Fly-fishing has always factored into camera and lens decisions in my commercial photo gear and I’ve used virtually every camera I’ve owned shooting for Flylife Magazine over the last twenty years. Some stuff has worked out better than others, but I feel my current set-up is by far the best yet so I thought it was worth sharing.
My main camera is the mighty Nikon D810.
I say ‘mighty’ with no hesitation or fear of exaggeration because it’s a beast and, without doubt, the best picture-making thing yet made in my humble opinion. It’s proven as tough as nails, having so far survived everything fly-fishing and rock-and-roll photography has thrown it’s way.
The crisp detail of its low-noise 36-megapixel sensor, wide dynamic range and epically high ISO talents set it completely apart from any camera that came before it.
Yes, it’s overkill for the stuff on my blog, but in magazine or music work you never know where, or how big or how cropped an image is going to end up and having 36-megapixel resolution is the best insurance for getting the work in the first place.
Sure, Canon and Sony both have very good offerings, but the Nikon beats the Canon’s in dynamic range and the Sony’s, though apparently pretty good for image quality, only hold one SD memory card and that makes them a dangerous option for serious, one-shot-only work like a cover shoot or the fish of a lifetime at the end of a very long walk in New Zealand.
Card problems are rare, but I have had them and having the instant back-up of a second card has proved a life-saver.Seriously Sony, Canon and Nikon have had this for years—get with the program.
As far as lenses go, any camera is only as good as the lens you slap in front of it, and Nikon have me well covered for both regular work and fly-fishing.
When I shoot for Flylife Magazine, I bring the D810, a flash and three prime lenses, the 28-mm 1.8 G, 60-mm macro and 85-mm 1.8G. I chose these lenses for the balance of weight and image quality.
Some might argue that a good mid-range zoom, like a 24-70 could do a lot of the same work, and I have used them in the past on a couple jobs where I didn’t want to change lenses, but the primes have the edge in image quality even if that means changing lenses several times a day and abstaining from zooms makes me think harder about where I need to be to get the best shots.
Although this is not a big kit, I’ve found it does everything I need and is all I want to carry up and down the river all day.
My lenses in detail:
Nikon 28-mm 1.8 G: This is the best wide-angle lens I’ve ever owned, end of story. Not the most expensive or the fastest or the blackest, just the best for corner to corner sharpness and consistently high image quality I’ve seen yet in a normal wide angle.
One of the great things about the 28-mm focal length is that it’s easy to get even polarisation. It’s also low on distortion and lightweight. Anything wider can steal the thunder from the subject while something like a 35-mm can lack drama.