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Nikon 810D

Nikon 810D

What’s in my camera bag?  The Nikon 810D. This is a great, professional quality digital single lens reflex camera, at about half the price of the D4S which makes no better images. Its key feature is an FX sized sensor: one the same size as standard 35mm film.

This allows for exceptionally detailed images, more detail than my (old) eyes can see. The 810 is a worthwhile improvement over its predecessor, the 800, with a quieter shutter that allows for slower exposures without blur. I frequently use a Nikon 610, which also has an FX sensor and comparable image quality in a somewhat smaller and lighter package, at half the cost of the 810D.

I prefer digital to film because of its dynamic range (detail is captured in both brightly lit and dimly lit parts of the frame) and because it is much easier to exercise creative control with Photoshop than in a darkroom. I prefer prime focus lenses to variable focal lengths, because of their greater clarity. I use Nikkor lenses and generally buy the highest quality they make for my purpose. A good set of lenses is a long term investment; in contrast camera bodies improve so rapidly that you generally want to replace them after a couple of years. I always use a UV filter, for truer colors under certain atmospheric conditions, but mainly to protect the front element of the lens.

Nikon, 50mm, f.1.4

50mm, f.1.4

My basic lens in the 50mm, f.1.4. very fast, very sharp. Generally the faster the lens, the better. You get a brighter image in the viewfinder, the ability to shoot at faster shutter speeds or in dimmer light, and a shallower depth of field when you want it. With longer focal lengths though, the fastest lenses can sometimes be heavier or bulkier than you want to carry.

Nikon, 20mm, f/2.8

20mm, f/2.8

My wide angle lens is the 20mm, f/2.8 (I don’t believe the f1.8 was available when I got this; the faster lens would be a better choice). I chose an extreme wide angle because it works well for expansive landscapes, as well as for shooting in smaller interiors where you need a wide angle of view. The lens takes in a wider field than the human eye, and produces images that might appear a bit unnatural. That said, you can always crop the image to approximate a more standard 28mm or 35mm view. With the FX sensor, there is more than enough detail in the cropped image.

Nikon, 105mm, f2.8 micro

105mm, f2.8 micro

My longer lens is the 105mm, f2.8 micro. This is a very nice focal length for portraits, and leaves the background pleasingly out of focus. The micro feature allows for extreme close ups, very useful for capturing the fine details of flowers and other small subjects.

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8

70-200mm f/2.8

For real telephoto work, I use a variable focus lens: the 70-200mm f/2.8. This is an expensive lens, but well worth it for its clarity and flexibility. The variable focus in this case allows one lens to do the work of several; and several long lenses simply weigh too much to carry around.

– Robert Rosenkranz