What’s In My Bag?

°One of the questions I’m asked most is “what’s in your bag?”. In the deepest sense the answer °is, “as little as possible”. I’ve used a Lowepro 250 AW sling bag for a long time. It’s quite a small bag so you have to be disciplined about what you pack in there. My kit also evolves over time so – rarely –  something comes along that displaces an incumbent.

The basis of any kit is the camera body or bodies, of course. Never having had a Micro Four Thirds camera body give up on me, I bite the bullet and take only one. That’s only viable because these days I don’t take commissions but simply shoot what I want or need for stock or editorial use or my videos. No-one will ever shout at me down a phone  again. If my pix are crap, I am the loser. It is no business of some stressed out here today gone tomorrow browbeaten unfortunate who thought working in the meeja was glamorous. I’m digressing but I did enjoy writing that. Back to my camera.

I’ve packed every variation of the Panasonic GH series in there since the GH2 and right now it’s a GH5. I’ve had Olympus in there too, and a Panasonic GX8 and G80 but for all round efficiency and speed of use the GH5 rules. The more I use it the better I like it. I’d sacrifice high speed sequencing or the greatest CAF for My Menu and the focusing Joystick any day.

The lenses, well the latest lens I’ve reviewed, the Panasonic 8-18mm wide zoom turned out to be a usurper. I had my Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 for a long time and it served me well. Sharp and compact, its only fault was the tendency towards purple fringing but I could live with that. The 8-18 loses 1mm of wideness which is a pity but I mostly use ultra-wide angles for dramatic perspective and 8mm does that just fine.

The advent of that lens not only kicked the 7-14mm out of the nest, it kicked out the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 too. That’s because the 8-18mm’s long end takes it into standard lens territory. I have long regarded a 55° horizontal angle of view as my standard, 35mm on FF and 17mm on Micro Four Thirds. The 8-18mm with the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 almost gives me a two lens outfit. With primes, a sequence of doubling the focal lengths works pretty well, 28 – 50 – 105 – 200. The gap between them can be filled by those useful and free photographic accessories, your legs. 18-40mm is not too large a gap to fill that way.But…

Losing the 12-40mm opens up an opportunity. The one thing neither of the remaining lenses nor the 12-40mm offer is a really fast aperture. I rarely need more light gathering power than f/2.8 provides but every now and then a messy background or an unusually dark interior needs dealing with, What better than Panasonic’s 25mm f/1.4? The wide aperture comes at a price but nothing like the Olympus 25mm f/1.2 (UK) (USA). I could have chosen the Panasonic 25mm f/1.7 (UK) (USA) but I’d previously owned the f/1.4 and always regretted selling it.

That takes me to my third lens. the amazing, fabulous and unique Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8. What can I say? A general purpose constant aperture short to long telephoto sharp enough to use wide open through its range. Not only that, it focuses closely enough at 150mm that it can act as macro lens. A pretty crude one, admittedly because there is more to a macro than 1:1 focusing but for bees and the like, it’ll do.

The next optical item is the Olympus 1.4x converter. It extends the focal length of the 40-150 zoom to 210mm at the loss of one stop of speed and inevitably a little sharpness. It is better than cropping the 150mm image which is all it has to be since it adds negligibly to the weight of my bag.

The GH5 and those three lenses give me an efficient outfit, tailored to my purposes and covering 8-210mm focal lengths plus close focusing and a high speed option. They all focus fast and work well for video. The cost, weight  and bulk of such an outfit in FF DSLR terms would be unthinkable. I’d find myself doing constant wheelies on my bicycle as the weight tipped me back and on the tube the English version of an American  vigilante group’s pump action shotguns, the loud  tut-tut, would be deafening.

The rest of my bag is filled with mundane necessities, A spare battery for the GH5, a couple of spare SD Cards, a mini-tripod an SD Card reader and OTG cable for my smart phone, a couple of microfibre cloths, lens brush and cleaner and a hammer and chisel for cleaning the GH5’s sensor. OK, I Lied about that last one.

So that’s it. It’s not that impressive but all the items are top quality  and earn their place. Sometimes, if the mood takes me, I’ll slip in my Meike fisheye lens (UK) (USA) or Olympus 60mm macro (UK) (USA) if I know I’ll need it. Ditto but very rarely a flash gun. But the bag that’s by the door ready to go contains just the items I’ve mentioned.

I can think of variations but at the moment of writing and for the foreseeable future I don’t see anything here I want to change regardless of money. I think this may be the first time in my photographic life I’ve been able to say that!

Take a more detailed look at the gear I use at kit.com

12 thoughts on “What’s In My Bag?

  1. Richard

    Always good to know what’s in your camera bag and good to hear your thoughts about the GH5.
    After way too much research and analysis paralysis, EM1.2, G80… I went to the camera store and bought the GH5 w/12-35mm lens.
    3 weeks of reading the manual (4 times), watching a lot of YouTube videos and taking hundreds of pictures, experimenting with panning, f-stops, shutter speed and shooting a bunch of videos learning about light and motion blur… trying every possible feature, function (forgetting where the hell that one function is) setting and resetting the custom buttons… I could not be happier with this camera and lens and I too like it more each time I use it.

    The Dual IS, IS Lock, Ext Tele Conv, C1-C3 and all the functions/features do make this a great all-rounder. Admittedly its more camera than I have ever owned, but I plan to grow into it and tell some great stories using it.

    The 12-25mm is all I’ve used and up to this I don’t have a clue what else I’ll need. I know I want a longer zoom. My initial thinking is the Pan 35-100mm, thinking Dual IS, size and weight. The other lens is the Oly 40-150mm w/1.4 ext. It’s bigger and heavier, but more reach..reach is good when you need stealth…or just reach.
    A fast prime will eventually be bought when I figure out what focal length I like using.
    The 8-18 hasn’t hit my radar yet and not sure how I feel about the f/4.0. I’m appreciating anything f/2.8 or lower, FLIR would be even better 🙂

    A question for you… or anyone reading. Using the GH5 and the Oly 40-150mm w/1.4 ext, using the Ext Tele Conv while shooting in video mode (FHD-2.7x) and with the mft crop factor of 2x… is this possible? Can you give it a try? The math comes out to 1134mm. Just curious

    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      You’ve made a good choice – my GH5 is my workhorse and first choice for everything I do. It just does everything you ask of it with least fuss and remains thoroughly enjoyable to use. Re your questions, the 35-100 Panasonic f/2.8 is the obvious choice and an excellent compact and sharp lens. I actually sold mine and bought the Olympus 40-150 and converter because I frequently use focal lengths beyond 100mm, more often than not for perspective control. Having 150mm at f/2.8 and 210mm at f/4 really replaces 2 lenses since if I had the 35-100 I’d need a 150 or 200mm as well. The extra weight is therefore only a factor when actually using the lens on camera and by DSLR standards is light anyway.

      Using the Ex. Tele Conv on FHD works perfectly. It gives stunning perspective effects and I use it a lot. With the GH5 it uses the whole sensor and then converts down too so there’s no quality loss at low light levels as there used to be. You do need a set of ND filters for it, though, so that you can get shallow depth effects and also keep the lens in its f/4- f/8 sweet range. I’ve had every GH since the GH2 and they’ve just become better and better and better.I have a book on the GH5 on Amazon – here (UK) or (USA).

  2. Chris

    Somehow the camera bag displayed as the suggested Lowepro Sling Edge 250 AW does not conform to the picture on the page. The Slingshot is a two compartment bag, the picture on the Web page is a one compartment bag.

    I like the pictured bag, the Slingshot appears too small to carry 3-4 lenses. Ideally I would love a m43 Moose Petersen bag, compartments split down the middle.

    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      Mine is an older version but the new one (which I may get when I’m feeling flush) looks better to me. My 250AW as pictured has the side access compartment with a zip running from bottom to the top of the bag, so it opens a flap. lpex Then it has another zip that opens up the whole top of the bag. The new one has the compartments completely separated, so the camera compartment opens from the side right across the top and the secondary compartment separated off. As I say, the newer design looks better to me and it is also 4cm longer and 2cm wider. Because I use the f/2.8 Olympus 40-150, my space is limited by its size but carrying three lenses is fine with the 25mm in the non-camera compartment. In its protective pouch it will slip in with the the big zoom, actually.

      1. Chris

        Thank you for the update on the bag. I know why you did that! You wanted to check if REAL photographers would notice or read you Blog . Keep up the good work.

  3. Donald Casing

    Aloha David and thank you for the entertaining & informative discussion about your bag. I plan to sell my Oly 12-40 2.8 and buy an Oly/Pan wide prime 1.2/1.4, but the prices are outrageous so my daily ritual includes internet reviews of used lenses. Likewise, finding the right sized bag is also an issue. So, like your faithful million or so fans, I look forward to your next broadcast!

    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      £1000+ seems to be the norm for high spec lenses lately. High speed wide angles are bound to be dear because of their complexity in design and build but the low value of the UK currency seems to be providing an excuse for makers to got £1=$1=€1. I’m in France at the moment and Euro prices on equipment are much the same as they were last year. Not helpful!

      Bags are impossible. Ideally I’d like a little more space then my Lowepro gives me but I also know that if I got a slightly bigger bag, I’d be wanting a little more space…and so on. And then, at some point I’d get fed up with a big bag and want to get a smaller one…..

      Re your email address, I can’t see one on your post so it may be something in the WordPress editing process. If your email address is her somewhere, let me know quickly and I ‘ll have to delete it.

    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      Thanks, Marco! I do like to have a little laugh now and again. Photography can be quite heavily technical and serious so it’s nice to lighten up a bit.

  4. Kevin

    Hi David! Nice to see you posting again! I watched your 8-18 video and darn it, when you said it knocked your 7-14 and 12-40 out, I thought what a great idea! I’ve been avoiding a super wide lens because they are expensive and I use them sparingly. Actually mine is a Rokinon 8mm/f2.8 APS-C fisheye that I machined my own MFT adapter for. It gives 140 FOV like the body cap so I can de-fish it easily. But every time I do I wish I had a proper linear lens.

    Selling my 12-35 to fund the 8-18 seems like a great idea even if I can’t afford it! I use the little 12-32 way more just because I can. I’ve been keeping the 2.8 mainly for video but the 8-18 is the better range for that and the f4 that I’m not so happy about still covers my needs.

    I seriously need to stop watching your videos… but keep making them just in case I don’t!

    1. dt@dthorpe.net Post author

      I got quite behind with things while writing my GH5 book. Complicated or what? The 8-18, yes it’s useful range of focal lengths but when I got it, I had no thought of keeping it and thought I’d probably sell it on as I did the 12-60 f/2.8~4. Then I found myself just leaving it on the camera as a general purpose lens rather than using the 7-14 or 12-40 Olympus. The appeal for me is the same as you, I think. It just covers the focal lengths I use most. I’d prefer a constant f/2.8 too but but I think the penalty in weight and size, certainly in price, would make this lens much less interesting to me. Some lenses feel right to me, some don’t.

      The 12-32 is a gem, isn’t it? Mine came apart, as I’m told many do. I just dabbed Araldite on the surfaces and it has been fine since. Re watching the videos. the stuff available now is just so enticing. I learnt in my early years as a photographer that top line equipment is not necessary for good photography but I still love the feel of using quality gear and it remains one of the pleasures of life. So don’t worry, I’ll keep making the videos!


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