Sunday, February 23, 2014

What's in your camera bag?

And what do you really need in your camera bag.

I find this to be an interesting topic because there are varying opinions, swinging from one end of the spectrum (everything!) to the other.  I write this from the angle of a hobbyist photographer who shoots jpg and not RAW.  This is meant to cover every day use, not travel.  (And please keep in mind that these are my opinions based on my photography experiences over the past five years.)

The Basics
  • DSLR camera with a primary lens.  Your primary lens is the one that's on your camera most often.  Within my photography circle, most frequently used lenses are in the 35-50mm range.  Some prefer prime lenses while others like to use a zoom.  I, personally, like to use prime lenses.  The images they produce seem sharper to me.  
  • Speciality lens(es).  I've never brought every single lens I own on an outing.  To do so would be cumbersome, in addition to unnecessary.  I usually have an idea of what I'll be photographing and bring the appropriate lenses.  For example, for portraits, I'll bring my 85mm.
  • Speedlight.  Not always needed but an important tool to have.  
  • Brush/lens cleaner
  • Remote shutter.  I suggest a brand name one versus a generic.  I have a generic remote and I'm lucky if it fires the shutter once for every 15 times I press it.  It's small enough to not take up extra space and if you keep it in a pocket of your bag, you don't have to worry about losing it.    
The Myths
  • Back-up camera battery.  I have never, ever had my camera battery die on me.  I lead a hectic life and I'm able to see when the battery is low and charge it in a timely manner.  Some people insist on carrying around an extra charged battery but I find this to be completely unnecessary. Even when traveling.
  • Rechargeable batteries.  I use regular rechargeable batteries for my Speedlight and I've never had an issue.  Speedlights are like humans in a way.  They all have different temperaments.  My Speedlight doesn't take long to recharge itself and I can fire off the shutter fairly rapidly.  Others may not work so nicely and need a few seconds to gear up for the next flash.  If I know I'm going to be using my Speedlight exclusively, I'll charge the batteries beforehand and a few times, I've had an extra set of charged batteries stowed away in my bag.
As you can see, I tend to take a minimalistic approach.

The Bag

Quite a few years ago, I purchased a Jo Totes camera bag.


It traveled with us to Disney once and I quickly learned that my back, which is terribly messed up from the triplet pregnancy, needs a backpack in order for me to survive the day somewhat comfortably.  It did slide nicely into the basket on the underside of our double stroller, which helped relieve some of my pain and suffering, as did having a husband who'll carry a purple purse.  I still use this bag, but it's not my only option.  Quite often, when I'm bringing just my camera and nothing else, I'll roll up an old receiving blanket from the girls' baby days and use that to cushion my camera in a sling purse/bag thing I picked up from Target.  I never, ever carrying any water bottles, juice boxes, etc. in the bag where my camera is.

I'm not one to beat up on my bags and while my Jo Totes is still sturdy, the color has worn off in many places on the bag.


I suppose it gives it a vintage look.



Sarah said...

Great post! With kids, I too am a minimalist with equipment. One thing I love is a neoprene sleeve that I bought on amazon. It was around $15 and is perfect for putting my camera in when I'm not planning to bring my whole camera bag. I can just put it in the diaper bag or my purse and not stress about little bumps. Love it!

Nadine said...

I have the exact same bag, just in yellow. While I liked it, the zipper broke within a few months and I was never able to fix it. I use a camera backpack for traveling.

BreezieGirl said...

I tend to be pretty minimal as well - I do ALWAYS have multiple sets of batteries for my Speedlight though. Mine always seems to die so quickly. I just got a new camera bag for Christmas that I love. It's smaller than my "everything" bag, but has a long across the body strap. (Both of my bags are Epiphanie - Lola and the new one is Charlotte.)

Kate said...

Could you suggest a camera that would be good for a first-time user to buy? I don't want to do anything professional, but would love to take fancier pictures of my daughter beyond my iphone or plain old digital camera.

Jennifer said...

@ Sarah thanks sooooo much for posting about the neoprene sleeve!!!! I HAVE to get one! :)

Sarah said...

Hi Katie - I would suggest a Nikon 5100. They may be up to 5200 now. You should check for a used one. Often times, newer photographers will outgrow them and upgrade fairly quickly.