As mentioned in a previous blog my DSLR life started with a Canon 60D and a 580EX II Speedlite as my main equipment. Over the years my small kit bag grow partly because of Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS). Being a tech geek its just a natural thing for us to do but with Photography you soon learn that that expensive camera body and/or lens still can take a poor image if not done correct.
The other reason is that some equipment is better suited for the job than others, the key is not to learn the hard (expensive) way.
Note I will not be covering mobile lighting in this blog, I will leave that for another.
In the bag
Canon 5D Mark III
I rely on two of these, for weddings I have both strapped to me all day (usually fitted with 24-70mm & 70-200mm L lenses to cover ever changing environments of the day….caution this is heavy over a 10hr day so it helps being a big lad). For studio and location work I split my Black Rapid to a single sling and only have one strapped to my side, the other is there as a backup (their isn’t usually a need for quick lens changes in this scenario).
24-70mm F/2.8L II IS USM
This is my go to lens for the majority of the day when it comes to weddings, events or shooting commercial clothing brands. Despite this being my “Go to” lens I dont use this in my studio as much, reason for this is that sometimes I need to get close…without getting in close to the subject or model.
70-200mm F/2.8L II IS USM
As mentioned above this is my No.2 at weddings, its great to get in close and capture some intimate and/or candid moments without getting in close and making guests aware you are there. I love to use this lens in the studio for portraiture also. Some lighting setups restrict getting close to the model but also if you have someone who is not used to being in front of the camera.
You can certainly get a tight close up frame but keeping a calming distance to your subject. It is my heaviest lens so if you where thinking about this one, you may want to hire one to test what its like shooting for a long period.
85mm F/1.2L II USM
I love the focal length of this for fashion and portraiture. The wide aperture certainly allows flexibility for bokeh shots but keeping your subject sharp. Handles low (and I mean low) natural light conditions surprisingly well too with less noise than other lenses. It’s not as heavy as the 70-200mm however it is deceiving the weight to size ration (this is due to the amount of glass within it).
Now many people say this is too slow at focusing and yes it is slower than my others on average. Depending on what you use this for it is an awesome lens. Saying that I would not use at weddings or shooting children in a park (I would use this for bridal editorial without a doubt).
100mm F/2.8L USM Macro
My least used lens but would not let this one go. Perfect for detail shots like jewelry and also fun to use for beauty photography. Depending on distance to subject you may notice you need to toggle distance selector switches to speed up focusing or allowing the focus if you are up close.
16-35mm F/4L IS USM
This would have been my least used lens a few months ago, however I’ve found another use for this lens to what it was originally purchased for. I initially bought this to give me a wider shot. I don’t like shooting wider than 24mm and and I prefer to keep above 50mm.
This is because I shoot mainly fashion and beauty so its where I’m used to being, not a right or wrong thing. I had been almost caught out with a couple of group shots. Where the distance to the group was nearly not be met to gather everyone in the shot and a veil flick shot in the smallest bridal suite. Luckily these where some of my favourite shots for these types and I thought to myself “imagine if I didn’t get that shot”. So the GAS kicked in and I bought this lens as a just in case.
The f/2.8L was far greater in price and sense kicked in, knowing the fact I would use this once in a blue moon so opted for the f/4. For the times I’ve used this its had great results, for the group shots I would never shoot less than f/6.3. More often than not will be between f/8 – f/11 to achieve sharpness for all rows of people. For something like a veil or dress flick f/4 is fine and once again I’d sit around f/5.6 – f/7.1 or greater for this.
The reason why this is now not the least used in my kit bag is that I film bts (behind the scenes) footage for some of my shoots either on location or in the studio with my second 5D body. Shooting at 35mm this lens is great and maybe for some bokeh b-roll footage it would be advantageous to have the f/2.8 but not for the price, also I do have the 24-70mm to use for the rare occasions).
Sekonic L-478DR LiteMaster Pro
Small, compact and such a time saver. This I mainly use in the studio rather than location. For constant light especially one light source (the sun) in camera metering is usually enough. The L478 does however measure ambient light along with studio strobes. I use this to speed up multi light setups, a trained eye can adjust the light ratios well but this allows it to be done in such a faster time.
Faster light changes = more looks per session.
More looks = more sales.
X-Rite ColorChecker Passport
A handy tool to have if you are shooting product photography. This ensures a near as perfect colour correction in post production. For editorial and creative work, its not really that essential or needed at all. Often with this type of look the colour temperature or creative styling would completely change the true colour of the image as that is the nature of that style of shooting.
I will go more into detail in regards to this item, I always carry one with me just in case along with the Godox Propac 960 for power and a Gary Fong Lightsphere (these have not been pictured). Even on location you never know when you may need that little fill light. If shooting a wedding day then I have two to give consistent lighting between both camera bodies.
The bag itself
Lowepro Stealth D550 AW Shoulder Bag
Lowepro suggest this is capable of holding the following:
I would say it happily carries all my equipment listed above, as to what Lowepro suggest I dont carry my laptop in here but can fit an IPad. 5 lenses for sure and at a push my Godox Propac PB960 & x2 Godox TT685C at the same time.
This does come at a price however in the weight department and unless your a big lad, to carry this all day long or for an hour or so commuting the London underground system it can be tiring. If you do need this amount of gear then maybe something like a Peli 1510 Protector case (which has wheels) might be the answer. I believe Pixapro do a Tough rolling case which is similar to this but at a fraction of the cost (maybe when my GAS next flares up I’ll be able to review).
Other items such as plenty of CF & SD Cards, cleaning gear and spare batteries are all tucked in nicely.
This is just my main go to equipment, things like mobile lighting, tripods etc I will get onto in another blog.