Tag Archives: camera body

The Obligatory ‘My Camera Gear’ Blog Post

Okay, let’s get this one out-of-the-way. Here’s the obligatory “my camera gear” blog post that I know you’ve all been waiting for! Well, it’s not exactly compulsory, and well, I’m sure most visitors really don’t care. But for the aspiring photographers visiting my blog (I thank you), who might be interested in finding out what gear I use, this post is for you.

CAMERAS
Nikon D40 – DSLR body
Nikon D7100 – DSLR body
Sony DSC-RX100 Mark II – compact
Pentax K1000 – SLR 35mm film body

LENSES
Wide Zoom
AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
Good general use wide-angle zoom lens offering 15mm to 36mm equivalent field of view. While not the sharpest glass, I have captured some of my best photos using this lens. So I’m not sure why I don’t use it more often.

Prime
AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED
On a DX (crop sensor) camera body, this is an excellent street photography lens suitable for both day and night shooting, offering a 36mm equivalent field of view. This piece of glass is a bit on the large side, but workable. On the other hand, the cost of this lens might be completely unworkable. Where this lens really proves its worth is for low light, or landscape (urban or nature). You can shoot wide open (f/1.4) with this lens and still have much of the field of view in focus, particularly when paired with a DX camera body, as long as the main subjects are a good 8-10 feet away (or further). That makes this lens ideal for nighttime street photography. Combine this lens with a camera that allows usable ISO up to 6400, and you should never have an issue keeping your shutter speed fast.
AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
Another great low-light street photography lens, offering 52mm equivalent field of view. If you shoot with a DX camera, for the price, this lens cannot be beat, and would be my recommendation for your first prime lens.
AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G SIC SW
SMC Pentax-A 50mm f/2

Normal Zoom
AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
Just a good all-around lens that gives you 27mm to 450mm equivalent field of view. Sure, there are optical sacrifices with this glass, but if you only want to carry one lens while having the flexibility of shooting reasonably wide or very long, this lens is hard to beat for DX cameras. Just keep in mind this lens is big and heavy and when fully zoomed, it’s almost comically long in length.

Macro
AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED VR
Good reach that also allows you to shoot macro sans tripod for many situations, as long as you are stopped down a good amount. This lens can also be used as a long portrait lens with a 128mm equivalent field of view.

FIELD GEAR
Camera Bag
Lowepro LP36433-PWW Photo Hatchback 22L AW in “Pepper Red”

Lens Case
Lowepro Lens Case 9 x 13 cm

Camera Strap and Accessories
BlackRapid RS-7 Camera Strap – (Read my RS-7 review)
BlackRapid Joey 3 Storage Pocket
BlackRapid Brad Underarm Stabilizing Strap
BlackRapid Tether Kit
BlackRapid ProtectR (Long)
Custom SLR M-Plate Pro – (Read my M-Plate Pro review)

Tripods
Slik Sprint Pro II Tripod with Ball Head & Case in “Gunmetal” finish
Joby GP3 GorillaPod SLR-Zoom Flexible Tripod + BH1 Ball Head with Bubble Level

Flash
Nikon SB-600 Speedlight Flash

Filters
B+W 77mm circular polarizer filter
Hoya 52mm circular polarizer filter
Tiffen 52mm 0.3, 0.6, and 0.9 neutral density filters
Tiffen 77mm 0.6 neutral density filter

Hand Strap (used exclusively with Nikon D40)
Fotodiox Genuine Leather Hand Strap

Other Stuff
Eye-Fi 16GB Pro X2 SDHC Card
Transcend 32GB SDHC Card

STUDIO GEAR
Strobes
AlienBees B400 Strobe/Flash
Neewer 300W Strobe/Flash

There’s even more gear, and I’ll add it to this page over time, including a complete list of all photography books I own. And I will also add bits of information about how and when I use each piece of gear. So be sure to check out this blog post in the future for more information.

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Gear Lust: It Matters Not What’s In Your Hands, But What’s In Your Head

When you find yourself in the throes of a major case of GAS (gear acquisition syndrome), you need to walk out of the store, or move your mouse cursor away from the Buy button. Next you need remind yourself that it is your imagination and creativity that most contributes to your passion, not the gear. What matters is not what’s in your hands, but what’s in your head.

I’m not saying you should never buy new gear, and in fact, I offer you a twist later in this article (more on that in a moment). What I’m saying is, don’t purchase gear with the belief that it will improve your work on the merits of the specifications alone. Think of all the iconic photographs from decades past, many of which are not superior on a technical level, even when they work exceptionally well on a compositional and emotional level. That new Nikon or Canon DSLR or that new zoom lens aren’t going to offer you any greater ability to tell a story with your photographs. The only thing that can do that is your imagination.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Slow down.
  • Don’t take a lot of photos, concentrate instead on what you are trying to accomplish.
  • Beyond the anchor or subject, pay attention to what is in the frame, especially at the edges.
  • Think about your composition and how different elements in the frame are flowing and interacting with each other.
  • Are you trying to tell a story with this shot, and will the composition offer a message to the viewer?

If you are overcome with the urge to buy a new piece of gear, instead look for inspiration by browsing the works of your favorite photographers, or better yet, discover new ones. And if that doesn’t quiet the desire for more hardware, pick up the gear you already own and go out and shoot! Because at the end of the day, taking more photos is how you improve your art, not buying new gear.

But if you still can’t resist that temptation, I offer this suggestion (here’s that twist I mentioned earlier): Head to eBay and get yourself a cheap film camera, like the 35mm Pentax K1000 that I just bought. But wait a second, I thought you said, “it’s not what’s in your hands, but what’s in your head.” — Yes, indeed I did, but I’m also realistic about gear lust. Sometimes you just need to buy something. But instead of the typical lens or camera body upgrade, take a hard left into uncharted territory and buy something you never thought you’d ever buy. For me, I never thought I’d go back to film. Hell, I never really shot much film in the first place. I think the last time I used a film camera I was in my teens in the early 1990s.

I want to reiterate that your imagination is the most important thing, but if gear is ever going to have any impact at all on the creative process, it’s likely to happen when you choose a piece of gear that really shakes things up, and makes you look at your craft in a different way. And in the case of old 35mm film cameras, it’s an inexpensive way to satisfy that hardware craving. Well, at least the gear is cheap. If you really get hooked, the film and developing costs could start to add up! Oh no, what have I done! 🙂

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Dusting Off An Oldie But Goodie, The Nikon D40

I bought a refurbished Nikon D40 five years ago, and at that time, it was already a 2-year old model (introduced in 2006). But the D40 had (and still has) a cult following. The Nikon website still lists the now discontinued D40 in the archive section, and it has a 4.5 star rating with over 1200 reviews. Here’s a sampling of some of those reviews:

nikon-d40

Sam (May 19, 2013) 5 stars —  “Compact and easy to use.” – I have used this camera under a wide range of conditions including sports under poor light condition and always with good results. Ex. High School Basketball (with a AF-S Nikkor 35mm 1:1.8 G lens.

DS1987 (June 29, 2012) 5 stars — “Perfect camera” — This camera exceeds my expectations, for a long while i favored my old canon 35mm slr over the new digital slr’s. But when i bought this to replace it i quickly found that i can get great quality pictures faster and easier no 35m film required. perfect camera for hobbyist or professionals.

ShaldonB (May 15, 2012) 5 stars — “Totally Flabbergasted By My D40” — Some photographers out there ([particularly] people who are new to the art) always think more is better; bigger is better. Fortunately, in reality, that is not the case. The simple design of the D40 makes it perfect for anyone from amateur to pro. It is truly capable of handling anything a professional grade camera is -if you know how to use it [correctly] that is. Because it is compact and light weight it goes anywhere! (up rock walls and mountain sides!) And because it is no longer in production (sadly), it is easy to find one in immaculate condition and [extremely] well priced second hand. I love mine! There may come a day when my D40 fails me and I will have to find a new camera to shoot, that will be a sad day, but until that time I wouldn’t choose to shoot anything else!

The Nikon D40 enjoyed a long production run of over 2 years before being superseded by the D3000. And I used my trusty D40 for close to two years before moving on the greener pastures (the D7000) in late 2010. Since that time, the D40 has been sitting in a camera bag, possibly never to see the light of day again.

For a good while after buying the D7000 I would take it pretty much anywhere I went. The idea was simple, you can’t take any photos if you don’t have your camera with you. But eventually I grew tired of lugging around the weight of the D7000 and a few lenses every where I went, and I didn’t exactly like the idea of leaving it in my car if I didn’t feel like carrying it on a particular day. So I stopped taking the D7000 with me everywhere I go, and that was about 8 months ago now.

But recently I’ve returned again to the thinking that a photographer should always have a camera nearby, but I’m still not crazy about taking the D7000 everywhere (unless on a specific photography outing). So I decided the D40 was to be resurrected. After all, it is a perfectly capable camera, and it has the added benefit of being compact and lightweight, and I’ll have no problem keeping it in my car when necessary. So that’s the plan, the oldie but goodie D40 will now be my every day walk around camera. Now I just need to decide what lens (or lenses) to keep with it. I still have the 18-55mm kit lens, and the 55-200mm VR zoom (which have also sat idle for quite some time). So I’ll definitely keep those in the D40 bag. But given the D40’s low light limitations, I think I will keep my 35mm prime lens with it as well. In fact, that prime lens (AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G) might just be the lens I keep on the D40 most of the time. I loved that combination when the D40 was my primary (and only) camera body.

And for anyone who might be skeptical of this new plan, here’s a shot taken with my D40 a few years back (yes, some post-processing in Lightroom):

 

My alternate naming for this photo is "Walking Towards The Light." This was taken at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. on October 30, 2010.

My alternate naming for this photo is “Walking Towards The Light.” This was taken at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. on October 30, 2010.

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