Cameras, Lenses, and Gear
Equipment selection is often a battle between efficiency and necessity. A natural inclination towards a lightweight, simple gear selection can be overshadowed by a need for the precise tool for the job. I’ve included some links to the cameras and gear that I actually use in the field. There are, of course, many options out there. I often shop on Amazon.com because their website is easy and efficient to use and free shipping can result in savings. I also buy directly from www.bhphoto.com and have included links to purchase from them if that is the store of your choice. If you want to support a smaller company, consider www.tallyns.com, they are a Canon dealer and can often deliver the same products although sometimes shipping fees may increase the price. I also shop for other gear at www.kinesisgear.com, www.reallyrightstuff.com.
The Really Right Stuff TVC 33s Series 3 tripod is my current and favorite tripod when I need the height. It works in very cold temperatures, which is critical for me. If you are doing work in subzero temps, this tripod is hard to beat, and I’ve tried a bunch. It is expensive.
- For most of my career I owned Canon’s 1D and 1Ds series cameras, but with the advent of the Canon 5D Mark III, I find sufficiency for what I do in the 5D version. The loss of frame rate is a slight compromise and occasionally something I miss, but most of my work does not require excessive frame rate.
- Canon 5d Mark IV
30MP full frame sensor DSLR, lightweight option.
To complement the cameras I use a variety of common and special
purpose lenses, including:
- Canon 11-24mm f/4L
- Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF
A well priced alternative wide angle prime for shooting aurora borealis and super wide landscapes.
- Nikor 14-24mm f/2.8 with Canon mount adaptor
Super sharp, a little odd to operate, but worth the quality – a target lens for aurora
- Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8
Good alternative to the Nikon 14-24 since it has exif and autofocus functionality
- Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Manual Focus
A very expensive lens, but superb optical quality. The manual focus allows just turning the lens barrel to infinity and it is in focus, a huge bonus for aurora borealis photography.
- Canon 16-35mm F/2.8L II
This photographer’s staple has many uses. Its wide angle of coverage is perfect for many scenic and landscape photos. Outstanding optical performance, even wide open, makes it a favorite lens for aurora photography, where any optical defects will be made more obvious.
- Canon 16-35mm f/4L IS
- Rokinon 24mm F/1.4
A much cheaper alternative to the Canon version, and very similar in quality at f/1.4
- Canon 24-105mm F/4L Image Stabilized
- A good lens for overall midrange shooting, but vignettes strongly. The versatility of range makes it a winner.
- Canon 70-200mm F/4L Image Stabilized
A lightweight alternative to the f/2.8 version.
- Canon 70-200mm F/2.8L Image Stabilized
Speed and great handling make this a wonderful lens for large wildlife that is approachable. It’s large aperture and
image stabilization make low light photography possible without a tripod.
- Canon 100-400mm F/4.0L II Image Stabilized
Very versatile zoom range
- Canon 100mm F/2.8 Macro II lens
Allows subjects as small as one inch tall to fill the frame. The 100mm focal length provides longer working distance to avoid shadowing (or scaring!) the subject
- Canon 200-400mm f/4L IS
Versatile but heavy
- Canon 400mm F/5.6L
Extremely sharp and lightweight
- Canon 500mm II F/4 IS
Another optical marvel, this massive lens is often used for Arctic wildlife, often with a 1.4x and sometimes a 2x extender.
- Canon 1.4x III and 2.0x III Teleconverters
Tripods and Mounts
All of this gear must be securely anchored to prevent vibration and soft photos.
- Really Right Stuff TVC-33 Versa Series 3 Tripod: My large carbon fiber tripod. Light but durable and works well in the cold weather conditions. I use the Kirk BH-1 Ballhead with this tripod.
- For lighter weight gear, I use a smaller Gitzo G1227 carbon fiber tripod with a Kirk BH-3 ballhead.
- Super lightweight Gitzo Trip: GT0541 carbon fiber-1.7lbs with a Really Right Stuff BH25 Mini Ballhead
- Canon 600 EXRT flashes
- Chimera mini soft boxes
- Canon wireless flash system