What’s In My Camera Bag For 2020

What’s In My Camera Bag For 2020

Every year or two, I do a full reassessment of my gear to see if I need to upgrade to equipment and to unload equipment I don’t use so that it doesn’t sit and collect dust. I prefer to do this all at once instead of impulse upgrading just because the latest and greatest is out. For the last 4 years, I’ve been shooting predominantly with Sony Alpha cameras mainly for their size and because it provided some of the best features for both photo and video shooters. I’ll walk you through my gear bag and tell you what I’m thinking for 2020.

Disclaimer: Like most, if not all, blogs, I use affiliate links and earn a commission from Amazon (where I legitimately do 90% of my shopping) if you click through and purchase. Nothing happens on your end. You get a curated list of things I use and I earn a small commission from Amazon. When there’s a cheaper price elsewhere, I’ll tell you since it goes against what I believe to pay more than you should. I really appreciate if you use these link to purchase as it helps support me continue to do what I do and spend the time to offer unbiased advice.

 

Camera Bag


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For most of the 2019, I used a LOWEPRO PROTACTIC 450 AW bag that allowed me to carry a lot of gear. This was especially useful when I flew around the world for 5 weeks to shoot both photos and videos for Daimler and Mercedes. I had to shoot fast and lean, and this bag allowed me to carry my camera, 4 lenses, drone, batteries, light, shotgun microphone, wireless lavalier kit, tripod, lightbox, and more. I continued to use it for my travels, but found that I left the bag in my room most of the time and just carry my camera in my hands and an extra lens and batteries in my day pack.

For that reason, I switched to the WANDRD PRVKE 21L which is a little smaller, but is a much easier bag to take around the day. I can’t bring all my gear with this bag, but most of the time I don’t need to, and I like having the expandable top compartment to throw in random stuff I need day to day. I can keep my camera, a couple of lenses, and drone in the camera cube, so it’s perfect.

This is not a perfect bag, but it’s better than so many options I’ve tried out there, and I love the way it looks and functions.

Camera Body

My main body is currently the SONY A7III. I “upgraded” from the Sony A7sII, and have been waiting to upgrade to the non-yet-announced-or-released-and-forever-delayed Sony A7sIII.

I do a 50/50 mix of photos and videos and why the A7sII was a great camera, I hated that I was limited to 12 megapixels for photos, especially some that I want to print out in large format.

While the A7III wasn’t designed for video users like the A7sII, it’s a newer camera that provided a lot of the features that made the A7sII so popular when it came out.

I love that it shoots 24 megapixel photos and offers pretty similar low-light capabilities like the A7sII. The only thing I found missing on this camera for my needs is 4K 60 frames per seconds. For most of my personal travels, I don’t mind 1080p 60 fps, but I want to shoot the highest resolution possible for clients.

It’s a very reasonable price professional camera and will provide most people with more than enough resolution for their shoots.

As far as lenses, I own a mix of Sony Zeiss lenses designed for the Alpha systems as well as a few manual focus 3rd party options.

Sony Zeiss Lenses

Sony 24-70 f/2.8 GM FE Zeiss: This is a bread and butter lenses that will cover a good range for most shooters. With a fixed f/2.8 maximum aperture, I get good separation and depth of field for my shots.

Sony 16-35 f/4 Zeiss: There’s a GM version of this lenses that opens up to a constant f/2.8 aperture, but it’s also bigger and heavier. Since I use it mostly at 16mm (for landscapes) and 35mm (for food), I generally close down a bit on the aperture anyway. The few times where I’d want to shoot faster than f/4 wasn’t enough to convince to a drop another $1000 for the G Master version of the lens. This is my main lens for capturing landscapes.

Sony 55mm f/1.8 Zeiss: This is Sony’s equivalent of the classic nifty-fifty. This is a lens that renders beautiful shots, but I don’t think it’s worth it at $900. We can get into a discussion about optics, glass and precision engineering, but considering a typical 50mm f/1.4 (not 1.8) used to cost around $300-$400 for Canon/Nikon DSLR cameras and I think this lens is overpriced. I paid about $600 for it used, so it was a pill I could swallow at the time. If you can afford it, it’s a good, compact lens for your Sony system, but otherwise, I’d skip it.

Rokinon Cine DS Lenses

As nice as the some of of the Sony Zeiss lenses are, what I still hate about them is that they use a fly by wire focusing mechanism that doesn’t have a hard start and stop like older DSLR lenses. In layman’s term, what this means is that you can turn the focus ring forever and it will not physically stop. In practice, this is horrible when trying to rack focus for video. For this and a few other reasons, I have a different set of Rokinon manual focus CINE lenses when I’m doing a dedicated video shoot.

I use the 35mm T1.5, 85mm T1.5 and 14mm T3.1 in the Cine DS lineup to cover most of the focal range that I would typically shoot in.

With the Cine DS lineup, you get a few main features

  1. De-clicked Aperture ring: This means you can smoothly and silently change aperture settings, which is a very useful feature when shooting video.
  2. Focus Gear Ring: When I want to use a follow-focus, the built in gear is one less thing I need to worry. It’s a standard 32 pitch focus gear
  3. Standard Focus and Aperture Ring Placement: If you put all the lenses from the Cine DS line-up together, the focus and aperture ring line up perfectly, which means you can swap out lenses without having to adjust your follow focus.
  4. Consistent Color Matching: All the lenses are coated to provide a more consistent color match. This saves me some time grading the colors in post-production when I’m shooting everything with the Cine DS lenses.
  5. Dumb Side Markings: Scale markings on both sides of the lenses for ease of use in a production setting. I don’t really care for this since I’m mostly a one-man shooter.

Generally, Cine lenses cost a lot of money. Even Rokinon’s XEEN line costs bout 10 times as much as the Cine DS line. The optics are the identical, but the body construction is built to accommodate for more larger production shoots. I won’t go into too much detail here, because this is not the right post for it, but for my needs, the Rokinon Cine DS line is good enough.

Adapted Lenses

Voigtlander 40mm f/1.4 SC Classic: I love shooting at the 35mm focal length, so the Rokinon 35mm T1.5 Cine DS is one of my most used lens. Unfortunately, it’s pretty large and sometimes I just miss carrying a small body and a small accompanying lens. For those times, I put on this beautiful “vintage” lens that has beautiful bokeh and character.

I have bought the 35mm and 40mm option. Why so similar in focal length? I first bought the 35mm and it broke, but I needed another Voigtlander lens for my Bessa R3A, so I went with the cheaper but just as good 40mm option. I love this lens more for photos. To use it, I adapt it to the A7III with a helicoid adapter that allows it focus even closer than the lens would originally. It’s fantastic.

Part of the “character” of this lens is a bit of vignetting. While I don’t mind this for photos, it can get annoying for videos when shooting wide-open at f/1.4. It becomes problematic and visually jarring to see vignetting in some shots and not in others when I’m putting together a film using footage from a mix of lens. Still, here’s a film I shot almost entirely on this lens and I loved how it turned out.

Nikon Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8: I adapt this old Nikon lenses because it’s a cheaper option to get beautiful macro shots. Along with a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lens, it’s the only two lenses I still keep around to adapt on use on my Sony cameras.

Film Accessories

SmallRig Sony Half Cage: I use a cage to protect my camera and also add more video-centric accessories. I specifically use the half cage, because I still prefer holding onto my camera using the grip. The cage also blocks easy access to the C1 and C2 buttons, which I use a lot. SmallRig makes low cost quality cages, so I like going with them.

SmallRig Wooden Handle: This is a beautiful handle that I add to the left side of the cage to hold onto my camera. It gives me stability when I shoot as well.

SmallRig Top Handle: When I walk around, I prefer to have the top handle.

Rode Videomic Pro Plus: One of the best value shotgun mics to add to your rig. The Pro Plus version has one feature that is indispensable for me: auto on/off. It’s so nice that the shotgun mic will turn on and off with my camera so that I never accidentally forget to turn it on when I need it or leave it on when I don’t and drain the battery. With the right settings on your camera and mic, you can get really clean sound with this thing.

Deadcat: This goes around the mic and adds a level of wind protection. It also looks really fluffy and is nice to touch.

Rode Wireless Lavalier Kit: This is a very affordable and portable wireless lavalier kit. Attach the receiver to your camera and attach the lavalier mic to the transmitter and you can record lavalier audio directly to the camera without long wires.

Zoom H1N Recorder: I use this to record ambient sound effects for my videos. It’s also a good way to record a second source of audio for interviews just in case my main source is funky.

SensorKlear Pen: A must buy for every photographer. This thing allows me to quickly clean my sensor without damaging it. It picks up small specks of dust and any other debris or smudge on the top glass of the sensor. Keep this with you at all times.

External Hard Drives

Sandisk Portable SSD: This is my “working drive”. It’s a fast SSD drive that’s the size of a stack of credit cards that allows me to edit photos and videos much faster than other portable hard drives. I carry a 1TB version, but a 500GB one will do since most of my projects won’t be over 500GB. When I’m done, I transfer it over to my LaCie External Hard Drive that’s also USB-C.

LaCie USB-C External Hard Drive: I carry two 4TB versions of this drive to store my data and protect my data on the road. When I’m done with a project on my “working drive”, I transfer it over to this and back it up. I separate the drives when I travel, just in case.

Extras

MeFoto BackPacker Air Tripod: This is my smallest tripod that I feel good about using. It’s not the best or the sturdiest, but it’s good enough and the tiny form factor means I’d consider bringing this along and have a tripod rather than no tripod because I don’t want to deal with the extra weight. It might be discontinued now, but if you can get your hands on one for cheap, I’d consider it.

KODAK INSTAX SP-2 PRINTER: The coolest piece of gadget I take with me. This little device allows me to print business card size ‘polaroid’ photos while I’m on the road. In places like Cuba and Mongolia, I’ve been able to take photos of people and give them a little memento to keep instead of just showing them their photo on a tiny screen.

We take and consume so much when we travel that it’s a small way to give back. I highly recommend EVERYONE carry one of these around. It’s so much fun to give people an actual print and it’s a hit with everyone I meet. It combines the nostalgia on instant film with modern technology and allows me to print the nice photos from my real camera almost instantly with a wireless connection.

There’s a newer model called the KODAK INSTAX MINI LINK as well that has a few different print options, but I generally just use it to print a photo as is from my phone, so there hasn’t been a need to upgrade.

What I’m Thinking For 2020

So as much as I love Sony, and still recommend it to most professional shooters, I’m considering changing to Fuji at some point in 2020, pending the release of the A7sIII and its feature set. I personally love to shoot light and most camera manufacturers have caught up with Sony over the past year. My one missing feature in Fuji cameras was a built in image stabilizer. Fuji has long held a stance that they don’t want to include an IBIS in their body because it would make it bigger. With the inclusion of one in the now discontinued X-H1, it’s possible that the Fuji T4 will include it.

Along with 4k 60 fps and a higher bitrate, it would include everything I need for most of my shoots, while allowing me to use smaller lenses. With this route, I can use 3rd party manual focus lenses for film shooting that do not have a built in stabilizer and still stabilize my shots with the camera body.

The Panasonic S1H has everything I need right now. In fact, it’s the camera I’ve been looking for Sony to come out with, but it is 1) expensive 2) very big and 3) doesn’t have a large selection of lenses yet. This could change soon since they’ve partnered with Leica and Sigma to make lenses for this new full-frame system.

I could go this route as well when they release newer models that could drop the price. However, if all their lenses are as big or bigger than Sony’s, it’s a bit of a turn-off for me to use in most situations, except production shoots.

I’m still a run and gun type of filmmaker, so I want something that I can shoot with quickly and nimbly. Whatever you decide, make sure it’s a system that works for you. It’s not just about the camera, but all the lenses that you plan to use with it as well. Hit me up if you have any questions.

Disclaimer: Like most, if not all, blogs, I use affiliate links and earn a commission from Amazon (where I legitimately do 90% of my shopping) if you click through and purchase. Nothing happens on your end. You get a curated list of things I use and I earn a small commission from Amazon. When there’s a cheaper price elsewhere, I’ll tell you since it goes against what I believe to pay more than you should. I really appreciate if you use these link to purchase as it helps support me continue to do what I do and spend the time to offer unbiased advice.

 

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