Camera Equipment

I still haven’t worked out which camera bag I want, or even need, and one of the reasons why is that I don’t think I have finished working out what I will carry in it.

You see in the simple old Point & Shoot days it was so easy – you just took the camera! Now though I not only have the camera to think about, but I have the lenses, flash, tripod(s), kitchen sink etc to worry about, and I think the list is just going to get bigger.

When I first thought of this post I was going to keep it simple and see what ‘other’ stuff people carried in their camera bag, but given recent comments on the blog I thought I would try and expand it out a bit.

I see it is a problem of two categories – my equipment for taking photographs and my equipment for helping me to take photographs.

Equipment for taking photographs

You would think this was pretty simple but the ‘thing’ is that when I go out to take some photographs I very rarely have planned what I am going to take (although I am working on this) and I also want to be prepared to take some video as well for Almerimar Life. I am also still a big fan of the ‘snap’ for sharing fun stuff with friends and family and so I tend to want to take a Point & Shoot with me a) so I can take odd snaps without having to worry when I get home about uplaoding and processing a load of images, and b) because it sometimes helps to get a perspective on what a potential picture may look like. And it has to be said at times things have occurred so quickly that a Point & Shoot has captured something that I simply wouldn’t have got with the D80.

So when I head out this tends to be the equipment that I take:

  • Nikon D80
  • 18-135mm Nikon Lens
  • 135-400mm Sigma Lens
  • 10-20mm Sigma Lens
  • Nikon Speedlight SB-800 Flash
  • Nikon MB-D80 MBD80 Multi-Power Battery Pack

So that is the Camera taken care of, apart from:

  • Sony DSC T7 Point and Shoot
  • JVC Everio Camcorder

Equipment for helping me to take photographs

There are a few usual suspects in the list:

  • Tripod
  • Lens Cleaning Kits
  • Remote Control

Then we get to the other stuff:

  • Binnoculars
  • Lens Hoods
  • Notebook and pencil
  • D80 User Guide
  • Flash User Guide
  • Spare Memory Cards

By the time I have got all that stuff togther I have usually run out of energy, and if I manage to get out of the door I am usually knackered from carrying everything by the time I get round to taking the pictures. The worst bit? I still feel so self conscious carrying all this stuff around and setting it all up!!!

My inclination is to keep everything together at all times so I know where it all is. That way I can just pick it up and go (or will be able to when I get the right bag). The downside is I get to carry a heavy bag all the time, the upside is I should be a good Boy Scout and be always prepared.

What I need to work out though before I buy anything is am I mad to do this and more importantly what else am I going to end up buying?

What do you carry in your bag, and what would you suggest that I look out for next.

As ever, cheers!!!!

41 thoughts on “Camera Equipment

  1. John

    In my bag, I carry:

    Nikon D40
    Still the 18-55 kit lens, mounted…55-200 VR next up, maybe xmas pressie to myself
    SB-400 flash
    Couple of filters (UV, polarising) to play with
    Nikon 7900 for happy snaps and movie clips
    Spare AA flash batteries
    Sandisk SDHC/SD cards (7 gigs in total, should cover it)
    Sandisk SD+ card reader
    Lens pen/brush
    Microfibre cloths…
    Some optical wet wipes (for nasty gungy crap)
    Gorillapod (if I can find it, the gremlins have had it away)

    And if I am actually travelling I will attempt to shove my chargers and a mini-USB cable in there too.

    I tend to keep it all in the bag so I can grab it and go whenever I feel like it. Plus keeps the dust off the camera and bits.

    I spotted a pair of little Nikon sport binos today that have my name on them. May have to get them tomorrow. They would go in the bag too.

    Now I don’t have so many lenses, so I can basically keep all my stuff in a reasonably small bag. For you, I’m not sure I would take everything with me every time. Maybe you need two bags – a “go” bag and a larger bag for when you know you need the lot.

  2. Gary

    > I see it is a problem of two categories

    Nope – I see it as two sets of shooting situations. Let’s identify the two shooting situations you’ll most commonly be going into (probably). (1) Going out for the day. (2) Going on a multi day trip (eg holiday). But in each case, you are likely to be going back to your base at the end of each day… Chance to clean, chance to recharge, etc.

    Let’s focus on situation (1). I would question the need for several of the items you list, beginning with the Big Battery Pack. Get into the habit of having your battery fully charged before you go off out. If you don’t use it for even two or three weeks, it should still be fine for a day trip. Keep the battery charger permanently connected and available at home. (I have a spare charged battery which is carried in my bag, but I very, very rarely use two on a given day. And I tend to rotate them day about.) Then the lens cleaning kits – plural?! Maybe a basic kit for out in the field… The binoculars can come out too – they’re nothing to do with taking photos. Finally, your wee Sony should be in a little case on your belt. (My wee Canon Ixus 40 goes everywhere with me when I go out – and 99.9% of the time, it’s on my belt. It’s certainly never in the gadget bag.) Arguably, you don’t need the Sony if you’ve got the D80. If you just want to be able to point and shoot, try setting the D80 to the green Auto setting, or once you begin feeling more confident, use Programmed Auto mode – “P”. There are also the creative modes if you have a few seconds to think. (When I’m out for a walk, I usually use my tripod and take my time shooting. Then when I’ve finished a given shot and I’m moving on, I’ll often set the camera back to “P” mode in case something suddenly appears and I don’t have time to “set up”.)

    Things like the user guides, notebook and spare memory cards are negligible in size and don’t really contribute much to the packed volume or weight. They can be slipped in a side pouch.

    In situation (2), you take everything, but once you get there, you strip the gadget bag back to generally state (1) and leave the additional things in your hotel room.

    I also have a small separate bag for my camcorder – I wouldn’t try to carry it in the same bag as the SLR gear. I tend to know in advance if I’m likely to want to shoot video or concentrate on the still images. (Mind you, I very rarely use the camcorder.)

    That’s roughly what works for me – I hope that it at least gives you some food for thought. 🙂

  3. John

    I agree on batteries…I have never run my D40 battery down whilst out and about and have set up a “charging” station at home where all my kit gets stored and charged, so usually everything is juiced up.

    Unless you are travelling and know you cannot return home for kit, don’t carry a huge bag. I learnt this lesson with my laptop between office and home (15 minute drive). I used to carry a huge bag with every widget in it. Now I carry just the machine and my shoulders thank me for it.

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  5. Gary

    I meant to add somewhere, I wasn’t recommending that you don’t take your binoculars. But don’t figure them as a standard part of of your gadget bag. Make them an optional extra.

    I carry my relatively compact pair in the car glove locker. Just occasionally, I will remember to pull them out and either stuff them in a jacket pocket or take a minute to thread the case onto my belt using its belt loop.

    I’m sure your big long lens has a greater magnification than the binoculars, so I imagine it could substitute occasionally…

  6. Chris Marshall Post author

    @Gary. Certainly food for thought 🙂

    The Sony P&S is pretty important. I will try and explain! Because of the blog that we do here in Almerimar I may go out to take some specific pictures for a feature or an article – say a series on the squares here in Almerimar (which I am planning). I would end up with 100+ images from the shoot easily. Now part way through I see something totally different that I would want to also post on the blog. I just want/need to be able to take that on the Sony so that when I get back Sands or I can upload it (very often Sands) without having to go through the D80 to find that picture. Lazy maybe, but really useful.

    You are right that it is small enough to be unobtrusive, but a belt? Tend not to wear a belt with shorts 🙂 I do usually have a ‘man bag’ with me and it pretty much lives in there.

    As for the batteries, they are fully charged. I actually much prefer the balance of the D8 with the battery pack on, especially with the 400mm lens. That is purely a style/personal preference though. It is always attached to the camera – just fits my hands better.

    The lens cleaning kits are small – I have a really small one clipped to the strap on the camera at all times and carry a bigger one in my bag. I have several so stick one in any bag that I am likley to use. They work great on iPhone, Sony as well. I also have the wireless remote clipped to the camera strap at all times as well.

    @John. With you on the huge bag front! ‘Problem’ is these days that there is also iPhone, keys, wallet, sunglasses etc. I carry a ”man bag’ a lot which is a god send, so I guess I need to factor that into the equation as well as otherwise I will be carry 3 or 4 bags with me!!!

  7. Chris Marshall Post author

    Speedos I agree with, but over here a man bag is the norm, and really useful when you spend most of your life in shorts, t and flip flops 🙂

    That vest would kill me – would be way too hot over here. Nice idea though 🙂

  8. jeremy

    I have two camera systems (3 if you include my samsung nv10) a Contax G2 rangefinder system with 28, 45 & 90mm lenses, the other being the Contax slr with 28, 35, 50 (f1.4), 85 (f1.4), 135mm lenses. I choose which one to take depending on the situation. It is all dependent upon lighting and aim of the project. If it is a low light situation, I opt for the SLR with faster lenses, also portrait work because of the beautiful results with the legendary Zeiss 50 + 85mm Planar f1.4 lenses. Otherwise, I go for the G2 for portability as well as convenience, especially for candid or travel photography

    As regards bags, I use two shoulder bags for the SLR system. My Contax G2 system however also allows me the option of it’s metal case, though for travel I tend to pack two bodies plus the lenses, flash etc. into one bag.

  9. Chris Marshall Post author


    Something tells me you are a pretty keen photographer.

    Tell me though, as a film rather than digital guy how and where do you display your stuff?

    Just dawned on me – a life without Flickr!!!!!! 🙁

  10. Gary

    > Just dawned on me – a life without Flickr!!!!!!

    Hey – cool! Maybe I should dig out my old A1, with its 85mm f1.8 lens! 🙂

  11. Chris Marshall Post author

    I was thinking …………

    Maybe grab the old SLR and take the exact same shot (settings etc) with the SLR and the DSLR and compare the two?

    We could do something pretty cool collectively with that I would imagine?

  12. jeremy

    @ Chris

    I am quite keen, though I tend to do so when in the mood. I have my films scanned when processed. A film scanner is on my ebay shopping list. I’m looking for either a Minolta-Konica or a Nikon. I don’t as yet have a web outlet for my pictures other than a few on Myspace. I suppose I should get my finger out and get a portfolio together and post it on. There are a few I did for cd artwork here
    click on the Gallery tab

  13. jeremy

    Thanks. I’m glad you like the pictures. Some of them I shot in b&w and some in colour which I later converted .
    The music is really good too

  14. Wayne LeFevre

    Going back to the original, have you found a bag yet? I too am looking. There is of course the standard Lowepro, but I’ve also been looking at Tamrac. Oh, and M-Rock has some pretty interesting ones themselves. I’ll probably wind up going for a swing pack myself, though m-rock has some pretty good looking belt packs for DSLRs.

  15. Chris Marshall Post author

    I knew there was something that I was meant to be doing 🙂

    Nope, haven’t got very far at all – other than to decide that I want a ‘messenger’ style bag, that doesn’t actually look like a camera bag!

  16. Wayne LeFevre

    That’s exactly what I am using now is a messenger bag by Tom Bihn. Unfortunately, it’s not meant for a camera, so it just sits in the large pocket. Not exactly the ideal condition, I know. Also, a messenger type bag isn’t the most comfortable when it has a large camera in it. Maybe if it was meant for one, though…

    I think with any type of bag designed specifically for a camera, unless it’s a backpack, is going to look like it’s got a camera in it. Either that, or it’s going to look like a suitcase. Let me know if you find something, though!

  17. Chris Marshall Post author

    I sure will. There is nothingremotely wirth looking at here, so I either need to wait until I travel again (and have no plans or desire to do that at the moment) or hit the Internet agin 🙂

    Maybe I will set aside some time this week to have a really good hunt around!

  18. Chris Marshall Post author

    I am getting pretty interested in these bags. I particularly like the removable sections, and it is a really good site the way it shows with icons what each bag will carry!

  19. jeremy

    I’ve now the start of another system. I bought a Contax 645 with the 80mm f2 lens. I have two film backs for it. Now i need a wide angle and portrait lenses. That’s a small fortune. It is future proof though as there is a digital back available made by Phase One. 39 magapixels for a cool £17,000.

    Or should I put that towards a new Land-Rover Defender?

  20. jeremy

    Don’t worry, I’m not really going to buy either. I hope the prices will tumble though so at some point I’ll be able to buy one should I so desire. I’m still committed to film, especially as I’ve forked out on an Epson v750 pro scanner.

  21. Gary

    > £17,000 ???????

    That reminds me – I need to check my lottery tickets for the weekend…

  22. Chris Marshall Post author

    [quote comment=””]> £17,000 ???????

    That reminds me – I need to check my lottery tickets for the weekend…[/quote]


    [quote comment=”57981″]Don’t worry, I’m not really going to buy either. I hope the prices will tumble though so at some point I’ll be able to buy one should I so desire. I’m still committed to film, especially as I’ve forked out on an Epson v750 pro scanner.[/quote]

    Good to know – thought we had lost the first reader to madness!!!

  23. Gary

    > That reminds me – I need to check my lottery tickets for the weekend…

    Huh! Fat lot of good that did me. I had been assured that the EuroMillions jackpot had my name on it. I’ll just need to keep on using my new Canon PowerShot G9 for now…

  24. jeremy

    from what I hear, the g9 is a tasty bit of kit. Tell us of your impression of it Gary.

  25. Mac Sokulski

    I’m curious gary what is your impression of it. I’ve played with one for a bit…. and I must say I’m not impressed one bit. Would love to hear your opinion.

  26. Gary

    Hi Guys

    I’m not ignoring your requests for G9 impressions/opinions – just a tad busy just now. Watch this space…

  27. John

    I just bought a little Panasonic Lumix FX35 and am very impressed.

  28. jeremy

    So the G9 thing is still up in the air.

    What about filters? This is another can of worms. Apart from black & white photography (film) what filters do you use?

  29. Chris Marshall Post author

    @John – I am seeing that advertised on the TV a lot at the moment.

    @Jeremy – I recall Gary having a a say on this a while ago. Hopefully he will pick this up and remind us!!!

  30. jeremy

    Thanks Chris

    In this digital age I think that most photographers prefer to add filtering effects in ‘post’. The filters that are needed though are polarizing and neutral density.

    As yet I have only a warming filter for my 35mm kit but nothing for my 645. I’d like to get a polarizer for it

  31. Wayne LeFevre

    [quote comment=”61018″]Thanks Chris

    In this digital age I think that most photographers prefer to add filtering effects in ‘post’. The filters that are needed though are polarizing and neutral density.

    As yet I have only a warming filter for my 35mm kit but nothing for my 645. I’d like to get a polarizer for it[/quote]

    I think I will stay with the UV filter. It really does work, plus it keeps the lens from everything. I have yet to get a polarizer, but do want one.

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