From Toffa Berg Photography,  Gear and Equipment Reviews,  Practical Tips and Insights

The gear I use revisited

– The original blogpost: “The Gear I Use”
Since I first posted “The Gear I Use”, there’s been many updates to what gear I use, so I thought that I’ll let you in on what I’m currently using.


This is where the major update have been done. I no longer uses the Nikon D200 as my main camera body, but have upgraded it to Nikokn’s D800. My old D200 only gave a resolution of 10 MP which only just was enough for what I do, which is mainly landscapes for fine art and stock libraries. I have for a long time wanted to make the move to medium format, but with the prices of even the “cheepest” model (the Pentax 645AF-D) have been out of my budget range. Also a move like that would mean that I would need to invest in both camera and lenses making the investment even bigger. Then as Nikon released the D800 this year, it answered to my needs. It’s a camera system I’m allready bought into, is camera make that I know, and has the resolution I’ve been looking for. 
My current set-up with regard to camera body and grip is the D800 with the optional MB-D12 vertical grip. For me, a grip helps balance the camera and make shooting vertical easier. Also there’s some minor benefits with the grip with regards to FRS, and the option to use AA-batteries in emergency, but for all you out there thinking of getting a vertical grip for the first time with the D800, and you’re not used to use it, I would say that you should invest the money first in memory cards, then the grip if you feel you need it. Also, for those of you who is looking to upgrade your camerabody, and is thinking of the D800, take a minute to think about it as the D800 is not for everyone. It’s a camera more aimed for those who need high resolution and not speed. A great camera for landscapes and studio work, but for wildlife and action, it’s not what you’re looking for. 
One of the great advantages of the D800 is that the camera is very versatile with different settings. As there is in total of 8 memory bank to store settings. The camera also provide you with three diffrent resolutions, 36 MP full FX, 4×5 in-camera crop at 30 MP (with a crop factor of 1,1) and the DX crop at 15,4 MP (and the normal 1,5 crop factor as with all Nikon’s DX format camera). So for me, I’ve set up the camera with these settings as my shooting banks.
  1. Full FX (36 MP)
  2. 4×5 (30 MP, my default setting)
  3. DX for nature/wildlife work with auto-iso
  4. Full FX for nature/wildlife with auto-iso
Also different from how I set up my D200, is that I no longer have any of the camera profiles set to any memory bank, but I now uses them for exposure settings. Since I need different exposure setting with regards to EV-stop of the meter, I have these assigned to different memory setting.
  1. General
  2. Zone System (my default setting)
  3. Nature
As you see, I have different settings depending on what shooting situation I’m up against. So how I use these settings depend largely on the subject, but for the majority of time I have the Zone System setting as my default as this is what I mainly use. There is also different settings for auto-focus with each memory bank.
For metering I mostly employ either the Matrix or the spotmeter (but not as much for landscapes) as I find these two meters to work best for my shooting style. But lately I employ a handheld meter to either measure for landscapes and flash photography (to be explained later on), so I don’t use any different settings in regards to meter as I did with the D200.


I use Tamron SP zoom-lenses as my primary go-to lenses. For general work I use the Tamron SP 28-75 mm f2.8 and SP 70-200mm f2.8. It’s not the fastest lenses when it comes to auto-focus and 28-75mm widest setting tend to vignette with filters attached, but for me it’s not a problem as I shoot most of my images in 4×5 format which eliminate this problem. Another feature I like with the Tamron is it’s close-focus. The lens has a minimum focus-distance of 33 cm (1,04 feet) on the 28-75 and 95 cm (3,11 feet)on the 70-200mm, through out the entire focalrage which makes it easy to use for close-up photography. Yes, I know a dedicated macro-lens would have better control of both depth-of-field and sharpness, but since the majority of my pictures is not true macro, I don’t see the need for that lens yet.
I also have a Nikon AF 50mm f1.8 D and a Nikon non-AI 28mm f3.5 in my camerabag. The Nikon AF50 mm is a lens I either use for portraits in lowlight, consertphotography or close-up photography when I need more controll and sharpness. This lens is top notch, no more to say. The Nikon 28mm is mainly for landscape when I need more control of the settings and need to reduse the weight in windy conditions. 


When it comes to filter I use both square/rectangular filters and screw-in types. The screw-in types I use is U/V or Skylight filters to protect the glass of my lenses (as I’m mainly shooting near the coastline), and circular polarizers. The main brand of filters I use is Kenko (same as Hoya, but under a different name and lower price). The polarizer is ok and neutral compared to let say Cokin, which I mainly used earlier.
In the square/rectangular section of the filters I use a variety of different neutral density filters. I use 85mm Formatt Hitech with Hitech 85mm modular filterholder. The filterholder I use for the standar neutral density filters in a range from 0.3 to 0.9, often combined with a circular polarizer to gain a extra 2 stop from the polarizer, making the range og increasing the range to a maximum of 6 stops. A difference to earlier is that I now more employ the use of filterholder both for standard and graduated ND-filters.

My set of square filter roster contain these
Formatt Hitech 85 mm
ND Standar 0.3
ND Standar 0.6
ND Standar 0.9
ND Grad Soft edge 0.3
ND Grad Soft edge 0.6
ND Grad Soft edge 0.9
ND Grad Soft edge 0.3
ND Grad Hard edge 0.6
ND Grad Hard edge 0.9 


Yes I know that tripods are not an assessory, but to make this post a bit shorter, I put both tripods, camerabags and assessories here.
Yes, the larges assessory I use is the tripod. My main tripod is either the Giottos MTL-9251 B or Redged RTA-428 with mainly a Giottos MH-5001 3-way head attached. The Giottos is light and quick to setup. Since I’m on a budget, I had to prioritize other equiptment prior to updateing my tripod to carbon fibre. The Giottos MTL-9251 B is an aluminium tripod, with two quicklevers on the legs. These levers are the weakpoint of the tripod as I’ve manage to partially break two of then in fall that happened during a trip two years ago. There’s also a reversible center-colum, that can be replaced with a shorter one, but this is not a option I will chose as the Giottos tripod will be upgraded to either a basalt or carbon fibre tripod. As mentioned I also use a Giottos MH-5001 3-way head as this gives me more stability and more control. It’s more bulky, and not to mention weights twice as much as the Redged RNB-1 I used earlier, but as mentioned gives me more control and smoother operation.
The Giottos MTL-9251B have been replaced by a Feisol CT-3401 Carbon tripod that have been my new main tripod. It’s set up with the Giottos MH-5001 3-way head. The Feisol is without centre colum which has been a feature I’ve been looking for, but this is a feature that is mostly found on more expensive tripods from the makes like Gitzo which is beyond my budget.

The bags I use is Lowepro. My main bag is either the Vertex 300 AW backpack fitted with Lowepro Street and Field Pouch 60 AW, two Lowepro D-Res 25 AW to carry my binoculars and small assessories, and a Street and Field Bottle pouch (discontinoued version) or the DryZone Rover (see here for in-depth info) with the Street and Field Pouch 60AW, a D-Rez 25AW for binoculars, and the Bottle pouch for assessories or waterbottle when I don’t use the included HydraPak hydration system.

For on-site shots like portrait or consert I use Lowepro Nova 5 (simular to the Nova 200 Aw) but lacks the AW part.  This bag is what used when I shot film and used to lug around two different systems (Nikon F90x and a Mamiya MSX 500 with three lenses (all prime lenses) or a Canon AE 1). For consertphotography I find the bag now a cumbersome and have plans to change this to a smaller, softer bag. For portrait work I use Elnichrome light stands for my speedlights.

Other assessories I use is a Sekonic L-358 handheld lightmeter, Sekonic NP-Finder 1° spot attachment, Nikon SB-28 speedlight, Think Tank Pixle Pocket Rocket for memory card storage, Lumiquest Softbox III (speedlight softbox), Hänhel Combi RT for use as remote flash trigger, and a Hänhel Cable release. Since the Nikon D800 has an in-camera virtual horizon I don’t employ a hotshoe spirit level any more. 
I also use SanDisk Ultra and Extreme Pro memory cards in both CF and SD.
Link for the gear I mentioned (link to B&H)
– Nikon D800
– Nikon MB_D12
– Nikon AF 50mm f1.8D
– Tamron SP 28-75 mm f2.8 Di (I use the old version with aperature ring)
– Tamron SP 70-200mm f2.8 Di (I use the non-VC version)
– Formatt Hitech 85 Series Standar ND set (0.3-0.9)
– Formatt Hitech 85 Series ND-Grad Soft Edge (0.3-0.9)
– Formatt Hitech 85 Series ND-Grad Hard Edge (0.3-0.9)
– Formatt Hitech 85 Series Modular filterholder (remember to also order mounting adapters in the filter diameter of your lens)
– Kenko Pro-1 U/V
– Kenko Pro-1 Circular Polarizer
– Giottos MTL-9251 B
– Giottos MH-5001 3-way head
– Feisol CT-3401
– Redged RTA-428
– Lowepro Vertex 300 AW
– Lowepro DryZone Rover
– Sekonic L-358 Lightmeter
– Sekonic NP-Finder 1° Spot
– Lumiquest Softbox III
– Hänhel Combi RT
– Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket 

Toffa Berg, a dedicated landscape photographer hailing from the picturesque landscapes of Stavanger, Norway. Toffa's lens is a portal to the intimate and less-traveled corners of Norway's natural beauty. With a passion for solitude and an aversion to city life, Toffa's photography is a reflection of the quiet moments and serene vistas that capture the essence of the Norwegian wilderness. He runs both Toffa and Knotten and Toffa Berg Photography. Under this author profile he writes in the power of being a photographer and not a vanlifer.

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