What’s in My Camera Bag for Disney? 2018 Edition
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!
I hope you do continue your photography posts. I am a super fan in the background. I am a hobbyist. But, I am blessed to get great equipment to shoot with. I love shooting my family and all of our travel adventures with my DSLR. You have been a huge source of inspiration and knowledge. I am a crop sensor user at the moment and not sure if I will ever go full frame. But you never know. With so many people going iPhone only these days, it is hard to find great DSLR photography information. Thanks for all you do.
Please keep up the great work with photography posts! I’ve learned so much fro, them over the years! I’ll be upgrading to the 850 based on your review next year.
Good Afternoon Tom,
I enjoy your photo tips, myself I am just learning DSLR photography so your insight and tips are helpful. However, if you are using you IPhone more often, I would love to see you tips and tricks as I used my IPhone more especially for my project 365.
I just picked up the Peak Design 30L. I love the design and the organizational elements for use as an everyday bag, however I’m wondering if anyone has any experience bringing that bag through Disney security bag check. At first I thought I would just open the top and have them access it that way, but I fear that they will also want the sides unzipped which will lead to the contents possibly falling out. Then with the sides opened, there are more zippered compartments. I’m used to jamming all of my gear (camera and otherwise) into a North Face backpack.
Also, I agree that you should keep up on the gear reviews/posts. This site is what got me into photography in general and basically contributed to every lens purchase I’ve made since my Nikon kit lens. I really enjoy your writing style real world take on things, not just focusing on the technical aspects.
Another vote here to continue doing photography reviews. I love reading all your blogs and I’ve recently started getting into photography because of your blog.
I’m about half way through Understanding Exposure and am currently learning on a Canon T2i , which was purchased 5 years ago as a gift for my wife before reading about your love of Nikon.
I’m just curious though, what don’t you like about Canon cameras?
Interesting that you go 2.8 for your 70-200 but the F4 Sigma for “walk around.”
Personally, as I’m always conscious of the weight of my kit balanced with quality, I went with the 70-200/4, but 2.8 on the short end (the Tamron 24-70/2.8). I just didn’t shoot in many situations where I needed a long 2.8 — For portraits, I resorted to primes..
Speaking of which, I loved the Nikon 85/1.8….. but you might want to look at the Tamron 85/1.8. It replaced my Nikon and became my favorite lens. Requires careful microadjustment, but it is even sharper than the Nikon… with far less CA than the Nikon, with the added benefit of VC.
I’m moving to Sony, but my Tamron 85 will be the last lens I sell in the coming weeks. I already got rid of my 24-70, my 70-200, and others.
I have to say that you should definitely continue to publish photography related content. Your photos are amazing and the way you write is really great. The reviews are also very good, from a unbiased point of view, completely different from other sites…
I’ve been a constant DTB visitor since 2015. I discovered your site when I was planning a trip to Orlando, and wanted to get the best WDW tips. Two years have passed and I’m still visiting your site every single week, mainly, due to the photography content and disney photographies (they are amazing!). I always asked myself why I don’t create a section (or another site) dedicated to photography…
During this period, you can’t imagine how much I learned from you, from shooting tips to gear aquisition. Even without knowing, you helped me choose my Nikon D750, Sony RX100 III, Tamron 24-70 f2.8 g1, Tokina 11-16 and my Samyang 14mm among others!
I also have the PD Everyday backpack 20L and I like it a lot as an EDC, it really has some clevers ideas in it.
As I know you like to carry a lot, you should take a look at Fstop Gear paks, I have the Tilopa, the Lotus and the Guru. They are the best ones I’ve ever tried, very comfortable and you can definitely carry all you gear!
In summary, thanks for those two years and, please, don’t stop writing about photography!
Don’t usually comment but do love reading your photography gear reviews and posts. While I don’t shoot Nikon it’s still nice to read reviews on glass from someone I trust vs some random person google pointed me to.
I will admit that peak design bag does look nice it’s slightly out of my price range.
Another thing about organization: I thought the contents in the top compartment would slide into the lower ones through daily use – I have not experienced that yet. Like with other bags that have a large expandable storage spot in the top, you’d be better off having a few small packing cubes in there if you want to keep small things like keys, Alternately, there’s a few good spots for smaller things: there’s a catchall pocket inside of the main laptop pocket that’s accessible from the top. Also, the two “wings” on the side have zippers that close up flat storage areas where you can keep memory cards/pens/etc.
If you have any other questions, shoot me an email!
As an avid fan of both Disney Parks and Nikon cameras, I too would be very interested in reading your view on the latest and greatest. Plus the added benefit of dreaming of my next visit when viewing your great photos. Keep up the good work!
Best regards from The Netherlands
I’d like to see a review of the Sigma 14mm lens!
I understand about nit carrying the 70-200mm lens. If I’m going to be outside in the sun, I usually take the Canon f/4 instead of the f/2.8 just to save on weight.
Another vote here to keep the photography articles. I upgraded from mirrorless to full frame this year and found your articles invaluable – even if I did chose to stay with Canon! The lens reviews have been particularly interesting, so if you are able I would love to see them continue.
Thanks for this update. Reading about your reliance on the Sigma 14mm prime over your Nikon 14-24 was a surprise! I know how fundamental the latter has been for you. The 14-24 has been a goal of mine for a while now. While shooting crop sensors, the Tokina 11-16 has been a workhorse of mine, and I have found myself using the zoom, but now you have me thinking I should reevaluate my approach. I guess it’s time to run some stats on the photos I’ve taken to see how much time I spend at the wide vs zoom ends.
On a (somewhat) related note, have you considered doing a similar “camera bag” post on Travel Caffeine for what you use when you aren’t shooting at Disney parks? Maybe it isn’t significantly different, but since most of my time (and photography) is spent when travelling, I’d be interested to see your approach.
Another vote here to keep photography articles / reviews posted on the site. I have found your reviews give a real world take often not found in other sites ( mtf charts don’t tell the avg person much). it also helps that the bulk of my use is also at Disney.I used some of the exif data and recommendations to chose my rented gear for my upcoming trip on the 3-11 of December. I would alsobe interested in a sigma 14 mm review especially compared to the nikon gold standard wide zoom or Tamron 15-30 zoom. This website helped spark my initial interest in photography / especially Disney fireworks displays, and always look foward to those reviews ( D850 review). I would like to someday see a post processing review on tips and tricks for editing Disney photos here or on travel caffeine maybe if that site is better suited , it would be nice as someone without a ton of Lightroom / photoshop knowledge to be able to get some broad strokes on basic adjustments you make to give the photos a “WDW “ look.
I’m hoping the photography is some way beyond pictures stays with this site as although small there are those of us who appreciate your insight and opinion on gear, and Disney related photo guides/ how to articles.
Hi tom! I hope you do continue with the photography posts! I have learned a lot from you so please continue with reviews! I recently upgraded to full frame and those sigma lenses are beautiful although i have to get used to prime lenses…my lazyness enjoyed the zooms.
I bought a Nikon D3300 last year as my first DSLR camera and this year I bought the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 Art lens based on reviews from your site and I am so grateful because I LOVE IT. I have never spent so much on a “gadget” and been so happy with the purchase. I’m completely new to photography and I’m amazed with the lens. Thanks again for filling us in on what you are using!
Would you consider updating your iPhone photography article now that you are using it instead of rx100? Would love some tips on how to make the best of it.
What’s in MY bag? Going forward, this is going to be my main travel kit:
Peak Design Everyday Backpack 30L
Sony FE 12-24G (F4)
Sony FE 24-105G (F4)
Sony FE 70-300G (F4.5-5.6)
I do prefer my G Master glass, but as I have back issues the G glass will do what I need (even those 3 lenses are pretty heavy on my back, after I add in all the snacks and water I bring when I’m out). I have two MeFoto travel tripods, but I find that I rarely actually use them unless I have access to a car and I can keep it in there (not handy for Japan, for example).
I do love the RX100V, but unless I’m definitely not bringing my larger camera it ends up not getting used much.
What do you think of the Peak Design Everyday Backpack 30L? I like the look of it (albeit not the price), but am concerned about the padding in the straps and the internal organization a bit. Any thoughts?
The padding on the straps works well, as does the swivel connection that connects them to the backpack. I recently had 32lbs on my back with the bag while trying to reach my hotel in NYC – I could definitely feel the weight but it was super comfortable and didn’t mess my back up. The weight almost felt like it was slightly floating above my back/shoulders, as weird as that might sound.
The inside is incredible – it’s basically a large messenger bag you can have on your back. I’ll admit, I didn’t fully “get” the bag when it first came out, and thought the organization was stupid. But once I took the time to set up my gear while traveling, it made sense.
It’s currently my favorite camera bag ever, and probably my favorite bag ever PERIOD. Bear in mind, I’m not usually bringing a LOT of gear with me. If that is your goal, your current bag might work out best. Otherwise, the Everyday Backpack is pretty swell. It is definitely a high priced item, but the materials and comfort show, for me. I’m going to be picking up a 20L soon, for when I’m bringing even less stuff with me.
Wow… similar to my soon-to-be-bag….. I’m transitioning away from Nikon to:
70-200/4 g (so basically F4 trinity)
That 55 1.8 Sonnar is one heck of a lens. Love that little guy!
55 is amazing…and I want to 24-105 for the range instead of the 24-70. Sticking with r2 for a while as I got it cheap.
I still love my rx100v for 4k video of the kids. Beats my phone by a long shot and downsampled to 1080p is amazing
The 55 isn’t bad….. I’m not blown away. The 85/1.8 is spectacular.
And I haven’t done “formal testing” on the 24-105 yet, but at first glance with a weekend of shooting…. wow. I was a bit hesitant to pass on 24-70/2.8 — I shot Nikon with the Tamron 24-70/2.8. Honestly, the 24-105 seems just as sharp, but obviously one stop slower.
But with the high ISO capability of the A7riii especially, I think I’m pretty happy with the 24-105. And when I do need faster, I just switch to the 55/1.8.