What I use to photograph nature, architecture and people

I am a geologist by profession, but during almost the entire 2010s, between field trips, I worked part-time as a photographer.

I worked as a photographer in the press service of Moscow State University. Lomonosov, freelanced and consulted for one company, a competitor of Adobe. I photograph nature, cities and people.

Now I have moved away from commercial photography, I do it for pleasure and for fans – I don’t have them, but I take pictures as if I do. At the same time, I put my observations into the telegram channel “Until the plant is repaired” and express them in the podcast “It seems that I’m a photographer.” For the last year, neither one nor the other has been monetized anymore. Now I don’t make any money from photography at all.

I’ll tell you how I came to the current setup and where I plan to roll it out next. I’ll ruin the mood for some readers right away: I shoot on Nikon.

Nikon Z6

Over 13 years of practice, I have changed four cameras. They were all of the same system, because I never had a reason to change anything . I saw growth points in upgrading my processing skills and reading offensive comments about my creativity on social networks. Most of my photographer friends also shot on Nikon, and that also kept them in the system. It was always possible to exchange experiences or techniques.

Nikon Z6 is a mirrorless camera. The closest analogue is Sony a7 3. I bought it during the first lockdown, when I urgently needed something to cheer myself up. Together with an adapter for lenses for SLR cameras, it cost me 129,480 rubles.

I used to shoot with  the Nikon D850 , which came out in 2017, but it is still one of the best DSLR cameras. When I bought it, it cost 190,000 rubles. DSLR cameras differ from mirrorless cameras at the hardware level only in the way they focus. But this one difference makes a big difference in how the photographer uses the camera.

The advantages of the DSLR Nikon D850 compared to the mirrorless Nikon Z6 for me are:

  • it turned on instantly – mirrorless cameras take a second or two;
  • it began to focus faster – with mirrorless cameras you can feel a millisecond lag;
  • All Nikon lenses released after 1959 fit it. They fit onto mirrorless cameras only through an adapter; autofocus does not work on many.

Mirrorless Nikon Z6 is better as follows:

  • Focused equally quickly through the small pinhole viewfinder and through the display. I no longer had to press the camera to my face to take photos;
  • stabilized the matrix well enough for me to shoot at a shutter speed of 1 s without blurring;
  • clicked 12 frames per second versus seven on the D850. When I was doing reportage photography, this was important;
  • focused throughout the frame and tracked the eyes. Autofocus on the DSLR was more tenacious, but in fact I missed it more often, because the focus points were only in the center and the eyes were not tracked;
  • was one and a half times smaller than the D850. If you put them side by side, it seems that one is about to devour the other.

The advantages of mirrorless cameras outweighed them. I whined in photo chats and got used to the new camera for six months, but in the end I don’t regret the transition. Now I’m looking at  the Nikon Z7 Mark 2 for  150,000-170,000 rubles , because I’m done with reportage photography and my requirements have changed.

The Nikon Z7 has  twice as many megapixels, which is the only difference from the Z6. When there are too many megapixels, photos weigh more and appear earlier with chaotic white and colored dots when there is little light. Photographers call this noise. During conferences or children’s parties, it is more convenient to shoot with a camera that makes less noise and the photos from which weigh less.

Nowadays I often shoot bears and mountains tens of kilometers away, so I need high resolution. This way I can cut out a meaningful part from the frame with more detail.

Nikon F80

When I’m in a romantic mood or want to waste money on  some whim, I shoot on film.

The Nikon F80 was the ideal film camera for me because it cost RUB 5,000 and supported all the optics I had. When I switched to mirrorless cameras, the optics stopped working. I left for him one of the cheapest lenses with a focal length of 50 mm; I pick it up once every couple of months.

Such cameras are now sold only on the secondary market.

DJI Mini 3 Pro quadcopter

I used to shoot with quadcopters that they bought for me at work. These were Mavic series drones. When I had to buy my own, I chose Mini 3:

  • it is relatively inexpensive – I found it for 60,000 rubles;
  • small and light – more options to take it with you;
  • removes acceptably – I can get out of it everything I need;
  • flies for several kilometers without losing the signal. This is usually enough for me.

Other options are designed more for videographers, but I don’t shoot videos. I took my most famous photograph with a drone.

I use quadcopters to photograph on expeditions and regular tourist trips all the time. If I don’t have enough space in my bag, I’ll probably pack a lens rather than a drone. A quadcopter gives you access to scenes that cannot be achieved in any other way, and different lenses simply capture the same  thing differently .