My equipment

Photographers like to talk about their equipment.  I like to think that owning and understanding equipment and technical stuff are prerequisites to the real job of creating images,  but they are just tools.  The hard stuff is to actually use your mind, your imagination and your heart to create images.  I don’t think writers spend time discussing the word processing or pen they use to write books with; or sculptors talk much about hammers and clay.  

My photo equipment has grown significantly in the last year or so, since I started taking my photography more seriously.  I use a Nikon DSLR camera and Nikkor lenses, for the most part.   Here is a some detail on the camera and lenses I use regularly:

Here is an update to my equipment list, dated Feb 2009.

  • Nikon D700 SLR and D300 cameras - these are the best cameras I have ever used, period.  The image quality is outstanding, and with the D700, low light photography gives stunning results.  I still have my D200 camera because I cannot let go of my serious serious DSLR.  All these cameras are excellent, but the D700 is going to be my main camera for a long time.
  • Nikon D200 DSLR  camera - this is a wonderful camera, with excellent build quality and sophisticated features, at a reasonable price.   This is the camera I use all the time.  When Nikon replaces this model with a new, more powerful camera, I will get it and keep my D200.
  • Nikkor 35-70mm f/2.8 lens - this is my workhorse in the studio.  I love the lens, it’s not too bulky,  it’s built like a tank and it’s sharp and beautiful.   It’s the lens I use most often.
  • Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 AF lens - this is a beautiful lens for portraits, it gives you beautiful bokeh and wonderful color.  I use this lens quite a bit too.
  • Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 - I love this telephoto zoom, it’s sharp, and produces beautiful images with a constant maximum aperture across the range.  This is an expensive lens that I cannot do without!  It’s great for portraiture.
  • Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 - the humble standard lens is a wonderful performer and I use it often in the studio, although the 35-70mm is my main lens.  I really enjoy working with this small and light lens.  And the price is right!
  • Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 DX - this is my travel and general purpose lens outside the studio.  I love its versatility and the quality of the images it produces is quite good.  A keeper even when I use professional lenses for most of my portraits.
  • Nikkor 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 DX - this is my travel and general purpose lens outside the studio.  I love its versatility and the quality of the images it produces is quite good.  A keeper even when I use professional lenses for most of my portraits.  While it doesn’t have the reach of the 18-200mm lens, which I sold, the image quality is excellent for the price.
  • Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 - this is my workhorse and I use it for portraits together with the 85mm f/1.4 and the 70-200mm f/2.8.  Just amazing lenses for great results.
  • Nikkor 35mm f/2 D - this is a little gem that I picked up used and I love it on my D700. I use it when I want to travel very light, but want the low light features and quality of a professional lens.  It’s super for street photography, travel and environmental portraits.

I also own a couple of speciality lenses that don’t get used nearly as much as the ones above - a Tokina 12-24mm f/4 wide angle zoom for fun and a Tokina 100mm macro f/2.8 just in case.   These two lenses are excellent for the money.  

I use Alien Bees monolights - these strobes are inexpensive, durable and easy to use.  While not the most portable lights, they can be easily carried in a suitcase without problems.  I have a number of modifiers including softboxes, light panels, grids, etc.  My lightstands are inexpensive ones from Amvona and other Ebay sellers, but they work reasonably well for my purposes.  A Sektronic 358 lightmeter is a must for the type of work I do.

My computer equipment is Windows-based, dual core, 2 Gb RAM and plenty of disk space.  I use an Epson R800 printer, which I love! I also have the following software: Nikon Capture NX, Adobe Photoshop, Nikon View, Capture One and Portfolio  8.   I use Epson Premium Lustre and Ilford Smooth Pearl papers.

I was shooting in a large room at home and more recently in the garage, because Stella got a piano for the kids and I don’t have much room anymore there.  The garage works ok, but it’s not air-conditioned for the summer, so I guess I will shoot on location when it gets hot in Dallas!

Here is my wish list:

  • Additional lights for detailed work
  • A carrying bag for my light stands, which can serve as a storage bag too. 
  • An Epson 3800 printer for large format prints - not too high on my list because I normally use a service like WHCC for large prints.