It’s been a big few months for my camera bag, with several lenses being swapped out as I continue to try new things. This is the 2018 edition even though we’re still in 2017 because I recently upgraded to the Nikon D850, along with a slew of new lenses that’ll work best for that DSLR, so I had better not be making any other additions in 2018. In this post, we’ll take a look inside my camera bag, and offer some recommendations if you’re building your own bag.
Aside from the Nikon D850, I’ve neglected to review the new additions to my camera bag this year…and I’m not sure I will review them since very few people seem interested in the photography reviews (let me know in the comments if you’re interested in reading a review of my new Nikon fisheye or Sigma 14mm).
Still, I figured I’d at least share this, since I get a lot of questions about what camera and lenses I’m using for the various photos on the blog. Pointing people towards this post is a lot easier for me than writing an elaborate response each time!
If you want to see more high resolution sample photos that I’ve taken, the best option my photography portfolio. Those shots also have the EXIF data for viewing, so you can get an idea of what settings, etc., I used. With that said, let’s take a look inside my camera bag…
Aside from upgrading to the Nikon D850, the big change this year in terms of camera’s (arguably, the bigger change), was that I ditched my point and shoot completely after upgrading to the iPhone 8 Plus.
Now, there is no denying that the Sony RX100 line of cameras outperforms the iPhone 8 camera–in many situations, it’s a significant difference. However, as someone who also carries a DSLR, the iPhone 8 is now “good enough” for my pocket-camera needs and quick video.
As we’ve been traveling, I’ve even found myself leaving the DSLR behind entirely some times we’ve gone out (heresy for me in the past) because the iPhone 8 Plus’ camera was “good enough.” Now, that’s definitely not the case in many situations, but I’m really pleased to see such leaps forward in phone-camera technology.
Nikon D850 – In my long and rambling Nikon D850 Review, I basically took thousands of words to say that this camera merges the best features of the Nikon D750 and the Nikon D810 into the perfect camera for travel and Disney Parks photography (among many other things).
After a few months of shooting with the Nikon D850, I’m even more certain of that assessment, and expect this to be my workhorse camera for the next several years. No doubt many Disney photographers out there will be asking Mr. or Ms. Claus very nicely for this camera this Christmas. (Just be sure to order soon if you want it by Christmas–it’s so popular that there’s a long backorder.)
Nikon D750 – If the Nikon D850 is a bit too steep for Santa’s budget, the Nikon D750 is a great alternative, especially now that the price has dropped a bit. I keep it in my bag as a back-up, and still find it to be an incredibly well-rounded and versatile camera for Disney photography.
The autofocus is fast and accurate for dark rides, the camera has great dynamic range for landscapes, and the low light performance is wonderful. This can do 95% of what the D850 can do, so it’s not as if this is even remotely obsolete. (If you’re in the market for an obsolete camera, check out the newest Canon! 😉 )
For my lenses, I’ll organize them in terms of how frequently I’ve used them in the last three months (based on stats from Adobe Bridge), since that’s when I purchased a couple of these lenses. The photo above each lens was taken with that lens…
Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art – This is the newest addition to my camera bag, and the biggest change I’ve made over the course of the last year, as this replaces my Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8, which was the reason I went full frame in the first place. I haven’t been able to bring myself to sell the Nikon 14-24mm yet, but I’m really happy with the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 so far.
The Sigma 14mm f/1.8 is every bit as sharp as the Nikon, and offers a fairly significant advantage in low light scenarios thanks to its f/1.8 aperture. The creative possibilities are also greater, and honestly, I don’t miss the zoom range of the Nikon at all. Prime lenses like this are not for everyone, but this is a definite keeper for me (unless/until Nikon releases a VR version of its flagship ultra-wide!)
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 – I’ve shot with every Sigma “Art” lens, and this is still the gold standard. The bokeh is beautiful & buttery, the lens is insanely sharp, and the photos have a certain distinct “look” to them that pops straight out of camera. It’s also the perfect focal length for walk-around shooting if you’re going to be using a prime.
Even though I’m primarily a wide angle landscape shooter, I find myself reaching for this lens almost as much as my ultra-wide. I can’t say enough positive things about this lens, and it’s one of the few lenses that I think belongs in every full frame photographer’s camera bag irrespective of their style and what they shoot. Here’s my full review of this lens.
Sigma 24-105mm f/4 Art – This lens is fine. I’m sort of embarrassed that I’ve used it so much, but we’ve been traveling and I’ve trying to go light some days to save my back. For the longest time, I debated going back to the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC because it’s sharp, has decent bokeh, and the VC makes it great in low light.
Ultimately, I decided against that in favor for the added reach here. I’m still not sure I made the right decision, but I primarily take this lens when not carrying a camera bag at all. Out of all the lenses in my bag, this is the one I’m most likely to replace.
Nikon 8-15mm Fisheye – This fisheye replaced my tried and true Rokinon 12mm fisheye. (which itself replaced my Rokinon 8mm fisheye) and honestly, I have a bit of buyer’s remorse. Don’t get me wrong, it’s tack sharp and having the circular option is fun, but this is way more money than anyone should pay for a fisheye lens.
I made the jump because the Nikon D850 can out-resolve the Rokinon lenses, but that’s only an issue when pixel-peeping. Still a great lens option, but it’s nothing revolutionary. Given my “signature style” this lens is arguably worth the cost for me, but for most people, I’d recommend the Rokinon lenses.
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII – If I traveled to outer space more (or at all), this might be my #1 lens. Unfortunately, in the realm of gravity, I sometimes leave this behind in the hotel room due to its weight. I almost always regret that (although I doubt my back does), because the zoom this lens offers is great, as its versatility and the creative doors it opens.
That might not be a common way to describe a 70-200, but I think it’s totally apt. (My “Using Telephoto Lenses at Disney” covers that pretty well, I think.) I really love this lens, and definitely should make a point of using it–and carrying its tripod mount–more often.
Nikon 85mm f/1.8 – I use this lens almost exclusively for night parades. At this point, that means the only times I ever even have it in my bag are on Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party nights, or when visiting Tokyo Disneyland (Dreamlights). It’s also a good option for portraits, but I’m not doing much in the way of portraiture.
Most recently, I’ve been using it with a set of cheap star filters I just bought for our Christmas-time trip to Tokyo Disneyland. These filters are a bit cheesy, but I love the warm and nostalgic look they give to photos. (Just use them in moderation if you do acquire a set.)
LowePro ProTactic 450 AW – I’ve mocked this camera bag as being designed to make people look as humanly possible, but I’ve yet to find anything better than LowePro’s “Turtle in a Half Shell” Camera Bag. Looks aside, the LowePro ProTactic offers a ton in terms of its functionality, with zero wasted space and a great pouch layout. It fits all of my gear–and a laptop–as my personal item when flying, and it’s easy to open for bag check at the parks. I’ll probably supplement it with the Peak Design Everyday Backpack for more laid back ‘urban’ shooting in the near future, but for now, this is my go-to.
Luxi L III Tripod – This is the perfect Disney tripod. Trust me, I’ve searched high and low for something better, and I keep coming back to the Luxi L. I’m convinced that there is no better mix of weight, height, stability, set-up/take-down quickness, and price. I reviewed the Luxi L here a few years ago, and still agree with that. Every tripod is a compromise in some regard, and I think the Luxi L is the best compromise for Disney photography. (One thing to note is that Velbon no longer makes this tripod, so buy it before it’s gone forever. I bought a ‘backup’ this year just to be safe!)
Nikon SB-800 Flash – This is a workhorse flash; I can bounce it, diffuse it, and adjust its intensity. Highly recommended.
Those are the main items in my camera bag, plus (of course) various smaller accessories. I share the top ones I use in my Top 10 Photography Accessories for Disney post, and those are still the same ones I use most regularly.
If you do want to purchase new photography equipment, we recommend the following trusted & authorized retailers. Buying from these retailers helps support this blog, and doesn’t cost you a thing:
Suffice to say, my bag is packed to the gills. If you want more in-depth reviews of a broader selection of equipment, the best place to start is Tom’s Ultimate Disney Parks Photography Guide, which covers a variety of topics from links to tutorials, tips, and tricks to recommendations for point & shoots, DSLRs, lenses, and more!
What do you think of the gear in my camera bag? What’s in your camera bag? If you use any of these lenses, what do you think of them? Any questions? Hearing feedback from other photographers is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!