°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