Photography Equipment

I’m a novice photography who has been using a DSLR since spring 2011.  When starting out, I was lucky to have a couple of coworkers give me some advice that helped me choose my equipment.  Below is what I am using now.  In some cases, I know there might have been ‘better’ choices, but ultimately I chose equipment that I thought would be useful and still affordable.  As I add equipment, I’ll update this page.


Nikon D3100 with 18-200mm LensNikon D3100

I chose Nikon over Cannon for no particular reason other than it’s what many of my friends shoot and I figured they’d be able to help me if I ran into any issues. The D3100 was the newest release and based on input for my semiprofessional photography friends the reviews seemed better than its predecessor. It included the standard 18-55mm lens as well as a 55-200mm and a carrying case.

Nikon Underwater Camera

I use this camera for my underwater photos and as a backup in case something ever Nikon Underwater Camerahappens to my Nikon while on vacation.  I purchased the Nikon COOLPIX AW100 because I liked the quality and several of it’s features, but one of the main reasons is because you can chose a camera setting (i.e. underwater) and when the camera is turned on and off it remembers the last camera setting.  When I was in the Galapagos, but previous underwater camera required that I chose “underwater” every time I turned it one which was a waste of time as a sea lion was swimming towards me.


Nikkor 18-55mm Lens

This is the lens that came with my camera when I purchased it.  It also came with a 55-200mm lens, but I’ve since given that lens away.

Nikkor 18-200mm LensNikkor 18-200mm Lens

After shooting for a while it became crystal clear to me that I do not have the patience to change lenses all the time. Again, I called my semiprofessional photography friends to get advice on the type of lens to purchase. One of them recommended this street lens which gives me the flexibility of shooting close up and far away. I have not regretted this purchase at all…it caters to my lazy genes.

Sigma 12-24mmSigma Lens

I actually bought this lens used from a great camera local camera shop (Kenmore Camera).  I really wanted a wider angle lens since I take a lot of landscape photos.  This is my first departure from Nikkor lenses and I’m very happy with the results so far.

Camera Bag and Accessories

Lowepro Photo Sport 200 AW – I’ve gone through many, many camera bags.  It wasn’t Lowepro Camera Baguntil I purchased this bag that I was completely happy.  The biggest problem I had was finding something that is comfortable for hiking and traveling.  It needed to be able to hold water for hiking (it has an area for a water bladder…bought separately) and it needed to be able to hold my laptop and other items when traveling.  I also didn’t want a huge bulky and heavy pack (there are plenty of those out there).  The Lowepro Photo Sport is perfect for me.

Nikon SB-700 Speedlight

I broke down and bought a flash even though most of my SB 700 Speedlightphotography is outdoors.  I realized that there are times I want to take photographs inside or of people.  I decided to get a higher end flash, so this one has features that my current camera does not support.  It can act as either a master or slave, so when I upgrade my camera body I’ll be able to use multiple flashes if I want to.

Benro A-1690T TripodBenro A-1690T Tripod Short Position – This was the second tripod I purchased; the first one had limitation that I didn’t care for. This one collapses to 15.5 inches, but extends to a height of nearly 5 feet. I also love some other features like the quick release system, the level, and its ability to adjust nearly flat for different photo angles.

Manfrotto 498RC2 Tripod Head – While I like the compact nature Manfrotto Tripod Headof my Benro tripod, I’ve hated the ball-head that came with it.  I went into Kenmore Cameras expecting to leave with a new tripod head that didn’t have a “ball”.  Turns out I just wanted more flexibility.  This Manfrotto head has been working great and is less “floppy” than the Benro head that only had one adjustment.

UV Filter – I didn’t really understand why I needed this at first, but a photography instructor told me the least it does is protect your actual lens. When I found out it would cost $30-40 I wasn’t sure, but I recently visited Tikal and my camera slipped off my lap. I definitely realized how important it was after that.

Polarizing Filter – This is a new purchase, so I haven’t used it yet.  My hope is that future photos taken on clear days, with bright blue skies, will be better exposed.

Hoya 1-8 Stops ND Filter – I haven’t used this filter yet, but I’m excited to try it when I want to use a slower shutter speed, but there is too much light.  I highly recommend the circular version that has multiple stops instead of purchasing several different ND filters.

72mm to 82mm Adapter Ring – When I purchased my new lens (82mm), I thought I would have to purchase filters to fit it and my zoom lens (72mm).  Instead I bought an adapter ring and now all my 82mm filters will fit both.  The adapter doesn’t cost much and will save a ton of money for filters.

Vivitar Shutter Release Remote -I opted to purchase a Vivitar shutter release remote.  It was more affordable than the Nikon remote.  The Vivitar remote comes with both wired and wireless options (Nikon is two different purchases).  This is a new purchase, so I haven’t used it yet.

Spare Battery – I cannot express enough that having a spare battery can “save” your travels/events/photographic adventure.  I was just in a workshop and someone accidentally came with a dead battery.  They were more than happy that my spare fit their camera.

SD Cards – Currently I have two 16gig SD memory cards. I’ve heard repeatedly that I should use several smaller cards. For now I’ll go with what I have, but I will take the advice into account when I purchase additional memory cards.

Software and Books

Adobe Photoshop Elements – I use Photoshop Elements (v11). I shoot all my photos in JPEG Fine and RAW.

Nikon D3100 for DummiesNikon D3100 for Dummies – Before anyone judges this purchase…I used to think that ‘for dummies’ books were ridiculous, but after giving in and purchasing one a few years ago (on another topic) I was sold.  They really do break things down into easily digestible pieces.  This book was just what I needed to get started.

8 thoughts on “Photography Equipment

  1. I loved the way you ended this post! I always kept it a secret when purchases “for dummies” books because I felt like a dummy for having to buy them but from first hand experience there is truly incredible advice in them! I’ve personally tried to work with my sisters Nikon and not being a photographer I was completely lost! Do you have any tips for SERIOUS beginners?

  2. Hi,
    It’s really fun to see all my favourite things in one list.I also carry travel pillow when I go long helps me good sleep…

    BTW,thanks for your great listing.Just awesome to travel having camera,backpack,books,lenses and of course my favourite pillow!!!!

  3. Hey Alaska,

    Nice write up!!

    I also use DSLR camera for my travel photography. The cameras gives very good picture quality. But put limitations on underwater photography. But now I will surely consider the Nikon underwater camera for the same.

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful and informative post 🙂
    Jay Walton recently posted..Hello world!My Profile

  4. I was looking over your wish list and I thought I might offer a suggestion. Your 70-200 lens choice is right on, but it is a spendy lens. You might want to consider the 70-300 VR II lens. It is in the $580 range and is a higher quality lens than the 55-300. You can’t use the teleconverter, but the 70-300 is sharper than the 55-300 and the 18-200.

    • Thanks. I’ve been going back and forth between those three lenses. Part of me wants to save and get the 200. On the other hand I’m headed to Alaska in May, so should probably get one before I go. I already have an 18-200 street lens that I like. I just don’t know if I’ll notice a big enough difference between the one I have and the 300. Do you have any thoughts on that? Also, are you familiar with I’m wondering if I should rent a couple of lenses for my trip and use them before buying.

  5. Pingback: How I Improved the Quality of my Underwater Photos « Travel, Photography, and Other Fun Adventures

  6. Pingback: My Photography Equipment « Travel, Photography, and Other Fun Adventures

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