For my first entry in this blog I figured I’d give a brief rundown of the equipment I use. As a gadget geek myself I always love to know the sort of equipment others use although I know camera gear should come secondary to capturing the image. Both of my two cameras are old now by digital standards. I have not replaced them simply because they are still extremely good and I would rather invest money into superior lenses than having an additional 4 or 5 more megapixels. There are too many good cameras falling victim to incremental camera upgrades. Anyway, that’s enough of an introduction.
Nikkor 18-200mm f3.5 - f5.6
Nikkor 35mm f1.8
Sigma 70-200 f2.8
Sigma 50mm f2.8 (Macro)
Sigma 10-20mm f4 -f5.6
The Nikon is the workhorse. It can be relied upon for pretty much any type of photograph as the range of lenses allow it to be as versatile as possible.
The Nikkor 18-200mm is great for general shooting. If I need to travel “light” but don't know what kind of scene I'll be photographing this is a safe bet, especially outdoors.
For work where low light is a given the Sigma 70-200mm is a great all rounder as that f2.8 aperture makes things that much easier in poor light. I supplement this with the Nikkor 35mm f1.8 lens for a wider view in low light. The f1.8 aperture means it leaves in over twice as much light as the 70-200mm.
The Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens is used relatively rarely and is really only for large landscape work.
The Sigma 50mm f2.8 macro lens is great for those close-up details but also doubles as a nice portrait lens. Someday I may replace it for a lens with a longer focal length but for now this lens produces some lovely results
Leica 35mm f1.4 Summilux
Voigtlander 75mm f1.8 Heliar Classic
To many (including myself) Leica is as close to photographic royalty as they get. They practically invented 35mm photography and their range of M "rangefinder" cameras have changed very little in appearance and simplicity since the 1950s. These wonderful photographic instruments are combined with some of the best glass that has ever been produced to allow for images that have a distinctive signature all of their own. When I began learning digital photography my camera had few menu options or customization. After a while I thought that I needed more. More buttons, more controls, more dials, more menu options. The M is the very opposite. Select shutter speed and aperture. That's it. Forget special effects or multi-exposures. It has been a revelation for me. I know that Leica has its critics and some cannot warm to the charms of an M but for me it as close to analogue photography one can get in digital form. The 35mm Summilux lens is a classic design that breathes life into images even where there is very little light.
My latest lens is the Voigtlander 75mm f1.8. I took a little bit of a chance with this one as I traded a very nice Leica 50mm f2.5 lens for it. I was looking for something that could get close when needed but also could be used in lower light conditions. So far the Voigtlander has impressed me. It's a big lens and not one I'd use on it every day but it's good to know it will give a bit more reach for the M8 if and when it’s needed.
So that's it; 2 camera bodies and 7 lenses. The two cameras are oldish but as both are above 10 megapixels they will still produce fine big prints whenever needed. My collection of lenses is, I feel, up for most tasks and are well above the average kit lens ability. My love of prime lenses (i.e. fixed focal length, no zoom) continues to grow. Although the zoom lenses that I have from the Nikon make life very easy at times there is something about a prime lens that makes me feel like I’m doing more than pressing the shutter button. In an age where convenience is king this might seem like a backward step but it isn't. These lenses just seem to work better and give better images. They also make you work a little more. You cannot rely on a zoom to get the picture you want. Sometimes it means selecting an alternative viewpoint which can turn out to be a whole lot better. If I had one tip concerning new equipment it is this: If you have a camera that continues to serve you well but that little voice inside you is telling you it’s time to make a new purchase spend that money on new glass and not on a new camera. A good lens will last a lifetime.