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 Pro, 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 probably 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.
By the way, this is not a list of everything you should / might want to own, certainly I might well use different equipment in the studio, but these are some of the photography essentials I use pretty much every day while out and about.
I am a HUGE fan of the Fuji X Series of cameras.
I have been using them extensively since I discovered my very first Fuji X camera a few years ago, the X100, and I have been totally hooked ever since. 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.
Since their release, in 2016, the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 and X-T2 models have been my main cameras. I will generally carry one of each body, using them for the majority of my travel and documentary projects.
I find the versatility of the X-Pro 2 is perfect for my style of documentary photography. It is light enough not to weigh heavy on my shoulder as I head our for an extensive days shooting, never knowing what I am likely to encounter, and I love the hybrid optical / electronic viewfinder, which I will switch between often, depending on the circumstances I find myself shooting in.
The Fujifilm X-T2 is fantastic for portrait and landscape photography. I particularly like the articulating LCD for capturing angles which would normally require me to be crawling around in the dirt.
Together, I have found these two bodies perfectly compliment each other. Both features the new 24.3mp CMOS III APS-C crop sensor, are weather sealed (perfect for me considering how much time I spent so close to the ocean) and I just love the look and feel of the images it they capture.
They aren't necessarily the fastest of cameras, but they definitely aren't slow either, and what they lack in perceived speed they more than makes up for in sheer quality, mood and emotion.
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 X-Pro 2 and T-X2 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 have been using X100 cameras since they were first introduced, back in 2011. Since then I have used every version Fuji have released, right up to the latest iteration, the X100F.
I am reluctant to call this my backup camera because whilst the X-Pro 2 and X-T2 are my main cameras, 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. If I had to choose just one camera, foregoing all overs, this would be that camera.
It features the same 23mp CMOS III APS-C sensor as the X-Pro 2 and X-T2, but 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 prime lenses, I generally don't use a lot of other equipment, even in the studio. Of course there are some essentials that I would never be without though.
First up is an off-camera flash and remote trigger. I very rarely use on board flash, except for a little fill every now and then. I much prefer the drama that can be brought to an image simply by having the ability to reposition an off-camera flash.
For a while now I have been using the YN560-III flashes. They are cheap as chips, plastic fantastic flashes, made by Yong Nuo out of China.
OK the build quality is somewhat dodgy and mine are scratched to bits, but who cares. Light is light and I bought four of them a few years ago now for less than half the price of a single Nikon Speedlight, and all four are still going strong. Plus, they have a built in receiver which coupled with the RF603NII transmitter, also from Yong Nuo, means I am able to fire the flash with an absolute minimum of fuss.
I will also usually carry around some light modifier to use with the off-camera flash, such as the Rogue Honeycomb Grid (pictured above). They are small and convenient, great for just throwing in a camera bag.
Another small item I will almost always carry in my camera bag 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.
Of course 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.
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.
Shooting underwater brings with it a whole other level of challenges, not least protecting the camera from the sea. For that I use the NA-XT1 underwater housing from Nauticam, coupled with a Fuji X-T1.
The Nauticam housings are very well thought out, giving me access to all the buttons and dials of the X-T1 whilst keeping it totally dry regardless of how deep I dive.
More often than not I will use the Fuji 10mm-24mm F4 R (15mm-36mm full frame equivalent) lens. Underwater is one of the few places I will use a zoom (as obviously changing lenses 30m under the waves is problematic).
The 10mm-24mm has a great range of wide angle focal lengths, ideal for underwater photography, whilst still remaining sharp throughout. In the image above you can see I have attached some aperture and zoom gears to the lens to allow me to adjust them from outside the housing.
For lighting I use two YS-D1 underwater strobes from Sea & Sea. They are fired using fibre optic cables, with the on-camera flash acting as the trigger.
On land this setup looks very large and unwieldy but underwater it is virtually weightless as it is almost totally neutrally buoyant. It neither sinks or rises in midwater, it just sits there waiting!
What, no dSLR?
Actually, no. I haven’t carried a DSLR in my camera bag for a couple of years now. Right now they are just gathering dusk on a shelf in my studio.
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.