Many times people will see a photo on the internet and I will get the question "What lens and camera do you use?"
While I am always tempted to say "It's not just the camera" I do admit that if you are serious about equine photography having the right gear and then knowing how to use it while save you tons of frustration and also help you make the kinds of images you envision. I am also a true believer that you don't have to have the fastest bestest lenses and the most expensive camera bodies to make great images. You can pick up used less expensive gear that is not as fast and may not have vibration reduction or image stabilization, so if you are on a budget these are things you will want to consider as you begin to accumulate gear. Get the best you can afford and don't cut corners with cheap lenses.
OK, so here is my list.
My camera bodies are the Nikon D3 and Nikon D700. I also have a Nikon D2x and D200, but this latest generation of bodies is superior to the older bodies with their high ISO and low light capabilities being just unbelieveable. I used to hate to shoot in low light, now I prefer low light over full sun. I no longer hesitate before jacking up my ISO as needed. This really has opened a whole new world for me photographically.
For lenses the Nikon 70-200 2.8 VR is my go to lens for most situations when shooting horses. This focal length range is ideal for equine shooters. If you are on a budget and shoot mostly outside in good light you can go to a slower lens without the VR at a significant savings. However once you shoot with the 2.8 lens you will be spoiled for life! I got to shoot with the Nikon 28-300mm lens last year and was impressed by the lightness and image quality. This is a great walking around lens, lightweight and versatile with great range and I now also have this lens and use it quite a bit, especially in more editorial type situations.
My other most favorite lens is the 300 2.8. The images from this lens and other fast prime lenses are superior to the zoom lenses, no question.
I also highly recommend a 1.4 teleconverter to use with your 70-200mm lens for when you need to zoom in more.
My lenses always have a UV filter. I don't use any other filters, I am bad at losing them and can never find them when I want them. The UV filter stays on to protect my lens.
For wide lenses I have the 24-70 and 17-24. I also have a 10.5 fisheye that is fun. In addition my prime lenses include a 50 1.4, 85 1.8, 105 2.8 and also a Lensbaby. The wide lenses and Lensbaby are something fun to play with to get you out of that zoom lens box!
Finally, when I am shooting horses with the long lenses I always shoot with a monopod (Manfrotto 679B) if I am going to be shooting for more than an hour or so. This will greatly reduce muscle fatigue and result in less images that are not sharp due to camera shake. It takes a while to get used to shooting with one, but it is worth it. It even makes a great walking stick if you have to hike itno a location and you can take a quick catnap with it if you are shooting long hours at a horse show ;)
I also have to give a huge plug to Think Tank Photo for their awesome Airport Roller case that I manage to stuff everything into when I have to fly. One day I will herniate myself heaving it into the overhead compartment but it never ceases to amaze me how much I can stuff into that thing!
This year I will be trying to post tips and tricks to my blog on a regular basis. I will also be offering private online/telephone/in person mentoring and portfolio review services to amateur and beginning pro photographers. If you are interested in this or have something you would like to see addressed feel free to drop me an email at email@example.com !
A big thanks to Barb Young and Grace Kellogg for allowing me to use these photos of me.