Friday, 22 January 2010

What's in the bag? - My Strobist Kit

One thing people always seem to want to know is what's in another photographer's kit bag, especially these days when it's of the strobist variety.  Being a Nikon strobist, I'm often asked what I take out with me on a typical job when I'm using speedlights, but there really is no typical job in my experience.

Short of taking everything, which kind of defeats the purpose of traveling light and using small strobes, there's no way that I would be able to put together a one-size-fits-all set of gear.  Sometimes I may only need a single SB-900, other times I may need a dozen.  I might only need a single lens for the whole shoot or I may require 2 or 3.  I may or may not require softboxes, light stands, background stands & backdrop, snoots, grids, gels & holders, flash brackets, clamps, laptop & USB hard drives for tethered shooting, or any one of a hundred other things.

That is not to say that I don't always have a bag prepared and ready to go should the urgent need arise, and that's where this post comes in.

I have a few different bags that I use, but the one I carry most often is my Tamrac Cyberpack 6.  I bought this bag about 5 years ago and love it.  It's got plenty of space in there, and feels fairly solid on my shoulders when carrying it around.  Fully laden it can get very heavy, so I tend not to fill it whenever possible, especially if walking long distances during the course of a location shoot.  It has a laptop pouch in the back of it that I rarely fill unless absolutely required for this reason.

But, to get to the list.  I find this generally covers many initial scouting requirements and will also suffice for quite a bit of basic shooting, enough to keep the clients happy.

Note : Some of the items in the list link to Nikon USA as they don't seem to appear on the Nikon UK website for some reason.
    Other Bits & Pieces
  • Manfrotto 3001BN tripod & 3030 3-way Head (Bought this a few years ago when they still marketed as Bogen) - I'm usually hand-held with flash, so I don't need anything overly heavy or stable; it's just to rest the camera on. When I am shooting from a tripod at a client's location, it's usually indoors with the Sigma 10-20mm and MC-20 remote so no wind or shake to contend with really anyway.
  • Hotshoe bubble level (Not really needed any more on the D300s, but still used on the D200)
  • Various Hoya & B+W UV & Polarising Filters
  • Nikon MC-20 10-Pin Remote Control
  • Nikon MC-21 10-Pin Extension Cable
  • A couple of Lastolite Tri-Grip reflectors & diffusers
  • A couple of Microfibre Lens Cleaning Cloths
  • A stack of business cards
That's essentially it, and somehow I manage to fit all that lot inside the Cyberpack 6 backpack (well, most of it).  I will generally also carry along the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens along in its own bag and just hang it over my shoulder (if it's not attached to a body at the time).  If I am taking the 70-200VR along, sometimes I'll remove the 300mm f/4 AF-S from the bag, so I can fit another SB-900 in there if needed.

This setup doesn't really account for any umbrellas, light stands, softboxes or environmental portraits, but it does the job nicely.  If I'm going straight to a business location, such as an office, with all the equipment and doing all the shooting there, I will usually pop the laptop into the back of the backpack so I can shoot tethered. Then I'll either take along a second bag containing light stands, flash brackets, umbrellas, reflectors, a couple of big white bedsheets to act as large diffusers, etc. or I'll just repack a single bag to suit the job.

So, there you have it.  That covers most of my arsenal of strobist lighting gear and other gadgets & doohickies.

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