Galen Rowell’s Camera Bag
Mountain Light gets many inquiries from Galen’s fans wanting to know what photo equipment he used to make his amazing images. In response, we are pleased to present the following list of the equipment that Galen was using most recently. Items in this list are marked with colored dots to show how they were most often used:
Almost always in Galen’s general purpose camera bag.
Often to be found in the chest pouch Galen would take on “fast and light” adventures (though not all at once).
Items Galen carried for special purposes.
Cameras

Nikon F100
This was Galen’s primary camera for the last few years of his life, replacing his N90s. It may be the most practical Nikon ever for photography in the field.

Nikon N80
A lightweight camera with virtually all of the important features that an advanced photographer could ever want–this may be the best value in a 35mm SLR. Galen used the N80 extensively on treks, climbs, and trail runs, and a number of images made with it grace our gallery walls.

Nikon F4
Galen’s primary camera in the late 80s and early 90s, he continued to use it with considerable frequency. Considering the amazing F5 too heavy for his “fast & light” style, Galen preferred the F4 with its light and compact MB-20 grip loaded with 4 lithium AA batteries, and he loved its matrix metering compatibility with his manual focus Nikkor lenses. In later years, this unstoppable workhorse was called into service primarily for aerial, macro, and some long telephoto work.

Nikon FM-10 and FE-10
These inexpensive, lightweight, plastic, manual focus bodies accompanied Galen when he needed to go ultra-light on climbs and trail runs. These cameras prove that the priority is to “be there when the light is right” even if only with a simple camera and lens. The top of the line quality of modern “professional” cameras and lenses often comes with a weight penalty that can incline the photographer toward photographing from the roadside, rather than going further afield for a better position and a superior photograph.

Lenses (all Nikkor)
15mm ƒ3.5 AI-S
Rectilinear extreme wide angle.

16mm ƒ2.8 AF-D
Full-frame “fisheye” lens.

18–35mm ƒ3.5–4.5 ED AF-D
Optical performance competitive with the Nikkor 17-35 ƒ2.8 AF-S at a third of the price and weight. This was a fixture in Galen’s camera bag.

20mm ƒ4 AI
This was among Galen’s favorite lenses for landscape photography. It was only made for a brief period in the 1970s, and was therefore manual focus, but it is extremely compact, lightweight, and optically the best 20mm Nikon has produced.

24mm ƒ2.8 AI-S and AF-D
Lighter and with less flare than the 24mm ƒ2.0. Galen once said that a high percentage of his best images could have probably been made with only a 24mm and an 80-200 zoom.

28mm ƒ3.5 PC
Manual focus perspective control lens for critical architectural work.

28–80mm ƒ3.5–5.6 AF-D
7 oz., $100, and sharp!

35mm ƒ1.4 AI-S
Galen mostly used this fast wide-angle for aerial photography with his Nikon F4 which offers Matrix metering with manual focus lenses. In a bouncing, vibrating airplane, a fast shutter speed permitted by the fast f/1.4 aperture is critical for sharpness, and focus is almost always at infinity, so auto focus is unnecessary.

35mm ƒ2.0 AF-D
Extremely compact, light and sharp general purpose wide angle.

35–70mm ƒ2.8 AF-D
For spontaneous handheld work with moving subjects.

55mm ƒ2.8 Micro AI-S
Does double duty as a close-up and normal lens.

70–300 ƒ4–5.6 ED AF-D
This lens delivers a wide telephoto zoom range with publishable optical quality (especially stopped down a couple of ƒstops) in a very lightweight and compact package. It represents a good value.

80–200mm ƒ2.8 AF-D
Fast and sharp. Prior to the release of the 80-400VR lens, this was a permanent fixture in Galen’s general purpose kit, and he continued to use it frequently for landscapes, action, cultural portraits, and wildlife.

80–200mm ƒ4.5–5.6 AF-D
11-ounce, compact tele-zoom offering publishable image quality.

80-400mm ƒ4.5-5.6 ED AF-D VR
This lens would be fantastic even without its vibration reduction feature that allows handheld shooting at shutter speeds 2-3 stops slower than normal. Optical performance is excellent throughout its huge range of focal lengths, and it is fairly lightweight for a big zoom. This lens frequently displaced the 80–200mm ƒ2.8 in Galen’s bag as his general purpose telephoto zoom.

85mm ƒ1.4 AI-S
Galen mostly used this fast short telephoto for aerial work for the same reasons as the 35mm ƒ1.4.

300mm ƒ2.8 ED AF
Used primarily for wildlife and action photography, the various designs of the Nikkor 300 ƒ2.8 are all industry leaders in optical performance.

500mm ƒ4.0 ED P
This manual focus lens incorporates a microchip that gives it the electronic functionality of an AF Nikkor, without the autofocus of course. Galen prized this super-telephoto for its optical quality, and for its relative portability compared to the heavier 400mm ƒ2.8 or 600mm ƒ4 lenses.

TC-14B and TC-301
Galen made extensive use of these teleconverters for wildlife and landscape photography to get more magnification out of his long telephotos.

Filters

Galen Rowell Singh-Ray Graduated Neutral Density Filters
(fit Cokin P series holder). Standard grads: 3-stop hard edge (), 2-stop hard edge, 3-stop soft, 2-stop soft (). Custom grads: 5-stop hard edge, 4-stop hard edge (available from Mountain Light on a special order basis).

Singh-Ray Filters
Circular Polarizer and Warming Circular Polarizer.

Nikon Filters
Assorted UV, 81A, and Circular Polarizer filters.

Lighting

Nikon Speedlight
SB-28 (), SB-26 and SB-24

Rosco Gel Filters
Used to warm the harsh daylight color temperature of the flash output to more closely match the “magic hour” light in which he typically photographed.

Remote Flash Accessories
Nikon SC-17 off-camera TTL flash cord (), Litelink wireless TTL slave unit.

Photoflex Light Discs
12" Soft Gold reflector, 12" White reflector, 12" translucent disc (softens harsh light).

Tripods
Galen most recently used the Gitzo 1228 () and 1348 carbon fiber models with Arca-Swiss and Kirk ballheads and Arca-style quick release plates by Kirk and Really Right Stuff. He also used the tiny Gitzo 001 on trail runs.
:: Return to Galen’s Biography ::
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