Being a professional photographer requires a wide range of equipment and tools that let me get the job done. As I was looking at my gear bags, I decided to take inventory and post it on the blog. In addition to the name of the equipment, I am writing a little blurb about each piece of gear and why and how I use it. Leave a question about anything in the comments.
Nikon D300: This is my camera of choice because of the great combination of size and image quality it gives you. It has a 12.1 megapixel sensor, which is more than enough for poster size prints. One of the great aspects of this camera’s sensor is the noise performance. When I crank up the ISO value (light sensitivity), the image quality stays pretty great all the way through ISO 1600. In the film days, ISO 800 showed a lot of grain (the equivalent of digital noise), so it is amazing what modern technology allows. Why do I shoot Nikon instead of Canon? Because the camera just feels a lot better in my hands. Almost every button and dial seems like it is in the right place and operation is intuitive. I also like the heft and surface finish of the Nikons; they don’t feel as plasticy as Canons do to me. When you are selecting a camera for yourself, the most important thing is how you interact with it because any of the camera makers offerings can make a good digital file.
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Sigma 10-20mm f3.5 EX: This is my ultra-wide angle lens that allows me to get some amazing perspectives. I use it almost exclusively in real estate work and also a lot in sports work. You’d be amazed how much your camera can see with a 10mm lens on it.
Tokina 16-50mm f2.8 AT-X Pro: This is whats referred to as a walk-about lens because it covers a decent range from moderate wide angle to short telephoto. I use this for events or situations where it is difficult to change lenses. A note about Tokina: Tokina has some of the best customer service I have experienced. I have sent my lens in to them twice for various reasons and they have totally replaced the lens at no charge both times!
Nikon 35mm f1.8 DX: Every photographer needs a lens like this. On a crop sensor DSLR like the Nikon D300, the 35mm lens gives the approximate equivalent of what your eyes see. This is called a “normal lens”. On film cameras or full frame DSLRs, this is usually a 50mm lens. This is also a really “fast” lens having an aperture of 1.8. What this means is that it can open up really wide to let in a bunch of light, which is necessary in certain situations.
Nikon 60mm f2.8 Micro: Other companies call this a macro or close-up lens; Nikon uses Micro for some reason. A micro lens is used primarily for close-up work where ultimate detail is sought. With this baby, I can focus down to life-size reproduction of tiny objects and creatures. It is also one of the sharpest lenses ever made by Nikon and therefore is an all around phenomenal lens.
Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 AF-D: This is my big boy. I use this for portraiture and sports primarily. It lets me get in close to the action from a distance and gives great compression of perspective as well. This is the lens that shouts “professional photographer” when you see it.
Nikon SB-900 Hot Shoe Speedlight
Nikon SB-600 Hot Shoe Speedlight
Light Modifiers and Grip Gear:
I have all sorts of umbrellas, reflectors, and light modifiers that let me shape light and affect its quality. Umbrellas are great for strobes and reflectors are great for natural light. I use both home made and store bought clamps to attach flashes to different places. Lightstands are basically light weight tripods meant to hold a light instead of a camera. Gaffer tape is probably one of my most used accessories for everything from gear repair to blocking light from hitting certain areas. A photographer can also never have too many A-Clamps and I have about 15 in my location bag.
That’s About It….
Well that’s most of what I carry and it should give you some idea of the equipment requirements of a pro. It should also give you an idea of the investment in equipment that pros make in order to get you the best photographs possible.