Do you know all those times when you’re out shooting and you run into another photographer? You sneak glances at their gear to see if they measure up to what you’ve got (or because you covet thy neighbor’s glass.) Don’t worry, we all do it!
Now we’re letting you do it shamelessly and without fear of getting caught. Let’s see what SmugMug’s House Pro Andy Williams of Moon River Photography puts in his bag. Read all the way to the bottom — you may just win something…
I’ve owned lots of gear, but my collection has actually shrunk over the years and now I only keep and carry what I actually use.
Let’s start with the bag itself. For years and years, I’ve been using the Crumpler Farmer’s Double and I still love it. It’s my bag of choice for a day trip or short outing. Look for it used, because Crumpler doesn’t make it anymore.
For longer trips, I’ve recently settled on the Kiboko bag from Andy Biggs’ Gura Gear. I’ve had the opportunity to try a whole lot of bags – top of the line models from Lowepro, Crumpler, Tenba and Think Tank – and I chose the Gura Gear bag:
It’s super light, made from the same fabric used in America’s Cup sailboat sails! It’s less than half the weight of the big bags from the other guys, and when you carry it all day that makes a big difference. It holds plenty: two bodies, plenty of glass, accessories and more. You can even put a 500mm f/4 in it!
The suspension system is awesome, it rides well, and you feel like you’re carrying much less weight than you actually have. And, it hides when you don’t want to use it. This bag will easily swallow up 35lbs of gear with room to spare. Everything about this bag screams attention to detail – the way the suspension system tucks away out of sight when you’re not using it, the built-in raincover, the zipper pulls that are glove-friendly. They’re out of stock most everywhere right now, but Andy Biggs assures me that he’s got some really cool stuff in store for his fans really soon.
As a landscaper, this is without a doubt one of the most important pieces of gear I own. I recently started using the newest carbon-fiber kit from Really Right Stuff, their TVC-23. Expensive? Yup. But the stability of this rig just can’t be matched by any tripod I’ve used (including the top of the line Gitzos). It’s super strong and super lightweight at only 3lbs. I pair this tripod with the Really Right Stuff BH-40 ballhead which also supports the lenses that I use regularly (up to 300mm). I do own the larger RRS BH-55 ballhead for when I need to support a 400mm or 500mm lens. For years, I was using the Gitzo 2530, and what I like about the new RRS ‘pods is their stability, and the way the head comes together with its “Apex Lock” system. It is without a doubt the sturdiest, lightest tripod I’ve ever owned.
For traveling, and lightweight (like backpacking), I also have the Gitzo 1541 and a RRS BH-30 which is a super lightweight combo! I shoot lots of panoramas, and so a very important piece of my kit is the Really Right Stuff Pano Head, which I use for stitched panos in the landscape.
I admit I’m a bit of a glass snob. I’ll use primes when I can, but I do love a couple of zooms I own. Let’s go from small to big.
- First off, the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye zoom – super ultrawide on the full-frame 5DII and for really fun landscape videos on the 7D. Sharp and reliable! But… I do have my eye on Canon’s newly announced 8-15mm fisheye zoom though, and expect to be shooting with it this summer.
- Canon’s 24 f/1.4L Mark II – a fantastically sharp wide angle lens, I’m so in love with this glass that I gave up the supremely sharp Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 for it!
- For all-around use, I have one of the very first copies of Canon’s 24-105L and it’s a workhorse lens for me. If I’m out for a day and I can’t take a lot of glass, I’ll grab this.
- For portraits, I have a couple of excellent choices: Canon’s 50 f/1.2L and Canon’s 135 f/2L. Given enough room, I love shooting portraits with the 135L, it’s one of the sharpest lenses ever, bar-none. Love the 50mm 1.2 for it’s ginormous lens opening – and it’s my go-to lens for extreme low-light work.
- More reach? I’m not the first guy to say that Canon’s 70-200 f/2.8L IS Mark II is a favorite. I own it, have owned the prior model, and won’t ever be without it. Super sharp, great IS so you can shoot in low-light when needed. Fast on the AF. And yeah, I use it in the landscape, too.
- Recently, I’ve been using Canon’s newest zoom, 70-300 L IS. It’s not fast (f/5.6 at the long end) but boy is it sharp and what a convenient little package.
- If you’re wondering about birds and wildlife: I don’t own really long glass but when I need it, I usually rent a 500mm f/4L or 600mm f/4L from BorrowLenses. When I travel to Africa for three weeks this October, I’m doing just that!
No surprise here – I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon 7D. The 5D Mark II is a super landscaper’s camera, great performance, high pixel count, HD movies, and more. When I need a faster frame rate and a bit faster AF, I reach for the 7D.
Funny, I used to be a 1Ds Mark III snob… but I cannot for the life of me figure out why one would buy that camera body at nearly 3x the cost of a 5D Mark II. Sure, I’m awaiting the rumored 1Ds Mark IV like most Canon shooters, but the sane part of me says, “why”?
Guess what? I own only two, a circular polarizer and a neutral density filter. I use the CPL when I want to get the best sky possible 90 degrees or so from the sun. I will also use it in certain circumstances like fall foliage to get richer colors, and of course to lose reflections when shooting water. I love my 6-stop ND filter, to smooth out the water in a waterfall or running stream in daylight.
On my 5DII and 7D bodies, I add a Camdapter Hand Strap – super comfortable! I always carry my Infrared-converted Canon SD-980IS, camera manuals (you never know!), extra batteries, an intervalometer for timed exposures, a remote shutter release, headlamp, flashlight, shooting gloves for the cold weather, plenty of CF cards, lens cloth, lens cleaner, a mink brush, Giottos mini-Blower, The Photographer’s Rights, my business cards and a leatherman for when things go wrong.
After I shoot there’s plenty to do! I use Adobe’s Lightroom 3 (and SmugMug’s awesome built-in uploading), Photoshop CS5, Auto Pano Pro for my stitches, all on an Apple Mac Pro with two 30″ HP Monitors.
Win This MetalPrint
It’s not all work, and no play though. Now that you’ve gotten a close look at my gear bag, here’s your chance to take home something fun (note: Ts and Cs here). Comment on our blog post below and “Like” us on Facebook. One winner will be randomly selected on Monday, April 18 at Noon PDT to win a big and beautiful MetalPrint of this Mono Lake Tufa photo. You can see how it will look on your wall here.
Enjoy (looking into other photographers’ bags) photography,
UPDATE! We were totally blown away by the response to this giveaway, so we are sharing the love and randomly selecting THREE Winners!
First place, and the winner of the MetalPrint, goes to Darlene Buck. The two Runner Ups, and the winners of a free year of SmugMug Pro each, are Jordan Van de Vorst and Jenny Sipes. Congrats!! Katherine from our team will be emailing you each shortly with details of your prize.