My first camera was a Nikon FM2. I paid extra to get the all black body.
Things have changed a lot since then, though. These days, I only use digital cameras. They’re great because the feedback is instant, allowing me to experiment a little more than I might with film.
The downside is that the equipment is more expensive, and digital files are costly to archive. The other problem with digital is that there is no surefire way to store the images. The only way to be absolutely certain you’ll be able to view an image in twenty years or more is to transfer it to paper or film.
Whether it’s film or digital, you need to be prepared for the worst. Equipment can and does fail, and there’s nothing worse than having to cancel a shoot because your gear isn’t working.
I always carry more than one camera body, more than one lens, more than one battery and more than one charger. It makes for a lot of extra baggage, but better that than a missed opportunity. When traveling by air, I take the minimum I need to hit the ground and start shooting in a carry-on. That way if my checked baggage is lost, I can still accomplish the mission.
A typical field setup includes the following:
- Nikon D4 Camera Bodies
- Nikon D3 Camera Bodies
- Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED AF-S Nikkor Wide Angle Zoom Lens
- Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S Nikkor Wide Angle Zoom Lens
- Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S Nikkor Zoom Lens
- Nikon 200-400mm f/4G AF-S SWM SIC ED IF VR II Nikkor Super Telephoto Zoom Lens
- Nikon 600mm f/4.0G ED VR II AF-S SWM Super Telephoto Lens
- Nikon 60mm f/2.8G ED AF-S Micro-Nikkor Lens
- Nikon 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor Lens
- Nikon TC-14E II (1.4x) Teleconverter
- Nikon TC-20E III AF-S 2x Teleconverter
- Extension Tubes
- Nikon SB-800/900 AF Speedlight
- Nikon SB-600/700 AF Speedlight Flash
- Gitzo Tripod
- Kirk BH1 ball head
- Wimberly head (for large lenses)
- Really Right Stuff mounting plates
- Gold/Silver Reflector
- Amber Gel
- Lowepro Pro Rolling Backpack
- Lowe Pro Belt Pack
With digital comes computers:
- Compact Flash Cards
- Card Wallet
- Macbook Pro
- Portable hard drives (at least 3) for backup and shipping images
- Photo Mechanic (a program to facilitate editing images)
- SanDisk Firewire 800 card reader
- Wolverine Card Reader/Storage Device — just in case the laptop crashes
Specialized gear includes
- PocketWizard PLUS II Transceivers
- Trailmaster trigger beam system
- Underwater housings
- Underwater flashes
In studio setups, Joel uses the following equipment:
- Dynalite Mk8-1222 Kit
- Photoflex Extra Small LiteDome
- Photoflex Small LiteDome
- Photoflex Medium LiteDome
- Photoflex OctoDome
- A variety of background materials, stands, clamps, and other accessories
In most cases, we use Photoshop only for basic “traditional darkroom” functions like cropping, color correcting, spotting out dust and so forth.