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What’s In My Bag: One Photographer's Essentials For Wildlife & Conservation Photography

Kate Newman (@katenewmanphoto) is a conservation, wildlife and nature photographer who photographs flora & fauna around the globe. Kate is dedicated to using visual art as a tool to inspire conservation action. Originally a writer, she now makes photographs to share meaningful messages of holistic conservation, sustainability, and the importance of protecting the wild. Newman uses a minimal, travel-friendly Sony Alpha setup of just a pair of bodies and a few key lenses. We connected with her to get a look inside her bag and learn how nature and conservation has become both her avocation and her career. 

Kate Newman's gear for wildlife and ocnservation photography

See which Sony Alpha camera and Sony lenses conservation, wildlife & nature photographer Kate Newman always includes in her kit. 

Camera

Sony Alpha 7 IV: The Sony Alpha 7 III was my first introduction to mirrorless cameras and the stepping stone into my love for photography. I learnt so much with this camera during my time spent in lockdown, photographing the wildlife in my backyard and researching as much as I could. I very quickly learnt that Sony was the brand for me and that this was the career I dreamt of chasing, so when the Alpha 7 IV was released I knew it would be my next step.

Photo by Kate Newman. Sony Alpha 7 IV. Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/5.6, ISO 1600

Photo by Kate Newman. Sony Alpha 7 IV. Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/5.6, ISO 1600

Since this purchase I truly haven’t looked back ⎯ being able to crop-in in post-production without losing quality is very important for me, so I love that the Alpha 7 IV has enough megapixels to do so without filling up so much space on memory cards and hard drives. The new responsive autofocus ⎯ particularly bird and animal ⎯ have been a very welcomed upgrade, and the incredible video features are perfect for capturing a moment in full rather than freezing it in time. It really is the ideal all-round camera (like the Alpha 1’s little sister) and it’s leveled up my work in so many new ways.

Photo by Kate Newman. Sony Alpha 7 IV. Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master. 1/1000-sec., f/5.6, ISO 1000

Photo by Kate Newman. Sony Alpha 7 IV. Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master. 1/1000-sec., f/5.6, ISO 1000

Lenses

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master: My main lens! I adore that the 100-400 gives me so much versatility to photograph a close-up portrait of an animal or to capture the entire scene. It’s lightweight, easy to travel with, and very rarely leaves my camera. Although it’s f/5.6, the versatility brings so much ease to my work which is by far the biggest bonus. I can’t imagine my kit without it!

Photo by Kate Newman. Sony Alpha 7 IV. Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/5.6, ISO 320

Photo by Kate Newman. Sony Alpha 7 IV. Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master. 1/2000-sec., f/5.6, ISO 320

Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G: For a long time I was photographing the tiny details with my 100-400 (which still worked very well) but having a macro lens has truly changed the game. It allows me to get closer to my subject and inspect the intricate details of nature in a whole new way. The close focal range allows me to see areas of something minuscule without losing focus, which is truly unmatched.

Photo by Kate Newman. Sony Alpha 7 IV. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/6400-sec., f/4.5, ISO 1000

Photo by Kate Newman. Sony Alpha 7 IV. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/6400-sec., f/4.5, ISO 1000

Sony 135mm f/1.8 G Master: Although it’s one of my most recent purchases, the 135mm has quickly become one of my all-time favorite lenses! It’s incredibly fast and sharp, and perfect for situations when the light is low or I’m looking to capture a dreamy portrait at f/1.8. It has become a very valuable piece of gear for me and has filled a gap in my bag that was missing.

Photo by Kate Newman. Sony Alpha 7 IV. Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master. 1/500-sec., f/5.6, ISO 3200

Photo by Kate Newman. Sony Alpha 7 IV. Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master. 1/500-sec., f/5.6, ISO 3200

Accessories

Sony TOUGH SD Cards: The fastest, most reliable SD cards on the market!

Shimoda Explore V2 30L: This bag is incredibly comfortable, perfect for all adventures and can fit multiple bodies and lenses whilst still being carry-on friendly. As many often notice due to the colors in my work… I’m kind of obsessed with the color green so this really is my dream bag.

Peak Design Travel Tripod: I generally prefer to work handheld, but I do love this tripod for video work, long exposures or times when my arms are fatigued. It’s lightweight and very easy to set up/pack down (which is vital for wildlife photography where things can change very quickly).

Other accessories: Peak design capture clip, polar pro defender lens covers, a reusable water bottle, a tote bag (to easily carry gear where quick access is needed), ocean-friendly sunscreen, a bag to pick up trash, a hat, and of course lots of lens cloths, air blowers and wipes for cleaning on the go.

See more of Kate Newman's work on Instagram @katenewmanphoto.

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