Alaska native John Hyde recommends the best photo gear to get you closer to
We asked John Hyde what he would like to add to his gear for nature and wildlife photography. Here's what's on his wish list:
Canon EF 500mm f/4 L IS USM
Hyde already has a 600mm lens in his kit to get close to very distant subjects, but he thinks this 500mm lens would be a lot lighter to carry uphill in the snow, without making him sacrifice too much in focal-length range.
Read more information about this lens from Pop Photo.
VisibleDust Arctic Butterfly SD800 Sensor Loupe Combo
Things get dirty when you're following animals around in the Alaskan wilderness. Hyde has been through plenty of sensor cleaning products, but he has yet to find one that he's really happy with. He'd like to try this kit from VisibleDust. It includes a loupe that provides a magnified, illuminated view of a camera's sensor, and three brushes for cleaning off the dust that the loupe reveals. The brushes are different sizes for use with more than one sensor size, and a brush for cleaning viewfinder mirrors and focusing screens is also included. VisibleDust also sells the loupe and brushes separately, as well as smaller, less expensive kits.
Solio Classic Universal Hybrid Charger
Hyde carries several camera batteries when he sets out on a hike. That's essential for lengthy trips away from power outlets, especially since cold temperatures can cause batteries to drain more quickly. He wouldn't mind having a couple more batteries on hand, and he'd also like to try a solar charger. This Solio model can gather energy from the sun or be used as a wall adapter, and it's compact and lightweight to carry. Solio also makes the Hybrid 1000, which doesn't work as a wall adapter, for about $20 less. Solio's products work with cameras that charge batteries internally and attach to the charger with a USB mini-B connector. To charge an SLR battery that requires an external charger, you'll need Solio's 12V Universal Adapter (about $12) and a car charger from the SLR manufacturer.
Canon 90mm f/2.8 TS-E
Hyde would like to add this tilt-shift lens to his collection. Tilt-shift lenses allow the photographer to swivel the optics from side to side and up and down by turning small knobs on the sides of the barrel. This shifts the angle of the lens in relation to the sensor (or film) plane, which alters both the perspective and the focus of the image. Tilt-shift lenses can be used to adjust perspective in order to maintain straight lines in a scene or to selectively control areas of focus for creative reasons. This is Canon's longest tilt-shift lens, making it a better choice for nature and wildlife photography than the more typical wide-angle tilt-shift options. Not all SLR manufacturers make tilt-shift lenses for their cameras. If you're looking for a tilt-shift option for a camera whose manufacturer doesn't offer one, consider Hartblei's Super-Rotator, which is available with a variety of mounts and costs between about $600 and $950, depending on focal-length. A lower-cost alternative to a high-end tilt-shift lens is the Lensbaby 3G, ($270) which is also available with numerous mounts.
CompactFlash and SDHC Cards
All of the photographers who contributed to this guide said they'd like to have more memory cards -- the faster and higher-capacity the better. Hyde emphasized that having a camera with dual memory slots is essential for him, to make sure he never misses a shot because one of his memory cards filled up at the peak of action. "Having that second card can save the day," he says. Hyde also made an interesting point for photographers who shoot RAW images in very high-key situations, for example around snow, water, or sand: RAW files that include a lot of white and very light areas can take up large amounts of memory, sometimes more than the camera's remaining-frame counter estimates. He recalled an occasion photographing a humpback whale that was breaching, with just one memory card in his camera: "Last time I looked I had 30 or 40 frames left on the CompactFlash. All of a sudden the camera jammed up. Those huge splashes of white took lots of memory." Hyde isn't particular about his brand of memory card, as long as it offers lots of capacity and speed.
Pelican 1630 Transport Case
When taking photo gear into especially rough conditions, such as on a boat, Hyde would like to have the option of packing it in this hard case. It's built to be crushproof, dust proof, and watertight, and even has an automatic pressure equalization valve. The case incorporates heavy-duty wheels and a sturdy retractable extension handle to make getting it onto a boat, plane, or land vehicle easier.