My Nature Photography Equipment
My first decent camera was a Canon A-1. I bought it with some wonderful FD-mount lenses when I was a university student. In my early photographic life I took some great pictures with them. Although I love working with this classic film gear, recently I only use my modern Canon EOS System.
Here is a list of my currently used photographic equipment.
Canon EOS 7D
It has been my primary camera since May 2011. The Canon 7D is one of the best APS-C cameras ever made. It has very good image quality even at high ISO settings. Its high-speed continuous shooting and accurate AF are very important for bird and wildlife photography. The durable and weather sealed body makes it perfect for nature photography.
Canon EOS 620
It is one of the first EOS cameras. Click here for more information about this film camera and the reason I bought it.
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4 L USM
I use this lens mainly for landscape photography, however it is useful for wildlife too if I want to picture animals in their environment. The quality of this lens is excellent in every aspect. It is truly sharp and has very good contrast. Furthermore, this is a very well built and relatively light lens.
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM
This lens is great for large insects (butterflies and dragonflies), frogs, and even for birds especially when combined with the 1.4x Canon teleconverter. I also use it for landscape scenes. It is a relatively lightweight lens with superb performance.
Canon EF 300mm f/4 L USM
This lens on an APS-C camera is a very good choice for wildlife photography. This is an old non-IS version 300mm lens, however I prefer to use a tripod, so for me IS seems unnecessary. This L-grade lens is razor sharp even with the 1.4x teleconverter, has very fast AF and built as strong as a brick.
Canon EF 1.4x Extender
This converter is a very useful accessory for wildlife photography. It works quite well on my lenses, I lose only one stop of light so AF still works with them.
Canon Speedlight 430 EX
In general, I don’t use flash in nature, I prefer using natural light. However, a flash can be very valuable in difficult lighting situations. For better flash positioning, I often use the Canon Off Camera Shoe Cord with the 430 EX.
Tripods and Heads
I almost always use a tripod when photographing nature. I have a big and sturdy Gitzo 1340, that I use less and less, because it is very heavy and I also have a light Manfrotto 190XB which is stable enough for my lightweight equipment. I use two Manfrotto heads: 804RC2 three way head for wildlife photography and a 486RC2 ball head for general purpose.
I usually carry my equipment in my Samsonite Trekking 175 bag. It is a shoulder bag, but with a special accessory it can also be used as a backpack. I really love it, and all of my gear fits right in this bag. When I travel and need my laptop along with my equipment I use my Lowepro CompuDaypack camera bag.
When I photograph landscapes or macro subjects I use a Canon RS-80N3 Cable Release to eliminate the vibration when pressing the shutter button.
I have three types of filters. I use Tiffen UV Filters to protect the front elements of my lenses, however I use them only in humid environment (beaches, waterfalls and rainforests) when the front elements require frequent cleaning and it’s easier to clean the filter than the lens. In other situations I think lens protection is unnecessary. The other filter I often use is a Tiffen Circular Polarizer. It can be useful to remove reflections and to increase contrast. The third one is a Tiffen ND 0.9 neutral density filter. I use it if I need a long exposure. This filter provides a 3-stop exposure reduction.
I use SanDisk Extreme Compact Flash cards. They are really fast and reliable cards. I have a couple of 16 and 8 GB cards.
Binoculars are a valuable tool for observing birds and other wildlife. I use a pair of vintage Canon 7×35 binoculars.