Have you ever wondered what photography gear you should have? I get asked that question a lot and my honest answer is, "That depends."
Each person's photography gear needs are different. Your subject, your style of shooting and your budget are the three main considerations for choosing gear.
To underscore this point, Grant Johnson, Jody Doll and I are each sharing with you what we have in our camera bags. You'll get to see the tools we use to capture our photos and you'll get a chance to see the differences and similarities in our gear.
Disclosure: The product links below are affiliate links. That means that, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase using those links. Please note that we have not been given any free products, services or anything else by these companies in exchange for mentioning them in this post. We bought these items ourselves, like using them and thought you might like them, too.
We'll start with Grant's camera bag. You will probably remember Grant from his recent blog post, Intro to Night Photography and his work in the collection Nature at Night, available right here on my website. Grant loves photographing the night sky and, because of this, has chosen most of his gear specifically for this task. Here is Grant's camera bag and his comments on his gear:
What's In Grant's Camera Bag
- Canon EOS T6s
- Canon EOs XSi
- Rokinon 16mm f/2.0
- Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 - I love both of these Rokinon lenses for night photography. They bring in a LOT of light for catching details in the Milky Way and Northern Lights.
- Canon 50mm f/1.8
- Canon EF-S 18-135mm
- Canon EF-S 55-250mm
- UV, ND-8 & Fluorescent for 50mm
- ND-8 for 135mm
- Square filters - ND-8 & coffee tint, solid and graduated
- Camera strap - usually left off of camera while using the tripod.
- Remote trigger & intervalometer
- Lens cleaning kit
- Spare batteries & chargers
- Spare memory cards
- Spare lens caps
- Notebook for jotting down shot notes as I go. Since the Rokinon lenses are manual, I need to manually keep track of aperture settings for future reference.
- Color & light reference I cobbled together from card stock. I can snap a photo of that card and easily color-correct photos later if my white balance is askew.
Some special bits I load up for night photography and being out in the wild:
- Headlamps - I keep a spare and make sure they have a red-light option so I don't ruin my night vision. I used to shine the flashlight from my cell phone to see what I was doing, but it quickly drained the battery and the harsh light would blind me for the next ten minutes. Having a hands-free dimmer red light is a game changer.
- Rain poncho - though I'd probably use it to cover the camera gear before myself!
- Emergency whistle & fire stick
- Air horn to scare away beasties
- Bear spray (not pictured and hopefully never needed!)
- Leatherman utility tool
- Snacks! A canteen of water is a good idea too. You never know when or where you'll get stuck.
- Rubber Bands - I haven't needed to do this since getting my second remote, but I used to use a rubber band to hold down the shutter button on one camera to leave it shooting continuously. Now I just keep one out of habit.
- Electrical tape - to cover up the little red light that comes on while shooting. It is really bright when you are in pitch darkness!
- ThermaCare heat wraps. I have found that keeping a wrap on the lower back really helps when dealing with cold nights.
- Hand Warmers - Keep the fingers and lenses from freezing up. You can buy electric dew shields to heat your lenses, but a crate of hand warmers and an old sock can work just as well for cheap! Simply cut the toes off a pair of old socks and use them to wrap the hand warmers around your lenses. That will keep dew and frost from clouding up your shot.
- Laser measurement tool - It is hard to focus on stars at night, so I shine the red laser dot into the distance and focus on that.
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Next let's check out Jody Doll's bag. Jody is my go-to person for bird knowledge and recently shared a fantastic post called The Owling Guide where she gave us tips and insights into finding and photographing owls. Her owl photos, along with many of her wildlife and nature photos, are featured throughout my collections. Here is her bag and what she has to say about it:
What's in Jody's Camera Bag
- Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 - Also known as my birding lens.
- Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 - I rarely use this lens, but you just never know.
- Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 - I rarely use this lens, but I think I still carry it around because it was my first lens and I'm sentimental like that!
- Canon EF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 - I use this lens for everyday shots, when I don't need all that zoom, and for portraits.
- ET-83C Lens Hood to prevent stray light and glare from affecting photos
- Dynex super lightweight and cheap tripod that is easy to carry and quick to set up for everyday use. I also have a very heavy, more expensive Cabela's tripod that is not pictured, because:
- I only use it when I'm going to be set up in one location (like my miserable attempts at night sky photography.)
- My husband "borrows" it to go hunting and I'm pretty sure it has been dragged up and down multiple steep, rocky, and apparently VERY dirty mountains in Alaska...and it looks like it.
- Canon Speedlite 430EXII removable flash
- Extra battery and charger
- Extra SD card(s)
- Cleaning supplies: monitor wipe(s), microfiber cleaning cloth, and a Cabela's Lenspen
- Silica Gel packets (to absorb moisture...sometimes nature is a moist place!)
- And last, but certainly not least...Ben's Max Formula DEET. It's greasy, smelly, and potentially toxic, but it is better than getting Lyme's Disease...trust me.
- Not pictured - Snacks and water bottle (with an owl on it.) I should have put that in there!
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And, finally, here is my bag:
What's in My Camera Bag
As you can see, right now I pack pretty light. I just recently upgraded my camera from a Nikon D90 to a Nikon D750 and sold my old lenses with my camera so I'm starting fresh. I loved my Nikon D90 but wanted to upgrade to a full frame camera to get wider landscape shots.
This is the gear I use:
- Nikon D750 - I just upgraded to this camera last year from my Nikon D90 and I love it.
- Nikon 20mm f/1.8 G - Lets me capture wide angle landscape shots.
- Nikon 85mm f/1.8 G - This is a great portrait lens. I bought this to take my son's senior pictures and I was very happy with the results.
- Sigma 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 APO - This is my favorite lens. It has a big zoom which helps me get wildlife photos without getting too close.
- Haida Pro II Graduated Neutral Density 8X to 0 100x150mm
- Variable Neutral Density Filter 77mm
- Hoya Polarizing Filter 77mm
- Evecase Camera Backpack - This is the same bag that Grant uses and was actually a gift from him to me. Thanks, Grant!
- Camera Strap - I got this beauty from Janie Lane Studio and I love it. It is made of soft, durable fabric, is padded and has little pockets to hold SD cards and lens caps.
- Tripod - Dolica TX570DS
- Polaroid Shutter Release Timer Control - One of my favorite gadgets. It's easy to use and allows me to avoid shaking my camera when taking long exposure photos.
- A rainsleeve to protect my camera when it's raining or misting
- Camera care kit - I've been hauling this around forever and it has all the little things I need to clean my lenses and make small repairs.
- Earmuffs and gloves (not pictured) - These have come in handy so many times and have allowed me to keep taking pictures when I would have had to pack it in due to cold weather.
- Extra SD Cards and a fully charged battery (also not pictured) - These live in my purse so that I always have them with me.
- Snacks and water (also not pictured)
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I hope you've enjoyed this sneak peek into our camera bags. As you can see, your camera equipment should be a function of your needs and style. These are all items we use almost daily. As you collect your gear, keep in mind how you plan to use it so you are buying equipment that will make you happy and serve your needs.
Finally, be sure to download your free Camera Gear Checklist. This handy list will help you make sure you don't forget any necessary items when you are packing your camera bag for a trip or photo excursion.
What do you have in your bag? Do you have a favorite piece of camera equipment or something that makes your photography experience better? I'd love to hear about it!
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