Nathan Griffin Photographs

misc. gear

4 o'clock flower

It is easy to get lost in the sea of camera accessories that photographers use. I will try to summarize what items are useful in my bag and which are not.

Photoshop has greatly reduced the need for filters on the camera. I can't say that I mess with many of them. The only filter that I wholeheartedly recommend is the polarizing filter.

I have a Nikon circular polarizing filter. Polarizing filters are not cheap. It takes a good manufacturer to build a polarizing filter that does not introduce a color cast in your images. I have had great sucess with the Nikon version. The Nikon polarizing filter also offers a front element that is larger in diameter than most - this helps to avoid vignetting.

Most people think the greatest need for a polarizing filter is to reduce reflections on surfaces like glass, or a lake. this can be handy, but the main effect I am after is for more saturated colors. A polarizing filter makes colors more saturated and vivid. It is especially handy for a bright sky. When you are out in the middle of the day trying to capture pictures in the wrong light, the polarizing filter can help to cut through haze and make the sky more vivid and bright blue. It can be a good effect and has helped many of my pictures.

The newest filters in my bag are two neutral density graduated filters from Hitech. I have the 0.6 soft and the 0.9 hard, both in the 85mm width that will fit in a standard Cokin P type holder. I hope to have example pictures posted and a full description of these filters in the near future. (example pictures are now up on my ND instructional page.) I am very excited to the possibilities opened up with this product and hope they help me to deal with high contrast lighting situations better.

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Tripods and Heads:

A good tripod and head is a great investment in photography. If you buy a good version it will often be in use for longer than your digital SLR, so invest wisely.

If I was buying today, I would look at the Bogen Manfrotto 3001BN or the Gitzo Explorer G2220. Everyone seems to lust after the carbon fiber models with the sole advantage being lighter weight. You should go to a store and heft the carbon and aluminum versions side by side and decide if the carbon model is worth doubling the price.

My previous tripos was a cheapie Velbon. Not a great tripod, but it was much better than no tripod, which is what I see most people trying to get by with. I have currently purchased a new Gitzo Explorer G2220 and I use it as my main tripod.

The contenders that I have considered for a head are the Markins M10, Really Right Stuff (RRS) BH-40, and the Arca Swiss B1. I finally purchased the Really Right Stuff BH-40 a few weeks ago and am getting used to it. It is a wonderful tool that is highly recommended.

The standard for quick release system is the Arca Swiss type and I would not consider any head or other equipment that was not compatible with the Arca Swiss type quick release. I currently use a Really Right Stuff plate on my Nikon FE2.


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