Simon Mackie Nature Photography

Simon Mackie Nature Photography



While camera equipment alone does not take pictures -- photographers do that -- working in a camera shop I am frequently asked as to the equipment I use. 

I've always used Nikon equipment but this does not mean that you should follow suit. If you already own a certain manufacturers lenses then an upgrade to a digital body from the same company is obvious. Most lenses designed to work with film cameras will also work on digital camera bodies , just as long as the mount is correct ( Nikon AF for Nikon AF and Canon EOS for Canon EOS etc) Lenses designed specifically for digital will always give the best results.

Ideally the wildlife photographer has a long , prime telephoto lens. This will enable you to practically frame a small bird or animal and retain the detail and quality of image. Ideally a wildlife photographer should own a lens of at least 500mm focal length. A cheap option is to use extension tubes to lengthen existing lenses.
As soon as you attach a lens to a DX format Nikon digital SLR it inceases its 35mm equivalent rating by 1.5X eg: a 100mm lens would become 150mm (the f-stop does not change) For nature photography this is a real bonus as it means you can add a teleconverter to a telephoto lens to create a very long lens and retain low aperture numbers. My 200-400mm f4 added to the D500 becomes 300-600mm super-zoom with no change in f-value , add a 1.7X converter and it becomes a 1020mm f6.7 super-telephoto lens that still has full AF control. At this magnification ( approx. 20x ) a tripod is a must to allow slower shutter speeds. All long lens photography benefits from the use of a tripod , enabling smaller apertures and better depth of field.

My favourite lens in the summer months has got to be the Sigma 180mm macro. An easy to use close-focus telephoto with sharp optics , this lens can give real macro images and still retain a good "working distance" that is great for alert flying insects but also flowers.

Here's what I currently use:

Cameras :

   Nikon D800 Digital SLR body

Nikon D800 Digital SLR

   Nikon D500 Digital SLR body

Nikon D500 Digital SLR

Tripods and Heads:

Manfrotto 443 carbon fibre tripod
Velbon Ultra Max i M
Manfrotto 128RC heads

Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron


Ophrys candica

Lenses :

    Nikon 60mm micro f2.8G ED lens

   Nikon AF-S 60mm micro f2.8G ED lens

Nikon 16-85mm VR f3.5-5.6 DX lens

   Nikon 16-85mm VR f3.5-5.6 DX lens

Sigma 180mm f3.5 Telemacro lens

    Sigma 180mm f3.5 macro lens

Nikon 70-200mm f4 Telephoto lens

    Nikon 70-200mm f4 Telephoto lens

Nikon AF-S 200-400mm f4 VR lens

  Nikon AF-S 200-400mm f4 VR

Nikon 2X TeleconverterNikon 2X Teleconverter Nikon 1.7X TeleconverterNikon 1.7X Teleconverter


My Nikon creative lighting system

       My Nikon creative lighting system