Here is a list of what you’ll most likely find in my camera bag.
The Df is Nikon’s first attempt at the world of digital retro following Fujifilm’s success. Designed to look like a bulky FE/FM of old, the Df uses the same 16MP CMOS sensor as the D4 and consequently the result is incredible. The detail in its images are as staggering as its high ISO performance. This camera replaces my older D60 to become my digital work horse.
Nikon F Series
The Nikon F series has proved to be the world’s standard for top of the line SLR cameras. They were designed for journalists to be adaptable, reliable and often indestructible. They have been used to capture every inch of this planet, every conflict since their release and even taken into space. They are special cameras, as are many of the Nikkor lenses that have been designed for them. I currently own and use the F3, F4 and F5. The F4 has seen most of the work lately as it is the most compatible of these Nikons and built like a brick. The F5 is also an incredible camera and my favourite. Even today’s top of the line digital cameras owe much of their development to the F5. The F3 on the other hand is arguably the best 35mm manual focus camera ever made. It has been the workhorse of many leading photographers and photojournalists and still continues to produce stunning images 30 years after it was first introduced. As a testament to its design Nikon kept it in production for 21 years!
This is the last Nikonos underwater rangefinder camera produced by Nikon. It’s as solid as it looks and relatively easy to use. The 15mm shown above is corrected for underwater use only and as a result is sharper than anything else produced to date. Underwater photography is not an easy subject to master but this makes it a whole lot of fun.
Nikkor was the reason to shoot Nikon and still is. Unless you’re a Leica Man, good Nikkor glass is hard to beat. No zoom’s to see here either, just solid little primes. Each one carefully picked for it’s optical qualities and usefulness. These are my eyes in which to view and record the world.
This oversized 6×9 rangefinder from Fujifilm is dubbed the ‘Texas Leica’ for obvious reasons. The technical image quality possible is astonishing with only 8 frames per roll of 120 film. Not without it’s compromises this mechanical camera lets you slow down and enjoy the art of making images.
I almost exclusively shoot slide film for most of my work. Print film has never given me the colours or contrast that I need. There are many films to choose from and I have tried most of them. My preference is Fujifilm Velvia 50 and Kodak E100VS for the super saturated stuff followed by Fujifilm Provia 100F if portraits and less wild colours are desired. The more complicated E6 process means that I send all of my film away for developing and scanning. Standard hi-res scans equivalent to just over 7MP are what I get in return and are more than sufficient for a good 8×12 print. For larger prints and more detailed work I will send the film away for virtual drum scanning.
Filters are an important part of photography, especially for film where your white balance is fixed. All lenses should have a good quality UV filter to protect them. Other than that, full ND and grad ND filters are essential to balance the sky or slow things down. Occasionally I use a 81A to warm things up and have just started experimenting with the Tiffen CC30M (colour correcting 30 points of magenta) thanks to some of the inspiring work of Joe McNally. The ND400 is a special use only. I also have a C-PL but rarely use it. With all my filters they are either 52mm or 77mm.
The Light Table and the Loupe
There is only one way to appreciate reversal film. Look at it on a light table for what it really is – vibrant and stunningly colourful! Colour is everything when it comes to this type of film and it is why I use it. There is also a unique depth given to the images when backlit. A good quality loupe is also a must if you are going to shoot and view slides. There are many out there so let me simplify the choice for you – Mamiya. Their optical and build quality are second to none. I also have a 22x Peak loupe for close up work though seldom use it.