My basic kit

My not so pretty Nikon D800

What I shoot with and why…?

So we could have the old argument Nikon vs Canon, Holden vs Ford or Mercedes vs BMW. The reality is we all have our personal preferences. When someone asks me about what type of camera they should buy my first question is usually budget. If money is no object there is no shortage of cameras or gear but on a tight budget there are less options and really what can you afford to start with. Recently I helped a friend buy his daughter her first DSLR. Canon had some crazy runout deals on the 1100D, nothing else came close price wise so that was an easy decision.

For me my specialty is landscapes and more specifically travel and landscapes. So my gear needs to be portable and of the best quality I can afford. For me personally that is the Nikon D800. Between it and its twin the D800E and new successor the D810, they are arguably the best DSLRs on the market for landscapes.

The clips on the Leash are easy to disassemble and pull together under load not apart.

I used to be scared of the massive files it produces - nearly 40 megabytes each! Yeah they're big but really good file management, with a bit of culling and it isn't an issue. But what I do love is that I can crop, sometimes brutally and still end up with a quality image I can reproduce at almost any size. Not many cameras can do this well.

When you look at my D800s (I have a pair) you will think they don't look like much. They are covered in black gaffer tape, the Nikon, D800 and a few other distinguishing features are hidden. Why? How often are you comfortable to walk around with a few thousand dollars in cash in your pocket or worse dangling off your body? Add a foreign city or country into the mix... are you still comfortable? OK, how about wearing enough cash to feed half a dozen families for a year? You get the picture.

I'm not one for wearing brands anyway but I make my cameras look not worth stealing (and better to hit up the other tourist with the neck strap that says Nikon D800 or Canon 5D MkIII). Speaking of straps, I don't use the Nikon one embroidered with the D800. For a couple of reasons. Actually, its' not that comfortable, not easily adjustable and almost impossible to take off quickly.

When I shoot landscapes on a tripod, the weather is usually less than ideal, in fact to a point the worse the weather the better the potential shot. In the wind the camera strap is like a sail that flaps around. Being able to take it off quickly and easily is important.

The Peak Design Leash up against the original Nikon strap

I've found the Peak Design Leash really fits the bill for me. It is easily adjustable, I have three different anchor points on my camera which have their own strengths and weaknesses depending on how I am using the camera. The nature of the Leash is that the pieces lock together when pressure is applied not the opposite as is the case in some other systems.

The funny thing with the Leash is that the strap is less than half the width of the standard Nikon strap but its more comfy. The webbing is like a smaller version of a seat belt in a car and conforms better to your body. Even when I am loaded up with a camera and lens combo that is almost 3kg it is comfy.

Finally for my landscapes I tend to use my Nikkor 20mm 2.8 lens. This lens while new is an old design, its tough, small and light. Most importantly it produces great images. There are few options as wide as 20mm and NONE are even close to being as small, light or durable.

So thats a bit about my gear, there is more in my kit that I carry every day. Next time we will look at some more, but if I had to run out the door with something 90-95% of the time it will be the D800 with the 20mm on the front.

Yours in fine art,

 

John