Year in Review: Photo Equipment for the Cyclist

My Dad gave me the family Kodak Tourist II folding camera when I was 12 years old to take on our Florida vacation. Little did he know that he was going to launch me onto a career as a photographer.

Over the years, I’ve used Nikon, Kodak, Canon and Pentax 35mm cameras; 4×5 Crown and Speed Graphics; a Mamiya 2-1/4 x 2-1/4 twin lens reflex (hated it) and view cameras (REALLY hated them). I’ve owned lenses from fisheye to 500mm and just about everything in between.

Three generations of Domke bags
Three generations of Domke bags

My favorite camera was a 1969 Nikon F black body that I bought used from a guy who needed money more than a camera. I used it so much that the finish was worn down to the brass. It was my “crash camera” that was in my lap for every takeoff and landing. It went under water when I got pitched out of the back of a truck covering a flood; it went into smoke-filled buildings and through several hurricanes. I could change every setting by feel. It was a great tool and it’ll outlast me.

When I made the switch to digital photography, I started with a Nikon Coolpix 950 and then moved onto a Canon point-and-shoot. I was frustrated by the lag between pushing the button and having the shutter fire. I also missed the WYSIWG world of single lens reflexe

Nikon D700 and Nikon D40Surly LHT front showing Arkel Handlebar bag

Kid Matt bought a Nikon D700 DSLR and acquired most of my old lenses. (Acquired as in, I went on vacation and returned to find that there was a lot more room in my closet.) He paid me back by giving me a Nikon D-40 when I retired.

You can read his excellent review here.

Follow on down through the comments and you can read how I feel about the D40 and feedback from others. Bottom line on the D40: I’ve rediscovered the fun of photography.

It’s the perfect camera for me. It works like a REAL camera, it’s light enough that I can carry it my my Arkel Small Bar Bag and it works under low light. The Arkel bag comes with a carrying strap, so I use it for a camera bag when I’m off my bike.

Nikon SB-600 Electronic Flash

Wittenberg cavernThe only thing that’s really disappointed me about the D-40 is its inability to serve as a master to fire the Nikon SB-600 electronic flash remotely. I wanted to shoot a cavern used for beer storage in the 1800s while I was on vacation and needed a remote strobe to light the back room.

From what I had read, it sounded like the built-in flash would trigger the remote. It wouldn’t. You have to be up a grade or two in cameras to make that happen. My workaround was to put the camera on a tripod and use a slow – six-to-eight second – shutter speed. My wife would fire the camera; when I saw her flash, then I’d fire mine manually in the back room.

You can only do that when you have a long shutter speed, obviously.

It’s a great little strobe, though. I loaned it to Kid Matt to shoot some party pix and he was thrilled. (I make sure NOT to leave it in the closet when I leave the house.)

Domke Shooting Vest

Matt in Domke vest
Matt in Domke vest

If I’m going to be doing serious shooting, I don my Domke shooting vest. It’s perfect for carrying my video camera, Nikon SB-600 flash, tape recorder with lapel mike, spare batteries, business cards, extra flash memory cards, a couple of large ziploc bags in case of rain and anything else that comes up.

Read the whole review of the vest here.

It was a little chilly when I was back in the Midwest in October,but zipping up the front make a good windbreaker. There’s mesh in the back to keep it from getting too hot in Florida.

We’ll talk about camera mounts and video in another review review.

2 Replies to “Year in Review: Photo Equipment for the Cyclist”

  1. UK Cycling Shorts,

    When I get around to writing about the cavern, I’ll make sure to email you.

    Thanks for the nudge. I’ll move it up on the to-do list.

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