Gear List: Scott Jones
I like to travel as light as possible so I don’t bring anything I’m not going to get plenty of use from. Three bodies, each of different resolution, five lenses, strobe, rain gear, bags to carry lenses, belt and suspenders to carry the bags and support my monopod. That’s it! Below, my complete (or nearly so) gear list.
Nikon D4 Though it has now been replaced by the Nikon D4S as Nikon’s flagship DSLR, the D4 is still a great camera body, if a bit (a lot) heavy. At 16.2 megapixels it offers a lot of flexibility for cropping, has wonderfully quick focus and outstanding image quality.
Nikon D700 My workhorse since I arrived in MotoGP and just a beautiful camera body. The low light quality is still fantastic even though the D700 is getting a bit long in the tooth. With the battery pack it does 8fps when needed, and without the battery pack is something like a manageable DSLR for travel and casual shoots. You can still find these used and in good shape, and they’re a great bargain for the quality of the camera.
Nikon D3x Also getting old like the D700, but still amazing quality with near-medium format resolution. A bit of an odd choice, perhaps, for a motor sports body, but it performs really well with fast focusing and beautiful image quality as long as there’s enough light. Its main weakness is the low light performance, so this one doesn’t get much use at Qatar’s night race.
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 Wide Angle Zoom On full-frame bodies this is WIDE and offers fantastic performance throughout the zoom range with a constant 2.8 aperture. Great in the pit lane and for landscape work.
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 Always in a bag on my belt, this lens goes on whenever I’m in pit lane, parc fermé, or on the grid. I use it tracks die for wide shots, too.
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 Like the 24-70, this lens is extremely versatile and I use it all the time in pit lane and trackside, both. It has also been updated with a VR II version which addresses the small-aperture vignetting of the version I still use.
Nikon 500mm f/4.0 This is the item that gets the comments and looks at the track. Years ago when I decided to stop renting long lenses to suit a given track’s requirements, I went with the 500 for several reasons. The 400mm f/2.8 and the 600 f/4 are both monsters compared to the relatively light and compact 500. Given the travel and my preference to carry my gear on flights instead of check it, the 500 is very portable while delivering excellent sharpness and contrast. The 500 fits inside my ThinkTank roller, though the carbon fiber lens hood does not and must be checked. The 500 is also light enough that it doesn’t feel like a ton of bricks after a long weekend.
To carry bodies and lenses around without worrying about either slipping off my shoulders I use UPstrap products. For the 500mm lens I use a SLR/LT Camera Strap with Kevlar Web, and on my bodies I use SG Camera Straps with Rapid Release Vectran Loop Ends. On all three camera bodies I have Medium Rapid Release Vectran Loop Camera Attachment Ends so that I can swap straps as needed.
Nikon SB-900 Speedlight Some really nice advances in the controls since the SB-800, now so easy even I can use it! It has been updated to the current SB-910 version but I don’t know what changes have been made.
Manfrotto 680B Monopod No frills, solid piece of kit. Not as light as carbon fiber, but not as fragile, either. Can’t tell you how many carbon fiber monopods I’ve seen with busted bits in the media center.
Think Tank Airport International 2.0 I’ve been all over the world with this champ of a roller and never had it fail to pass the carry-on test, even in the dreaded Frankfurt Airport. There are some sections of overhead bin space, especially on the smaller commuter planes, that are too small for the Airport Security but any good-sized airliner should handle the International, no problem.
Think Tank Photo Steriod Speed Belt and various bags. I’m a huge fan of Think Tank Photo gear, and this system allows me to carry everything I need around the track. All the bags have rain covers in case it starts to pour, and the zippers etc are great quality.
Think Tank Hydrophobia 300-600 Rain Cover and Hydrophobia Rain Cover For 70-200mm Lens Rain covers are crucial elements of my rain gear. These keep the 500 dry on one body and the 70-200 dry on the other.
Tamrac 5549 Adventure 9 Backpack. The Adventure 9 is how I carry my laptop, cables etc on planes with the Think Tank roller. I really like Tamrac gear, too.
I own only two filters, and at the track often use Singh-Ray’s Vari-ND adjustable ND filter. It’s great for allowing slow shutters speeds in bright daylight, and the 77mm version fits on both the 24-70 and 70-200 lenses. If you’re looking at one of these, be aware that it’s a THICK filter, so on wider lenses, the slimmer version is well worth the extra cost. It produces an epic vignette at 24mm.
15″ Macbook Pro with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6 and Adobe Photoshop CS6 as most often used apps.
Away from the track I carry several items that I couldn’t do with out:
Nikon MC-30A Remote Trigger Release I used to use a cheap knockoff until I went to the Southwest and the thing wouldn’t work in the cold temperatures. I’ve never had the Nikon cable fail. Easily worth the extra cost if you ever work outside temperate conditions.
Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro Tripod Again, no frills, could be lighter, could be heavier (both are desireable in certain situations) but this is a proper, solid, aluminum-leg tripod that is a bit heavy especially for air travel, but which does a tripod’s job of being steady as a rock beneath a camera.
B+W 77mm Kaesemann Circular Polarizer A very thin CP that produces beautiful results.
Tamrac 5588 Expedition 8x Photo/Laptop Backpack The Expedition will carry the 500mm lens with most everything else I need on landscape/adventure shoots where I need the big lens and must carry my gear instead of roll it.
I clean my camera sensors (actually the low pass filter that sits on top of the sensor itself) first with a Visible Dust Hurricane Blower and then with Visible Dust Plus Formula Cleaning Solution and Visible Dust 1.0x Sensor Cleaning Swabs.