This is an insight into the equipment I use to take photos. Although I rarely use it all at once, it’s almost always in my camera bag. I don’t pack light!
But first, it’s important to understand the kinds of photos I take, and what effect that has on what I carry.
I remember reading that Eric Kim, the street photographer, doesn’t even own a tripod. While that suits him just fine, that wouldn’t do me much good.
You could break down the kinds of photos I take into two sections: people and places.
Whether I’m taking photos of a model, or a man on the street, I spend a lot of taking photos of people.
And I spend an equally long time taking photos of places, whether it’s an old building, or a landscape.
So while we have a look at the list below, bear this in mind, because everyone’s bag is going to be different.
Please note, I don’t carry everything with me at once. I leave my telephoto lens, back up camera, etc. at home if I’m just taking photos for the fun of it.
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The bag I use is a Gura Gear Kibobo 22L+.
It’s a fantastic bag, but I won’t bore you with the details, as you can read my review of it here.
Main Camera and Lenses
My main camera is a Canon 50D.
It’s a perfectly good camera, and has done me proud. Never failed, and I would argue that a full frame camera isn’t as necessary as some photographers would like to make out.
Just so long as you buy lenses that cover your desired range, you should be fine.
That being said, I will be upgrading to either a Canon 5D MKIII or a Canon 6D fairly soon. Ideally both, with the 6D as a backup.
My workhorse lens is a Canon 24-70 f/2.8L.
This lens spends more time on my camera than any other. It’s a very popular shooting range and the wide aperture is great for shooting in low light situations.
It’s not a cheap lens, and the MK II is over $2,000, but I don’t regret buying it one bit.
My favourite prime lens is a Canon 35mm f/1.4L.
Not only is this lens incredibly good in low light, but it’s also very sharp, even when you open the aperture all the way to f/1.4. 35mm is a great focal length if you’re using a crop sensor, and it’s equally good on full frame, such as when I shoot with my EOS film bodies.
My wide angle lens is a Canon 17-40mm f/4L.
Ideally, I would have bought the 16-35mm f/2.8L and had twice as much light to play with it, but with twice the light comes twice the price.
Still though, it’s a pretty sturdy lens, and very versatile. My critique would be that when you compare it to a prime lens like the 35mm f/1.4L, you’re not getting anywhere near the sharpness.
But that’s to be expected from a lens which is both half the price, and a zoom lens.
My main film camera body is a Canon EOS 10.
I have probably upwards of 10 different film cameras, but this one definitely gets the most attention, purely because I can put of my full-frame EOS lenses onto it.
That’s all three of the lenses above. It allows me to keep the same level of quality throughout my images.
My video camera is a GoPro Hero 2.
I don’t film a lot of video, but when I do, I use my GoPro. I’ve got it mounted so that it can go on top of all my cameras with ease. This gives a really cool POV shot.
I carry two flashes with me, as well as some accessories for them.
My main flash is a Canon 580EX II.
This is a great flash, because not only can I use it as a flash, but as a commander for my other flash too.
That means that I don’t need to get the radio triggers out if I don’t want to, or they’re out of battery. A real workhorse flash. Very solid.
My secondary flash is a Canon 430EX II.
Still a very good flash, only less powerful, and it can’t be used as a commander for other flashes, only as a receiver.
The menu is also harder to navigate, which is part of the reason I bought a 580EX II too. A great beginner’s flash though if you’re looking to learn.
My radio triggers are Phottix Odin.
I’m not a big fan of on-camera flash as any light that comes from the same angle as the lens is going to seriously flatten the image.
That’s why I use Phottix Odin to take my flashes off-camera. The commander screen is really useful for setting the strength of each flash with ease, and they’re TTL as well.
You can check out my review of them here. I love them!
I also carry diffusor cups to fit each flash.
The light that comes straight out of a flash can be really harsh, so I find it’s best to diffuse the light any way I can, and these low cost diffusors work great.
I particularly like to use them when I’m outside at night, because I can point the flash upwards and use them as a small softbox.
The legs I use are Manfrotto 055XPROB.
These are extremely versatile tripod legs, and they’re on the best things I’ve ever bought. They’re very tall, but can be equally short when I need them to be.
They’re also very strong. The reason I bought these over carbon fibre legs is because these are heavier. I need a tripod that isn’t going to blow around in the wind when I’m taking long exposures, and these do the job just fine.
The head I use is a Manfrotto 327RC2.
There are quite a few varieties of tripod heads, but I opted for a joystick head. It’s really handy because I can make adjustments without having to unscrew anything.
I just squeeze the handle and reposition. It’s worth noting that I originally bought the smaller version on this head, but it couldn’t handle the weight of my camera and lens so I returned it for this.
I use a Hoya Pro 1 UV filter on every lens I own.
The great thing about filters is not that they remove UV light, because I’m not worried about that, but it’s because the protect my lens from scratches.
It’s a small investment, for a great protection, and when you consider that I’ve smashed a UV filter while it was on my camera before, it has saved me a lot of money.
Polarizing filters are really useful for removing glare and haze from your scene, so they’re essential for anyone who like taking photos outdoors, in daylight.
So most people. Particularly landscape photographers.
I can’t even begin to work out how much money I’ve saved by using rechargeable batteries, rather than buying new ones every time I need them.
Just so long as you stay on top of keeping them charged, and carry backup batteries just in case, you can’t really go too wrong with rechargeable batteries. Must have!
This is a must really. The last thing you want is to run out of battery, just before you capture the perfect photo. The brand name ones are expensive, but you can pick up cheap ones online too.
Just don’t expect them to last forever, because they won’t.
You can get faster cards, and larger capacity cards, but I’m pretty happy with how these have worked out for me, so I’ve never upgraded. 16GB is plenty of space (about 500 RAW photos), and it’s good to spread your photos over multiple cards, incase one of them corrupts.
So long as you use a card reader, the transfer speed is very fast.
Dust is a digital camera’s worst enemy, so whenever you take a lens off your body, it’s important to cover it up to protect it from the elements.
These caps are cheap, barely take up any space, and are completely essential.
As I mentioned above, I still shoot on film, so I usually carry a large selection on film with me when I shoot.
I use many different speeds, brands, and colors, but Kodak Ektar 100 is probably one of my favourites.
These small color flash filters are used to create interesting lighting effects, but more importantly, to help balance the color of a fill flash.
If I use a flash outdoors, I know that it’s going to have a different white balance to the rest of the scene, and this looks bad. That’s why I use color correction filters to help correct this.
On final thing I always like to carry with me is a cable release for my camera. It will allow me to take photos without actually having to touch the camera.
This minimises camera shake, and allows me to step away from the camera.
So what have you got hiding in your camera bag?
Do you pack light, or do you break your back like me?