"He bellowed, 'Who are we?' We all waited for the answer. Then he whispered, 'We are our stories.' "

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Field Camera Kit

Let's be up front about it, compared to "real" photographers, my equipment ain't for shit. The Nikon D5600 is less than $600 and the Nikon 200-500mm lens is less than $1,300. Both less if you shop around for good used deals. The lens is marvelous - heavy, clumsy, with some optic limitations, but simply marvelous for the price. Yes, I envy my mentor, Brian Plath, who buys and sells cameras and lens like ... well, he does it lot. But frankly it shows in his photos. He continually humbles me. This posting is a lot for him, because he has helped with advice and he appreciates a good Rube Goldberg hack.

Arthritis? Simply age? Whatever, I hate weight on my neck. This is my field set up - camera and binoculars (or a second smaller butterfly/birds-in-bushes camera) both hung off a diagonal strap on my off-hand (left) shoulder.
Aside: My "smaller" camera is a Nikon D5500, same layout as the D5600, with a Nikon 18-300mm lens. If I had to have a single lens it would probably be the 18-300mm. 

The strap also has a lens brush, and an extra battery and SIM card.

The lens has a removaable ring for mounting to a tripod, but if I mount that to the strap the camera/lens hangs awkward and bangs my hip.  So I have a couple of layers of fabric tape at the center of gravity and (now it gets extremely technical) a D-ring and a hose clamp. The metal ring replaces a couple of zip-ties, and for a while a piece of wire I picked up off the street.

The binoculars are Swarovski 8 x 42 CLs. I had larger bins, but just how much money can a half blind birder justify in binoculars when he can only use 1/2 of them? They are attached with Swaro loop connectors from B&H. They were designed for Swarovski ELs and required a some filing to reduce their thickness so they would engage with CL swivel pin. The file cost more than the loop connectors. That little loop doohickey was a few dollars from Amazon. Had to buy pair.

As my late father said, "It only cost a few pennies more to go first class".

- Gunnar


Mark Stonich said...

I'm just blown away by the detail you are getting. Without spending much more than I did for my Sony RX10iv. I'm always impressed when people get great results without great equipment. And I'm not just talking about photography.

And of course, thanks for sharing the marvelous variety of birds we don't see here in MN. How close are you getting to them? Hand held?

Now that I've gotten to the point where I could afford a really good birding setup, my 2 lb. 8 oz. RX is right at the limit of what my wreck of a shoulder will handle.

Gunnar Berg said...

All the photos are handheld. I have a tripod I use at my 1410 water feature, but a tripod or even a monopod doesn't seem feasible in the field for me.

Some birds are close, more at a moderate distance, up to maybe 30 yards.

The lens weighs 5 pounds, the camera slightly over a pound. 6 pounds is heavy, but I am used to it and really never think about it.

Gunnar Berg said...

...ahhh, probably farther than 30 yards, maybe 50 yards.