I get asked about the equipment I use fairly often, so I put together a general list of all the important stuff in my tool box/bag. Yes, I call them tools because that is exactly what they are. Just like any other artistic device, they are simply tools.
Camera & Lenses
I’m not going to go through every little, obscure item, just the equipment that I use most. My first camera was hand-me-down Canon AE-1, I still own my trusty 35 mm, and enjoy creatively experimenting with film from time to time. The first DSLR I used was a Nikon D80 and the kit lens that came with it, a 18-135 mm. Since then I have continued with Nikon, slowly upgrading and adding to my system as my needs change.
- Nikon D7100 – This was a brand new model when I got it, and is what I had when I was introduced to aviation. It still works just fine, although by now it looks a bit rough around the edges, but I think that adds character.
- Nikon D500 – This is a serious workhorse of a camera, I love and will still highly recommend.
- Nikon Z6 – This was both my first full frame and first mirrorless camera. Because this camera uses the same operating system as the rest of the Nikon clan, it was surprisingly easy to adapt to.
- Nikon Zfc with Kolari Full Spectrum conversion – This was something totally different and out of the box, having the ability to record light beyond the visible spectrum that we see. I talk about it with greater detail in a blog post here.
- Nikon FTZ lens adapter – If you don’t know, this adapter allows me to use the current F-mount lenses in my tool kit on the spiffy new Z-mount cameras. Most of these lenses did require firmware updates, but the adapter is really what makes them usable.
- Tamron 18-400 mm – A great general purpose lens, I got this one as a replacement for my Nikkor 70-300 which came to me slightly used by a friend and mentor (the “Dean of Alligator Wrestling” himself), Tim Williams. This Tamron has worked out surprisingly well, and I have come to rely on it quite a bit. Some of my work with it was featured in Tamron’s eNewsletter here. This lens actually had a bit trouble after Sun ‘n Fun 2022, but to be fair, it has been through a lot. But Tamron is awesome, I sent the lens back to them, they cleaned and fixed it up just like new.
- Tamron 150-600 G2 – As one might expect, this lens is great for wildlife photography, but has also been a workhorse with aviation. In another two posts with Tamron, I talk more about how I use it.
- Tamron 15-30 – This lens was given to me by Tamron and I admit to being a bit skeptical at first. But it has definitely grown on me, and has actually become one of my favorite lenses. It’s spectacularly sharp, and is my go to for anything wide angle.
- Tamron 35mm – A prime lens, this one is very sharp, and the lens I use most in combination with my filters for long exposures and infrared.
- Nikkor 24-70 – This is the kit lens that came with my Nikon Z6, but actually use it more with the full spectrum Zfc, because it handles filters really well.
- Nikkor 28 mm prime – Only my second native Z lens. I haven’t use it much yet, but that will change.
Tripods, Filters, and Remotes
- Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Tripod – I chose carbon fiber mainly because it reduces weight, which is especially helpful when I am out hiking.
- Manfrotto XPRO Geared Tripod head – This thing is pretty awesome. I am constantly making micro adjustments, and this handles them well, and does not slip the way every ball head I’ve used has done!
- Benro Travel Tripod – Smaller and lighter than my Manfrotto, this is what use when I need to pack light.
- Platypod Max – For when I really need to be mobile.
- Acratech Panoramic Tripod Head – This is paired with my Platypod.
- Benro Smart 360 Rotating Plate – A quick release plate that fits both Manfrotto and Arca Swiss mounts is surprisingly useful.
- KES L bracket – a sturdy L bracket designed specifically to fit the FTZ adapter.
- Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote – I love this remote, it’s taken quite a beating, having been immersed in water, dirt, sand, etc. (never on purpose, I swear!) However, it’s only compatible with my Nikon D7100.
- Triggertrap Cable Release – Although this one is outdated, it’s still easily works with the smartphone app.
- Miops Smart+ Camera Trigger & Capsule 360 – This is one that I am still learning all the details on, as I have only had it short time. It can be used on it’s own, or in conjunction with a smartphone app.
- Hoya Filter – Because sometimes, I want to protect my lens.
- Lee Filters – Something I really enjoy with my artwork, is taking time and slowing down, and doing long exposure photography allows me to do that. Currently, I own their Big Stopper, a few ND graduated filters, and their Landscape Polarizer.
- Kolari Vision 550 nm Infrared Filter – for use with my full spectrum camera
- Kolari Vision 850 nm Infrared Filter – for use with my full spectrum camera
- Kolari Vision 720 nm Infrared Filter – for use with my full spectrum camera
- Cleaning Cloth – Whatever brand you care to use, always remember these.
- Solar Battery Back Up – For when I’m not anywhere near an outlet.
- Garmin GPS Unit – Because I really, really, really, don’t like getting lost!
- Water Pack – I experienced dehydration once, it’s not fun. Seriously, drink lots of water!
- Macbook Pro – I’m not fancy. I do my editing on 13″ laptop at the moment.
- Adobe Photoshop – There are a great many options available, and eventually I will learn more of them. But right now I just use what I am comfortable with.
- Topaz Labs Plugins – Topaz Labs has a variety of Photoshop plugins, I use for various projects as needed.