Like most photographers I have more than one camera bag, I’ve tried (and grown out of) several over the years but have finally managed to cut it down to three that cover different situations.
I have a Think Tank Retro 5 shoulder bag, perfect for travelling light on trips abroad, with just my Canon G1-X a couple of filters and a guide book. On the other end of the scale for longer hikes or carrying more gear, I use a Lowepro Pro Trekker 300AW. A fairly large backpack capable of comfortably swallowing a couple of pro DSLR bodies, handful of lenses, accessories, refreshments, spare clothes, kitchen sink etc. but for this article I’ll focus on the kit I use most often.
The bag that I use the most is a Think Tank Retro 30, a decent size shoulder bag that thanks to the well thought out design and build is capable of holding far more gear than I actually put in it. The reason I favour this over a backpack is that as a landscape photographer I’m often stood in the sea, boggy fields or muddy river banks. In fact I’m rarely anywhere where I would want to put my bag down and maybe unusually for a landscape photographer I like to move around a lot and with this bag I can easily access all my gear wherever I am without having to take the bag off.
In the bag I usually carry a fairly simple kit… Camera, three lenses, filters, tripod and accessories all stuff which probably won’t carry many surprises but it’s a set of tools that do the job. This is only about half of my gear but I try and avoid taking extra stuff ‘just in case’ as it weighs me down and ultimately just gets in the way.
My main camera is a Canon 5D mk2 which usually has a Canon 17-40mm f/4 L attached to it. I love the drama you can create with a wide angle lens so this gets a lot of use.
Alongside the 17-40mm I carry a Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS and Canon 70-200mm f/4L. The former my workhorse standard zoom, the latter I use for flattening perspective and bringing layers in the landscape together. I’ve often been tempted by the f2.8 alternatives to these lenses but as my camera lives on a tripod usually somewhere between f8 and f11 and lenses are generally set to manual focus I’m not sure it’s a luxury I really need especially as they’d make my bag considerably heavier. One lens that’s less run of the mill which will shortly be finding it’s way into my bag is a Canon 24mm TSE II and I can’t wait to get creative with that. Incidentally, the white lens caps are so I can leave the filter rings in place
Also in the bag are my filters and these I really couldn’t live without… I use a selection of Lee and Hitech filters… ND filters to lengthen exposure times, ND graduated filters to balance sky and foreground where the contrast range is too high for the camera to record and a Heliopan slim CPL to control reflections and boost saturation.
The usual extras are there in the shape of spare CF cards (in Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket), spare batteries (again in a Think Tank wallet), cable release, and hot shoe spirit level. Also tucked away in various pockets are a cheap and cheerful Optech waterproof cover which is invaluable for keeping sea spray off the camera and lens and a Swiss army knife.
Cleaning duties are taken care of with a Lee microfibre cloth, rocket blower and a large ultralight travel towel for emergency drying jobs (me or the camera!)
Lastly, while it’s not actually in my bag, I could’t neglect to mention my tripod. For my work a sturdy tripod is essential, I use a Manfrotto 055CXPRO3, tall enough to be at my eye level should I wish and nice and light. The head is a Manfrotto Junior Geared Head which is one of my favourite bits of kit, adjustments can be easily made to the composition without having to unlock everything which is perfect for landscapes.