What’s in the camera bag from assignment to assignment varies widely depending on the gig. These days pretty much all of my images are produced with high-resolution digital cameras, wicked fast computers and the latest in imaging software for the best possible image quality. I am very demanding on my gear and of it. I choose the latest and most advanced photographic equipment on the market to bring my images to life and when I find a new piece of gear that works more efficiently or better than what I am currently using I upgrade as soon as possible. Hence, this list of gear will always be in a state of flux.
Working with top-end suppliers is also a critical part of my business. To that end, I order the bulk of my equipment from B&H Photo & Video. B&H has an incredible amount of information on their website about each item they sell. Their website is not only a place to find gear but also a place to compare items, and see detailed specifications on each item you are considering. For your convenience, all of the items listed below contain links to the B&H website.
My main DSLR cameras these days, as you can see below are the Nikon D850 and the Nikon D4. I also have the incredible Hasselblad H5D 50c WiFi, a 50 MP medium format camera, for those situations where the best image quality is required. These are the best cameras I have ever shot with. The D850 in particular has unbelievable image quality and it also has the speed at 9 fps, with the addition of the Nikon MB-D18 battery grip, to be used as a bonified sports camera. The Nikon D4 is my workhorse action camera that can take a beating and still keep on firing no matter what the situation. For a full review of the Nikon D4 check out my Spring 2012 Newsletter. The Hasselblad H5D 50c has unbelievable image quality and produces 50 MP 16-bit image files that will far surpass any clients needs. It also produces stunning six-foot wide prints that are tack sharp from corner to corner. Click on the links or the images below for more information on each camera.
|Nikon D850||Nikon D4||Hasselblad H5D 50c Wifi|
When it comes to lenses, I work with the best possible lenses I can get, especially considering how demanding the Nikon D810 is on my lenses. Nikkor glass is well-known for its phenomenal clarity and image quality. Below is the complete list of lenses I own and use. My standard kit that goes with me on every assignment includes the 14-24mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses. With my 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom, I can add a 1.4x teleconverter, which will get me up to 280mm. One of my favorite focal lengths, and lenses for that matter, is the Nikon AF-S 24mm f/1.4G. It is a gorgeous lens and ridiculously sharp–it is also my go to lens for backlit situations where I want to create dramatic images. The 85mm f/1.4 Nikkor is my go to portrait lens and when I want that ultimate creamy bokeh I shoot wide open at f/1.4. When I need a longer reach, I use the the Nikkor 300mm f/4 PF lens, which is incredibly sharp and lightweight. If I need anything longer than that, I rent either the 400mm f/2.8 Nikkor or the 600mm f/4 Nikkor and use the 1.4X Nikkor teleconverter on those lenses as well to add versatility. On the wide end, the 16mm Fisheye is my secret weapon lens, especially when it comes to adventure sports. In addition to the Nikkor lenses, I also have a bevy of Hasselblad glass. The Hasselblad HC lenses are ridiculously sharp – much sharper than any DSLR lenses ever could be. From the Hasselblad HCD 24mm f/4.8 all the way up to the Hasselblad HC 300mm f/4.5, all of these lenses are tack sharp from corner to corner and offer a wide variety of focal lengths when working with the Hasselblad H5D system. They also have built-in leaf shutters that allow me to sync my strobes at shutter speeds up to 1/800th second. Click on the links or the images below for more information on each lens.
The following camera accessories are items I find critical to my work. Whether it is a Hoodman loupe, a Really Right Stuff camera plate (for mountain guy cameras to my KIrk Photo BH-1 ball head), or items for cleaning my camera sensor, these items are a key to making it all happen. Click on the links or the images below for more information on each item.
|Hoodman Loupe||Really Right Stuff Camera Plates||AquaTech SS-300 Rain Cover|
|OP/TECH USA 18″ Rainsleeve||Sensor Gel Stick||Eclipse Optic Cleaning Solution|
|Sensor Swab Type 3|
After much trial and error over the years, I have found B+W filters and Sign-Ray filters to be some of the best anywhere. As an adventure photographer, I tend to beat up my gear quite a bit, which is why all of my lenses have protective B+W UV filters on them and I always put the lens hood on my lenses to protect them from rocks, rain, mud and anything else that might damage the lens. I also replace all of my B+W filters every two or three years when they start to get scratched up. Click on the links or the images below for more information on each item.
Memory Cards and Card Readers
When choosing memory cards I opt for the most reliable cards possible. In general, that means I use SanDisk cards. They have never let me down. I also use the latest Sony XQD memory cards with my Nikon D4, which have also been very reliable. Using the fastest memory cards available is of paramount importance to my work so that I can maximize the number of images written to the memory card when shooting at high framing rates and when recording video. I know there are a lot of folks out there that don’t like the XQD format but they are smoking fast cards and easy to deal with. Downloading memory cards can also be a huge workflow time-suck. To download my images I use the fastest USB 3.0 card readers I can find. Click on the links or the images below for more information on each item.
Speedlights and Speedlight Modifiers
When I need to go light and fast but want to take a splash of artificial lighting with me I reach for the Nikon Speedlights. They are state of the art in terms of flash technology and they are quite powerful for their weight. Along with the Speedlights, I have quite a few lightweight light modifiers that help me sculpt the light on my subject. I use both Honl and LumiQuest modifiers and I also use Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries. Click on the links or the images below for more information on each item.
Strobes and Strobe Modifiers
Strobes, a.k.a. large flashes, are critical to my work. I use strobes to augment the lighting in both adventure images as well as portraits. Because I work outdoors 99.9% of the time, I rely on battery-powered strobes for all of my lighting. Elinchrom offers top-notch lighting gear and a variety of options when it comes to battery-powered strobes. I have chosen Elinchrom strobes because of their excellent build quality, weatherproofness, consistent light output and color temperatures and especially for their super-fast flash durations at full power. Elinchrom’s Hi-Sync (HS) flash technology, with their HS flash heads, also allows me to create never before possible images because I can overpower daylight from 60-feet away. Check out my Equipment Review page for a full review of much of this lighting gear. Also, if you want more information on how I use artificial lighting to enhance my images check out my in-depth e-book, Location Lighting for the Outdoor Photographer. Click on the links or the images below for more information on each item.
Wireless “radio” transceivers allow me to work untethered with all of my flash and strobe equipment. They also allow me to remotely trigger cameras, which for adventure sports photography can be the difference between getting the shot or going home empty handed. Since I use Elinchrom strobes, I naturally have their Skyport system. The Elinchrom Skyport Plus HS is my main go to transceiver when I am shooting with strobes. It allows me to trigger my Elinchrom strobes with my DSLRs at up to 1/8,000th second using the Elinchrom Hi-Sync technology and it also allows me to trigger my strobes with my Hasselblad H5D at up to 1/800th second. I use the old school PocketWizard Plus units to trigger remote cameras. If I had to do it over and just buy one system, I would go with the Elinchrom Skyport Plus HS. Click on the links or the images below for more information on each item.
|Elinchrom Skyport Plus HS||Pocket Wizard Plus Transceivers||PocketWizard Nikon 10-Pin Cable|
Grip Equipment, as it is known in the industry, is the stuff the holds your lighting gear and anything else required to lock down lighting gear. I have an odd assortment of light stands, clamps, grip arms and heads. I seem to be incredibly tough on light stands and grip equipment. I have gone through a dozen or more light stands over the last 15 years or so and finally have found the ones that are built well enough to withstand the abuse I seem to dish out. Hence, if you are looking for Light stands these are rock solid options that will put up with tons of abuse. Note that I don’t use C-Stands, which are the go-to light stand for studio use, because almost all of my shoots happen on uneven ground in remote corners of the globe. Click on the links or the images below for more information on each item.
Tripods and tripod heads are much more important than most people are aware of when it comes to critical image sharpness. When I started out I purchased a cheap tripod and tripod head. After a few years, I noticed that my images were not as sharp as I expected them to be. I realized that my tripod setup was severely lacking and the cause of unnecessary vibration. From then on, I vowed to track down the finest tripods and tripod heads I could find and not spare any expense when it came to supporting my cameras. A solid tripod system is not only a requirement for long exposures and landscape photography, but also for shooting sports with huge lenses. My search for the best tripods led me to Gitzo, who in my opinion, still make the finest tripods found anywhere. As far as tripod heads, I have a variety of different ball heads that I work with. I match the ball head with each tripod so that they work well for the weight of the camera and lens combination I will typically be using for that setup. I also have a Wimberley head, which is the ideal tripod head when shooting with huge telephoto lenses. And finally, I use Really Right Stuff camera and lens plates to attach my cameras and lenses to the tripod head. You can find a link to the really Right Stuff plates above in the Camera Accessories section. Click on the links or the images below for more information on each item.
|Gitzo GT5541LS Carbon Fiber tripod||Gitzo GT2541 Carbon Fiber tripod||Gitzo 1340 Aluminum Tripod|
|Gitzo GM5541 Carbon Fiber Monopod||Kirk BH-1 Ball Head||Wimberley WH200 Head (V2)|
|Acratech GP-s Ballhead with Lever Clamp||Really Right Stuff BH-30 Ballhead|
Camera and Lighting Bags
Getting my gear to the remote locations that I work in is always a challenge. Hence, I have a plethora of different bags for both my camera and lighting equipment. For the camera bags, I have been working with Lowepro for the past ten years and they have taken feedback from myself and others to create new bags that will work specifically for adventure sports photographers. For my lighting kits, I have several options including the fantastic Lightware cases, Pelican Cases and a few Lowepro options. I match the set of bags and cases I take with me to the assignment. If I am shooting in and around water, i.e. surfing, then I take the Pelican cases. If I will be hiking a long distance with my cameras then I take the Lowepro Whistler 450 AW or the Street and Field System. Click on the links or the images below for more information on each item.
As video productions have become more and more a part of my assignment work, I have added video equipment to my kit as needed. Here is a smattering of the video gear that I own and use with my DSLRs. Please note that I often rent a lot of the gear needed for video productions or the partners I work with bring it with them. I often work with Red Digital Cinema cameras for many of my video productions. Working with the heavier, larger format cameras, like the Red Epic and Red Scarlet, require an extensive kit well beyond the basics shown here. Click on the links or the images below for more information on each item.
Computers and Monitors
I rely heavily on my computers and monitors to produce images and video content. Since my university days, I have worked exclusively with Apple computers. They are the backbone of my digital workflow along with Eizo monitors. Eizo produces the top-end, most color accurate monitors anywhere and they are just as key to my digital workflow as the cameras and lenses I use. Lastly, I also use a Wacom tablet for my post-prodution and they are also indespensible. Click on the links or the images below for more information on each item.
|Apple Mac Pro||Apple Mac Pro Tower||Eizo ColorEdge CG243W Monitor|
|Apple CinemaDisplay||Apple MacBook Pro 15″ Laptop||Apple MacBook Pro 13″ Laptop|
|Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet|
While it may not seem as exciting as some of the other items here, hard drives and the systems I use to store my images are critical for preserving the content I produce. I have had many hard drives fail on me and I have lost an entire shoot save for the selects, which were sent to the client. Hence, I have learned the hard way just how important it is to have a solid backup system and how important it is to choose a reliable storage solution. All of my images are backed up no less than four times and two of those backups are off-site. I have found that the Other World Computing (OWC) products, especially the OWC Thunderbay 4 RAID enclosures with Thunderbolt 2 connections, to be the fastest, most robust and economically viable storage solution on the market for large amounts of data. I have also found G-Tech products (they are a subsidiary of Hitachi) to be very well made and an asset to my storage workflow. With over 60 terabytes worth of hard drives, I have used just about every brand out there. I trust my data to Seagate and Hitachi internal hard drives. Click on the links or the images below for more information on each item.
|OWC Thunderbay 4 24TB Array||OWC Thunderbay 4 HD Array||G-Tech G-Dock|
|G-Teck G-Drive ev 220||G-Tech G-Drive ev||G-Tech G-Drive ev RAW 1 TB SSD|
|Seagate Barracuda 6TB Hard Drive||Seagate Barracuda 3TB Hard Drive|
Printers and Accessories
I have owned both Epson and Canon printers at one time or another. My current printers are both Epsons and they are phenomenal printers. I have the Epson 3880 and the 9880. If I could recommend one printer it would be the Epson 3880. I have never used any other printer that is so easy to use and with which excellent results are so easy to achieve. So, if you are looking for a top-end 17-inch printer, look no further. For larger prints, the Epson 9880 is an incredible printer. It can print images up to 44-inches wide and because of its size it requires a fair bit of room. It looks like an upright piano in my office. It too is relatively easy to use and produces stunning results. The updated version of the 9880, the Epson 9900 is even slightly better. As for papers, I have tried a wide range of papers and have found Ilford’s baryta and fine art papers to be my favorite. Ilford’s Gold Fibre Silk and Gold Cotton Textured are my two mainstay papers. When I need to proof an image to check colors I use Epson’s Proofing Paper Semimatte. Click on the links or the images below for more information on each item.
Color Management Tools
Solid color management is the backbone of everything in the digital photography world. Without these tools my images would not reproduce with accurate colors and tones. Along with my monitors and printers, these tools allow me to work up my images with confidence knowing that the color is accurately displayed. I have used just about every X-Rite device they make and the i1 Photo Pro 2 is the best I have ever used. With it I can make bang on monitor profiles and printer profiles so that my prints match my monitor dead on. The Just Normlicht viewing box is also a critical piece of the puzzle to make sure I am viewing my images under accurate lighting. And finally, I use Solux bulbs in my office to make sure the lighting is not throwing off my ability to accurately judge color. Click on the links or the images below for more information on each item.
|X-Rite i1 Photo Pro 2||X-Rite ColorChecker Passport||Lastolite EzyBalance Grey Card|
|JUST ColorMaster CM3 Viewing Box||Solux Task Lamp||Solux Bulbs|
Below are a mishmash or odds and ends that come in handy when working up images, giving presentations, keeping my cords organized, taking light readings, etc. I use quite a few of the Adobe applications included in the Adobe Creative Cloud like Photoshop, Lightroom, InDesign, Acrobat, Premiere Pro, After Effects and so forth. Adobe products are a key element of my workflow. I might also be one of the few people on earth that actually uses a light meter when working with strobes and flash equipment. I find it more accurate and easier to get great results right off the bat when using a light meter. Finally, Red Bull helps me get stuff done and it helps me deal with the long hours out in the field or in the office. Click on the links or the images below for more information on each item.
|Adobe Creative Cloud||Epson PowerLite 1776W Projector||Sekonic LightMaster Pro L-478DR-U-EL|
|Lastolite Tri-Grip Reflectors||Lastolite Collapsible reflector||Dot Line AA Battery Case|
|Velcro Fastener Straps||Red Bull Energy Drink|