I’ve put this page together to provide info and answers to frequent photo gear questions. Rather than just an uninformative list, I’ve added some background to my photo gear and why or how I use it. I’ve also linked some of the kit to their manufacture’s websites. I buy all my photo gear from just a few retailers: Wildlife Watching Supplies, WEX Photographic, Park Cameras, Really Right Stuff and Amazon (I think you probably know the web address for this).
Cameras & Lenses
I’ve taken a considerable step (in 2018) into Medium Format territory with the incredible FujiFilm GFX50s with the FUJINON GF32-64mm F/4 wide-angle zoom and FUJINON GF110mm F/2 portrait lens. I’ve also invested in the EVF-TL1 Tilt and Swivel Adaptor for the GFX 50S viewfinder, enabling the whole viewfinder assembly to be reorientated. This adapter fits between the camera and the viewfinder, and affords a lateral (side-to-side) range of movement from +/- 45° and a vertical range of movement of 0-90° to suit eye-level shooting, from a variety of working angles.
For my photo safaris, I will borrow or hire the Nikon D850 and 400mm f/2.8 VR. It is essential that I can convey and articulate a shooting style that mirrors my clients. I cannot just sit in the front and shoot with the medium format. I need to have example images to show and discuss.
My trusty Gitzo 1325 Series 3 tripod accompanies me on almost every polar photo tour, but I simply don’t use it ‘on safari’ to East Africa. The Gitzo has travelled thousands of miles and has seen all conditions from the arid dust storms, to being submerged in caustic soda water or partially frozen in Antarctica.
I use a BENRO full gimbal head for the big glass and Really Right Stuff (RRS) BH-55 ball head for scenics and my medium format. All my lenses and camera bodies are fitted with RRS quick-release plates.
I needed something to support a 600mm while guiding Tiger tours, using the small Gypsy Suzuki jeeps in India. If I’m guiding, I can’t just throw my beanbag wherever I want. The Gitzo Carbon Monopod “Series 4” 6S gave me eye-level support from a fixed seated position. It worked a treat! The large base foot adds to the stability of the rig, with my gimbal bolted on top for manoeuvring a 600mm.
For shooting from my 4×4, I invested in an Eckla Eagle door support system. This is a precision-engineered platform for mounting long lenses on a car door, ideal for wildlife photography. It is extremely well-built and rugged. I mount my gimbal and telephoto on this and it remains rock-solid and very stable. I will probably invest in a Really Right Stuff levelling base to ensure a quick level on uneven terrain.
Photography Hides & Camo
Apart from a couple of cheap pop-up hides, my one-stop-shop for all my camo gear is Wildlife Watching Supplies. I have dome hides that have been out in the field for years and probably repaid their investment ten times over.
Camera Trap & Remote Cameras
I invested in a new rig for my camera-trap system which consists of a Nikon D3200 DSLR, Nikkor AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G lens, plus the Hähnel Inspire Wireless LiveView. As a camera-trap, I use the CamTraptions trigger. It’s simple to set-up and reliable. I used to use the advanced Trailmaster, but this is a really complicated set-up – perfect for researchers, but overkill for a fox or badger.
If I am on-site, I use the Hähnel Inspire as I can remain hidden away in a hide or even my vehicle (up to 100m away) while still being able to view the scene through the lens. I then have direct control over the shutter release, rather than relying on luck! To assess a new location before setting up the camera trap rig, I usually install a remote scout/trail camera with a PIR sensor to record all movement. This stays in position for a week so I have plenty of data to go on.
Lightroom Computing & Storage
When away from the office, I use an Apple Macbook Pro 15″ to review and edit images, storing them on Lacie 1TB Rugged firewire drives. The office workstation comprises of a high-spec 27″ iMac with an additional BenQ 24″ display. I use a variety of RAID hard drives to store my images including an 8TB G-technology G-RAID Thunderbolt drive to serve as a primary drive backed-up (via eSATA) to an 8TB 4-drive Netgear ReadyNAS 104 system.
I have only ever used SanDisk memory cards for the simple reason that I have never had an issue with them, unlike Lexar. So my reasoning is “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and am perfectly happy with the performance and reliability. As part of my back-up contingency planning, my hi-res images are also hosted online by PhotoDeck and Amazon S3 cloud storage.
Photo Gear Accessories
For camera-trap lighting, I use up to four Nikon SB-28 strobes controlled with CamTraptions wireless flash triggers and infra-red trap.
The Wimberley “Plamp” comes in very useful for holding flowers in breezy condition. It is normally clamped to my tripod or attached to a small fishing bank-rest which opens up the working distance for when I need to pull back from the subject.
I use this in conjunction with a home-made version of the Plamp to grasp a Lastolite reflector. My only gripe with this Wimberley product is it can be really noisy and squeaky – it’s good job plants don’t have ears.
Bags & Cases
To transport my gear around the world I use the Tenba Solstice 20L backpack, whereas previously everything was LowePro including the Vertex 300, LensTrekker 600 and Outback 200. For secure carriage in airplane holds and rough safaris, I also use a Pelican 1510 rolling hard case.