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During the 1970s and 80s I used Pentax MX fully manual cameras and a Hasselbad outfit (see below). Most of my photographs from the 1990s through to the end of 2003 were taken with a Nikkor AF 80-200mm f2.8 lens and an AF Tokina 80-400mm f4.5/5.6 on a Nikon F90 film camera. I then used these on a Nikon D100 digital. Three years later an upgrade followed to a Nikon D200. This outfit I found very quick to use, producing sharp, beautifully exposed images.
Your preference may lie with another brand. Try out different cameras. They are all a little different to handle.

Since I turned to photographing birds at the end of 2006, this needed the use of long telephoto lenses. These include a MF 500mm f4 and AF 70-200mm f2.8 VR (virbration reduction) with 1.4x and 2x teleconverters for the Nikon and a Canon 7D with a AF 400mm f4 and 1.4x teleconverter. Nikon just don't have an equivalent lens which is light enough to hand hold.

Over many years I have used a range of different cameras and lenses from 35mm through to 5x4. Many of these produced superb results in the area where they were most suited, particularly the Hasselblad outfit with four lenses which I used for about twenty years. I eventually sold it because it wasn't the best for what I was doing, and got as much for it as when it was bought.

The moral is, don't get hung up with equipment. While the camera processes the image, you choose the image it records.

'The best understanding of your equipment comes from using it. If you're not using what you already have, you won't use what you think you need.'
Not my words, but those of renowned Australian landscape photographer Ken Duncan. This holds true no matter what subject is in front of the lens.

So get your camera out and get on with producing great photos.

Peter Gower


The camera and lenses which you need depends very much on what interests you.

Your interests may be mainly family photos. Maybe
sports as well, or perhaps landscapes and wildlife.

If you start with lenses in the 18-70mm and 70-200mm ranges that should cover your everyday activities. Normally one of the base model cameras is all you will need. They are smaller, lighter and cheaper, and not as complicated.

If you are looking to cover largely wildlife subjects, add to the two above lenses with a longer telephoto and a macro. A telephoto for birds needs to be in the 400mm area.

For birds many photographers look for longer, longer, longer. If you are happy to carry around a 600mm f4 or 800mm f5.6 and have the finances to pay for these giants, go for it. Just take note that birds move quickly. If you are capable of quickly handling and moving these lenses to frame your subject, good luck.

A 400mm or 500mm is more practical to handle and many of these can hurt the pocket too. A 1.4x Teleconverter added to one of these will get further reach without lowering the image quality too much. Just remember to budget for a solid tripod and possibly a gimbal mount.

For macro, a lens in the 90mm or 100mm range should allow enough working distance for subjects such as butterflies and insects.