Chris Linder Photography - Science and Natural History Storytelling

Mini-pods can be very useful, like when you need to set up a timelapse in tight quarters on a ship. Photo © Helen Fields.

An Aquatech surf housing is ideal for half-in-half-outs. Photo © Max Wilbert.

About » What's in the bag?

Probably one of the most common questions I receive is "what kind of camera do you use?" I will say right up front that fancy cameras and a bandolier of lenses don't do much good on their own. It takes vision, perseverance, and a dash of luck to get great shots. Whatever camera you choose, learn it. Know where every button by feel so that you can operate it in the dark.

Cameras and lenses

  • 2x Nikon D850 camera: This is my primary camera for stills and video.
  • Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8: Razor sharp wide-angle zoom; I use this for landscapes, environmental portraits, and half-in-half-out underwater shots.
  • Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8: My primary wide to short telephoto zoom.
  • Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR: When I'm working from boats and can't physically get closer, this lens gives me that extra reach. It is also easily hand-holdable for tracking moving subjects like birds in flight.
  • Nikkor 70-200mm f/4 VR: Lighter version of the classic 2.8 tele zoom for when I am traveling light.
  • Nikkor f/1.8 primes: I use Nikon's lightweight f/1.8 primes (20/35/85) for ultralight shoots or when I need extra speed or shallow depth of field.
  • Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 micro lens: for detail & closeup work.

Indispensible accessories

  • Gitzo tripods & Really Right Stuff ballheads: For landscapes and video interviews, a solid tripod is essential. I use Gitzo 3540LS legs with a Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead.
  • Olympus LS-10 audio recorder: This high-quality linear PCM audio recorder is my tool of choice for multimedia work. I use it for both interviews and ambient sounds. It is always with me.
  • GoPro HD video camera: This tiny camera weighs a mere 6 ounces, comes with a waterproof housing, can shoot full HD video and has a built-in intervalometer for time-lapse photography. It's so light, I can put this camera places where I wouldn't dream of putting a DSLR.
  • DawnTech di-GPS: This tiny device works with my D850 to record the latitude and longitude right into my camera metadata. I can't tell you how many times scientists have asked me for this very useful bit of information, and I'm always glad I have it.
  • Filters: I carry a polarizer and an assortment of neutral density filters, which allow me to use slower shutter speeds in daylight.
  • SB-910 and SB-700 speedlights: For a little pop of extra light, these speedlights do the trick.
  • Aquatech surf housing and 8" dome port: If a project requires me to get wet, I use this underwater housing for my D850 & 14-24mm zoom. This is an ideal setup for half-in-half-out shots.

Carrying systems

I use ThinkTank and MindShift bags exclusively. Their cases are designed for working photographers who need fast access to their equipment. Zippers are sturdy and the bags are trim. Little things, like mesh pouches on the outside of lens cases to hold lens caps, are thoughtful add-ons. Every assignment requires a slightly different set of tools, but in general these are some examples of how I pack my bags:

  • Documentary: Nikon D850 body w/ Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 lens in a MindShift Multimount Holster 20; Nikon D850, Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8, Nikkor 105mm micro, Nikkor 70-200mm f/4, Olympus LS-10 sound recorder, and SB-700 flash in a ThinkTank Speed Freak beltpack.
  • Landscape/Wildlife: Nikon D850 body w/ Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 lens attached, Nikon D850 body w/ Nikkor 80-400mm lens attached, and either a Nikkor 20mm f/1.8 or Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 lens fit in a MindShift Backlight 36L backpack.

Special offers: if you spend $50 or more at ThinkTank using the links provided below, you will qualify for a free accessory with every order, including: Cable Management 20, Pixel Pocket Rocket, Modular Pouch, or Security Tag from ThinkTank, or the House of Cards

Click on this affiliate link to get started.

For this shoot of an Evenki reindeer roundup in Russia, I'm using a ThinkTank Digital Holster, perfect for fast access to a telephoto zoom. Photo by Max Holmes.