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What’s in my Photography Gear Bag

Natalie Minh at FMI Spring 2011

FMI Spring 2011

Fresh from the FMI Scottsdale event, I joined 6 other fitness photographers and tackled the conference group guerrilla style, on location in Scottsdale. It was my first time out there and shooting on the fly can definitely be challenging when one is not familiar with the grounds.

The key items in my photography gear bag, the essentials:

Nikon D700 DLSR Camera1. My Nikon D700 body camera. I ended up as a Nikon person because my first DSLR was an entry level Nikon (they have the best entry level cameras).   Once you invest in all of the Nikon compatible gear, you’re pretty much locked in.  I love my Nikon D700 – it’s full frame so I can shoot pro quality high resolution images (the sensor is physically bigger than a DX frame and therefore can capture more information without extrapolation), not too bulky and fits in my hands well.  So far I shot 142,000 images and not a single problem with my camera.

nikon d700 lenses

2. Lenses: 2.8F 24-70mm, 2.8F 70-200mm, and 1.4F 50mm.   My 24-70mm is my sweet spot lens, get great wide angles and portrait images at the long end.  The 70-200mm is my go-to portrait lens because the long range compression makes the face look nicer.My 50mm 1.4F lens is my natural light/low light lens because the aperture is huge and thus can keep my shutter speeds and ISO lower = higher quality images.  2.8F or larger lens are considered Pro range lenses and you’ll find that they are the most expensive.  It’s key to have a huge aperture because it makes your lens faster aka you can maintain faster shutter speeds and therefore avoid shakiness in the image.

Nikon Speedlights

3. My Speed Lights.  I have one SB 900 and two SB 600s.   The SB 900 is necessary because it can act as a master and control the two SB 600s as slaves.  When I travel internationally, I can’t fire my 120v strobes in Europe so either I rent big lights for big jobs or make adieu with my speedlights which I can easily carry with me in my gear bag. Just buy a bunch of speedlight aka strobist light modifiers for your Speed Lights and you are good to go.

4. Extra batteries for everything.  There’s always going to be something that fails when you are onsite so just CYA. My battery charger with me at all times, a sack of AA and AAA batteries, extra pre-charged camera batteries.

SmearAway Blister5. Visible Dust VSwabs and patented cleanser.  There’s nothing like taking 1,000 pictures and finding a dust spot on all images. VisibleDust is a Canadian Company that uses its knowledge of and research into biochip technology to advance the science of removing dust from the surface of delicate objects such as digital SLR sensors.  It’s the best in the market and a must in your kit.

6. UV filters, Polarizer filters for my lenses.  The UV filters simply protect my pricey lenses from damage.  Use the polarizer when you want to cut reflection on surfaces like water, hair, hot spots, etc.

The Vagabond Mini Lithium 7. Alien Bees portable battery pack and AB 800 strobe light. Sometimes the speedlights are not enough power and you have to break out the bigger resource.  The Speed Lights also are slower to refresh power so it’s nice to work with the strobes.

nikon d3100

8. Nikon D3100 DSLR baby camera with HD video capability.  Just in case my D700 decides to poop out on me and I’m on assignment, the D3100 is better than nothing.  Definitely not the same quality level but it still can take great images as long as the image doesn’t need to be blown up to a huge size.  Also, it has HD video capability so I can prop it up for some behind-the-scenes filming.

The CyberSync System

9. Alien Bees CyberSync Commander and Battery Powered Triggers.  Soooooo important to have a pack of wireless triggers on hand because sometimes the way you set up your Speed Lights, the sensors cannot see and command each other.  When this happens, your lights won’t fire and you’re stuck trying to troubleshoot various angles, etc that could mess up your lighting positions.  Also, you need a way to fire your bigger strobes without all the messy cables.  I love the Alien Bees solution because the Cyber Commander allows for individualized modeling and strobe light control.  How freaking awesome is that, right from the top of our camera?  You can use them with any strobe or speedlight that has RJ11, 3.5″ or 1/4″ full size jack input.  Battery powered triggers are key because say you are using them for your Speed Lights, those are battery operated and if you’re on location, there may not be a power outlet to connect to.

There you have it! This is my travel kit that keeps me going on the road.  I also carry my MacBook Pro 17″, card reader, and portable 500GB FireWire external hard drive for file transfer and edit once I get back to my hotel room.

Check out my website http://natalieminhphotography.com to review my work.

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1 Comment

  1. Kevin

    April 14, 2011 at 12:06 am

    Cool beans!

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