In My Camera Bag
One of the most common questions I am asked is what camera equipment I use on a day to day basis. This isn't actually the easiest question to answer, as it will often depend on what I am planning to shoot that day. Nevertheless, here is a summary of the equipment you more more than likely to find in my camera bag on any given day.
If you are new to photography you may well still be under the misguided impression that photography is the constant pursuit of perfect light. But, as you may well come to realise for yourself, photography actually seems to be the constant pursuit of a perfect camera bag.
Personally I am yet to find the perfect bag, but for every day walking around purposes the Hadly One, from Billingham, is the closest I have found so far. It isn’t cheap, but for me at least it seems to get the job done, and right now is my most used bag.
I particularly like the way the internal dividers allow you to safely stack lenses on top of each other. Also. the removable insert used to house the camera equipment is very useful for quickly switching to a standard backpack, for those occasions when it makes more sense than the messenger style of the Billingham.
OK, camera bags aside, let’s take a closer look at the actual photographic equipment I will carry for most of my projects.
I am a HUGE fan of the Fuji X Series of cameras since the very first model was released, back in 2011. I can't explain to you why, but using a Fuji camera has brought a sense of emotion to my photography which I have never experienced with other cameras. Currently my main cameras are the Fujifilm X-T3 and X100F models.
I find the versatility of the Fujifilm X-T3 is perfect for my style of documentary and travel photography. It is light enough not to weigh heavy on my shoulder as I head our for an extensive days shooting. Being on the road as much as I am, the weather-sealing of the X-T3 is also really important as I never know what sort of weather conditions I will face.
I particularly love the way the 26MP CMOS 4 APS-C crop sensor of the X-T3 seems to capture the full richness of the Fujifilm colour and the analogue dials allows me to adjust my exposure on the fly, even when the camera is switched off, so I can be ready to shoot at a moments notice. The articulating LCD is perfect for capturing angles which would normally require me to be crawling around in the dirt.
You will often hear photographers referring to their holy trinity of lenses, the three lenses they would almost never leave home without. For me, I have kind of stretched that to four lenses (a holy quad, perhaps?). These are the Fuji 56mm F1.2 (85mm full frame equivalent), the Fuji 35mm F2 WR (50mm full frame equivalent), the Fuji 23mm F2 WR (35mm full frame equivalent) and the Fuji 18 - 135mm F3.5-5.6 WR (27 - 206mm full frame equivalent).
For portraits, the 56mm is just gorgeous. It produces wonderful bokeh (that blurred out background effect) and pin sharp images. The 23mm and 35mm are the all round lenses which sit on my T-X3 more than any of the others. Both are weather sealed, which I really appreciate in the varied, and often wet or dusty environments I find myself in, and I will use them for everything from landscapes to street portraits and pretty much everything in between. Lastly the 18 - 135mm zoom offers the range of versatility required for landscapes, along with those situations where I am unsure what I am likely to face.
Together those four lenses will account for probably 95% of all the photographs I shoot.
I am always reluctant to describe the Fujifilm X100F as my backup camera because whilst the X-T3 is probably my main camera, the X100F is the camera which comes with me everywhere, and I do mean EVERYWHERE. Some of my all-time favourite shots were captured with the X100F or their predecessors. It represents my absolute "desert island" camera and if I had to choose just one camera, foregoing all overs, this would be that camera.
It features a 24mp CMOS III APS-C with a fixed 23mm F2 (35mm full frame equivalent) lens. Many would be put off by the fixed lens, preferring the flexibility of an interchangeable lens system but I can honestly say this camera, fixed lens and all, has made me a better photographer. It forces you to go right back to basics, thinking through the shot before it is captured. I just love this little camera!
Certainly, the X100F can be a little quirky, and does require a little time to become familiar enough that shooting with it becomes second nature, but it is so worth the effort.
I like to keep things pretty simple when I shoot, so apart from my camera and a few lenses, I generally don't use a lot of other equipment. There are some essentials I would never be without though.
I will almost always have some sort of tripod with me. I don't have any particular favourite, for me a tripod is a tripod is a tripod. I have a number which I will use, depending on the circumstances, but surprisingly the one I will use more than any other is the tiny little Pixi tripod from Manfrotto, simply because it lives in my camera bag.
Another small item which I will always have with me is a Neutral Density (ND) filter. These filters are used to reduce the amount of light hitting the camera sensor, essential for long exposure shots or when shooting in really bright, direct sunlight. Often I wont use anything fancy, just cheap screw-in filters that I will leave in my bag for when the need arises.
Last, but definitely not least, SPARE BATTERIES. As I have learned through bitter experience, do not ever go out without at least one or two (or six!) spare batteries. There is nothing worse in photography terms than running out of juice just when you need it.
And that is pretty much it. Over the years I have found a less-is-more approach works best for me.
What, no dSLR?
Actually, no. I haven’t carried a DSLR in my camera bag for years.
That’s not to say the DSLR is dead, not yet at least. I would say pretty much any time you need to photograph something moving fast, you are going to need a dSLR. Mirrorless cameras are great, but they are not fast, or at least not fast enough. So, for any serious sports photography? Forget it, you need a DSLR.
I can think of quite a few other examples where a DSLR would also be best for the job, but for me personally, as I hardly ever shoot those kind of photographs, I find the compact size and lightweight nature of the mirrorless cameras much more convenient than the large, heavy DSLRs.
So there you have it, that is a basic run down of the every day kit I carry around, I hope it gives you an insight into the equipment to shoot the vast majority of my photographs with.