Making a good photograph is often less about which model of camera or lens you choose and more about what techniques you use. I've never found a guarantee with a new piece of equipment that promised it would make great images -- that's up to us.
There's no substitute for thoughtful, patient methods whether you carry a bagful of the newest things or you're fond of an old-timer or two. But certain stuff can make your work better, easier and more rewarding.
Here's some gear I rely on when I'm close to home or in a far-off wild place:
I use MindShift, ThinkTank and LowePro brand backpacks for my fieldwork.
A MindShift Backlight 36L is my everyday bag. The Backlight's shoulder straps and hip belt are well designed. It has good interior space, lots of room for personal items like clothing and food separate from the camera gear and it meets most carry-on standards for domestic and international airlines.
To access the main gear compartment, lay the bag face down/straps up and unzip the back panel. This feature design keeps the straps and back padding clean when you're working in the field. It's a big reason for making the Backlight 36L my everyday photo backpack.
Before that, an early version of the LowePro ProTrekker AW backpack was my everyday bag. Now it's my wildlife backpack. With a few adjustments, the ProTrekker accommodates a 500mm lens, two bodies and a few other lenses when I'm primarily looking for wildlife. It's too big for some airlines as a carry-on, but it's backpack features make it good for a heavy load and a long walk.
A ThinkTank Airport Acceleration V2.0 is the backpack I choose for air travel with a smaller kit of lenses. It holds two bodies and the lenses I like for many photographic subjects and situations excluding a long telephoto lens. Its dimensions qualify it as a carry-on bag for air travel.
When I fly, I often use a Samsonite Compact Folding Luggage Cart for wheeling my pack around in the airport. It fits neatly in the outer pocket of the MindShift andThinkTank packs. And a ThinkTank Airport Check In briefcase for my laptop and travel necessities slips securely over the cart's handle and later over the handle of my rolling luggage.
When I need a shoulder bag for a quick stop on the road, for botanic gardens, for architectural photography, or for a short wander without a tripod, I put a body and few lenses in a Ruggard Navigator 55 shoulder bag. It's a well-made, unobtrusive, rectangular bag that conveniently handles the more minimalist situations.
Nikon D850 w/ MB-D18 battery pack
Nikon D500 w/ MB-D17 battery pack
-all w/ Really Right Stuff L-brackets
LENSES -- all Nikon/Nikkor
24mm f/3.5 PC-E Tilt/Shift
45mm f/2.8 PC-E Tilt/Shift
14-24mm f/2.8 AF-S
16-35mm f/4 AF-S
24-70mm f/2.8 AF-S
24-120mm f/4 AF-S
70-200mm f/4 AF-S w/ Kirk Enterprises tripod collar & quick-release plate
80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 AF-S w/ Kirk Enterprises tripod collar & quick-release plate
200-500mm f/5.6E AF-S w/ Kirk Enterprises tripod collar & quick-release plate
105mm f/4 macro
200mm f/4 AF D macro w/ Kirk Enterprises quick-release plate
300mm f/4 AF
500mm f/5.6 AF-S PF w/ Kirk Enterprises tripod collar replacement foot
500mm f/4 AF-I D w/ Kirk Enterprises long quick-release plate
Nikon 1.4X and 2X auto-focus teleconverters
Nikon circular polarizing filters
Lee Filters neutral density and graduated neutral density filters
B+W 10-stop neutral density filter
Filter-style close-up lens attachments: Nikon 5T and 6T, Canon 500D
Nikon electronic cable releases
Nikon SB-700 flash and sync cord
Walt Anderson's Better Beamer flash extender
Kirk Enterprises macro flash bracket
Manfrotto Lumimuse 3 LED photo light
Hoodman Compact HoodLoupe
Photoflex LiteDisc reflectors and diffusers
Pentax focusing rail: a rack-and-pinion design with twin rails
Kenko automatic extension tubes for close ups: 12, 20, and 36mm
Arca-style quick-release plates by Really Right Stuff and Kirk Enterprises
on all lenses that have tripod collars
Vello FreeWave Plus wireless remote shutter release
Foto Sharp's 30-inch Universal Camouflage "PRO" Camera Rain Cover
TRIPODS / BALL HEADS
My everyday tripod is the carbon fiber Gitzo G1325 with a Really Right Stuff
BH-55 ball head that has an Arca-style quick release. It's seated on a Really Right Stuff TA-3-LB leveling base that aids quick leveling of the ball head for making images for stitched panoramas.
For working close to the vehicle with the long, heavy 500mm lens, I still use a workhorse Gitzo G410 tripod with a Studioball ball head and an Arca-style quick release.
A Wimberley Sidekick SK-100 Gimbal Head Adapter converts each ball head into a gimbal head in a few quick steps. It's a light-weight way to make a good ball head a better platform for photographing birds and mammals in motion with lighter telephoto lens like the 200-500mm and the 500mm PF.
A Wimberley Head - Version II - WH-200 is a specialized gimbal tripod head for telephoto lenses. It's designed to support long, heavy lenses in a way that lets us track and photograph birds and animals.
When it's best to be quick and mobile, I choose a Gitzo GM4552L Monopod with a Wimberley MH-100 MonoGimbal Head. This combination is ideal for times when setting up a tripod will make you miss the action. I'm fond of it for supporting a Nikon 500mm PF and a Nikon 200-500mm, but it can handle a Nikon 500mm f/4 or a 600mm f/4, too.
Sandisk Extreme Pro 256GB and 128GB cards
Carried in Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket memory card wallets
Lexar Professional USB-3 Dual-slot Readers
Sony XQD/SD Dual-slot Reader
PORTABLE EXTERNAL HARD DRIVES (for backing up my work when I travel)
Western Digital 2 TB My Passport Ultra drives with USB-3 connections; in different colors for easy identification.
Sandisk Extreme 2 TB SSD solid state drives with USB-3 and USB-A connections.
DESKTOP COMPUTER MONITOR
NEC MultiSync PA243W -- a highly-regarded monitor with a 24-inch LCD screen that rotates easily from horizontal to vertical. With optional hood NEC HD2P2427. And dedicated display calibration sensor NEC MDSVSENSOR3 with Spectraview 2 software. Accompanied by a ViewSonic monitor for menu screens when working in Lightroom and Photoshop.
Dell XPS-15 9510 (read about it here in my JOURNAL)
For Nikon's information, news, and tips, visit: nikonusa.com
Find Think Tank bags and accessories with a free gift and a special offer when you CLICK HERE.
Check out Mind Shift Gear and accessories with a free gift and a special offer when you CLICK HERE.
View Lowepro packs and bags at: lowepro.com
Visit Really Right Stuff for tripods, ball heads, quick-release plates and camera brackets at: reallyrightstuff.com
Check Kirk Enterprise Solutions for specialized accessories, quick-release plates, lens collars & supports, camera L-brackets and ball heads: kirkphoto.com
Look into Wimberley gimbal heads, plates and flash brackets: tripodheads.com
See Lee Filters at: leefilters.com
Count on Roberts Camera for friendly service, price-matching & expert advice. They are my first choice for new and used equipment and the only place I sell my used gear. For new gear: robertscamera.com For used gear: usedphotopro.com
Go to B&H for the widest selection, good service & prices: bhphotovideo.com
Shop KEH for the widest selection of used equipment. They are trustworthy and they rate the state of the gear accurately and fairly. Go to: keh.com
Updated: August 2022