Below is a list of my favorite gear that I bought over the years. These items have been in use for a long time and stood up to travel, daily use, wear and tear. Some items are no longer being made, like my receiver or camera, in those cases I list the replacement item.
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I've been using a Pentax K-30 for all my photography and it has worked out for me really well. In the beginning I used my old lenses from a K-1000 but since come to appreciate the K-30 for its all-weather capabilities. I'm not concerned about rain or snow, salt water at the beach or getting splashed at the pool.
The K-30 camera is no longer being made, its' best replacement is the K-70.
This is my go-to lens at swim meets at practices. It has enough reach to catch facial expression of swimmers half way down the pool. It's also sharp enough to re-crop and enlarge any photos. It's weather resistant so no hiding of the camera when out in the elements.
This lens has been replaced with a new model. The new eddition uses new technology that my old K-30 can not support. The new version no longer uses a shaft to control auto-focus and therefore focuses much faster is is much quieter.
The normal kit lenses that come with DSLR cameras are usually basic and can easily be pushed to their limits. This is especially noticeable in low light conditions or soft (slightly out of focus) images. I had this issue with the 18-55mm lens that came with my K-30. Eventually I decided to find a lens that is capable of capturing good phots indoors under low light conditions. The Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4 DC Macro filled this need just fine.
Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 Contemporary DC Macro OS HSM (please select the one for your camera.)
This is a nice little tripod. It's a travel tripod but I use it whenever I need a tripod. It easily fits in my backpack, not tied to the side. A full bottle of water is heavier than this thing. If you're looking for a practical tripod check this one out.
I unintentionally use SanDisk Extreme or Extreme Pro SD cards exclusively. I haven't had any failures. The faster the better: Fast read times when you copy the images to your computer and fast write times to get the image off the camera sensor. A high frames-per-second camera requires a fast SD card.
I don't like camera strap around my neck. I use two items made by Peak Design that allows me to keep my camera close and secure. One is a hand strap that keeps the camera from being knocked out of my hands, should someone bump into me. The other attaches to a belt or backpack to stow away the camera and keeps your hands free.
This is a tiny, affordable, powerful router from Ubiquiti. It does pretty much anything you need it to do. Once you exhausted the web configuration tool additional features are available via the command line. It can be powered via POE along with one other POE powered device. This is not a simple domestic-use router, you should have a good idea of how routers work. This router hasn't required a reboot other than firmware updates since I bought it.
Use this network switch when you have multiple network devices but only one available network drop/uplink port. I've had this thing under my desk for years and never had to power-cycle it, very reliable - I have two. Plug-and-play, nothing to do other than plug in the power and network cables - it figures out the rest. If you have a TV, a DVR, a gaming console, a media player (Apple TV, Roku, etc) that all require Internet access you can use this to connect them to your ISP's modem.
This is the battery I have with me everyday at work. It's handy when I have to charge up my iPhone after listening to music and podcasts all day. It has enough capacity that it doesn't require charging every day, it can recharge an iPhone two or three times before requiring a recharge. I carried this battery in my backpack for a week in Japan keeping a rented MiFi hotspot powered for the entire day.
This is the charger that goes along with the battery above, it works with any device that requires USB charging. This one has two ports so I have used it to change the Anker PowerCore and my iPhone at the same time. This also went to Japan and served well. It will travel to Europe as well, with a simple adapter it will work anywhere with outlet voltages from 100-240v
These things are great, they have replaced batteries in clocks, remotes, flashlights, and cameras. I also use these are back-up batteries for my DSLR camera.
Sadly my Denon AVR-E400 is no longer being made. This receiver has been in my cabinet for a number of years and switches between source components delivering excellent sound quality. There is a huge difference between using your TV's built-in speakers and this receiver. I have several components connected to this unit, including a Denon CD player, TiVo, DVR, Apple TV, and Blue Ray player. This receiver up-scales standard definition video very well if you have an older DVD player, for example.
Along with Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica (2003, see below), one of the best sci-fi shows ever. Strangely not available in Blue Ray. Some episodes in the beginning are avoidable but it gets much better in later seasons. Starget: SG1 was followed by Stargate: Atlantis and Stargate: SGU.
The other excellent SciFi series. Religion, politics, human nature are explored in this series. Just buy and watch, you won't be sorry. If you wonder where 'frakk' or 'toaster' (not an actual toaster) comes from, here ya go.
Edwards James Elmos (Stand and Deliver, Blade Runner), Mary McDonnel (Dances With Wolfs, The Closer, Major Crimes), Tricia Helfer (Lucifer, Powers), Grace Park (Hawaii Five-0, The Border), Katee Sackhoff (The Flash, Longmire, Oculus, Riddick), and many others are excellent in the series.
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