Michael Martin is one of the most famous professional photographers in Germany. When he’s not filling large halls with his multivision shows like “Planet Desert”, the Nikon Ambassador explores the remotest corners of the world. The great travel and nature photographer tells CHIP which cameras, lenses and other accessories he could always count on on his expeditions.
The likeable adventurer and qualified geographer not only talks about the special challenges and moments of happiness, but also freely reveals which equipment he found really helpful on his expeditions. He has been taking photos with a Nikon DSLR for years and always has an impressive arsenal of professional zooms and fixed focal lengths in his photo backpack.
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“Even if the latest mirrorless system cameras have even better sensors and eye recognition for autofocus, I’ll hold onto my D5 for a while,” says the extreme photographer.
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Zoom lenses for great landscapes
Important for extreme shooting conditions in the desert: All Martin zooms are protected by a rubber lip on the bayonet against the ingress of splash water or dust. Super tele, tele and standard zoom are also image stabilized. “That allows me to expose at least two steps longer than the reciprocal of the focal length would allow,” explains Martin. According to this rule of thumb, for example, you should only take photos with your hand at a focal length of 200mm if an exposure time of 1/200 seconds or less is set, as otherwise the picture could be blurred by blurring. Image stabilized Nikon lenses have the abbreviation VR (Vibration Reduction) in the product name.
Prime lenses for portraits with bokeh
In addition to zooms, there are also three fixed focal lengths in the adventurer’s photo backpack. He uses two of them for portraits of people he meets on his travels: “With the 28 mm wide angle I get more of the surroundings in the picture, the 105 mm telephoto lens shows a narrower section of reality,” says Martin. “Unfortunately, I use the 105 mm macro far too seldom”.
The two portrait lenses offer a light intensity of even f / 1.4, which goes hand in hand with a particularly professional look. “When the aperture is fully open, the face is completely sharp, while the foreground and background recede with wonderful bokeh,” explains the professional photographer. These lenses are not image stabilized, which would make little sense anyway for moving subjects such as portraits.
What else could be useful
The carbon tripod with the Novoflex ball head is one of Martin’s oldest photo equipment, which he still likes to use. Due to the unusual construction, the ball head does not sit in a shell, but rather the camera rides on it. “This means that the ball head is always squeaky clean,” says Martin. “Unfortunately, only the blue anodizing has suffered from the many sandstorms in the deserts”. The Novoflex model from Martin is no longer available, the Magicball tripods have a similar design as the one Novoflex Triopod Travel MagicBall.
Martin has now completely banned the clip-on flash from his photo backpack. The experienced professional finds that it still made sense as an artificial fill-in light in analog photography, even if the result always looked somehow artificial. “Today the sensors are much more sensitive to light, and a flash would only destroy the mood in many subjects. Today, areas that are too dark can be brightened up in post-processing without much effort,” says the photographer.