So, here it is folks, my guide to gear. Is it the best way to do it? For me, yes, for you, maybe. Either way, have a look and see what you think.
Over the years, I owned a lot of different equipment; when I started out, I was into full-frame DSLRs and all the large glass that accompanies them. I had a large number of camera bags and cases to carry the myriad of gear. I was in the “more is better” category.
When mirrorless cameras appeared, I got hold of a Sony A7 MK2 and a Nikon V1. I liked the Sony camera, but not the lenses, way too big and too expensive!
In 2016, I sold everything and switched to Fujifilm. I still love to shoot with my X-Pro2! I have a few zooms, but my go-to lenses are the weather-resistant F2 23mm & 50mm. They are compact, well-made, have stunning performance, and a great price.
When I moved to Taiwan in 2017, my focus shifted away from studio work toward documentary and street photography. This move allowed me to reduce the amount of gear needed.
For two years, I used a Peak Design 10L Everyday Sling. On paper, it should be the perfect bag, not too big, lightweight, albeit expensive. As you guys know, it is tough to find the ideal camera bag. I find that it does affect my mood when I’m out shooting if there is something that feels out of place, or not quite right. The Peak Design bag looks pretty, but after using it for a long time, I can safely say that I hate the f**king thing.
Its main compartment is too big for my X-Pro2 but too small to carry a laptop easily. The front pocket is too small and gets compressed by the straps when carrying a tripod. These faults are trivial compared to my main gripe. This bag is just so damn uncomfortable to carry for any length of time. I have never had a bag that gave me so much shoulder pain! After one hour of walking, I’m already thinking about going home due to the dull ache caused by the strap cutting into me. Yes, ok, I could have modified it, but should I need to with a bag that costs this much?
What am I trying to achieve?
My goal is to have as much versatility as possible in a small, light package.
These are my goals:
- Two camera bodies with prime lenses fitted (28mm & 85mm).
- The ability to shoot gimballed video.
- Wireless sound recording.
- POV(point of view) video.
- Weatherproof without the need to mess around with a cover.
- Enough battery power to shoot for the whole day.
- Can carry a laptop or iPad for in the field editing and uploading. Notice the word CAN
- light enough to pick up with my little finger 🙂 Hahaha!
Timbuk2 Lightweight Messenger S
If you have never seen or owned one of these bags, get one. It is a no-brainer. Even if you don’t use it for camera gear, it’s a great choice to take to the coffee shop or a meeting.
Ok, so why this bag?
- It is compact and lightweight
- It has excellent internal storage, many pockets and even two, interior, water bottle pockets (get reliable, lockable flask).
- It is waterproof.
- It is super comfortable.
- It is great for riding a bike and has an extra strap to stop it from swinging around and bashing into your legs.
- They look very cool.
Tenba BYOB 9&10
These are camera inserts that come with dividers to keep your gear organised. Very high quality and offer adequate protection. They also have useful side pockets for stashing batteries and lens caps etc. I own both the 9 and 10(bigger), but I usually go with the 9 as it’s perfect for carrying the essentials.
The beauty of these bags is you can take them out if you want an empty messenger bag. I often walk around with my Ricoh GR iii, so I don’t need all the other stuff.
I can put it into the handlebar bag on my bike. Two seconds and I’m ready to go.
Think Tank Pee Wee PPR
It’s a small wallet for holding memory cards and small batteries. Perfect for a power-hungry camera like the Ricoh GR iii.
Two is better than one! I dislike swapping lenses in the street, it’s slow, cumbersome and risks getting crap on your sensor or dropping a lens on the floor. I like to shoot with primes although sometimes I’ll take along a zoom if I think I will need it.
The X-Pro2 is my baby! Almost four years old now, and I still love it. This is the versatile camera of the two. It has the 50mm F2 typically on it, but obviously, I can swap it as the shoot requires.
Ricoh GR iii
I used to shoot at 35mm most of the time, so adapting myself to the slightly wider 28mm of the Ricoh GR iii was not too difficult. It is easy to get close to subjects with this camera, and I mean really close!
- size – it’s so small and light.
- snap focus (single, fast press will jump the focus to the distance you set. I usually use 1 or 1.5 meters).
- Highlight protection metering mode. I have never had another camera with this option. It will stop the highlights from being clipped. Very cool in high contrast, sunny environments.
- Three user presets. Usually, I go, meh, who needs them? Not in this case! They really are extraordinary. The preset will put everything back to their chosen settings, including shutter speed, aperture, ISO and the focusing distance, if manual. Great for those who like to use zone focus.
iPhone SE (2020)
This new bang for the buck iPhone shoots great video footage (4K 60). This is my go-to video camera as the other two are mainly for sills only. Everyone carries a phone, right? May as well get one with great features!
GoPro Hero Session 5
I can mount this in the hot shoe of my camera and shoot POV as well as film my crazy surfing exploits (note to self – learn to surf!).
The bags and cameras are covered, let’s talk about the small things now.
DJI Osmo Mobile 3
Yes, I know there is a new version out, but it’s not that much better. I’m a novice when it comes to video, but this thing is a blast to use. Stick the phone in and away you go, excellent. The strange thing is that no-one seems to care about being filmed by this, but try it with a large DSLR and see what happens. I often shoot with this in my left hand whilst shooting with the Ricoh GR iii in my right hand. The gimbal is a distraction, and nobody sees the diminutive Ricoh GR iii! I can also shoot a load of cool stuff, motion time-lapses, panoramas etc…
Saramonic Blink 500 B3 (lightning version)
Sound is an incredibly important aspect of video making. I couldn’t rely on just the iPhone’s mic. The Saramonic Blink 500 receiver plugs into the bottom of the phone, and you can clip the transmitter to your belt. I also has a lavalier mic that you can clip to your shirt. Awe-inspiring bit of kit!
I carry two, small tripods. The DJI version that came with the gimbal and a small Gorillapod.
Bullet Journal, pens, highlighter etc
I don’t always take this as books are weighty, but I do like to scribble down my thoughts, and the bullet journal is a great way to do that!
Power Bank and cables
Shooting video will drain the battery on your phone, so it makes sense to carry one. I could also use it to charge the Ricoh GR iii battery at a push.
Despite slating their bag earlier, I still use a lot of their gear. The eagle eyed among you will have noticed the red tags used to clip on the various straps that Peak Design make.
I use the capture clip on my belt on my left side, that’s where the X-Pro2 lives when not in the bag, the Ricoh GR iii lives in it’s own case on my right hip. On my wrist I have a Peak Design Cuff. This lets me use the same strap on both cameras!
In the messenger bag I also carry a Peak Design Slide Lite, so I can attach a regular style strap to either the X-Pro2 or the Tenba BYOB 9. Incidentally, I also have the PD Field Pouch which makes for an awesome lightweight bag setup when combined with the strap.
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