigh New and Observer 2011 photo contest – what a lucky guy!

60 mm macro – when you want to do a photo of a small object and create some artistic effects you need a macro lens.  I need macro lenses to defocus a background or have a very narrow focus plane.  Check out some of my flower photos.

20 mm Nikon D and 35 mm Sigma are highly rated art lenses for landscape photography. The 35 mm is rated by DXO as the seventy best lens available on a D600.

85 mm Nikon G is the ninth highest rated by DXO and i will use it for portraits.

TRIPOD

Ok, let us call this camera support instead of just tripod.  If you purchase camera support,  ou are going to spend at least one thousand dollars.  If you want to try and do it cheaper you will end up spending much more – at least I did.  Make sure that all of the components will support at least 25 pounds and you will be ok.  So what do I have?

Slik Carbon Fiber Pro 814 – this tripod has three joints, feet that will work on rough and smooth surfaces, legs that adjust to three angles (you never know when you need support between two rocks by extending one leg almost vertically) and a center post that can be reversed or removed.  And best of all, it fits in my carryon suitcase.  I was at a photo shoot at Monument Valley and the wind was blowing a gale (at least that’s what we call it around these parts) and I saw a couple of tripods blow over and the cameras actually bounced off of rocks – not good!

Aratech GV2 Ballhead – this head can be adjusted in any direction with great ease and
without worrying that the camera will fall.  One of the adjustments provides for setting pressure on the ball so the operator can move the camera but it will not move on its own – great stuff!  The unit can be assembled backwards to provide for indexing when doing planos.  There is a quick release adapter for the camera.   In addition, the carrying capacity is 25 pounds.

Really Right Stuff L-bracket – this bolts on the camera so the camera can be mounted on the tripod in portrait or landscape orientation and fits in the quick release on the tripod so I can quickly switch between the two orientations.  Now you may say that I can just adjust my camera using the ball from portrait to landscape.  Yes you can but the tripod which you have spent so much money on will be unstable.  Ok, so you have seen a ball replacement device that swivels by just pressing a leaver – guess what?  This device will cause your  setup to be unstable.  Doyou remember the Monument Valley photo shoot I mentioned?  I saw one of these outfits blow over.  Get the whole package – tripod 400, ballhead 350 and L-bracket 150.  Alternatively, you can do what I did and by successively more expensive equipment and probably be frustrated while on location as I was at the wave.

FILTERS

Screw-on 77 mm Circular Polarizer – yes they are more expensive that linear but linear does not work on digital.  You will need this for hand held shots.

Cokin Filter system – if you do not have a lens wider that 14 mm they you can get away with a Cokin P series; otherwise, you need a Z.  I have both because I purchased to P first.  I have some photos from horseshoe bend with unusable areas because the P was not wide enough and interfered with the edges.  I have three graduated, neutral density at eight, four and two stops and I stack them when needed.  I also have a circular polarizer for both
systems.  The P was not too expensive but the Z is expensive.  Oh, if you ever want to take photos of waterfalls I would suggest you also have solid neutral density filters to slow your shutter speed down.  I have three at eight, four and two stops.

REMOTE SHUTTER RELEASE

I have two, one is wired and the other is wireless.  Wireless is good and cheap for the D7000.  You need a release so you do not shake the camera on the solid support system you already have.  Also, don’t forget that shutter speeds between about 1/40 second a 2 seconds causes vibrations so keep those mirrors up.

 

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