I have been asked on a number of occasions regarding the camera gear I shoot with. I thought I’d put together a post about the camera gear I have in my bag, whether I use it or not. I have to say, not everything in my bag is absolutely necessary, but I figured I’d let you know. I have seen a trend lately, in which the level of professionalism or skill of a photographer is determined purely by the amount of camera gear in their bag. People of this belief will go to great lengths to acquire as much equipment as possible with the intention of improving the quality of their photography. My philosophy has always been to keep it simple. The less equipment you have, the more you can focus on the matter at hand: getting great images. Yes – reflectors, flags, off-camera flashes and light stands all have their place, but you can’t let the use of these accessories define our photography. 90% of my photo sessions you will see me with my camera slung over my shoulder and that’s it. I figure if I can comfortably reach out and shake my client’s hand, I am doing ok. I try to keep the necessities in my bag, if I don’t use a piece of equipment for more than a year, it comes out of my bag. Below is a list of what you would find if you opened my camera bag and why I use it.
Nikon D700 12mp camera.
I have had this camera for more than 5 years. I have loved every minute of shooting with it. At about $3000, it’s worth every penny for this rugged, accessible camera. (If you’re looking for Nikon’s current equivalent, it is the D800) There are tons of cameras out there that are excellent choices for starting out. Although there are too many to name, pretty much any Digital SLR from Nikon or Canon is a great choice.
Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens.
I bought this lens when I bought the camera body. For 5 years, I have never needed another lens. Recently I have been eying the 70-200mm f2.8 lens to be less intrusive in getting tighter shots at receptions, etc., but I’ll need a bigger bag when I get that one.
Nikon SB-900 Flash
I use my flash about 10% of the time. I use it when shooting indoor receptions or outdoors in the evening. Th SB-900 is an extremely powerful flash. This flash also is able to be controlled remotely by my camera for off-camera lighting, which I use frequently. I love it because it doesn’t need any additional hardware to use it as a remote flash. You can also use the 800 and 600. They are not quite as powerful, but they are much more affordable and an excellent choice for getting your feet wet.
Sandisk Extreme lll CF Memory Cards
The obvious thing to consider about memory cards is their capacity. I have various sized cards that I use depending on the type of shoot I’m doing. I have a 12GB, 8GB, and about 6 4GB cards. I talk about it more in my article about importing and file management, but the reason I always use the card sized for my shoot, is so I don’t get lazy and let images pile up on the card, and so it forces me to limit the number of images I shoot, thus saving me lots of editing time. Also, make sure that your card is fast enough to write RAW images fast enough for you. There are many cheap options out there, but remember that many of them cause your camera to lag because they can’t save your images fast enough.
Black Rapid Shoulder Strap
This is one of my favorite pieces of camera gear I own. This strap connects to the bottom tripod mount of your camera. Since the camera hangs upside down, it’s accessible and stays out of my way with this strap. You can get this strap at Pictureline and B&H online. It’s definitely worth the money.
Nikon D3200 Backup Camera
I carry this camera as a backup. It is a crop sensor camera, but it mounts with all my lenses and shoots RAW images, so it’s a great and inexpensive camera to have as a backup.
I always have a small bag of AA batteries in my bag for my flash as well as my camera. My camera uses Lithium-Ion batteries (which I have 2), but it has an adapter so it can use 4 AA batteries if needed. I have been saved in many situations by having these extra batteries.
Remember that shooting in the winter, cold weather will cut battery life about in half. Keep this in mind when shooting outdoor winter sessions.