What’s in my kit bag…

I’m often asked about the equipment I use and so I thought it might be useful to give an idea of what gear helps me to get the shots you see on my website and on this blog.

Clothing

I place my confidence in Rohan for my outdoor clothing. I find the gear to be the ideal mix of comfort, style and technical innovation. Some of the items that go everywhere with me include:

Overland Shirt (long and short sleeve) for their UV and insect protection and lightweight feel.

Trailblazers Convertible Trousers, which are quite literally the most comfortable trousers I’ve ever owned. Their anti-insect BiteGuard technology is a big plus for working in some of the places I shoot.

Photography Gear

I choose to shoot with Canon cameras and lenses because I am confident that the range of equipment and the technology available to me allows me to do my job.

Cameras

Canon 1d mark3 – this remains my main camera in most active wildlife situations because of the high frame rate and intelligent auto-focus system. It’s also built like a brick which is reassuring in the field. It’s too heavy for some people but I’m 6’3 so it feels just right in my larger than average hands.

Canon 5d mark2 – the image quality from the 21mp is fantastic and I’m using this body more and more. It doesn’t feel as well put together as the 1-series cameras but with a little tlc it’s stood up to the tasks I’ve set it. Lacks the auto-focus and frame rate for action but second to none when it comes to landscapes and portraits with Canon L glass fitted to the front. The HD video has added an extra dimension to my work that I am developing more and more.

Canon G12 – I use this little gem for informal shots at events, for example, and times and places where I don’t want to risk my SLRs. Everyone should have a pro-point-and-shoot (as this is known by some) in their bag.

Lenses

Canon 400mm f2.8 – hefty piece of machinery but the build quality is as good as the image quality it produces – priceless! Too bulky for most people but believe me it’s worth the gym membership. My prime lens in both senses of the word. Quick and sharp enough to shoot hand-held and still capture the action.

Canon 70-200mm f2.8 – The Image quality is out of this world. Some find it heavy but I could carry it with me all day. Perfect for a wildlife photojournalist looking to get a range of shots and when a 400mm is just too long. Almost always fitted to the front of my 5d mark2.

Canon 50mm f1.8 – the results I get with this affordable lens continually amaze me. Little wonder it’s one of the best selling lenses on the market. So sharp and so light.

Sigma 10mm f2.8 fisheye – everyone should play with a fisheye lens once in a while. Unfortunately it is often the first lens that gets left behind when space is tight.

Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 – Slow for a wide angle but this is not a problem when used either with a flash at close-range or for landscapes on a good tripod. I am almost exclusively using it for working at close-quarters nowadays coupled with a small amount of fill-flash. Serves me very well and almost my entire BBC Wildlife Magazine badger vaccination cover feature was shot with this lens.

Canon 1.4x TC – essential piece of kit and turns my 400mm f2.8 into a 560mm f.4

Canon 2x TC – usually these get a bad press but with the 400mm f2.8 it still autofocuses and produces images of a good enough quality to provide for commercial use.

Support systems

Gitzo G3530LS systematic tripod – such a classy piece of equipment. It’s lightweight yet sturdy and opens out completely flat.

Manfrotto 393 long lens bracket – I still don’t understand why I haven’t seen more people using these as they’re a fraction of the price of the Wimberley and oh so good. Takes the 7kg’s of camera and lens and turns it into a weightless, fluid photographer’s dream.

Manfrotto 327RC2 joystick head – this head makes landscape photography in particular more dynamic. The intelligent design saves time and the fluid motion aids accuracy. Quality piece of kit.

Bushbag beanbag – all I can say is that I wish I’d bought mine years earlier! Travel-friendly, versatile and rock steady! The strap means that this stays on the front of my lens all day when I’m out in the bush with barely any extra weight and I can whip the camera off the tripod and rest it on the ground, a rock, a window frame or someone’s shoulder in no time.

Manfrotto 680B monopod – new piece of kit (after I ruined my last one with too much salt-water). Holds the weight of my larger camera and lens combinations well.

Manfrotto 234RC monopod tilt head – a suitable head for a monopod when using anything up to a medium-size lens

Manfrotto super clamp – I trusted this clamp to secure my 5d mk2 on to the front bull-bar of a moving Land Rover on gravel African roads…need I say more?

Joby gorillapod – I resisted the hype around this piece of kit when it first came out but having heard nothing but rave reviews I eventually bought a large one…and it’s every bit as good as it is bizarre looking! So good in fact, I now own two!

I also have various clamps and support arms which are good for mounting flashes, lights and cameras onto windows, branches, tripods etc

Flash & Lighting

Canon 220EX Speedlite
Canon 430EXii Speedlite
Canon Speedlite Bracket
Industrial halogen lamps
Lastolite off-camera cable system

Bags

ThinkTank Airport Antidote backpack – ThinkTank are lifesavers! The 400mm f2.8 lens I use is bulky but it’s the choice of many sports and wildlife photographers who need to travel a lot…so they came up with a range of very well made bags that not only carry the lens (with a camera body mounted) but also fit in hand luggage compartments. I couldn’t do what I do without this bag.

HPRC 3500 hard backpack – these hard cases make it possible to put any less valuable equipment in the hold when flying. They also seal out dust and water, so are excellent when shooting in rainforests, from boats or from a truck in dusty, arid regions.

Other equipment

Canon cable release
Canon LC-5 wireless remote controller set
Cokin filter holder & filters
External microphone for Canon 5d mark2
Ewa-marine waterproof slr housing

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One Response to “What’s in my kit bag…”

  1. hi neil,

    wonderful imagery. I am considering the HPRC bag for hauling gear for freshwater fish photography (walking in and crossing lots of rivers). I was wondering how the system carries loads (straps comfortable, etc..) and can’t find any reviews from folks that actually “use it” It appears that you definitely fit the category (long hauls with gear in tough terrain). If its not too much of a pain in the ass can you give me a few words on how you like the backpack….even a thumbs up /thumbs down will do if you are short on time.

    cheers,

    Mike

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