“What’s in your wallet?” So goes the tagline from a Capital One credit card commercial that most of you (at least in the United States) probably know well. With that tagline, Capital One would have you believe that their credit card is better than others and should be the one in you wallet.
For photographers, the comparable question is “what type of camera do you use?” or “what gear do you carry in you camera bag?” If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked these questions, I could buy a new camera.
I believe good photography has more to do with the gray matter between your ears than your camera equipment. However, that said, it is true you cannot do photography without equipment. When two photographers meet for the first time, the inevitable question always arises: “What camera do you shoot with?” My question to you is, does it really matter?
I think one reason this question gets asked is that the two photographers in question are trying to find common ground as they create a social relationship. Personally, I don’t take any comment seriously that claims one camera is better than any other, it is just that some cameras are better at creating certain types of images than other cameras. For example, my DSLR beats my Android phone without question at shooting landscapes, but the phone does a better job at spontaneous photos among friends (not that the DSLR wouldn’t do a fine job in that instance, but by the time I dig it out of the bag, put on the correct lens, and get the exposure set correctly, the moment of spontaneity will be gone).
There seems to be a particularly big “conversation” about Nikon vs Canon among many photographers. There are loyalists on both sides, and while often good-natured, sometime the conversations seem more like battles. Personally I shoot with Canon equipment, but this is not because I think Canon equipment is better. The only reason I shoot with Canon equipment is that when I switched from film to digital, Canon had a newer camera model than Nikon. If I made the switch a few months later, I could well be shooting with Nikon equipment today. (My film camera is an Olympus OM4T. So, if at the time of my switching to digital, Olympus had made a digital camera with a full-frame or APS sensor instead of a 4/3s sensor, which uses a different lens mount so with their camera I couldn’t use my existing film lenses, I’d be shooting with Olympus equipment.)
So, even with my mini-rant above about such questions, inquiring minds want to know what’s in my camera bag. Therefore, I present what is in my camera bag (or should I say bags, as I have more than one and carry different items based on the type of outing).
Standard (or default) equipment:
- Canon 6D camera with Canon battery grip and Acratech quick release plate
- Canon EF 17-40mm 1:4 L USM zoom lens
- Canon EF 24-70mm 1:2.8 L zoom lens
- Canon EF 70-200mm 1:2.8 L IS USM zoom lens with Acratech quick release plate
- Canon EF 100mm 1:2.8 USM macro lens
- Canon EF 1.4x II extender
- Lowepro Vertex 100AW camera bag
- set of three Kenko extension tubes
- Vello wireless Shutterboss
- Canon RS-80N3 remote switch
- Canon 550EX Speedlight with Yongnuo compact battery pack SF-18
- Yongnuo off-camera shoe cord OC-E3
- ThinkTank Photo Pixel Pocket Rocket (digital card holder) with 4 to 6 SDHC cards (8, 16, or 32 mb, various brands)
- 2 spare Canon batteries
- lint-free cleaning cloth
- Lenspen lens cleaning pen
- allen wrench (for removing quick release plates)
- hot-shoe double bubble level
- set of 15 colored filters for use on the flash
- 2 B+W 77mm circular polarizing filters (one is dented and very hard to rotate)
- B+W 77mm 110 ND 3.0-10BL 1000x filter (10 stop neutral-density filter)
- B+W 77mm 092 IR 20-40x (infrared filter)
- Tiffen(?) 2-stop, soft-gradient, split neutral-density filter
- six AAA batteries
- Op/Tech Rainsleeve
- user manuals for the 6D, the 550EX and the Shutterboss
- spare contact lens case
- business cards
- Manfrotto 190 carbon fiber 4-section tripod with an Acratech Ultimate Ballhead (I often carry the tripod along, but not always)
Extra equipment (in addition to the standard) for event-shooting
- Canon 50D with Canon battery grip
- a second Canon 550EX speedlight with battery pack
- Demb Flip-it (variable angle flash reflector)
- Demb flash bracket
- Demn flash diffuser
- Lowepro Nova 180AW camera bag
Minimal kit (when I don’t want to carry a lot of stuff)
- Canon 6D camera with (optional) Canon battery grip
- Canon EF 24-70mm 1:2.8 L zoom lens
- (optional) Canon EF 70-200mm 1:2.8 L IS USM zoom lens
- a small Lowepro bag (either the Nova 180 or a yet smaller one that I’m not sure of the model number)
- lint-free cleaning cloth
- Lenspen lens cleaning pen
- a couple spare SDHC cards
Optional equipment that I sometime carry
- Photoflex MultiDisc 5 in 1 42-inch reflector
- Photoflex MultiDisc 5 in 1 22-inch reflector
- Wimberley plamp
- Visual Echos Flash X-tender
- Thinktank Photo belt, harness and modular bag system
- Bogen 3021 tripod with Bogen ballhead
So, what is in your camera bag?
I have never used screen protectors on my cameras. The reason, I think, is because I’ve been a photographer since long before digital photography, so I saw the birth and growing pains of digital. In the “old” days of digital cameras, all the screen protectors I saw were thick, permanently attached, and, in my opinion, obstructed and lowered the quality of the LCD screen view. I certainly didn’t want one of those on my camera. Now, years later, I guess I was aware that screen protector technology had progressed over the years, but never reconsidered using one until now.
I was contacted by the makers of Expert Shield and asked to review their product. Why not, I thought, with my 6D still relatively new, perhaps it was time to reconsider screen protectors. The screen on my old camera (a 50D) has quite a few scratches, and the 6D already had one or two. So, a screen protector might be called for. I said yes, and shortly thereafter, installed Expert Shield’s product on my camera.
Overall, I’m very happy with the Expert Shield screen protector. It was moderately easy to install, does a great job protecting the screen, easy to remove, and did not leave any residue on the screen. Once installed, I barely noticed it was there; to my eye, there was no visible loss of light transmission through the screen protector. Additionally, Expert Shield screen protectors come with a lifetime guarantee against scratches or peeling.
The key to installing the screen protector is not to have any dust on your screen. The instructions on the package state “dust, your worst enemy.” This is totally true, each speck of dust on your screen when you install the protector will result in an air bubble. Having been shipped two sample screens, I installed a protector twice (one for my testing, and one after testing). The first time, it went very smoothly, and I was able to install the screen protector without any bubbles. On the second installation, I did have a few small bubbles. However, by following the directions on how to remove dust with tape (making sure not to touch the inner surface of the protector with anything other than tape), I was able to again achieve a bubble-free installation. The protector comes with a lint-free cleaning cloth to help ensure the screen is dust free and clean before installation.
Once on, the screen protector is barely noticeable. It does cause a slight, colored interference pattern that is only visible when the screen is off. When turned on, the screen looks perfect, as if the screen protector is not there. Also, the few small scratches I already had on the screen prior to installation were virtually invisible with the protector in place.
I decided to test the guarantee against scratches. While the screen protector doesn’t scratch easily, it does scratch. With the edge of a coin and a bit of pressure, I succeeded in putting a permanent scratch on the screen protector (and I was glad it was there, because that scratch would have really gouged my screen). When I later removed the screen, there was no corresponding scratch on the screen (luckily, or I would have been really pissed). Removing the screen protector is easy. By placing a piece of tape on the corner and pulling gently, the screen protector easily peeled back. If you plan to re-install it, don’t touch the underside. If you are not planning on reuse, it can be peeled back with a fingernail. Once off, it left no residue on the screen.
In summary, I recommend this product without hesitation, just be sure to apply according to the directions and be very careful about dust. While it is capable of being scratched, it will certainly protect your screen. And with the lifetime guarantee, if your protector is scratched, you can get a free replacement. My only disappointment is that Expert Shield does not make protectors for all my devices. While they do have them available for many cameras, smartphones, and tablets, they are not available for my 50D, my smartphone, or my wife’s tablet. That said, they are available for very many devices. You can see a complete list at the Expert Shield website.
Expert Shield screen protectors are available directly from Expert Shield or from Amazon, starting at about $10. Want to try one out for free, Expert Shield will give a free sample to one of my readers. Leave a comment listing your camera or smartphone model and I’ll pick one commenter by random for the giveaway.
Disclaimer: Expert Shield provided me with free samples of this product.
If you are serious about photography, you should always carry your camera with you. I’ve often given this advice to less experienced photographers. You never know when you will find fantastic light – and you can’t capture it without a camera. This is one reason, a little more than a year ago, I purchased a small point-and-shoot camera – so I could carry that one around when I don’t have my regular one. (Of course, I couldn’t just buy any small camera, I purchased a point-and-shoot that still allows me to shoot in RAW format and aperture-priority mode.)
About a week ago, Tanya and I traveled up to west Seattle to have brunch with family at a small restaurant on Alki Beach. Rounding the corner from Harbor Avenue to Alki Avenue, we were treated with an iconic Seattle scene – ferries plying Puget Sound in front of the snow-capped Olympic Mountains. The light was beautiful, the mountains were gorgeous with a background of stormy clouds. To make it even better, a strong north wind was blowing, and the Sound was covered with whitecaps. In addition to the ferries, there were several kitesurfers (or kiteboarders, I’m not sure of the correct term) jumping the waves, getting 20 feet of air.
So with these great subjects and that great light, why is this blog illustrated with a picture of Mount Rainier taken in Gig Harbor? Because I didn’t follow my own advice. My big camera was safely at home. And while I did have the little point-and-shot, the images I had in mind needed my telephoto lens. I wanted to isolate the ferry, with the mountains big in the background (similar to what I did with this shot of Rainier). Same with the kiteboarders. The little camera couldn’t do this. And I was disgusted with myself for not following my own advice.
Why the photo of Rainier? Because this is an example of what you can do if you carry your camera around with you. I captured this image about five or six years ago (when I lived in Gig Harbor, though not near the harbor itself). I was commuting home from work one day, when I noticed the lenticular cloud on top of Rainier. It was near sunset, and I thought something special might be up. So, instead of heading home, I went to downtown Gig Harbor and captured this shot. I’ve probably sold more copies of this image than any other photograph I’ve taken – all because I was carrying my camera with me.
So do as I say, not as I do – carry your camera with you.