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As a travel and street photographer, people are always telling me I should do a “what’s in my bag” post, so I thought I’d take a crack at it.

I’m breaking this is to two completely separate posts. First I’ll do one for my camera bag and then one for my computer bag.

We will start with the heaviest “standard” load-out I carry and work our way down to a smaller kit for when I want to travel light and not be encumbered by a lot of gear.

IMG 3637My main “go” bag is a ThinkTank Speed Racer v2.0 and it holds a LOT of gear. Everything you see in this picture except the tripod will fit in that one bag. For real.

Going from left to right and top to bottom (approximately) I carry the following:

1. Phottix Strato II Multi Radio triggers - Simple, affordable, radio triggers for my Canon camera and flash. Multi-channel and multi group capable but otherwise nothing fancy. Allows me to remote trigger a speed-light (or three) for off-camera flash.

2. Canon 580EXII Flash - Your standard issue Canon hot-shoe flash. I find this model to be in the affordable sweet spot between the underpowered 430EX and the overpriced 600EX.

3. FEISOL Tournament 3442 Tripod - I wanted carbon fiber and I didn’t want to pay a king’s ransom for it. The FEISOL is half the price of the equivalent Gitzo and it has been rock solid reliable since the day I got it. The thing weights all of 2.51 pounds without the head. One of the best investments I’ve ever made in my photo equipment.

4. Circular Polarizing Filters (72 & 77 mm) - CPL filters for both of my most frequently used lenses. Great for sea and sky shots. Filters may or may not match their case brands.

5. 10-Stop Neutral Density Filters (72 & 77 mm) - 10 Stop ND filters for both of my most frequently used lenses. Great for long exposure shots. Filters may or may not match their case brands.

6. KORA SD Card Wallet - Holds 12 SD cards snugly in rubber slots. Waterproof, floats, and is fairly robust and drop resistant. SD Cards - An assortment of sizes ranging from 32Gb to 128Gb. All are 95mb/sec or faster and all come from name brands. I’ve had enough hassles with discount memory to waste my time with it.

7. X-Rite Colorchecker Passport - For perfect camera calibration and white balance every dang time. My color checker and my camera are rarely separated. Contains a large 18% grey neutral card along with the classic 24 swatch Gretag-Macbeth color checker chart for generating camera calibration profiles.

8. Canon 7d mkII Camera - Everybody has their own opinion on which camera to buy and I’m not going anywhere near that debate. Just get a body you like and invest in some good glass and have at it. Do not get stressed about gear! There, that’s my big camera review.

For a few years now, I’ve been shooting with Canon’s 7d Mark II body, possibly the best APS-C camera Canon has built. It’s rugged, shoots action, sports, and nature at 10 frames a second along with every other subject I throw at it. Huge library of lenses available from both Canon and the third party makers like Sigma and Tamron. It’s reliable and affordable.

Honestly, I can’t believe how many people I come across who are shocked, SHOCKED I tells ya, that I don’t shoot with a full frame camera. Or a mirrorless camera. Or some other perceived newer or better model. And for me, it’s never really been about the gear. It’s always been about the vision. I can make the kind of images I want to make with pretty much any decent modern dSLR, so I’m happy to have pretty much anything that serves my needs. This body certainly does that for me so I’m not in any rush to get something new!

And yet I’m also aware that the time is coming when I will choose to move to a new body simply because technology really has gotten that much better since my camera was first released. And when the time is right, I’ll make that leap forward.

9. Really Right Stuff L-bracket (mounted on camera body) - Arca Swiss style mounting bracket for RRS head. Easily flips from landscape to portrait orientation. Has openings that allow access to all the ports on the side of the camera. Even comes with a built in Allen wrench for installing and uninstalling.

10. Sigma 18-300mm lens - My “walking around” lens. Covers the entire range from wide to super zoom. Great for street and travel photography particularly when your distance from the subject is frequently changing in a hurry and you don’t have time to swap lenses.

11. Canon 24-105mm “L-glass” Lens - An all time classic lens. f4 throughout its entire range. Sharp, with gorgeous color and contrast. My favorite for portraits. The rubber lens covers you see over this and the 18-300 are KUVRD universal lens caps. They were a gift from a photo friend and I have come to love them for keeping my lens caps on while the lenses are in my bag.

12. Sigma 8-16mm lens - My widest angle lens. Great for getting the most out of a tight space. This is the lens I use for all my VR photography because it goes super-wide without being a fish-eye. It maintains a rectangular projection, even at 8mm.

13. Canon wireless remote - Takes up no space at all and has come in handy a surprising number of times!

14. Hot-shoe bubble level - Useful for architecture and real estate photos where level horizons and geometry are critical.

15. Really Right Stuff Pano Rig

16. Really Right Stuff Tripod Head - BH30 Ball head. Every bit of it made in the USA. Like the Feisol, worth every penny I paid for it. Incredible design, precision machining, highest quality materials.

17. Canon Battery Charger

18. 5 Spare batteries (+1 in the camera) - I always keep a fistful of charged batteries in my bag. I’ve got six total. Two are Canon brand. Two are Wasabi Power, an affordable and reliable third party, and two more are Energizer brand. They work fine but aren’t quite as long lasting as the other four.

That’s my standard load-out where I have the luxury of carrying a fair amount of gear. The only thing I regularly carry that isn’t pictured here is my Black Rapid Sport camera strap. I typically sling my camera with that but sometimes I’ll switch it out for a Spyder Holster if the situation calls for it. I’ve got an Arca Swiss adapter for the Spyder that will mount to the L-bracket on my camera so I don’t really have to fuss with switching systems at all. Just clamp and go with either the Black Rapid or the Spyder.

IMG 3638When I want to travel light, I go with a much simpler rig that still affords me a lot of function and flexibility. I have a smaller lumbar bag made by Mountainsmith that I absolutely love. Maybe my favorite "day bag" ever.

For my lighter load-out, I’ll carry:

Canon 7dmkII Camera with 18-300 Sigma attached
Sigma 8-16
FEISOL Tripod with RRS Head attached
2 batteries
Card Wallet
ND Filter
Colorchecker Passport
Canon Remote

And that’s it.

This fits in a much smaller bag with room to spare. Much less of a literal pain in the neck.

Best of all, I still have enough flexibility to capture the great majority of the scenes I am likely to be presented with but I don’t have to carry the whole studio on my back. Honestly, the more gear I can leave at home, the happier I am taking pictures in the field.

Coming next: What’s In My Bag? Part 2 - The Computer Bag

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