Category Archives: Gear

Evaluating the Nikon 200-400mm VR with distant subjects

I’ve had my zoom Nikkor 200-400mm f/4 AFS G VR lens for about five years, and it’s my absolute go-to wildlife lens unless I’m after very small birds (at which point the 600mm is more useful). A common criticism of this lens is that it is sharp on near (less than 100ft) subjects, but soft with distant subjects. Unfortunately, telephoto lens performance on distant subjects can be marred by more variables than one can easily isolate. I recently had a chance to test my lens in the field to see if I could make any definitive conclusions about its performance. Continue reading Evaluating the Nikon 200-400mm VR with distant subjects

Think Tank Photo 20% off sale on Beltpacks

For a limited time, save 20% off Think Tank Belt Packs!

I’ve gotten word that my friends over at Think Tank Photo are having their first-ever sale. I really like TTP products; I have a closet full of them! Their beltpacks are among some of the best, especially if you have larger “pro-style” DSLRs.

Another great thing about all the TTP products is the attention to detail. Card wallets have leashes so you won’t drop them off a cliff or from a helicopter. All the bags include a protective rain cover, and the foam inserts are removable to allow custom configurations when space is more important than padding. You can also attach TTP modules (pouches) directly to the belt packs for extra capacity.

Check out the three packs currently on sale:

Speed Demon: Holds a DSLR, medium zoom lens and other accessories

Speed Freak: Holds a DSLR with lens attached and a 70-200mm lens next to it.

Speed Racer: Specifically designed to hold a “Pro” DSLR, like the Nikon D3s or Canon 1D Mark IV with a lens attached and a 70-200mm size lens.

Packing Tips for Photographers

Make sure you bring the right camera gear by following these packing tips.

Packing for a photo trip is never as easy as it seems. You either A) over-pack and make yourself miserable schlepping a 45-lb bag through airports, or B) forget some seemingly innocuous piece of kit that you wish you had.  Of course, there is also option C) you bring too much stuff and still forgot something important. Here are some packing tips that I still need to remind myself about from time to time, so I figured blogging it would help get me straight.

Continue reading Packing Tips for Photographers

My Favorite Photo Bag

When you find a good bag, it goes with you everywhere.

Any pro or photo enthusiast knows that there is no such thing as the perfect camera bag. Photographers are to camera bags as Imelda Marcos was to shoes; we have a closet full of ’em. And not unlike designer shoes, camera bags are not exactly budget items. Many good bags retail for upwards of $200.

When it comes to camera bags, you have to consider the compromises, because every bag will be a compromise at some level. I started off wanting a bag that would hold everything I owned– sort of a combination storage and transport system. The problem with the really large bags that can hold everything is that you invariably fill them with everything. Travel through airports and in the field becomes an exercise in back and shoulder fatigue. When fatigue sets in, you stop taking pictures. Any camera bag that makes you want to stop photographing is a bad bag! Continue reading My Favorite Photo Bag

Photo of the Day: Look out below!

Great Egret, St. Augustine, FL (click to enlarge)

Although we’re in the dead of winter, bird breeding season will be upon us soon in Florida. If you are heading down south this year, you’ll want to be prepared, so start thinking about what you’ll need in terms of gear. Despite the temptation to take out a second mortgage on your home and purchase a 600mm lens, you can get by in Florida with a lot less, mainly because the birds are much larger. A 300mm f/4 lens with 1.4x teleconverter on a crop-sensor body, like the Nikon D7000 or D90, can give great results, especially if you have a good tripod.

Check out my recommended Nikon gear for birders over at B&H Photo: