What’s In My Camera Bag – 2014-2015 Edition

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Wondering what’s in my camera bag? I previously shared the camera, lenses, tripod, and other photography equipment I carry, in response to questions I receive about what camera I use, how I carry my gear into the Disney Parks, and other assorted questions.

That was nearly a year ago, and some things have changed since then. I realized this when going to find the link to send in response to an email over the holiday weekend, and figured it might additionally be useful for those of you doing Christmas shopping for the photographers in your family. (Or if you’re doing my favorite kind of gift giving: for yourself! ;))

Although I own a lot more camera gear than what is on this list, these are the items I typically carry in my camera bag on a normal day in the parks. Unless I’m borrowing a new toy, trying to travel light, or just looking to do something different this stuff is all in my camera bag. Yes, all of it. I’m a gear sherpa. The photo above shows my camera bag packed as it would be for a normal day, weighing north of 25 pounds.

I’m guessing most sane people won’t want to carry all of this while running around the parks, but it underscores another point (and responds to another couple of questions), yes, you can bring this much photography equipment into the Disney Parks and yes, you can take this much photography onto every attraction at Walt Disney World besides Sum of All Thrills. (It’s a bit of an awkward fit on Space Mountain and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but it does fit.) You are not required to use lockers on any other attractions at Walt Disney World or Disneyland, but if you’re heading to the Universal parks, too, be aware that you will have to use lockers at most attractions there, and that this bag is too large to fit in the normal lockers outside of each attraction, but it will fit in the lockers at the front of the park.

With that said, here’s what I generally carry in my camera bag… (more…)

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art Lens Review

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The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM lens is the latest Sigma “Art” line, and it doesn’t disappoint. This review covers the strengths and weaknesses of the lens, with sample photos that I’ve shot with the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lens on my Nikon D810, plus a summary of why I won’t be purchasing the lens despite its very impressive performance. To put it succinctly, this lens is almost identical to the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 in terms of design and performance, except it offers a 50mm focal length. Since that lens was virtual perfection, this is most certainly a good thing.

It’s important to note from the outset that the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lens is designed for full frame cameras. To be sure, it works with crop sensor cameras, but it’s going to be overkill for them. Crop sensor shooters looking for an effective field of view roughly equivalent to this should instead check out the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Art (read my review of that lens), which is the rough equivalent to this lens on a crop sensor body in terms of view. Another lens to consider as an alternative would be the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8, although that lens is not a prime like this one.

The build of the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art lens shouldn’t surprise anyone who has touched one of the other Art lenses. It continues the brand reinvention with a sleek look and beautiful industrial design. There’s considerable heft to it, and its brushed aluminum construction just feels good in the hands. Everything from its large build to its lens hood to even the cap just reeks of high quality. It’s really not just a matter of excellent build quality, this lens truly feels and looks nice. This might actually be concerning to those of you used to the 50mm f/1.8 lenses that weigh practically nothing and take up little space in your camera bags. This weighs much more and will take up a good amount of space.

As with the Sigma 35mm f/1.4, focus locks quickly and accurately, with no front or back focus issues. I did feel like there were times when the focus was locking on something in the frame other than what I intended (and I always select my focus point), but this happened seldom, and I can’t definitively attribute it to the lens. (more…)

Scenes from Disney Parks: “Regular” Disney World

It’s time for more of my Disney photos in this installment of “Scenes from Disney Parks”! This time, we’re heading to Walt Disney World, with a set of new photos of the parks looking “normal.” I almost opted to dig into the archives and edit some new Christmas photos, but I know not everyone is excited for Christmas as I am, so I’ll spare you that…for at least another week! ;)

I’ve been photography at Walt Disney World has been a hobby of mine for 6 years now, and I’m still amazed at how I keep finding new subjects to photograph and new ways to compose familiar subjects. This is not meant to boast–I’ve been to plenty of non-Disney locations and found myself lacking any variety in my photos outside of the weather after only a handful of visits. It’s more a testament to how photogenic, thoughtfully designed, and inspirational the parks are in terms of photography.

Some people might roll their eyes and think another Cinderella Castle, Spaceship Earth, etc., photo?!, but I feel like there’s an infinite number of ways to come up with interesting and unique photos of these oft-photographed subjects. The Disney theme parks really are a photographer’s playground, and taking good photos in the parks is sort of like shooting fish in a barrel. Not only is it great hobby, but I feel like it’s a great way to absorb and appreciate more of the detail in the parks (I know there were a lot of things I missed prior to getting serious about photography). So, if you’ve ever thought about taking up photography, and you’re a Disney fan, I’d highly encourage you to give it a try. Sorry for the random-ish odd thoughts there, but it was just something that struck me while going through photos from this particular trip, and I figured I’d share here…

As for these photos, after each photo I’ll share some technical stuff like which lens I used for the photo. All photos in this post were captured with my Nikon D810 DSLR–check out my full Nikon D810 Review for more details about the camera. I also have more sample photos from the D810 here. You can click on each photo to view it larger in my gallery and to see EXIF data on it. Hopefully other photographers find this useful.

If you’re a casual reader not interested in photo jargon, hopefully you still enjoy this new set of photos from Walt Disney World!



This is one of my favorite photos from the trip. For a while, I’ve been trying to capture a new photo that effectively conveyed the solitude of the Hub when the Magic Kingdom is empty, but not just by taking another generic shot of the empty hub. I think I finally got that here, with the low angle and the lines of the bricks leading to Cinderella Castle. I used the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 lens (read my review of this lens) because originally this was going to be @ f/1.4 to make the bricks out of focus foreground bokeh, but that photo was too distracting that way. There was no real reason why I stuck with that lens for this version of the photo other than laziness, I guess. (more…)

Scenes from Disney Parks: Week 1

Welcome to a new, possibly recurring photo-sharing post here on DisneyTouristBlog! Back when I started this blog, photos were a key component, with “photo of the day” posts being the most common posts here. Over time, I noticed that those photo of the day posts weren’t popular compared to the meatier, text-driven posts. This was both surprising and unsurprising: my photography is probably what brought a majority of readers here when the blog started, but most people probably don’t want to read a full blog post about a single photo.

Photos remain a key component of the blog, but mostly now in that they are sprinkled in throughout posts on particular trip planning topics and in photography reviews. After receiving messages from readers asking where I “found” a particular photo and “who took it?” I thought it might be time to get back to my roots and highlight some photography here on the blog. I do take photos of more than just cupcakes and corn dogs, and I feel like there’s something wrong with the fact that I often find myself editing photos of random food and hotel rooms right after trips, while the “good” shots gather dust.

The idea with this new series of posts is to highlight some of my recent, new photos from a particular Disney destination in a single post. Doing a single post with several photos means less hassle for you seeing multiple photos in a single post instead of a single photo of the day post, and allows me to share some photos that aren’t necessarily “home runs” in themselves, but work well to round out a set of other shots. This also helps encourage me to make editing my more artistic photos a priority.

After each photo I’ll try to share a few thoughts on the photo, as well as some technical stuff like which lens I used for the photo. All photos in this post were captured with my Nikon D810 DSLR–check out my full Nikon D810 Review for more details about the camera. I also have more sample photos from the D810 here. You can click on each photo to view it larger in my gallery and to see EXIF data on it.

Hopefully casual readers enjoy seeing new sets of photos, and hopefully the photographers find my technical info useful. My goal is to do this about once per week as long as I have enough new photos to do it, and as long as you all find it interesting. Oh, and to answer those reader questions…I found the photos on my memory cards and I took them. ;)

Let’s kick this off by taking a look at some of my late-summer, early-fall photos from Walt Disney World… (more…)

Nikon D810 Sample Photos

Those who read this site for photography know that I recently upgraded from my Nikon D600 to a Nikon D810. In my Nikon D810 Review, I wasn’t short on praise for the camera, calling it “possibly the most well-rounded DSLR ever” and saying that “it’s a camera that exceeded my high expectations and I feel is a very worthy upgrade for many serious photographers, even at its price-point. I can already tell that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Well, I’ve had the camera for a couple of months now, so I thought I’d report back on how I feel about it. First, the bad. The files are huge. There are ways to deal with this and use some of the smaller size settings (as I touch upon in the review), but I’ve been afraid to use them. They would be perfect for mundane photo tasks like taking photos of food (don’t exactly need a 36MP photo of a churro), but I’m scared that I’ll forget to switch back when I have to take “important” landscape photos.

The only other downside, if you want to call it that, is that Nikon recently announced the Nikon D750, a “lower” level full frame DSLR that has a tilt screen, which would be great for me since I take a lot of photos at ground level. Looking at that feature plus the more conservative MP count, plus lower price actually makes me want to try out that camera. (Why couldn’t Nikon include the tilt screen in the D810?!) On the other hand, the controls on the Nikon D810 are better plus dynamic range, image quality, durability, and a number of other things are all better on the Nikon D810. Even though I love the Nikon D810, if both were announced at the same time, I think I would have opted for the Nikon D750 and $1,000 in my pocket. It would be a tough call.

The upsides? Literally everything else. Dynamic range is great, the controls are great, image quality is exceptional, and, in addition to several other things, the camera just flat out performs and is fun to use. Maybe it’s a good thing both the Nikon D750 and D810 weren’t announced at the same time, because I have no regrets about buying this camera, and it’s probably a good thing I didn’t go the cheaper route. Your mileage may vary on whether it’s worth the money–for many people the D750 (or models even lower than that) will be more than enough camera. I understand that most people do not need a professional-grade DSLR, so this post is relevant to only like 2% of you, but hopefully it’s helpful to that 2%!

Since that first post only really had boring photos of my pets, the city of Indianapolis, and random junk around my house, I thought I’d follow up on that post with some real world images that I captured at Walt Disney World to demonstrate what the camera is truly capable of accomplishing. Keep in mind that–for the most part–since I’m trying to show how the camera performs when pushed to the limits, these aren’t going to be your standard “pretty” photos (most of my tripod night shots don’t really challenge the camera). Below each photo I’ll provide some technical details.

If you are not a photographer but are a Walt Disney World fan looking for some photos, you can scroll past all of the jargon and simply enjoy the pictures… (more…)