Monday, January 4, 2010

Gear Talk - What Do You Shoot With?

I get this question a lot from others who are curious as to what gear I used for a particular photo. So I thought I would share my gear list and little bit about how I got here:

Nikon D300 + Grip
Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8
Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 VRI
Nikkor 10-24mm f3.5-4.5
Nikkor 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 VRI
Nikon SB900

I switched to Nikon in mid 2009. Previously, I was shooting with a Canon Rebel XT and when it was time to upgrade I realized that I had a tough a choice to make, stay with Canon or move to another system. This was late 2008 after Canon had launched the 50D and I thought it would be a no brainer to go ahead and pick one up. I’m not an impulsive buyer and I like to research things before I buy. That’s when I started looking at the Nikon D300 as a comparison to the 50D.

Moving to another brand or system is not something to take lightly. Once you get more heavily into photography you realize that you’re essentially buying into system of lenses. Lenses, and I mean high quality glass, can get expensive. In most cases even more expensive than the camera body. In addition, lenses will only fit the brand they are made for (i.e. Nikon for Nikon, Canon for Canon etc). So, if you’re considering getting serious about photography this is something you will want to give serious thought to. Once you have a significant investment in glass, it makes it hard to switch. In addition, lenses don’t get upgraded at anywhere near the frequency of camera bodies so most, if not all photographers, stick with one system and maintain a cache of lenses and follow the camera body upgrade path.

A couple of factors that influenced my decision were not only did I want to upgrade the camera body, I also wanted to upgrade the lenses. That decision opened up my options to look more closely at both the 50D and D300. I finally decided on the Nikon. Not to be read as a slight against Canon, I loved my XT and I think Canon makes great cameras, it just came down to feature set and ergonomics and the D300 just felt better to me.

The main reasons I chose the D300 are:

  1. It felt better in my hands. I know it sounds corny but don’t rule this out as a key decision point. If you’re going to be holding a camera for any length of time, it better be comfortable in your hands.
  2. The ergonomics felt right. The buttons are laid out well and I like that I can access many of the camera’s functions without having to go into the menus which is a huge benefit for making quick changes.
  3. Nikon’s wireless Creative Lighting System or CLS. I think Nikon is leading the market with wireless flash. There are 3 main options for wireless flash: you can use the pop-up flash on the D300 as a commander to fire a remote (i.e. SB900/800), you can use the SB900 as a straight on flash, a commander unit to trigger other remote flashes or as a remote itself or you can use the SU800 commander to trigger your remote flashes. Oh yeah, all of this done with i-TTL and you can control all of your speedlights from whatever commander option you choose. It’s a pretty slick system.

So now it’s out, I’m a Nikon shooter. However, with all that being said it’s good to keep in mind that the overall objective of any photographer is to make a picture and there’s so much more to making pictures than the camera you use. It’s creative process from pre-capture to capture to post processing. The camera is just a tool that helps you achieve your objective and any camera can do that regardless of who makes it. Remember, the camera doesn’t make the picture, the photographer does.


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