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Photo missionPhoto mission

Quality gear will get you farQuality gear will get you far

Pilots are mission-minded, and they are also mindful of weight and balance. Through trial and error, they'll assemble and make room in the confines of a cockpit for the equipment that will work best. Check out what you need for a photo shoot.

Columbia Men's Bahama long-sleeve shirt, $68; Nikon D850 $3,299.95,; Sirui A1005 tripod and Y-10 ball head $139.99 philosophy for photo equipment mirrors my requirements for aviation products such as headsets, avionics, and even engine oil—buy the best gear you can afford and it will likely serve you well for a long time.

For my money, I prefer Nikon's D850 because it produces a whopping 127-megabyte file per picture, and the color reproduction is stunning. The camera has a professional feel and handles photos and videos with equal ease. Nikon also has its act together with the strikingly accurate focusing system and longtime Nikon users will find camera controls like aperture, shutter, ISO, and exposure metering in familiar places. The accessory battery pack lengthens shooting time, allows for a vertical grip when you need it, and the camera remembers focus preferences for both horizontal and vertical operation. That's pretty cool when you're in a hurry documenting an airshow, capturing the daughter's latest escapades, or making vacation memories.

So, what's the best camera these days? The one that's in your hands. As my Associated Press photographer friend Dave “Mullet” Martin used to say, “Now go out and make some frames!”

Check out more in the 2018 AOPA Gear Guide.

Gear for Photo Mission

  • Gear for Photo Mission
    Hear what you want: David Clark DC ONE-X offers active noise cancellation, Bluetooth capability, and a sleeker earcup design. $895/ Also consider: Bose (, Faro Aviation (, Lightspeed (
  • Gear for Photo Mission
    Vanquish the glare: Breakthrough Photography X4 CPL circular polarizing filter placed on a camera lens cuts glare and sharpens images. From $139/
  • Gear for Photo Mission
    Get all the action: Small, lightweight, rugged GoPro Hero 6 is waterproof and does not need an external housing, with easy to use touch screen and extended battery life. $399.99/, Also consider: Garmin Virb (
  • Gear for Photo Mission
    Hold tight: Keep your action cam securely in place in the cockpit. NFlightcam Ultimate Action Kit works with GoPro or Garmin Virb and includes an articulating arm. $99.99/ Also consider: MyGoFlight (, RAM (
  • Gear for Photo Mission
    Stash it all: Store gear, cables, mounts; the whole nine yards in the ThinkTank Speed Racer V2.0 camera bag. Can be converted from belt pack to shoulder bag and fits up to an 8-inch tablet. $179.95/
David Tulis

David Tulis

Associate Editor Web/ePilot
AOPA Associate Editor Web/ePilot David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a seaplane-rated private pilot who enjoys vintage aircraft, aerobatic flying, and photography.

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