Making a good photograph is often less about which model of camera or lens you choose and more about what technique 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, Think Tank 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 Pro Trekker AW backpack was my everyday bag. It handles two camera bodies and all the lenses and accessories I need for the subjects and scenes I like to explore.
With a few adjustments, the Pro Trekker 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 now, but it's backpack features make it good for a heavy load and a long walk.
A Think Tank 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 Think Tank pack. And a Think Tank 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 wandering without a tripod, I put a body and few lenses in a Ruggard Legion 45 Messenger Bag. It's a well-made, unobtrusive 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
45mm f/2.8 PC-E Tilt/Shift
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 with extension tubes
200mm f/4 AF D macro
300mm f/4 AF
500mm f/4 AF-I D
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.
Sandisk Extreme Pro 256GB and 128GB cards
Carried in Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket memory card wallets
Lexar Professional USB3 Dual-slot Readers
PORTABLE EXTERNAL HARD DRIVES (for backing up my work when I travel)
Western Digital 2 TB My Passport Ultra drives with USB3 connections; in different colors for easy identification.
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.
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 B&H for good selection, service & prices: bhphotovideo.com
Go to Roberts Camera for friendly service, price-matching & expert advice: robertscamera.com
Updated: May 2021