Oh no! It's that time again when you do the "what's in your camera bag" blog. If the truth be known, it doesn't really matter what is in your bag, so long as you are able to get the best out of your equipment and can get out and about to use it. Sure, more expensive bodies and lenses will produce a better quality of image but at the end of the day being able to find and compose compositions whist balancing the light and then executing the image in the way you want it, will in my opinion always be more important,
So let's get onto the subject at hand. Actually, since last year there have been significant changes to what is in the camera bag and the bag itself.
The DSLR's that I had this time last year have now all gone and I am left with just 2 bodies. which are:-
Canon EOS R5
Canon EOS R
I debated long and hard about going mirrorless and took the first step late in 2020 with the purchase of an EOS R whilst keeping my 5DSR and 5D mk 111. However I soon found that I was reaching for the EOS R more than anything and in September I went all in and bought the R5. I have to say it has been superb and I don't regret buying it at all. The 5D Mk 111 was a great camera but became a little outdated and the 5DSR will always hold a special place in my heart, what a camera it was and still is.
You might be wondering if the 5DSR is still an amazing camera then why change or indeed why not keep it. Well a lot is to do with the weight of the new RF lenses and their size in comparison to the EF mount lenses. Space and weight is a premium especially when travelling so it was an easy choice. If Canon had a RF to EF adaptor where I could have used the new RF glass on the old EF mount then the 5DSR would still be with me, alongside the R5 and R. Lenses which I have in my bag at all times are:-
Canon RF 15-35mm f2,8
Canon RF 24-105mm f4
Canon RF 70-200mm f4
Canon RF 100 - 400 f5.6 - 8
In addition to these native lenses I also have a
Sigma 12-24 f4.5 - 5.6 II DG HSM for when ultra wide angle is needed.
Tamron 150 - 600 mm f5 - 6.3 di vc G2 for when I occasionally shoot wildlife.
Both of these lenses are adapted to the R5 and R using an EF-RF convertor. I also have a 2 * canon extender which for some bizarre reason works perfectly on the Tamron lenses but only adapts it by 1.4 times. This gives me 840mm at f9 and although the auto focus is slower, it does track really well and image quality especially in the centre is pretty good.
Tripod and Ball Heads.
No massive change here tripod wise. My Gitzo GT 3542 Mountaineer is still going strong despite everything that I have thrown at it. I have needed to replace a couple of parts this year due to wear and tear but that's a really simple exercise. This tripod is really light, built brilliantly and more importantly I can totally strip it down, clean every part and re assemble it in about half an hour, which is so important after shooting on the beach or in salt water. I also have a Gitzo GT4543 for when weight is not at a premium and I need some additional height and I recently bought a second hand Manfrotto Befree Live Carbon Fibre tripod which is really small and light. It makes for a great second tripod when travelling abroad.
Attaching the camera to the tripod, I have 2 ball heads. Both are made by Really Right Stuff. The BH-55 is just amazing and will carry an enormous weight. Its quite heavy though so only gets used on short outings or in the UK. Earlier in the year, I also treated myself to a BH-30. I was pretty shocked at how small it was when it arrived, especially considering the price, however what a piece of kit it is. 4 weeks of abuse in Iceland this year, countless trips at home. Its tiny, light weight and the best purchase I have made this year.
No massive changes here. I am still using Lee Filters and will continue to do so. I did buy a couple of the new updated filter holders and a new polariser which are great. A new 3 stop ND was needed after the old one had a fight with a rock in Iceland and lost! Filters that I have and cover every eventuality are:-
0.3, 0.6. 0.9 soft edge grads
0.3, 0.6, 0.9 medium edge grads
0.3, 0.6, 0.9 hard edge grads
0.9 reverse grad
3, 6 and 10 stop ND's
0.6 and 0.9 astro grad prototypes that Lee made for me.
I also have a standard and wide angle lens hood which are designed to shield the front of the lens from the sun but are also great when it's raining.
My trusty DJI Air got upgraded this year to a DJI Air 2s. Its slightly bigger and heavier than the original Air but with a 1 inch 20 megapixel sensor, longer flight time with the batteries then its so worth it. It really has given me a new dimension to my photography and the image quality for both stills and video is fantastic. The new Mavic 3 will totally outperform it, however for what I need, its the perfect solution.
On dear, as photographers, why is it that we all seem to have an obsession with finding THE perfect camera bag? I now have 8 plus another 2 which I have lent out. So did I buy a new camera bag this year? Yep, of course I did.
I now have a F Stop Tilopa with a large ICU ( internal camera unit). I have to say its brilliant and the best bag I have ever owned ( well for now anyway!). Actually there was a very good reason who buying it. It was guaranteed to fit in an overhead compartment on a plane. You really don't want to get to the airport and have to check your bodies and lenses in with your normal bags and run the risk of them being damaged or lost. It has a removable metal frame which I take out when travelling abroad as it allows me to fold the bag up even smaller. I can get 2 bodies, 4 lenses, all my filters, drone, spare batteries, laptops, cables, chargers and travel documents etc all into it, no problems at all. When out an about it will take a set of waterproofs, flask, food and other essential items that I need.
Time - Lapse Equipment
Whilst it is possible to add movement to a time-lapse sequence during the editing stage, it doesn't really compare to being able to add motion when shooting. It is a compromise however that you have to make though, especially when travelling abroad due to the weight and length of the kit. My current set up is
Syrp Mini Genio
Syrp 80cm and 160cm Magic Carpets.
The Magic Carpets obviously don't fit into the camera bag but the 80cm one will strap to the side of the camera bag along with a tripod.