I try not to be a loud-mouthed gear whore.

Yes—I love technology and gear, and if I had an unlimited cash flow or deep pockets, I would own a significantly larger collection of camera gear.

I think it’s important to note, that while yes: expensive gear does not always mean “good” photographs, and that the photographer is always the defining and limiting factor, gear has its place, and in general, the better the gear, the less limited the photographer will be. As such, a less-limited photographer is often a more inventive and creative photographer. A “better” photographer if you will.

That aside, I thought that I would share one of my favorite camera/lens combinations right now.

Nikon D4 (2012) and Nikon AF-S 300mm F/4 PF VR (2015)

The D4 is Nikon’s 16 megapixel professional body from 2012: brand new it retailed for upwards of $6000. When I purchased it used in 2015, I got it for $2500. Today, it’s still widely used by full-time pros and competent amateurs like myself, and remains critically acclaimed as an exceptional sports and low-light camera, with few (if any) flaws.

The 300mm PF lens, is a marvel of engineering. Released in 2015, and retailing for upwards of $2000 brand new today, it takes super telephoto lens technology and jams it into a tiny package. It takes in half the light that Nikon’s premier 300mm F/2.8 does, but that lens retails for $6000, and when paired with my D4, the light loss isn’t a deal-breaker like it might be on a lesser body.

I write this not solely as a personal justification for spending many thousands of dollars on equipment that has not yet been recouped, but also as a note to others who might be in a similar position. With some judicious research, I found $8000-8500 worth of kit (brand new, today) for $4000: $2500 for the body, and $1500 for a used copy of the lens.

Together, the pair lets me reach out a bit longer than the standard pro-zoom 70-200 2.8, shoot in low light at 10 frames per second with superb autofocus, and all at half the cost of the equivalent system brand new, and less than half the cost of a D5 and a 300mm F/2.8 ($6500 + $6000)! And compared to that system, it’s also smaller, thus more portable and less conspicuous, easily able to be carried into a court room for a swearing in, or put in a bag and carried to a swim meet along with numerous other pieces of coaching clutter.

With said judicious research, the patience to wait for a cheaper used (but mint condition) samples to come along, and professional editing software and know-how, a compact and “budget” system of last-generation technology, combined with current used glass can certainly compete with a brand new system and top-of-the-line lenses, on all but the most technically critical of work.

Of course, if I had the money…I’d SURELY have newer, “better” equipment…


But that’s life, ain’t it?


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