My workhorse. It is big, heavy, imposing and takes the most amazing low noise shots out of any camera out there!
Pushed at High ISO.
First project was a gig with 4 bands. I had the D3 with the 70-200mm attached. I went straight in with an ISO of 6400, 1/200 and the results were amazing! Click to see a sample shot, unedited. As the evening got on I started to feel the combined weight of D3 and big lens. The shots just got better as i was becoming more familiar with the layout of the buttons which have noticeable differences to the D300's buttons; the most obvious are the ISO, Quality and White Balance are at the bottom of the back panel below the 3 Inch viewer. Click to see what I mean.
Use with SB-800 Flash
The following day was taking photos of a birthday party. The lighting levels were low so I took out my flash unit and attached it to the D3. I can lower the ISO levels because the light will come from the flash. Again the D3's fast focusing and 51 point focal targeting meant I rarely miss a shot. It adapted well to the changing light conditions and even managed to get great shots of the fireworks!
This will is main camera body because of it's speed, quality, performance and ease of use. It allows me to shoot without thinking and let me be creative without having to fumble around technology. It truly is the best DSLR ever made.
This Nikon D300 is my workhorse. It offers unbelievable performance with the rapid 51 point focusing in any lighting conditions; it's focusing speed was made very apparent when using a D80 and a D40x in recent shoots; those body's just cannot adjust quick enough to the action. The ISO delivery has only been surpassed by Nikon's flagship D3 and the recently released D700. ISO is crucial when shooting in low light conditions. A flash is great when you need to control light, but it is ALWAYS preferable to capture the natural light wherever you are. The D300 allows me to shoot up to a useable 1600. Some of my peers believe ISO 3200 is usable but I would not use it even in desperate conditions. i would prefer to lower decrease my shutter speed.
In terms of Nikon's DX class, this is the best you can get. The FX class, which is a full framed 35mm sensor, is only available on the D3 and the D700. The most noticeable side effect is some cropping when using none DX lenses, but this really will not effect you unless you are looking for the crop.
If you notch down the quality to High quality JPG then you can shoot the machine gun rate of 7fps. I often go to this mode when I'm shooting bands that are very animated. I sacrifice NEF quality (Nikon's RAW mode) by doing this but it is more than worth it to get the right pose from the bands.One final comment has to go to the D300's weight and usability. The menu system is faultless if you consider just how many options there are.
NIKON D40X (retired)
Now as a professional you may be wondering why I am using this baby camera; I bought it as a travel camera while I was backpacking around South East Asia & Australia. Since then I have kept it because having two cameras is far better than having one.
I use it to attach one of my fast lenses on it. This is a perfect example of why it is the lens that you should be investing in more than the camera bodies. When I put my fast F2.8 lenses on this very simple SLR I can get some stunning shots. The D40x makes you work harder for sure; the focusing is slower, the ISO noise is unusable over 800 and it you have to use the slower SD Card format which means you have a smaller shooting buffer as well as a slower frame per second. BUT after all this gives me the flexibility to have two lenses at a shoot without having to swap halfway through.
This is my lens of choice for gig photography. It has the focal range which is perfect for group shots and dramatic stage angles during gigs, but then it rapidly becomes a tight facial or instrument shot. For weddings, the speed and range becomes apparently when trying to fit in large groups and crowds, and then it is an lens for the intimate close ups for smiles, eyes, joy and the details that only a wedding can bring.
It may sound strange, but the reason why the 24-70mm is so good is because I have this 70-200mm in my arsenal as well. This lens by itself would not be flexible enough to capture a wedding or gig because of the limited wide angle range, but by leaving the wide business to the 24-70 it means I can use it as a powerful zoom lens and not worry about positioning for wide shots. The detail this lens can capture is simply stunning. it is a formidable piece of equipment in both weight and size. it will make your hands ache after a few hours of use! Also because of its VR capabilities, I can shoot a few stops lower or a lower shutter step which gives me a whole new set of options when shooting in low light conditions.
Lowe pro Slingshot 300 bag
I cannot come up with a better description to beat the manufacturers own description.
"Perfect for photojournalists, the SlingShot 300 AW uses a unique sling design to go from "carry mode" to "ready mode" in just seconds. Carried comfortably on the back, it easily rotates to the front to get to your camera quickly"
I had not noticed this lens before until it was brought to my attention by a photography friend. I did some research and bought it a few hours later. it is incredibly fast, very light (so it can fit in most pockets) and it is DAMN cheap! I love this lens because it makes you work much harder; it's fixed focused so it means YOU have to move into the right position and distances from the subject, the F1.8 gives an incredible shallow focusing field so you need to work hard to make sure the subject you are capturing is sharp and finally because it has no internal focusing motor it won't work with the D40 range of SLRs so you have to manually focus. HOWEVER, this is the lens that is the most fun to use. The F1.8 is so fast that you will almost never need a flash with this attached, the Depth of Field gives you some creative shots which are harder to achieve on the bigger lenses and did I mention it is very cheap. A quick check with Amazon.co.uk brings up a price of £80 ($140US)
The fisheye was a hard purchase to justify for me. Because it is such a niche lens I did not know how often i would use it. My purchase is more than justified. it allows me shots that I would NEVER achieve with any other type of lens, and used properly in crowd, group, landscapes and even detailed shots it really opens up a world of creativity that is completely unique to this lens.
I had not heard of this lens until I was looking through a store in Sydney. The focal range in incredible; to go from super wide to a tight zoom in one lens was new to me. As a travel lens I do not believe there is anything better. While backpacking day to day you could be in any situation that is almost impossible to plan for photographically, so by having this utility lens you have maximum freedom to shot what I want. For darker situations in a professional job I would be reluctant to use it because of the slow glass inside. A F3.5 simply is not fast enough for indoor shooting or gigs without using a flash. i would rather use my F2.8 lens in those circumstances.
Nikon SB-800 Flash Units (x2)
Very useful to have. Do not believe for a second that you do not need to invest in Flash units. I only use them 30-40% of the time but when i do use them I am always thankful they can bale me out of a badly lit situation. They also give you creative options as well. This shot of Rob from Slashed Seat Affair was achieved by placing a SB-800 to one side of him an triggering the flash remotely using a Pocket Wizard.
I have 6 CF (compact flash) cards for my D300; a 16gb and 4gb Sandisk Extreme 3. These are more expensive than standard cards because they allow the camera to write files much quicker. Without these i would be waiting constantly for the camera to record the shots onto card. I shoot fast, so I need my equipment to keep up.