WildZests: My Gear

My Gear

It's been a few years since I bought my first DSLR, and there has been a lot of transformation in my kit ever since. This page is truly dedicated to Gozu who has been ever supportive in getting me the best equipment that's in my kit today.

A lot of websites/people talk about how the individual behind the camera matters and not the equipment. Well, I'm sure there are a handful of men and women who can create magic with their bare hands, but for the lesser fortunate (like me), the equipment makes up for a lot of my shortcomings. For example, there are still a lot of folks around who've shot with manual lenses and managed to get winners, but for me, USM is a necessity! I never shoot manual focus, unless I'm doing macro stills where I can review my shot and adjust the focus again. Call me a slave of technology and I'll gladly accept it.

A great picture is a result of three or more ingredients that have to blend favorably to capture the brilliance of light on a subject.
  • The creativity of the protagonist behind the lens
  • The subject and the light around it
  • Your equipment's adaptability to the situation
  • And if you're a photojournalist/wildlifer/sports guy, you need a lot of Luck!

 Over these months, there are a few things I've learnt about choosing equipment for wildlife photography:

- Knowing your equipment thoroughly often helps you work around it's limitation!
Even though the 600mm is one of the best lenses that money can buy, it's not a do-it-all lens. I wouldn't want to take it out unless there is a need (birding) and provision to move around with it effectively (car). I have to know that it can't get me that elephant shot while it's charging behind the jeep. It's too near and too big a subject for it to handle, plus you'll struggle to keep it steady inside a moving vehicle. 

- Always buy equipment that will suit your need, not simply because it's cheaper than the real one!
You'll end up saving a lot of money on replacements later on, I learnt this the hard way! I've sold a lot of my old gear only because it couldn't do what I wanted it to. For me the requirement is "speed" from the camera and "sharpness" from the lenses. There is no substitute for a sharp lens, the details lost on a bird's feather can't be recovered in a post processing program without spending hours together and even then the end result may not be pleasing at all.

- Don't always rely on post-processing - try and get it right in the camera itself!
As you mature as a photographer, you'll realize that almost every image needs to be post-processed to make it ready for the display shelf. However, you need not rely on the post processing techniques to correct things that could have been taken care of while shooting. A natural looking image has more appeal than something that appears to be "super-natural". Use of a faster lens to capture action in falling light is always better than bumping up ISO beyond normal limits and/or underexposing the image to increase the shutter speed (hoping that you'd recover it during pp'ing).

- Bigger, fatter, heavier and costlier - that's how you can describe some of the most capable wildlife equipments!
You look at them in awe when someone else has them, but you start feeling the pain of lugging it around once you own it! Be prepared to see your bank account get washed out once you buy that expensive piece of glass and make sure you enrol yourself for a gym membership too.

Well, if you ever aspire to become a nature & wildlife photographer (and a good one at that), it's never going to be inexpensive. Believe me, the equipment is only a one-time expense, what you'd spend more is on the recurring visits to the wild. And the urge just keeps getting bigger and bigger each time you're rewarded with a good image!

Below is my list of equipments as of now, I've tried to list down most of the things that I've owned (darker grey indicates sold/exchanged items). Someday, I'll also try and write brief hands-on reviews for some of these items, but I can easily say that I'm pretty happy with all my current list of equipments!

  • Canon EOS 1D Mark IV
  • Canon EOS 7D
  • GoPro Hero 3 HD Black Edition
  • Canon HF S100 HD Camcorder
  • Canon EOS 40D
  • Canon EOS 400D
  • Canon EF 600mm L F/4 IS USM
  • Canon EF 70-200mm L F/2.8 IS II USM
  • Canon EF 24-105mm L F/4 IS USM
  • Canon EF 100mm F/2.8 Macro USM
  • Canon EF 50mm F/1.4 USM
  • Canon EF 70-200mm L F/4 IS USM
  • Canon EF 24-85mm F/3.5-4.5 USM
  • Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 II
  • Sigma 10-20mm F/4-5.6 EX DC HSM
  • Canon EF-S 10-22mm F/3.5-4.5 USM
  • Canon Speedlite 580 EX II
  • 2 Vivitar 3200a Flashes
  • 1 Optical Flash Trigger
  • Better Beamer Flash Extender for 580 EX II
  • 2 Remote Flash Triggers
  • Canon LP-E6 for Canon 7D
  • Canon LP-E4 for Canon 1D Mark IV
  • Panasonic Quick Charger & Batteries for AA size
  • Eneloop Quick Charger & Batteries for AA size
  • Canon BP-819 Lithium Ion Battery Pack for HF S100
Support Systems
  • Gitzo 5541LS Tripod Legs + Wimberly Head II
  • Gitzo 5541 LS Monopod + Kirk MPA-2 Monopod Head
  • 1 Light Stand with Flash Bracket & Shoot Through Umbrella
  • Really Right Stuff LCF-51 Replacement Foot
  • Wimberly F-1 Telephoto Bracket
  • Various Mounts for GoPro - Handlebar, Rollcage, Head Strap, Helmet, Tripod etc
  • Manfrotto 055X PROB Tripod Legs + Manfrotto 488 RC4 Ballhead
  • Cokin ND8 Graduated Filter with P-size holder
  • Hoya HMC UV Filters for all lenses except the 600mm
  • Hoya CPL Filter (77mm)
Bags, Cases & Covers
  • LensCoat Forest Green Camo Hoodie and Lens Cover for the 600mm
  • Lenscoat Raincoat Pro
  • Lowepro Computrekker Plus AW
  • Lowepro Lens Trekker 600 AW II
  • Lowepro Top Load Zoom TLZ2
  • Lowepro Outback 200
  • Canon Lens Case LZ1128
  • Lowepro EX 160
  • Lowepro Flipside 200
Photo/Video Editing Softwares
  • Adobe Lightroom
  • Noise Ninja plugin for Lightroom
  • FastStone Photo Resizer
  • NeatImage
  • Picasa by Google
  • Windows Movie Maker
Photo Storage Solutions
  • Seagate 2TB External Powered USB 3.0 Hard Disk
  • Transcend 500GB External USB Hard Disk
  • Western Digital 320GB External USB Hard Disk
  • Western Digital 120GB External USB Hard Disk
  • SanDisk ImageMate® All-in-One USB 2.0 Reader
  • 2 Sandisk Extreme 16GB CF Cards (60 MB/s)
  • 1 Sandisk Extreme 32GB SDHC Card (95 MB/s)
  • 2 Transcend 16GB SDHC Cards (Class 6)
  • 1 Lexar 8 GB (45MB/s)
  • 1 Sandisk 4GB Extreme III (30MB/s)
  • 1 Sandisk 4GB Ultra II (15MB/s)
  • 1 Kingston 8GB (20MB/s)
  • 1 Sandisk Ultra 64GB MicroSD (30MB/s)
Online Publishing/Storage Solutions
I guess I've written enough about my gear for now and hopefully it will benefit some of those who are looking to make some choices. I have now put up another page for my wishlist as well.