Inside the bag
I’m not sure if it’s a craze, a trend or Covid boredom, but there seems to be an interest on the part of photographers as to what pros carry in their bags. I suspect that what we carry is hardly different from what most amateurs - at least advanced amateurs - carry.
Up until recently I’ve resisted describing what I carry, but recent emails have persuaded me to jump in with this blog and a video.
I own several (some would say too many) different bags, depending on assignments and functionality. If I’m traveling for a month to a foreign locale I’ll take one bag or set of bags and if I’m just out for a quick session near my home I’ll take another. It also depends on what my photo goals are for that trip. So, with that in mind, here goes.
Note: I have no relationship whatsoever with Think Tank or Mindshift, other than to support them sending their kids to college with my many purchases of their excellent gear.
If I’m shooting near to my home base, I typically use a LowePro sling pack with my Fujifilm GFX 100 with an attached lens, usually my Fujinon 32-64 or 120 macro. The unattached lens is in the bag, perhaps with an additional lens that I feel I might need based on my subject matter. That might mean a 23mm (17mm in 35mm equivalent) if I’m shooting landscapes or 250 mm (180mm equivalent or 270mm if I pair it with the 1.4 extender) if I expect some wildlife or distant images. If I’m shooting with a bulky tele, that will probably be the only camera/lens combo I’ll be carrying.
I always pack the following accessories:
Wine Country filter holder, GND and ND filters, Small squeeze blower, Lenspen, Microfiber cloth, Extra storage card or two, Extra batteries, Electronic shutter release, Tripod (carried separately).
My usual photo trips are extended affairs of 3-4 weeks, minimum. For that I do a lot of planning. Nowadays carry-ons are limited and in some primo photo locations, like Africa for example, total luggage weight is stingy and may be strictly enforced.
To begin, I always count on my indispensable Think Tank Airport Security 2.0 rolling case, which currently has logged over 527,000 miles with me. It is critical that the case carry 90% of all my camera/lens needs, so I usually agonize for weeks over what to take and what to leave behind. Here is a typical setup that I cram into that bag and how the final arrangement looks.
For those of you wondering, here is the contents list:
Fujifilm GFX 100, 32-64mm Fujinon lens, Fujifilm GFX 50S body, Fujinon 250mm lens with 1.4 extender, Fujinon 120mm Macro, Fujinon 23mm, Fujifilm articulated eyepiece, Wine Country filter holder with attached polarizer, Full kit of filters, Electronic shutter release (2 parts), Case of 20 extra storage cards, Six extra batteries, Room for a few extras. Whenever I lug around loads of equipment in one bag, I’m careful not to have lenses actually mounted to the bodies in transit, to avoid problems with the connection if the bag gets jostled.
In addition I usually wear my Mindshift Rotation 180 backpack as my “personal” carry on. Into that I pack whatever else I might need, including my laptop and a spare lens or two, as well as my spotting binocs if I’ll be shooting wildlife. In the case where I take both camera bags with me, I will shift the weight around as needed between the two bags. You can see a video of the interior of these bags and how I use them here.
My regular clothes luggage holds my tripod, broken down to fit and to discourage theft (yes, it’s happened to me!). I also will put my camera cleaning kit and other accessories in there.
There are times when I know an airline will not allow me to bring aboard both my Think Tank and Mindshift. In that case I bring the Think Tank Airport Security and revert to using my old, beat up (but, alas, no longer available) Think Tank Urban Disguise 50 V2.0. They sell newer versions online.
I also use the Urban Disguise for photographing around cities or villages, but I find my neck aches after a day of heavy use. I have their accessory backpack-type attachment, but I have to say I find it relatively useless.
So, all in all, creating a system that works for you will probably be trial and error until one solution will fit like a glo… I mean, backpack.