I was switching camera bags over the weekend and thought it would be fun to do a “What’s in my bag?” post since I’m frequently asked what type of camera and lens I use. You’ll see below that my kit (a term used to describe the entire collection of cameras and lenses that a photographer uses) is pretty versatile and allows me to shoot in almost any situation.
You’ll also notice that the camera bodies that I use are relatively modest compared to many pro shooters. I use a Nikon D750 and a D810, both of which are full-frame but are not by any means top of the line. They’re absolutely perfect for the jobs they do. I always have both of them available to me (although I will sometimes leave one in the car or stashed away on-site, to lighten my load) in case one decides to be cranky.
I do, however, invest heavily in my lenses. When taken care of, a high quality lens will outlive your camera by years and years. I use all three of my lenses regularly.
Let’s jump right in:
Camera body: Nikon D810
Surprisingly, despite the higher price tag, this is my backup camera. The sensor size creates HUGE files which take up tons of space on my memory cards and hard drives, so I really only use it when I’m shooting a commercial project or when I want to be able to switch between two camera/lens combos at once.
This is my new favorite (my old favorite was my trusty D700 which I still have and will someday give to my kids if they ever express interest in photography). The sensor is full frame and produces files that are big enough for my needs without taking up unnecessary space. It fits well in my small hands and just feels comfortable. This is my go-to camera 90% of the time.
Camera lens: Sigma Art 50mm f/1.4
This lens is so dreamy. Consistently sharp all the way down to f/1.4 (some lenses are a little fickle when shooting wide open). Because my camera body is full-frame, there’s no crop factor to think about and the 50mm focal length is pretty true to what you see with your naked eye.
I use this about 50% of the time and it’s my go to lens for individual portraits as well as documentary style photography. It’s also my smallest and lightest lens, so it’s the one that I carry with me for personal photography.
Camera lens: Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8
This one is huge and heavy and gives me a really impressive muscle in my right arm! I rarely use it at f/2.8 as this lens is at it’s best at f/3.5 (it’s focal sweet spot) or above. It’s my favorite for photographing groups when I can be further away from the family without losing the attention of the kids. I also bring it out if a child is feeling shy and buries her head in mom’s shoulder when I approach because it lets me shoot close up photos from a distance. This bad boy isn’t all brawn, it has a reputation for creating stunning bokeh (the creaminess of the blurry background) and just a generally solid, high quality lens that I use at almost all of my outdoor portrait sessions.
Camera lens: Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
This one is fun and I use it a fair amount. Shooting wide angle (at the 24mm end) creates a bit of distortion which makes for really fun action shots but not so much for portraits. However, shooting at 70mm DOES work well for portraits, so it’s a good, versatile lens that is well suited for someone who does a lot of inside shooting or who likes the documentary/photojournalistic look. As much as I enjoy shooting with this, this is the one I leave behind if I can only bring two lenses.
SO MANY MEMORY CARDS. Gosh, I feel like I’m swimming in these but I’m constantly buying more when I find them on sale. I use a mix of 16g, 32g and a couple of 64g cards. My D810 takes SD and CF cards but the D750 only takes SD. The photo above only shows four, but I have about 25.I talk more about memory cards over here.
Both cameras have a Norwex Optic Scarf tied to the camera strap (one is in the wash) and I use these cloths CONSTANTLY to clean my lenses, viewfinder and LCD screen – before, during and after every session. A clean lens = a crisp, clear photo. If you have someone in your life who sells Norwex, ask them to order one for you. If you don’t, you can order one from my friend Amanda. $20 very well spent. They’re great for eyeglasses, too!
Other things that I keep in my bag: cash for park admissions, snacks, gum or mints and extra batteries.
I have two camera bags. The first is a Lowepro roller bag that isn’t very cute but fits everything beautifully and is easy on my back, as it rolls like a suitcase. My camera gear all together weighs 14.2 and carrying that over my shoulder was terribly for my muscles and spine, so I had to ditch the idea of a pretty bag and go with boring but practical.
My over-the-shoulder bag is a Tebma DNA 15 Slim that also fits everything well but again, is just super hard on my body. I do keep it handy for when my roller bag won’t work for a particular shooting situation, such as the beach
P.S. No affiliate links here – just equipment and I love and recommend without hesitation. When you’re camera or lens shopping, try to buy local and support a small business! The prices at my local camera shop are totally in line with Amazon!