Which equipment I use
Updated: Apr 4, 2018
As you're probably aware of, I live in Brazil, a third world country. Due to (very) high custom taxes, tech gear, like photo equipment, is (very) expensive here. We must buy our gear when travelling abroad, or ask our friends or relatives travelling to US to buy our stuff (Nikon doesn't even have an authorised reseller in Brazil). Since the customs tax clearance (for people travelling abroad) is only 500 USD, it's easy to imagine that a photographer's life it's kind of difficult here. Depending on the equipment, we can get something from chinese websites, like Aliexpress (yes, sometimes they have good stuff). That's why I'm ALWAYS looking for the best cost x benefit when I have to buy something to improve my photography. I also rely on alternative (still awesome) lens, other than Nikon, and I don't regret my choices.
For my wildlife photos I use a Nikon 7100, an APS-C camera released in 2013, which is a pretty light and capable camera, and, as I usually hike alone (wanna be my assistant?) weight is always an issue. Talking about wildlife photography, the D7100 has one major flaw: its buffer can hold only 10 or 12 pics in a burst, meaning less than 2 seconds of continuous shooting. As an adept of 'spray and prey' technique that's simple not enough.
Small buffer apart, though, the D7100 can do a great job. It has amazing 24MP, thus leaving room for a lot of cropping, good high ISO performance, allowing low light shooting (a common situation when in the woods) and Wi-Fi capabilities with the optional WU-1A gadget. Also, its 51 focus points can track moving animals - even birds in flight - very consistently.
But a camera alone is not worth anything without good lenses. At this time I have 5 lenses, covering virtually every need: A long telephoto (Tamron SP USD Di VC 150-600mm f/5-6.3 filter 95mm A011 - FX), a fast-focusing telephoto (Nikkor AF 80-200mm f/2.8 AF-D ED filter 77mm - FX), a very fast 50mm prime (Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.8 D filter 52mm - FX), the all-rounder Sigma 17-70mm (f/2.8-4 Macro DC HSM filter 72mm - DX) and finally the wide-angle Sigma 10-20mm (f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM filter 77mm - DX). As you probably have noted, their specs always end with 'FX' or 'DX'. FX lenses are designed for Full-frame sensors cameras (35mm equivalent, being actually 36x24mm), but they work well on APS-C cameras (24x16mm sensor size). DX lenses are lighter, less expensive, and specifically designed for APS-C cameras (they can work in FF cameras with some limitations).
Completing my basic equipment I have Manfrotto X-PRO 055 Aluminum 3-Section Tripod (pretty impressive piece of gear, I must say) and a Manfrotto monopod Compact MMC3-01, all set up with a couple of lightweight Manfrotto heads 494RC2.
An interesting note about the MMC3-01 monopod: According to Manfrotto, it's supposed to have a maximum load capacity of 1.5 kg (3.3 lb), although it perfectly holds my heaviest gear (D7100 + Tamron 150-600 weighing 675 g + 1950g = 2625g). Since the monopod is VERY lightweight, well, it's perfect to carry along on long hikes.
On my next posts I'll talk about the lenses individually, and how I use each of them.