What's In My Camera Bag?
I've used many cameras over the years beginning with a Sears-branded SLR manual focus film camera when I first got into photography back in the 1990s. I eventually moved up to a Canon AE-1 film body followed by their EOS film bodies including the Elan II and the EOS-1n. I transitioned to DSLR bodies in 2004 with the original digital Canon Rebel with a whopping 6-megapixels, and over the years I have owned & used nearly every version of the Canon 5D series of cameras. I shot with the Nikon D800e for several years before transitioning to Sony mirrorless cameras.
Nowadays I'm using the medium format Fujifilm GFX 100S. The GFX 100S is what is known as a "mirrorless" camera because it does not have the mirror or pentaprism system of a DSLR camera. Mirrorless cameras tend to be smaller and lighter, and they have the added advantage of having an electronic viewfinder allowing me to preview the exposure before the photograph is made.
Cameras & Lenses
In the summer of 2019 I purchased a Fujifilm GFX 50R medium format camera body along with a few lenses. I spent much of the next year comparing the GFX 50R to my others cameras, including the new Canon R5 and RF lenses, before coming to the conclusion that the Fuji GFX system is the best system for my style of shooting and for making large-format fine art prints. I also use a Sony mirrorless camera system when I need telephoto lenses, and also for shooting "behind the scenes" and some night sky work.
I was immediately captivated by the amazing level of detail the medium format sensor is capable of capturing, but also by the gorgeous colors and smooth tones. I find that for my landscape photography I prefer the slightly more "boxy" 4:3 aspect ratio of the GFX compared to the "skinnier" look of the 3:2 aspect in 35mm full-frame cameras. The Fujifilm cameras are easy to use, they are fun to use, and most importantly they don't get in the way when I'm making a photo.
In 2021 I upgraded my camera to the Fujifilm GFX 100S which has an improved autofocus, In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) and a new sensor. The sensor in the GFX 100S is a 102-megapixel monster capable of capturing the smallest details.
My Fujifilm GFX Medium Format Cameras & Lenses
- Fujifilm GFX 100S
- Fujifilm GFX 50R
- GF 23mm f/4 R LM WR lens
- GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR lens
- GF 45-100mm f/4 R LM OIS WR lens
- GF 100-200mm f/5.6 R LM OIS WR lens
Since 2017 I have been using circular polarizer filters and clear UV filters made by Breakthrough Photography. This was after years of frustration with Hoya's top of the line CPLs falling apart several times, and the B+W filters seizing-up and refusing to turn. The Breakthrough Photography X4 series of filters are the sharpest and most color neutral filters I have used and I have never had any issues with them.
My filter kit consists of the X4 UV, X4 Circular Polarizer, and the X4 Dark 3-Stop Circular Polarizer filters. You can read more about my experiences in using these filters in my Review of the Breakthrough Photography X4 and X4 Dark Circular Polarizers.
The internet is full of information and opinions about tripods, and it's difficult to weed through all of it, but I will say this, the old adage of "buy once, cry once" holds true when purchasing a tripod and head. You can save a lot of money and frustration by getting yourself a good tripod early in your photography journey, and thus save all the money you would have spent upgrading tripods every few years only to end up with the good stuff in the end.
For this reason, I recommend the Really Right Stuff (RRS) tripods. No one, in my opinion, does it better than RRS. Their designs are excellent, the equipment is very well made, and their customer service is top-notch. Period.
After using ballheads for about 25 years, I have recently begun to use the Acratech Panoramic Head which allows the user to make adjustments in a single plane or axis. For example, I may have my composition nearly perfect, but I would like to tilt the camera down 1-degree. With a ballhead, the only way to accomplish this is to release tension on the ball and tilt the camera down while hoping that you don't accidentally also introduce a bit of roll...which I almost always would do. With the Acratech Panoramic Head the photographer can release tension on the tilt axis and make the necessary adjustment to the composition without affecting the roll or yaw axis.
The biggest advantage of the Acratech Panoramic Head is that it simplifies the process of making single-row stitched panoramic photos. I combine this head with a Really Right Stuff TA-2U-LB Leveling Base which allows me to level the panning base on the Panoramic Head without the need to get the tripod itself absolutely level. I also use a Really Right Stuff MPR-CL II Nodal Rail so that the camera and lens are rotated around the "no parallax point" so that the stitched images can be merged without any issues.
If you would like to learn more about creating stitched panoramic photographs, I teach my method in my landscape photography workshops.
- Really Right Stuff TA-2U-LB Leveling Base
- Acratech Panoramic Head with Lever Clamp
- Really Right Stuff MPR-CL II Nodal Rail
I've used lots of different camera packs over the years, and I'm now using packs made by Shimoda. What makes Shimoda's packs so unique? First, most of their packs open from the side that faces your back. A back-side opening pack is essential because it means that you are never setting your straps down in the snow or mud to open the pack. Second, their Core Unit system of storage system rocks! Third, their packs are very light-weight compared to other photo backpacks in the market today and have a fantastic harness. Weight matters, especially when you are hiking with the pack all day, and their harness & strap system is the most comfortable that I have used.
My current pack is the Shimoda Action X50 with a Large DSLR Core Unit Version 2. This pack allows me to comfortably carry my Fujifilm GFX 50R with four lenses, although I'm often only taking three lenses. The pack has an expandable roll-top that enables you to customize the pack's volume by adding up to 7-liters of internal space so the bag can be adjusted to your gear needs while maintaining a tight and compact fit. In addition to my camera and lenses, I'm also carrying my ten essentials, including the following:
- Navigation: compass and maps
- Headlamp: with extra batteries
- Sun protection: sunglasses, hat, and a silk-weight sun hoodie
- First Aid Kit: wound care, medications, foot care
- Knife or multitool
- Safety: Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) and a small survival kit
- Shelter: a light emergency bivy
- Food: Snack bars
- Water: typically in a hydration bladder
- Clothing: Mid-weight puffy jacket, and rain jacket