Sunday, June 26, 2011

Top Accessories for the Nikon D90

I've been getting some questions about what I use for all the photography that I put up here. So, in this post I will outline the equipment and software that I use on a daily basis, along with a few recommendations.

Camera / Lens: Nikon D90 12.3MP DX-Format CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED AF-S VR DX Nikkor Zoom Kit Lens

Memory Card: Transcend 16GB SDHC - Stores about 2100 photos at the highest quality JPEG setting.

Wireless Remote: Nikon ML-L3 - Perfect for taking photos from a distance without the hassle of a cord. I should note, it requires line of sight to work well.

Bulb / Shutter Remote: Nikon MC-DC2 Release Cord - Ideal for night or low-light, long-exposure shots. It allows you to keep the shutter open when using the bulb setting without actually having to manually hold down the button, as this remote has a locking button. This also eliminates small vibrations and movement that cause blur from when you actually touch the camera to press down or release the shutter.

Time Lapse Remote: Satechi TR-M Timer Control - I used this to make the Ants video that I posted on here a while back, as well as the pizza time lapse gif from a more recent post. You can set the duration and interval during which you want to take a series of pictures, then walk away or do whatever you want. It has a backlit screen, and I really couldn't recommend it more highly.

High Performance Camera Bag: Lowepro SlingShot 102 AW - This is the most awesome bag you can imagine. It has an across-the-chest strap that allows you to slide the pack around from your back to access the camera via a side-opening pocket. It has space for two additional lenses (which I don't yet have) aside from the one attached to the camera, as well as multiple memory card slots, elastic storage for the charger and cords, an attached monopod storage arrangement, a built-in rainfly cover that stows in the bottom as well as an integrated, mesh-pocketed lens cloth. The inner compartments are attached and configurable via tough velcro sides. I couldn't ask for a better fast-access bag, and I never have to take it off of my shoulder to get at something while on the move. All of the compartments are accessible just by sliding it around to your front.

Compact Backpacking Camera Bag: Lowepro Toploader Zoom 45 AW - Perfect for hiking or backpacking. The description on Amazon isn't the best because (if I remember right) it doesn't tell you that the pack comes with a strap to loop a belt or (in my case) a backpack's waist strap through. It's a fairly standard bag - it has one main large compartment with camera card pockets in the lid. It also has another secondary compartment that fits all of my remotes. The absolute best and 100% necessary feature is the rainfly cover that comes out of the bottom of the bag, making it impenetrable to even the heaviest rains while out on the trail. This is another of those items I can't recommend highly enough, especially if you do any backpacking or hiking and want to bring along your bag in a responsible way.

Monopod: Opteka MP100 67" - I'm 6'2" tall (74"), so the height on this is perfect for me. It's also really sturdy, which is important with heavy camera configurations, especially when using larger lenses. In the same vein, if you've ever been to a performance or sporting event without a monopod, your arms get tired QUICKLY when waiting for that perfect shot. In those situations, a monopod like this is a must. The MP100 from Opteka is a snug fit but works well with the Lowepro Slingshot's storage pouch, mentioned above.

Tripod: Vista Explorer 60" Lightweight tripod - I went cheap on my tripod, though I wasn't disappointed. For this price, you can't ask for much more. A few more inches of height would have been nice, but the versatility and sturdiness of this tripod were great for my needs.

Software: Adobe Lightroom 3 - Hands down the best photo management software out there. I'm a Mac user (currently running a 2008 Macbook Pro 2.4 Ghz Core 2 Duo with 2GB of ram), and I'm firmly convinced that Lightroom beats Apple's Aperture software hands-down. The easily-customizable presets are a breeze to configure and manage. There are a wide variety of plugins available online to streamline online photo sharing, and integration with iPhoto is also really easy. The best feature is the non-destructive editing. Basically, in the developing mode you are able to configure light filters and apply them to the photos. Within Lightroom, your photos appear as though you had already applied the new light and color settings. When you're finished editing, you can output the photos however you like: online, local storage, album creations, etc. Other functions involve keyword creation, photo rating and flagging and filtering on all possible photo attributes.

Since I'm a student, I qualify for the Lightroom Student & Teacher edition. NOTE: to activate this version, you need either a valid picture educational ID or a recent class list or transcript with dates to activate the program. Images of this info gets emailed to the validation department and they send you a product key. It's not much of a hassle, and the whole process goes through in a couple of days. In my opinion, well-worth the savings:

If you do not have an educational email address, you won't be able to activate the above version of the Lightroom software. After 30 days, it will just stop working. If this is you, you'll have to grab the below version:

Hard Drive: LaCie Rugged Hard Disk Triple Interface - Impact resistance is key when you're not lucky enough to be working with a solid-state hard drive, and LaCie's Rugged line is the category leader. Having multiple connection options has also been really nice, depending on what's connected to my computer at the time, or if I'm trying to share with someone else who doesn't have a firewire port. The Firewire 800 is SO fast, if your computer has an 800 port, you won't be disappointed. Another great feature is that you don't need an external power source unless you're using the USB connection. The 5V from the USB isn't quite enough to power the drive, but the feed from the Firewire ports is plenty. I have the 320GB model, but since they don't sell that on Amazon anymore, I'm posting the 500GB model, which is a safer choice anyway, since the hardware will definitely last the time it takes to fill up.

My current setup involves both Lightroom and iPhoto libraries coexisting on my Lacie drive, which is automatically backed up via Time Machine each hour over my wifi network to my 1TB Buffalo Linkstation Network Access Storage Drive:

Anyway, that turned out way longer than I meant it to... Have fun!

1 comment:

Tyler said...

Thanks for the tips on gear - will difinitely be looking into getting lightroom at least.

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