Below is a list of the gear, tools, and gadgets I use on my Naturalist adventures.
Macro Clip-on Lens
Number ONE, the best and first thing you should purchase if interested in getting into nature observation or photography is a clip-on macro lens. The world OPENS up when you view lichen, insects, and leaf hairs up close, AND take a photo of what you are seeing.
As most, if not all of us have a phone with a decent camera, attaching a clip-on lens with a 10-15x magnification will level up your Naturalist “eyes” and curiosity.
While there are many variations of these lenses, this Xenvo I’ve been carrying this one around in my pocket for over a year, so it’s quite durable. But if you have a jeweler’s loupe around you can create a similar effect by holding it up to the phone camera lens.
Macro & Underwater camera
The Olympus Tough TG-6 is a small but beastly camera, that’s waterproof and has built-in focus stacking. Woot woot!
Focus-stacking takes multiple images in a quick sequence at different focal lengths so that you can get a small subjet in focus at multiple fields of depth.
DSLR Cameras & Accessories
We have chosen to use Nikon cameras for our birding, macro-photography (mostly insects and fungi), and some botany.
The body we currently use is a d850. Our botany lens is Nikkor 105mm f/2.8. For birding, we have two lenses, the newer beast, the AF-S Nikkor 400mm f/2.8, and our older lens is an AF-S Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6. We also have a 50mm that we use occasionally, mostly for fun. When we want a boost we have a few Kenko extension tubes and teleconverters.
We use a Joby Gorillapod 5K tripod for botany and occasionally fungi, but mostly we go handheld.
The flash setup is a Nissin MF18 Macro Ring Flash. Which we often pair with a Raynox DCR-250 Super Macro Snap-op Lens. We have a DCR-150 but don’t use it as often. The 250 is always with us.
I use a Cotton Carrier 288Grey CCS G3 strap that attaches to my backpack strap. Whereas Trevor uses a BlackRapid Sport Multi-Terrain Sling for the birding setup.
It may seem like an archaic tool, but having a ruler for reference or recording measurements is essential!
This is the one I keep repurchasing, but it’s not perfect. The perfect ruler is one you never lose. . . .
It has metric and imperial measurements, is strong/sturdy, and is able to fit in my pocket/backpack side pockets.
Day Bags-OSprey’s Kestrel Backpack
We loooove the REI garage sale. We used to wait in line for their events, but now they have sections of their store for pre-owned and returned gear. That’s how I found Osprey’s 48L Kestrel bag after my old day bag was not cutting it.
Then Trevor was gifted a blue 38L version as a birthday gift.
I love the ability to use a water bladder, two hip pockets, included rain cover, and general size!
We have three insect nets currently, and unfortunately, they are all from BioQuip, which is no longer in existence. We have two canvas nets for sweeping, and one butterfly net. We pair this with an old sheet for dumping the insects on. I have bolstered the weep nets with thick canvas from fabric meant to be a painting drop cloth.
Miscellaneous small things
The additional small things we carry in our pockets or backpack include:
- Plastic 5ml Insect Vials
- Pocket Knives
Some items we only carry when necessary or desired:
- Garmin inReach Mini 2
- Liquid 10% KOH (for fungal identifications)
- Pencil, pens, eraser, ruler
- REI blank journal (for backpacking trips)
- Canson blank sketchbook (not durable enough for me, wouldn’t recommend)
Am I missing something you are curious to know about, gear-wise?
Send me a line, and I’ll add it to this page.