What’s in the Bag?

I’ve always appreciated post by other working pros on what sort of equipment they carry into certain situations. As in all things photographic – it isn’t what’s in your bag, but how you use it. Reliability and having the right tools to shoot in any situation are the keys to a successful assignment.

I’ve been hired to cover the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., over the next 10 days by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance and other organizations. The assignment will include photography at several locations – indoor, outdoor, meeting room, convention hall, senate buildings – and any manner of conditions, including extreme heat or rain for the two scheduled outdoor marches. Some dedicated video segments and interviews are needed too.

Not being able to get back to my office in Cleveland for forgotten or needed items, here is what I’m packing…

Will it all fit into my Lowe Pro 450 AW backpack?

Roughly from left to right, top to bottom we have:

  1. Passport
  2. Macbook Pro with 8gb RAM
  3. 500MB external USB drive and cables
  4. Phone charger
  5. USB media reader (for compact flash cards)
  6. Canon dual battery charger for LP-E4s
  7. Cell phone (enabled as 4g modem)
  8. (on left) Fong Lightsphere II flash diffuser
  9. Apple power brick
  10. Memory card “wallet”
  11. Several lens cleaning cloths
  12. Canon 70-200mm f2.8 II IS lens
  13. Canon 1d Mark III  body (on loan from Russell Lee Photography)
  14. Apple mini-charger and USB cable
  15. Apple iPod Nano
  16. Voice recorder and ear microphone for phone conversations
  17. (on left, stacked) Flip Cam Mino HD
  18. Wide adapter for Canon Vixia M500 video camera
  19. Canon charger for video camera
  20. Canon Vixia M500 video camera
  21. Lens shades (for 70-200 and 16-35)
  22. Sigma 15mm f2.8 fisheye lens
  23. Canon 50mm f1.4 lens
  24. Canon 16-35mm f2.8 II lens
  25. Canon 1d Mark IV body
  26. Canon 580EX II flash
  27. (bottom row) Rode Video Mic Pro with Canon hot-shoe adapter
  28. Granola bar
  29. Battery charger
  30. Wired shutter release
  31. Rechargeable batteries (actually have 8x)
  32. Wireless flash controllers (not TTL)
  33. Lavalier mic for interviews
  34. Wireless remote shutter release cable
  35. Headphones
  36. Spare batteries

Not pictured:

  1. 4x – 32gb Transcend 400x Compact Flash cards
  2. 2x – 32gb Transcend Class 10 SDHC cards
  3. 2x – 16gb Sandisk Extreme Compact Flash cards
  4. 2x – 8gb Sandisks Extreme Class 6 SDHC cards
  5. Panasonic Lumix ZS5 pocket camera and charger
  6. Sensor cleaning kit
  7. Sunscreen
  8. Mini umbrella
  9. First aid kit
  10. Notebook, release forms, etc.

So, does it all fit?

It’s in the bag!

Here’s the proof – even the “not pictured” items are all included in there somewhere.

One note on the video camera inclusion. Yes, the Canon 1d Mark IV takes great video and works well with the Rode or lavalier mics for interviews. But knowing the tight schedule and possibly the need to shoot stills and video at the same time, I’m bringing the inexpensive – but proper – Canon Vixia M500 video camera.

It focuses quickly, maintains focus on a point selected on the touchscreen, has great colors, really easy manual exposure/sound controls, and super image stabillization for “run and gun” shots and quick interviews.

True, all of this can be done with a DSLR – and I use my DSLR for video production regularly – but it is best suited to a more controlled environment IMHO. The Vixia M500 has the same sensor as its bigger pro-level brothers – the XA10 and HF G10. Even though it uses a less expensive lens setup, doesn’t include XLR sound, and has touchscreen controls – the footage I’ve gotten out of this little gem is incredible.

Using the Lowe Pro for travel will allow me to load up my Domke F2 bag for daily shooting. It’s a tight fit in the Domke, but most everything fits in it too, with the exception of one camera/lens setup as the “ready” camera outside the bag.

Hmmm? Now what am I forgetting? Oh yeah, I should probably consider bringing another bag for clothes…