Suggestions on Gear & Accessories

The following information on gear and accessories is based solely on what I have found works for me. I have a small “store” of gear that didn’t work for me. All of my suggestions are based on real world experiences in the field. I wish I had guidance when I was buying my kit. I would have saved a lot of money!

Although these suggestions can seem expensive at first, I can definitely state that if you are serious about getting into outdoor (or any) photography, you are far better off waiting until you can afford the best gear you can buy. Otherwise, you’ll wind up spending twice the amount on gear in trial and error.

 

Really give time and consideration to your usage plans. If you are travelling or hiking, then of course consider weight etc… Otherwise make it rock solid and bulletproof.

Lastly, I have no financial affiliation with any of the companies mentioned. Simply I have found the companies to be reliable and professional.

leica1 1

Camera

This is the one item that I will not make a recommendation on brand or type. Unless you have unlimited funds try and pick a brand that you like and will stay with for a while. That way you can change camera bodies but still use the same lenses.

The old saying is true: Invest in the lenses!

  • Lens interchangeability – A camera that you can use many diverse types of lenses to suit your needs is particularly important.
  • ISO – Evaluate the camera’s high ISO quality. A good high-quality ISO image means you can photograph in low light conditions. Look for one that will give you the cleanest possible image using 6400 ISO. Don’t just go for the advertisement that it goes to 51200 ISO. Someday maybe you’ll get a fantastic image at that high of an ISO setting but not yet.
  • Speed – For fast action look for a high shutter speed of 8000/th of a second or better. Fast-focusing and number of images per second are equally important. The higher the better for stop-action images for sports and wildlife. If you shot only static scenes then the latter two specs are not as important, however, I have found a fast shutter speed is always handy.

NOTE: As time goes by, I personally believe simple is better. For me, I only want a Full-Frame Sensor, 24-30 or so MP, fast frames per second 10+, a shutter speed of 8000+, and most importantly a clean high ISO of 6400+

Don’t fall for automatic in-camera editing etc… you’ll be processing in Photoshop or some other software.

I’m no control freak but I want to control my own art…

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Tripod

Next to your camera/lens purchase I would say this is of the highest importance. Think about it…does a tripod simply act as a third hand? NOPE! It is meant to be the most rock-solid platform you can have for your camera!

Yes, I know there are exceptions especially if you must lug it around hiking or when travelling on airplanes etc… but even so find the most stable platform possible for your purpose. And don’t go cheap! I have a box full of mistakes here…

  • Carbon fiber – more expensive but usually less vibration prone and rigid than aluminum.
  • Sections – Less is more when it comes to strength & rigidity.
  • Maintenance – Realize you must take care of it. Ask about it and look at the owner’s manual. Most are not at all difficult to dismantle but if it is at least consider that before you buy.

KIRK BH1 e1496242430740

Head

For landscape/outdoor work hands down my choice is a Ball Head rig. Again, a solid platform is paramount here. I always say, “you don’t want to put bicycle tires on a Ferrari!” Same goes here. I use Arca-Swiss style heads and clamps. The design uses big balls and big clamps. I can’t tell you enough that when you set your camera and then tighten the ballhead clamp – you don’t want the camera to sag from where you aimed it.

I have several other types of heads…want to buy one? Enough said.

Kirk Clamp

Clamps

The interface between your camera and the tripod/head. Again, I like the Arca-Swiss style clamps. The design is a rail that corresponds between what’s on the camera and what’s on the tripod/head. The Arca-Swiss style put pressure all along the interface surface. Again rock-solid.

You can get these mounts as simple plates for your camera and your long lenses. I use an L-Bracket on each of my cameras. These are of the Arca-Swiss design and allow me to quickly change from horizontal to vertical camera settings without changing my nodal point. (Nodal point – Google it…)

In my most humble opinion…STAY AWAY FROM ANY QUICK RELEASE SETUP!

The time will come where it will quickly release your expensive gear onto the ground…if you really must have a quick release – get camera insurance, you’re going to need it.