My War Horses

The first thing many people ask when they first meet me is "So tell me what camera do you use?" The question that soon follows is "Is that the best camera?"

For years I responded politely to people that the camera is only a tool and its the user that makes a difference. More often than not the response would be "Can you produce the same results with my camera?" and he/she would hand over a point-n-shoot :-|

I tried explaining that putting Schumacher in a Maruti 800 is not going win him a race. At the same time nor is making you race in a F-1 car. My work is pretty similar, you would need a good camera plus a better photographer to use that camera to its full capacity. I was probably the only guy who found this response convincing. Most people would smirk and walk away :@

At one point I was so frustrated with this question that my response started getting nasty - "Do you ever ask your surgeon what brand of knife he uses?" or "Do you ever ask your tailor what sewing machine he uses?".  A few people did call me a narcissist.

Anyway those experiences apart, I thought I'll write a post on the equipment I own & use.


Camera bodies:

Pre Digital I used a Pentax K100o with a 28-80 lens.

I went digital in Jan 2006 with a Nikon D70S (with an 18-70 lens), also got a D40X a little later as a second body, then upgraded to a D300 & then a D800.

Today I use only a D800, two of them actually.

Each body links to ken rockwell's review of that piece of equipment.



I have a variety of lenses from 12mm to 500mm depending on what,where and how I shoot.

I love my 50mm f/1.8 and that's my most used lens till date. The 85mm f/1.4 has become my most used lens (as of 2015). It is my primary long/tele lens.

My primary wide lens is now a 24-70 f/2.8. or a 35mm/1.4 depending on the space and light available.

In addition I use a 70-200 f/4 VR, a Sigma 15mm fisheye and a Tamron 90mm Macro at weddings, street/travel and most other day to day work.

Specifically for wildlife I use a 70-300 VR when shooting large mammals and a Tokina 150-500 f/5.6 otherwise.

When shooting architecture or small interior spaces I also use a Tokina 12-24 f/4.

A lensbaby for some creative pictures and some really interesting bokeh.


What lens for what photo:

The 50mm is the bestest glass ever. Its called a standard lens and is definitely the worlds most used lens. I'm not going to write much about that lens (loads of information available on the internet).

I love it because

  • Its fast - wide open aperture of f/1.8 works great in low light. Typically useful for indoors, parties, late evening street photography etc
  • DoF - the fast aperture of f/1.8 gives very narrow DoF and hence useful in creating a sense of selective focus. Get only what you want in focus and blur the rest!
  • Its closest to the perspective the human eye sees - Which is why its called a standard or normal lens.

When I need wider than 50mm, my first choice is the 24-120 f/4 and then a 12-24 f/4 or a 14-28 f/2.8 (depending on how wide I need and how much light is available)

When I need longer than 50mm, my first choice is the 70-200 f/4 and then a 70-300 VR or a 150-500 f/5.6 (depending on how much longer I need)

For portraits: I use the 50mm f.1.8 or the 70-200 f/4. After I got my 24-70 f/2.8 I use an 85mm f/1.8 more than my 50mm.

For landscapes: Mostly the 24-70 f/2.8 and the 12-24 f/4

For events: 24-70 f/2.8 and a 85mm f/1.8 on 2 D800 bodies (also keep a SB910 speedlight ready & mounted on the camera)

For street: Mostly the 50mm f/1.8. Sometimes the 70-200 f/4 and very rarely the 24-120 f/4 (when I badly need to go wide)

As of 2014

I use Nikon D800 bodies and a bunch of high quality professional lenses.

My most common lens set up is a 24-70 f/2.8 & an 85mm f/1.4

If I don't have much room to shoot, I use a 50mm f/1.4 instead of the 85mm.

If the light is pretty low, I use a 35mm f/1.4 instead of the 24-70. Although I love the 35mm for the quality, I dont find it as dependable or reliable as my 24-70.

If 85mm is not long enough (like when I shoot large stage events) I use the 70-200 (provided there is ample light)

For a few dramatic shots of the venue and/or buildings I use a 15mm fisheye occasionally.

The lensbaby comes out once in a while for some creative shots (pretty rarely though)


I'd love to hear your thoughts too. Feel free to comment on what you think about this post and what lenses/camera choices you would choose for various situations.