It's not about the gear

camera safari set-upDavid DeChemin over at Pixelated Image, joins the many other photographers who steadfastly claim that good photography is not about the gear; it's about the photographer, his vision, and his technique. Although I would certainly agree that vision and technique trump gear, I would also admit that good gear really helps. Here is a list of the gear I am currently using. The links following each article will take you directly to further information about that item.

I recently added a used EOS1D mk3 camera body to my photo safari kit. I found that switching lenses was too time consuming when a lion was walking right up beside the car. I can now leave the the 400mm on my 7D body giving me the equivalent of 640mm of magnification while the 70-200 on the 1D gives me a range of 98mm-280mm. This combination works great and accounts for the vast majority of my safari images.

Canon EOS 1DmkIII
10.1 megapixel sensor with dual DIGIC III image processors
45-point TTL-AREA-SIR autofocus with a dedicated CMOS sensor makes for blazing fast and super accurate focusing.
1.3x crop factor allows for slightly wider angle of view with my 24-70mm and the 70-200mm. The 10-20mm Sigma lens show considerable vignetting at 10mm but is pretty much gone by 15mm.
Burst speeds of up to 10 fps, which improves my odds of getting tack sharp eyes on birds in flight and animals on the move.
Canon EOS 7D
An 18.0 Megapixel APS-C size CMOS sensor and Dual DIGIC 4 Image Processors creates beautiful RAW files with tons of detail.
19-point AF system with improved AI Servo II AF subject tracking and user-selectable AF area selection modes for sharp focus allowing me to focus on an animal's eyes wherever they are in the frame.
Usable ISO up to 1000. ISO up 12800 but I don't use it. I have found that higher ISO/shutter speed beats low ISO/shutter speed when shooting wildlife with long lenses.
Burst speeds of up to 8 fps, which improves my odds of getting tack sharp eyes on birds and animals. Also fills my 8gb CF cards pretty quickly, and makes for a lot of 1:1 viewing in Lightroom to pick out the sharpest frame.
Sigma10-20mm f4-5.6 DC HSM
10-20mm lens
Indispensable for landscape work.
Canon 24-70mm f2.8 EF USM L
This is my lens of choice for portrait work and weddings.
Canon 70-200mm f2.8 EF USM IS L
70-200mm lens
This is one of Canons premier lenes.
Perfect for family portraits of elephant, lion, or cheetah. I use it whenever I want to shoot environmental portraits to show animals in their context.
Canon EF 400mm f5.6L USM
70-200mm lens
This my favourite lens. It is on my 7D most of the time I am on safari. Tack sharp, blazing fast, whisper quiet, exquisite bokeh.
Coupled with my new 1.4 extender it functions as a 560mm lens which converts to 896mm withe 1.6x 35mm equivalent factor. On the 7D I have to focus manually, but on the 1D I can use the center focus point and get 728mm equivalent.
Canon 50mm f1.4 EF USM
50mm lens
Honestly, I always intend to use it more, but it hardly ever ends up on my camera. Always tack sharp when I do use it.
Canon 1.4x extender EF III
1.4 extender
My newest acquisition. Very impressive so far. Works seamlessly with my 70-200mm. Much, much better than my Tamron 2x converter.
Singh-Ray LB warming circular polarizer
It seemed like every pro lanscape photographer whoose work I admired raved about this filter. So I got. They were right. This is now the only filter I use. I much prefer HDR to grad filters for balancing sky and foreground exposures.
Here is a link to a great blog on the merits of this filter.
Kenko extension tubes 12mm and 36mm
extension tube
Good for macro work. I can fill the frame with tiny objects because these hollow tubes greatly reduce the lens to subject minimum focusing distance. I even tried it with my 10-20mm lens to take pictures of flowers. Cool images, but I kept getting pollen on the front element of my lens.
Here is a good review on Kenko extension tubes.
Canon 580EX II Speedlight flash
580EX flash
Coupled with the Better Beamer it is great for opening up shadows and reducing contrast on mid-day safaris. And, it is essential for bird photography. I regularily use fill flash on portraits and wedding photography.
Better Beamer flash extender
Better Beamer
A fresnel lens that eattaches to your flash to significantly extend its range. A simple little device that folds up flat and tucks nicely into my camera bag.
Here is a great article explaining how the Better Beamer works and why you would want one.
Black Rapid camera strap
camera strap
The best camera strap I have owned. It attaches to the camera or lens via the tripod socket. When not in use the camera hangs upside down tucked in close to your hip. The camera is easy to grab and slides up to eye level while the shoulder strap stays in place. Nice!
Hoodman Hoodloupe
The Hoodloupe fits over the camera LCD screen blocking out the bright sunlight and making screen viewing much easier.
A few years ago my near vision started to fail making it difficult to see my camera LCD screen. The Hoodloupe has a built in diopter to correct for my vision deficiencies.
Lens Pen
Excellent little tool for keeping lens clean. A retractable brush on one end and acharcoal cleaning pad for removing smudges on the other end.
Kata 3N1-30 camera backpack
kata bag
Everything listed above fits in this amazing bag.
Cameron Ft-666 carbon fiber tripod
Lightweigth. Compact. Sturdy. Reasonable price.
PDF brochure
Slik Ball Head 800
ball head
Secure operation. Base plate is easy to drop into the head. Becuase its round you don't have to line anything up. Sweet!
Manfrotto 222 Pistol Grip head
manfrotto head
Great for bird shots from the tripod.
bean bag
home made bean bag
My daughter made this for me. Filled with 11 pounds of beans it is the best platform for shooting from the car window, off the hood, off the roof, or on the ground.

all images © 2013 Mike Gaudaur
all rights reserved