Some straight talk about our gear and how to manage carrying it!

4 weeks, 1 day ago 4
Posted in: blog



If you come here often, you must think that I am obsessed with the gear and camera bags/backpacks!  Well, to a degree, I hope to a healthy amount, I am!  For most of my career as a shooter I have traveled extensively both domestically and internationally, and getting the right gear to my locations safely and in an organized fashion has been a top priority.  I usually start my pre-pack for a big trip at least a month in advance.  A great deal of thought goes into what I believe I will need and how best to travel with it!  As years are added each birthday, lighter and more compact is a good thing!


I am a photo-generalist, meaning I shoot nature, landscape, travel, people, Americana and close-up work.  I used shoot sports and a lot of aviation, but I do less of those things now.  As our interests change and our ability to carry the gear, (age and physical condition), our packing and planning have to change as well!


In recent years I have started to become as much of a minimalist as I can with the amount of gear I attempt to lug around.  I use backpacks, but not to carry the gear, mostly to store it safely in a vehicle while I work out that bag.  The shoulder bag, except for small ones, is no longer an option as a lot weight on my shoulders is not working well for me today.  If I have to travel by air, and that is the only time I do, when I must, the rolling camera cases rule the day. My rolling bag of choice is the Think Tank Airport Advantage.


Another consideration is the kind of photography I am traveling to do!  Nature and landscape requires a different set of gear from, people, travel and Americana.  For serious close-up work it changes again with a different set of needs and gear requirements.


Let’s talk about my fall schedue;  Early October Jack and I will be in the UP of Michigan, (general nature), then in Northern Ohio for our Amish workshop, (people, travel and nature) and finally at the end of October in the Great Smokies for fall color, (nature and some close-up work).



For the three upcoming trips my standard package is a Fujifilm X-T4 body with a spare X-H1 body and four lenses; 10-24, 16-80, 70-300, 50mm f 2 and the Fujifilm 1.4 tele-converter.  This gives an effective focal length range of from 15mm to 630mm.  Plus the 70-300 with the teleconverter will achieve almost 1:1 – life size close-ups!  All of these lenses are superbly sharp, and choosing which lens to use is only a factor of the needed focal length!  Less weight, more range and no “which lens to pull from the bag” confusion, is a wining combination!



I now always pack my drone, controller, and spare batteries, plus a mini iPad for use with the controller.  This affords me the ability to work any subject from a completley different perspective!



Another new addition for my kit is the Platypod Max.  I learned about this device from Scott Kelby and it is a dynamite way to shoot low to the ground!  It includes screw in spikes or rubber feet for most any surface and a velcro stap to attach it to almost any kind of railing or pole. It packs easy and will add versatiity to my ability to approach subects from inches above the ground to, with the drone, up to 400 feet above!  It’s all about increasing your range!



How about travel and people?  Well you could use the above system for that too, but for me, this is the way I really like to work on those subjects, single focal length lenses and a rangefinder style camera!  This Lowepro Flipside 10L AW bag is perfect when you want to travel light! I carry the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 with the 27mm f 2.8 pan-cake lens attached.  In the bag is also the, 16mm f 2.8, 23mm f 2, 35mm f 2, 50mm f 2 and the 90mm f 2.  Throw in 4 spare batteries and you’re ready to go!



Once I get to the location this little fellow is my walk around bag for and extra lens or two and batteries!  It provides adequate protection and is a breze to carry!



I have the Guru Gear bag here today and the Tamrac is scheduled to arrive later today, after a lot of packing and unpacking, inspecting an assessing, one will go back and one will be the bag for this fall!!!  I love the Guru Gear products for quality and the two sided opening, but…… my stuff is a tight fit and the Tamrac also has some really nice features, I won’t know until I piddle with both,  side by side.


Update:  The Tamrac bag came today and I’ve been back and forth using each bag and the winner is the Tamrac Anvil Slim 15L!  It held all of my gear with ease and I liked the straight opening of one lid for access to everything better.  The Guru Gear is really well made of, I think, superior materials, it just was a hair undersized.




Boy is this fun!




the pilgrim


4 Responses

  1. Dick Ginkowski says:

    First, confession is good for the soul but you are a gear and bag junkie. The more you try to pare down then you add more. You are a few years older than I am so I have a little catching up to do (although I do have a microphone locker, too).

    I’m going to Europe next week (couldn’t extend my 2020 Holland tulip time tickets any longer) and taking two camera bodies and lenses: X-T30 with 18-135 and X-T2 with the 70-300. That should cover a lot of ground and the 70-300 is sharper than I thought it would ever be. Both are 67mm which means I only need one spare polarizer and one Marumi DHG (comparable to Canon 500D). Marumi makes it in a 67mm version and I got it in Holland. Adorama sells them at more than twice Amazon and the price in Europe. The NP-W126s batteries are the same for both bodies. Ditto for the threaded cable release. Sirui carbon fiber tripod. You get the idea. And you’re right that planning started early. I like how Fuji gives me choices (but no X-T4 because it uses a different battery).

    And having said all of that, I must confess to my bag addiction — and then plead this in my defense. Doing 99% of my travel by air it’s no big deal when I fly Delta. Different airlines have different bag size (and for foreign carriers, weight) requirements. I did find a rolling bag that’s not much to write home about but it does fit for virtually all airlines. And I have bags that are designed for the small jets. And the one I use for the one time a year on Spirit or Frontier I like so much that it’s now my #1 domestic bag (and fits in the bins on small jets).

    I’m looking forward to your drone shots. And you sequel book, “America from 299 Feet” 🙂

  2. Johnny Boyd says:

    I really like my Guru. A few years old but they are basically all the same just larger or smaller.

    Hope all is well with ya Bill.

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