Essential Gear for the serious
© 2008 John J. Lopinot
© 2008 John J. Lopinot
1. A sturdy, water-resistant camera backpack or bag, photographer’s vest and/or a fanny pack to hold the following items:
2. A Professional Digital Single-Lens-Reflex (SLR) camera body capable of automatic and manual exposure with a complete range of shutter speeds and apertures (f/stops). It should focus manually as well as automatically. It should have a depth of field preview button and the ability to change focusing screens. A motor drive should be built in or adaptable to the camera body. It should accept a wide range of lenses and have a hot shoe for TTL electronic flash photography.
3. Wide angle lenses: 16mm, 20mm; 24mm; 28mm, 35mm. Or a zoom lens to cover this range. Buy the fastest aperture you can afford.
4. Normal lenses: 50mm, 55mm, or 60mm with an aperture of f/2 or faster.
5. Macro lens for close-ups: 60mm, 105mm or 200mm.
6. Telephoto lenses: 85mm, 105mm, 135mm, 180mm; 200mm, 300mm, 400mm, 500mm, 600mm, 800mm, 1000mm. Or a zoom lens to cover some of these telephoto ranges. Buy the fastest aperture you can afford for each lens..
7. Teleconverter for the telephoto lenses listed above (1.4X or 2X). The 1.4X is considered the best (for quality of image). They multiply the lens focal length by a factor of 1.4 or 2. You also lose either 1 or 2 f/stops of light when using teleconverters.
8. Close up equipment: 2-element close-up lenses to attach to front of a zoom lens. Or use a specialty macro lens. Use extension tubes with fixed telephoto lenses for close-ups.
9. Filters to fit all of the lenses listed above:
a. UV or skylight filters (to protect front element of lens).
b. Polarizing filter (useful only when used at 90 degree angle to the sun).
c. Close-up lenses
10. Lens shades for all lenses if not built into lens barrel.
11. Lens cleaning equipment (solution, tissue, brush, micro-fiber cloth, etc.). If using a digital camera, CO2 pressure cleaning equipment and sensor swabs and solution for cleaning the CCD. An Arctic Butterfly dry cleaner works great, too.
12. Small set of tools (mini-screwdrivers, pliers, etc.).
13. Electronic Flash (TTL--Through-The-Lens preferred). This does not include a flash that is built into the camera. Also you need a TTL flash extension cable so the flash can be operated away from the camera body if your camera/flash combination does not have wireless TTL capability.
14. A Swiss-Army knife or Leatherman Tool.
15. A selection of Compact Flash Cards for your digital camera.
16. Locking cable release--mechanical or electrical. Wireless remote control.
17. Extra batteries for camera body, motor drive, flash or electronic cable release--whatever requires a battery.
18. Plastic Zip-Loc bags for protection of camera, lenses and film. Or a specialty raincoat for your camera and lens.
19. Pen and notebook. Or a small digital audio recorder to record your exposure information and to take notes.
20. Camera and flash instruction manuals.
21. Large plastic bag for kneeling on ground when taking close-ups of nature subjects. It can also be used to cover your camera bag in case of rain.
22. A sturdy tripod with ball head. The tripod should extend to ground level for taking flower and insect close-ups. Avoid tripods made with plastic parts.
23. A monopod and Bogen Super Clamp with small ball head.
24. A piece of 12 X 12 inch cardboard covered with aluminum foil or a commercial reflector--white, silver or gold.
25. A white translucent umbrella or piece of cloth to soften a harsh light source on close-up subjects.
26. Black cardboard to cover the lens during time exposures or to act as a lens shade.
27. A small AA MAG brand flashlight with a removable red filter (for night-time photography) or a new LED flashlight. A canteen of water, hat, sunscreen and bug repellent.
28. A canteen of water, hat, sunscreen and bug repellent.
29. A map or guide to the area you are photographing.
30. A compass or GPS unit (if you want to return to precisely the same spot). And so you don’t get lost while you’re concentrating on your subject! And a cell phone for emergencies.
31. A beanbag for shooting low to the ground.