What’s in my camera bag?
The ‘what’s in my camera bag’ question is the most popular response I receive over on my Instagram Q&A’s. So this is your comprehensive guide to my camera equipment including cameras, lenses, storage solutions and accessories.
Passionate as I am about ‘what’s in my camera bag’, I should stress the photography equipment you choose to use should ALWAYS be an accessory to your current skills and the locations you place yourself in. Naturally, as your photography skills improve, your kit list will grow.
However, I know several great photographers/videographers who are successful with a small gear set, so you don’t always need to have the latest and greatest!
Okay, so lets jump into the reason why you are here…
CAMERAS // PHOTO + VIDEO
If you are looking to upgrade from an APSC camera then Sony’s A7III is your best option. Despite being the ‘entry’ level model to the A-Series, this camera does it all.
At the time of purchase, I was shooting more weddings so naturally wanted a camera with reliable autofocus, dual card slots, electronic viewfinder and a high-quality sensor. It took me a whole year to make the jump to Sony and I wish the decision was made earlier. I honestly love the A7III and would never switch systems again. The features of this camera make it hard not to recommend, with its high-quality 24mp sensor, insane burst modes, electronic viewfinder and a bazillion autofocus points.
I shoot with x2 A7III’s in most scenarios. For general adventure missions, I rotate each body so they get equal use. I will probably look to purchase an A7RIII but for now, I am very happy with this beast of a camera.
Pros and Cons? Having moved to Sony from a DSLR the pros; the lightweight smaller body, the electronic viewfinder (Oh my!! I’ll never use an optical viewfinder again), small RAW file size but high-quality images, VERY reliable autofocus, silent shooting and IBIS. Cons, for me only a few; not the best weather sealing and the camera does not come with an external dedicated charger, so you have to buy a separate one. I use the Hahnel ProCube II.
Although I don’t shoot film too often, its good to slow down and think about what you are trying to capture. I shoot with the Canon AE-1 Program in a beautiful black finish. I only own two lenses for this one, the standard 50mm 1.8 and the 35mm f2. Shoot solely with BnW Ilford XP2 400 film for that timeless look. Shooting fully manual without a histogram takes some guesswork, but this camera has a dedicated built-in light meter to make it all easier. The camera is also a nostalgic piece of equipment to bring along to your shoots to help add that extra sauce to your images.
Lenses // Zooms
Zooms often receive hate from lens purists as they aren’t as sharp or don’t perform as well in low light as primes. Whilst this may be true, they are way more versatile and always my first choice for trips or longer hikes. I currently own three zoom lenses which cover a decent focal length range however I am missing out in the mid-range which is supplemented easily by my 50mm f1.8. Read on below for my choice of zooms…
The newest addition to the bag and this thing is a beast! Having that extended reach is a dream, zooming into scenes beyond 200mm is addictive. However this lens is on the heavy side, so you will need some strong and steady arms! One incredibly cool feature of this super telephoto lens is the close focussing capability of less than 1m, so this thing does macro at 400mm! Its amazing to zoom into textures and create super abstract compositions. This thing will potentially be my new favourite lens!
The G 70-200 f4 is super sharp, incredibly light and weighs about the same as your average 35mm prime lens, so it is ideal for those long hikes in the mountains. Covering standard focal lengths of 85/135/200mm you are well equipped for most situations. You also have the option to crop in with APSC mode on the A7III to extend your focal range to 300mm. I never leave home without it!
The BEST lens for landscapes with its versatile wide-angle focal range, this lens stays on my camera 90% of the time and is almost always locked to 35mm. With a fast aperture of f2.8, it is also hella sharp no matter what focal length you crank it too.
Plenty of Pros and I think the only con of this lens is the HUGE front element at 82mm, so CPL or ND filters can become an expensive option! GOBE do the cheapest and best quality 82mm filter, grab it here.
Lenses // Primes
Where zooms are chosen for versatility, primes are favorited because of their autofocus performance, low light capabilities (think blue hour), and sharpness. Because of their characteristics, prime lenses will render images WAY better than any zoom on the market. Less moving parts + bigger and better glass + faster aperture = win.
Primes then are my go-to (and should be yours) for work needing performance and high-quality images such as Client work, Campaigns, and Weddings. Their fast apertures and sharpness help create stunning imagery. Okay, let’s start from the widest prime and work our way up to my favourite…
A relatively new lens to my camera bag and oh my, it’s INSANELY sharp through the entire aperture range. Previous to owning this lens I would usually grab the 16-35 2.8, however, I have found myself using this more as it is considerably lighter and sharper. Punching in on the APSC crop mode makes this lens near to 35mm too, so you get two lenses for the price of one! This lens also comes with a de-clickable aperture ring, so ideal for anyone out there looking for a fast prime for video.
This lightweight prime is exceptional, at just under £600 you get razor-sharp images (even at f1.8), sublime silent autofocus and a lens that weighs just 280g! Yes, that light! The 35mm focal length is well used for storytelling images and combined with a strong telephoto prime you have great versatility. I love this lens and with its close focusing distance, you get macro capabilities. This focuses even closer than the Sony GM 90 macro. One of my go-to lenses for Weddings.
Everyone hates this lens and I’m not even sure why. Yes, it has painful autofocus and its made entirely of plastic, BUT damn it’s good for the money. At 186g this thing weighs less than your average sandwich! So put this in your bag on your next hike and expect results.
Another incredible lens for your money. This fast and lightweight prime is my all-time favourite lens in my collection and supplements my 35 f1.8 for storytelling and wedding work. The reason for being the favourite? Again, razor-sharp images through the entire aperture range, super lightweight and customisable functions. Shooting at f1.8 creates some stunning compressed imagery that is beautiful to look at.
Drone // Photo + Video
In 2017 I first picked up the DJI Mavic Pro and was blown away by what could be captured from the air without being a millionaire and having access to a helicopter. Fast forward to the present and I fly the DJI Mavic Pro 2. Easily the best drone on the market today for us enthusiast and for those conducting smaller-scale commercial works.
Having access to a 20mp Hasselblad camera in the air is incredible, and the drone always comes with me on a trip. Sometimes the weather does not play ball, but when you’re able to get up high for a sunrise or sunset the results are mental. Yes there’s no portrait mode like its predecessor, but you get used to it and the pano images come out super high quality for larger prints!
As my kit has expanded so has the quest for the ‘perfect’ camera bag, which I still do not believe such a thing exists! So, my collection of camera bags grows too. At present, I have two main bags which I use most often. Let’s discuss my main workhorse.
This bag has been with me for 4 years now and still going strong and remains my go-to hiking bag. It is, however a behemoth weighing 2.5kg empty! So once fully loaded with a camera, lenses, snacks, drinks and layers, it’s around 10-12kg which on longer hikes can slow you down. I also utilise the external straps for coats, tripods, crampons, ice axes etc.
This is my work camera bag and for day trips as its lightweight and allows a good mix of camera equipment and other items. I wouldn’t recommend this one for hiking though as it’s not that comfortable, but stylish enough and doesn’t look like a camera bag for that added security when you are mobbing around town.
On the rare occasion I need to get the tripod out I have three options; My go to is the new Peak Design Travel Tripod in Carbon which is stupidly light at 1.2kg, so this is used primarily for adventures. It is without doubt, the BEST tripod I have ever used and I can even make it super lightweight with the conversion kit to take it down to 0.7kg. My older ‘go-to’ tripod is the Vanguard VEO 2 265AB Aluminium another ideal cheaper alternative to the Peak Design which is small enough to fit into my medium-sized duffle bag. I use the Vanguard ALTA PRO 263AB Aluminium for more commercial/studio work as it is way more study so makes sure my shots are pin sharp when utilised with a self-timer.
Wanting to get more into video and add to the capable camera rig set up, I have now acquired the older DJI Ronin SC. Super small and compact this thing is ideal when running around capturing butter smooth footage.
Ever since my photography days began in 2014, I have used a Dell XPS PC which is now fully upgraded. This machine is however 8 years old and now unsupported by Microsoft. It is also incredibly slow to fire up so recently I purchased a Macbook Pro 13″ Touchbar.
I opted for the 13″ version over the 15″ (now 16″) at the time so it was more portable on adventures. It is also the Touchbar version so has a different processor than the standard version but only runs 8gb of RAM and 250gb of SSD, which I have found is perfect for all applications. Yes, including 4K video edits (expect longer rendering and export times). The retina screen is perfect for editing too with rich colours helping ensure I keep a consistent colour palette to my images.
Mine is also wrapped with the same vinyl as the drone for coordination purposes and added protection to the nice space grey finish. So it is in pristine condition when I come to trade up!
A crucial step not to be messed within this business. How you organise and backup files is a personal choice but PLEASE make sure you are backing up your photos. Probably another blog post on my backup process but imperative that you have a solid back up plan in case things go bad.
My system is based off fast SD cards and then backed-up to three types of drives;
These things are cheap as chips, pretty fast and 64GB will do you for most trips. With the dual card slots in the Sony, I always have two copies of my photos on me.
These are almost twice as fast as UHS-I so better for handling burst mode, larger RAWs or 4K video files.
Once I have returned from an adventure the SD is backed up to my SSD WIP drive. If the trip is longer then this process is repeated daily to ensure I have a consistent backup of my images!
My WIP drive, where I do all of my culling, sorting and editing. The drive is also an SSD so means quicker read and write times thus quicker importing, editing and exporting!
Second stage is home and offsite backups. I have two of these drives which all of my library gets backed up to. One remains at home and the other tends to stay with me at work. All about redundancy.
The final stage of my backups and storage. Once everything has been moved to the Lacie Rugged drives they are then mirrored on this two-drive RAID system. This means I have x3 backups of all my photos, so should be easy to rebuild should one or two drives fail.
While storage and backups may sound boring, I know a few photographers who have lost EVERYTHING by only having one drive for storage. Thinking about losing 6 years worth of photos breaks my heart! So I would rather spend a little money and take a few hours out of the week to make sure I am safe should something terrible go wrong.
There are many accessories I use but do not want to bore you to death discussing them all. So keeping this short to camera straps, camera clips and camera cages for the perfect video rig!
A thinner strap ideal for mirrorless systems and looks great in black! I generally keep this in my bag and then attach it to the Sony with the Peak Design Anchors should I need a camera strap.
This clip is the BEES KNEES! Way more accessible and user friendly than a camera strap. I used to think my friend’s were odd strapping their camera to their bag strap. Not anymore! Simply release your camera from the clip, take your shots and re-attach. Hiking and photography made easy. The camera mount is also an arca swiss plate so attaches to your tripod no problem.
As titles go, Money Makers is exactly what these are and my go-to camera strap system for weddings. With their patented holster like camera mounts, these allow you to work you magic on a wedding day without breaking your back. I tend to have a 35 and 85 lens mounted on my Sony’s and holstered either side. Just like a western, run and gun style.
As I try to improve my craft I’m looking more into video and this is the newest piece of kit to my bag. Without adding really any bulk or weight to the camera the cage allows for various external accessories to be mounted such as a microphone, handle (as shown) monitors and external batteries if you are heavy recording. Whilst I have not used it too much it definitely adds extra stability. Looking forward to using this a lot more!
As of November I have now added couple of pieces to the rig to aid in smoother filming and adding audio capabilities too, with the addition of a side handle from SmallRig and a Shotgun Mic from Rode it should add a new dimension to my films.
Starting to slowly realise that natural lighting is not the only light you should rely on when composing photos, especially product and commercial images. I recently picked up a couple of powerful mini LED panels from Apurture which are capable of producing colours from the whole RGB spectrum and a range of warm to cool light to compliment your white balance. The lights shown below: left is the Apurture AL-M9 and right is the Apurture AL-MC RGB. You can see these lights in practice on a few of my recent commercial works here.
Thanks for reading through team, a comprehensive look into what goes into my camera bag and why. I am sure many of you may have questions on some of the items, so feel free to head over to the contact page or drop me a DM on Instagram and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
Appreciate your time!
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