What’s in Art’s Bag?
This is a question I get asked all the time, “What sort of equipment do you use?” The answer is usually less than you would expect. In general I shoot with Canon’s new 5D Mark III camera, depending on what Jay Goodrich has to say about the 1Dx, that may change in the near future. Digital technology has far surpassed what film was ever capable of and has completely changed the game for what one can shoot in the field.
Where ISO 50 was the norm with film, I am shooting up to ISO 1600 without reservations now and that number will only go up in time. The ability to confirm “you got it” immediately after the shot, zooming in to ensure critical focus, evaluating the histogram for exposure, means that today I shoot far less than I would have in the past. I can shoot half a dozen frames, know I got what I wanted and move on. With slides I may have shot a couple of roles of a single subject before I was satisfied that at least one of the images in the batch would satisfy me later – and later could be several months before I knew what I had.
I have shot the majority of my images with just 2 lenses over the years. Both are “L” series lenses, Canon’s professional designation, the 16-35 f2.8 L II and the 70-200 f4 L IS. If I could have only 2 lenses going forward I’d be happy with these, they have served me well for a long time now. I’ll use extension tubes for macro work with the 70-200 and add in a 1.4x extender for additional reach when I need it as well. These are my workhorses and they are always in my bag regardless of where I’m headed.
On occasion I’ll pack a long lens, which one has varied over the years from the 800mm to the 600mm and now the 500mm. Why the change? Try packing around an 800mm prime lens that could double as a rocket booster on the space shuttle and ask me that question again.
I’ll also bring a fish eye lens, the 15mm f2.8, for special effects, just to mix things up a bit – but it’s not a lens I would rely on daily by any means.
Lately I have been carrying a 24-105 f4 L IS as a walk around lens, shooting in crowded markets, portraits, architecture and while I may have dismissed this ‘middle range’ in the past I find myself reaching for it more and more these days.
In addition, I carry a light weight, sturdy carbon fiber tripod. I like Gitzo’s GT3541XLS Carbon Fiber Tripod. They make a fine product and it is light enough that I won’t hesitate to bring it wherever I’m going. I am using a Kirk BH-1 ballhead mounted to a flat plate (no center column). Here is what I feel most important about a tripod – purchase a tripod that is just a little too heavy and you won’t use it. Purchase one with a wobbly center column and you’re better off without it. So spend a little more money up front and you won’t have to do it again for many years. Mirror lock up and a cable release are also a part of the stabilization equation.
Then there are the miscellaneous bits and pieces. An intervelometer for shooting long exposures and stars, circular polarizers for all lenses, a couple of 2-stop, hard step graduated neutral density filters, extra batteries for the camera and intervelometer, hex wrenches, and lens cleaning cloths. Simple, lightweight, and effective for me to travel the world.