Photography Gear for a New York Photographer
One type of question people like to ask about any activity they are interested in is what kind of gear do they need or what is good. I completely understand the impulse to ask this question and I have probably asked it myself in many venues. However, it is a very difficult question to answer for a variety of reasons.
One reason it is hard to answer is that photography is a very task oriented field. The tools you need are specific to the goals you want to accomplish. So what is good for one task may not be good for another task. It requires a lot of discussion and detail to hone in on exactly what the best tools for the job are. Sometimes it can really come down to personal preference and has nothing to do with the gear itself.
Another reason why this can be a difficult question to answer is that there is so much out there. Unless someone’s job is to review gear or test gear most photographers have a set of tools they have honed in on and have been using for a while. I can tell someone in a general sense what they need, but I could not name a specific product. Unless I thought the perfect thing for them to use was a product I myself was using.
I think the best way for me to answer the, “What gear do I need?” question is to talk about what I use and why I use it. Then if you are interested in doing similar work you would have an idea of what types of tools work well for that.
This will be an article discussing all the gear I use in general and then I will follow it with a series of articles about specific tools I use and go into a little more detail.
At this point I have 6 camera bodies that I use on a regular basis. I have 2 standard size Nikon DSLR models. Then I have 2 smaller Nikon mirrorless camera models. And I also employ 2 different GoPro cameras.
The 2 Nikon DSLR’s I use are the D300s and the D500. I have had them for quite a while now. They are the camera bodies I use the most often. There is a very specific reason I use Nikon camera bodies. I will discuss that more in a future article so stay tuned. But the answer is not that Nikon is just better than other brands. The answer lies in the fact that the Nikon cameras were the right fit for the job.
The 2 Nikon mirrorless cameras I use are the Nikon 1 J4 and Nikon 1 J5. I don’t think these are even made anymore as Nikon has moved on to a different and much more expensive line of mirrorless cameras. I found these cameras at just the right time. They are much smaller than a standard DSLR. And that is exactly why I like them. I use these cameras mostly for when I am out adventuring and want to be able to capture images with something other than my smart phone. They are much more portable and can be tucked away in pockets on my adventure gear in ways I could never carry my D300s or D500 and that makes them extremely valuable to me.
I have 2 different GoPro cameras that I use in a few different ways. I have had both of them a while and neither of them was the newest model when I bought them. They are a tertiary set of cameras for my work so it is hard to justify buying the newest models. Even though I really, really want to. I use these almost exclusively to photograph running. And when I say to photograph running I mean exactly that. This si not traditional race photography. I use the GoPro’s to photograph running when it is happening in real time from the point of view of the runner. As in I am running and carrying a GoPro and recording footage at the same time.
This section will cover the lenses I use regularly on my Nikon DSLR bodies. The Nikon mirrorless cameras do have interchangeable lenses but I only use one lens for each camera. The lenses I use for my photography are as follows.
Nikon 300 mm: This lens is great for photographing subjects that are off in the distance or for getting more close up images of smaller subjects that are nearby. I pair this lens with a 1.4 tele-converter to get an even closer view of my subject.
Nikon 60 mm macro: I put this lens to use taking extremely close up views of small subjects. My goal is often to photograph a small subject so close up that it fills the entire frame.
Tamron 18-200 mm: This is my go to landscape photography lens. The zoom capabilities of this lens allow me to take photographs of sweeping vistas or to zoom in on one specific aspect of a landscape.
Nikon 50 mm: The 50 mm lens is my secondary landscape lens. It is light weight and easy to carry when hiking. Being a prime lens that is not at a particularly wide angle of view it requires the photographer to hone in on a specific composition of the scene.
Nikon 70-200 mm: This is the one lens that I do not carry in my bag at all times. That is because for me it is used for very specific purposes. Because I use it for very specific tasks I always know well in advance if I will need it and I only take it when I do. I use this lens for sports, events, and portraiture.
I have used a few different combinations of bags and straps over the years. This just like cameras is highly specific to ones needs. I have found tools that I like and have been using for a while. However, I am still looking for the perfect combination of bags and straps that are ideal for my adventure and running photography.
The camera bag I use most is a bag by Lowepro. The Flipside 400 AW model. They are on to a newer model at this point. I use it to carry my two camera bodies. One camera body with my 300 mm lens and 1.4 tele-convert attached and One with no lens attached. The bag also holds my 50 mm, 600 mm, and 18-200 mm lenses as well as my flash. There is also room for filters, memory cards, and plenty of other things I don’t use as much as I probably should.
I also have a small shoulder bag to carry my mirrorless cameras and GoPro’s in as well as a few small tripods and other accessories.
The tool I have found that I really like for securing my cameras while I am working are Black Rapid Straps. The double strap is the version that I like best. This allows me to carry two camera bodies securely and quickly and safely switch between cameras while I am out photographing.
These are what work for me best right now, but I am always looking for solutions that better fit my needs.
Tripods are great tools to use in photography. There are types of photography you can’t really do without them. This is an area where you can really get great value if you spend a reasonable amount. You really get what you pay for here. If you do it right you only ever buy 1 tripod.
My main tripod is from Gitzo. The Gitzo GT2531 Series 2 6X Carbon Fiber. It is made of carbon fiber so it is relatively light. I have carried it around with me for as many as 7 miles while hiking and photographing landscapes. The legs are easily adjustable with simple twist locking mechanisms. This allows you to quickly extend and retract legs as needed.
I also have a JOBY GorillaPod. This is a very interesting tool. If you have never seen one I highly encourage you to take a look. This tripod is short so either I get down on the ground with it or I place it on a surface. I usually use this as a secondary set up with so I can capture other angles while out photographing landscapes with cameras mounted on tripods. This tripod can accommodate a full size DSLR or smaller cameras such as my mirrorless cameras.
In addition to the two main tripods I use I also have 2 small inexpensive tripods that are easily portable. They are always in my shoulder bag in case I need them. They work with my mirrorless cameras and my GoPro’s.
I have 3 accessories that I use in conjunction with my photography regularly. I have a Nikon flash for illuminating low light situations. For a lot of my landscape photography I use a circular polarizer. This helps to cut down on glare and bring out colors in the sky and plants. When there is a specific look I am trying to achieve I use my 64x Neutral Density filter. This filter will block out light without affecting the color of the exposure.
What I want:
This article has focused on what I already have in my toolbox and why I have it. Even though I have many of the tools I need to do the work I want to do that doesn’t mean there isn’t a tool I still want. One tool that I would like to add to my kit is a prime lens that is a wider angle than the 50 mm lens I already have. I would like the lens to also have a wide aperture like the 50 mm I already have does. I like what I can do with my 50 mm, but I think a similar lens with a wider angle of view would allow me to do some things that I cannot quite do the way I would like with my current equipment.
If you’d like to learn more about the types of photography gear I use please join my email list below so you don’t miss my upcoming series on the gear I use.