It is ‘seeing’ a picture that really counts, not the type of equipment you choose to accomplish its capture.
My late friend, colleague and former business partner Robin Adshead (below left) was frequently asked by aspiring defence photographers, “What is the best camera to use to get great military photographs?”
“f/8 and be there!” was his acerbic response. You’re always going to miss that great image if you haven’t got a camera, but even with a humble Box Brownie, or its digital equivalent, you are streets ahead of the man (or woman) with nothing.
Whilst using a wide range of equipment over the years, my constant companions have always been Nikon cameras. Why? Well, they have always been built to very high standards and just go on working, whatever is thrown at them. I’ve only broken two, but then no camera can survive being shot or dropped from a helicopter on to a tank like my Nikon F2 Photomic with MD-1 Motor Drive, below.
Starting with a Nikon F, followed by a Nikon F Photomic FTn with the ubiquitous F-36 Motor Drive (above), through the F2, F4 and F5 range of film cameras (bypassing the F3 which I never really liked) to my first digital Nikon, a fantastically expensive 1.2 mega-pixel E2, I’ve used or owned a large part of the range of Nikon equipment. Lately I've been tempted by the nostalgia groups to dip my toes back into the film market. I briefly found a degree of solace there before all the memories of why I hated film so much came flooding back. You can see what I thought of it and .
Today, I use the latest generation full-frame Nikon Z 9 camera, along with Nikon Z 6 bodies with MB-N10 Battery Packs (which I intend to replace with the new and improved Z 6II or perhaps the Z 6III if or when it appears), and a massively reduced range of Z mount lenses; the NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4 S-Line, the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S-Line, the NIKKOR Z MC 50mm f/2.8 and the NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S-Line. Ironically I've just added a NIKKOR AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR F-mount lens, used with the FTZ Adapter, until such time as the long awaited NIKKOR Z 200-600mm lens makes its appearance.
I’ve finally sold all my Nikon D3s bodies and all my F mount lenses; namely the Fisheye-NIKKOR AF 16mm f/2.8D, the NIKKOR AF-S 16-35mm f/4G VR, the NIKKOR AF-S 50mm f/1.8G, the Micro-NIKKOR AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR, the NIKKOR AF-S 70-200mm f/4G VR, the NIKKOR AF-S 80-200mm f/2.8D and the Nikkor AF-S 200-400mm f/4G VR - thanks to for their help.
Additionally, I use the outstanding Nikon LS8000 Super Coolscan (now sadly long out of production) for scanning 35mm and roll film, hooked up to an ancient Apple PowerMac G5/1.6 which allows me to run the legacy software essential for this scanner, along with an equally ancient - but highly efficient - Bowens Illumitran slide copier fitted with a 1965 Micro-NIKKOR C 55mm f/3.5 lens that actually produces better digital files from transparencies than the CoolScan and certainly much, much faster!
Pixel T6 wireless remote triggers, Nikon Speedlights, Nikon Remote Control units, four Manfrotto tripods, a great Gitzo GHF3W head that incorporates the Arca-Swiss adaptor that I've just changed to, a Zhiyun Weebill-S gimbal with all the bells and whistles, an ancient but highly prized Mazof VISII Camera Trigger and various accessories are packed in Think Tank Airport Acceleration V2.0, Lowepro Pro Trekker 400 AW or Peli cases, which are all outstanding items of kit. Once I am at my final destination the kit gets moved into mundane looking, but functionally excellent, Domke bags or rucksacks.
Where I get my kit from is also important I feel. There are any number of impersonal on-line stores, which are great for everyday basic items, but nothing beats personal service in my book, even if you pay a little extra for it. provide exclusively Nikon with expert guidance from Gray Levett and his brilliant - some might say eccentric - staff, are the undisputed cream of the crop in the UK, in my considered opinion. in Bristol look after my everyday non-Nikon photographic requirements, whilst in the USA offers really outstanding service for the secondhand market.
But remember, that is purely my personal preference. All the major manufacturers offer superb equipment; the skill is in knowing how to use it to achieve your, and your clients' goals.