Curious what gear you need as a night photographer, travel blogger, or landscape content creator? Let’s see by discovering what’s in my camera bag!
I’ve been working as a night photographer and author for years. I get a lot of questions about what kind of photography gear I use. Take a peek inside my camera bag!
My camera bag essentials
Before diving deep into my camera bag essentials, I want to emphasize that if you are just beginning, you don’t need to purchase tons of expensive camera equipment.
What’s more important than your gear is learning about photography and understanding your camera gear.
Most of us don’t have unlimited funds. We have to watch our money. I buy the majority of my equipment secondhand. As you will see, I don’t have the latest and most expensive gear. It’s good gear, absolutely. But it’s not the most expensive.
Also, if this gear can take night photos this sharply and clear, you can be sure that it’s going to do nature, landscape, travel, and many other forms of photography without breaking a sweat.
Nikon D750 DSLR
I have been photographing with Nikon cameras most of my adult life. It’s something you fall into and then are endlessly hooked. And why not? With their optics and the way they handle dynamic range, it’s hard to stay away.
The D750 has been my partner on so many adventures throughout the years. I bring it with me on all my night photography travels. I’ve explored dusty, remote abandoned ghost towns, the Mojave Desert, waterfalls, coastlines and more. It’s been my go-to camera for high-profile event photography and concerts.
- Excellent ergonomics for large hands
- Tilting LCD screen allows you to shoot from low and high angles
- Dual memory card slots
- Performs well in low-light
The Nikon D750 is no longer manufactured. You can purchase it used or purchase its worthy successor, the Nikon D780 DSLR camera.
Pentax K-1 DSLR
If you photograph with one brand of camera for many years, it takes quite a lot to entice you away from that ecosystem. The Pentax K-1 is such a camera. It’s really that great. I owe whoever designed this camera a beer.
Whether it’s the insanely great weather-sealing, the instant access to many of the functions via buttons and dials, the fantastic menu layout, the illuminated buttons to see at night, the fantastic LED, or the sheer beauty and openness of the image quality, it was love at first sight. I wrote about seven reasons why I love the Pentax K-1 here. But of course, there are more than seven reasons.
Pentax 15-30mm f/2.8 lens
I used the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 for years. In the night photography and Milky Way camera world, this lens was the “OG” of beautiful camera lenses. It was so coveted, Canon photographers would purchase adapters so they could use it.
Then along came the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8. It was cheaper. And although I haven’t done rigorous testing side by side, it might be slightly sharper. Owing largely to its longer reach, it has less wide angle distortion. Regardless, it’s a beautiful lens.
Why am I talking about Tamron? Because the Pentax 15-30mm f/2.8 is actually manufactured by Tamron. This is utterly fantastic since it’s such a great lens.
If you’re doing landscape photography, this is arguably one of the greatest lenses you can purchase. After all, much of night photography is landscape photography, but with less light.
The 15-30mm f/2.8 is my main lens, which I purchased used along with my cameras and most of my other gear. However, I should mention that I frequently travel with my 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. This lens is a great value and is an excellent, sharp lens.
Rokinon 12mm f/2.8 fisheye lens
Do you sometimes find it challenging to tap your creative spark? This is the lens for you. Even if you are fully embracing your creative side, well, it’s probably still the lens for you. Instant creativity, instant fun. Oh, and is it ever fantastic for night photography. Whether Milky Way, light painting under a full moon, or anything else, this lens offers a fantastic fisheye view of the world. Good and sharp too!
The one I have is a Nikon F-mount. However, it comes in numerous other mounts, including Pentax K-mount.
Lensbaby Edge 35 Optic
This lens is so small that I can easily stash it anywhere in the camera bag. And I don’t always use it, but when I do, it brings a giant smile to my face.
You may use the Edge 35 Optic as a “normal” lens, meaning that it has a flat field of focus everywhere in the frame, if that’s what you want. But of course, that’s not why we purchase this lens, is it? After all, the fun lies in tilting the plane of focus.
As with any tilt-shift style lens, which this approximates, the blur effect depends on the amount of tilt. But the aperture also affects it in a big way. Wider apertures such as f/3.5 create a narrower area of focus surrounded by a larger amount of blurring. Smaller apertures create a wider area of focus surrounded by less blurring.
If this sounds confusing, in practice, it’s surprisingly intuitive. The slice of focus is easily controlled physically, and you can see the effect immediately. Well, if you have enough light, anyway. Since I was photographing at night, I aimed my headlamp at the subject nearby and was able to dial in the effect easily.
Experimenting is fun. That’s basically the motto of Lensbaby products.
ProtoMachines LED2 light painting device
If you want to light paint, or illuminate subjects, this is the greatest handheld light ever created. However, it’s hard to get now. But that doesn’t stop me from bringing it. This is always in my camera bag. The light quality, programmability and more are vivid, detailed and unparalleled. And being able to get any color in the RGB spectrum is quite a bonus.
Hopefully available again someday. Get on the mailing list since limited supplies occasionally become available.
Wurkkos FC11 LED flashlight
I use this for, well, everything. However, I got it because it’s great for light painting subjects. I wanted a light that had warm white light, high CRI, easily rechargeable via USB, brightness ramping, small size, and under $60. As it turns out, it’s under $30. Great light, and a great bargain. Read more about the Wurkkos FC11 light here.
RGB Critter 2.0 LED flashlight
The RGB Critter 2.0 is the best RGB light currently available on the market. Created by Ants on a Melon, the RGB Critter 2.0 flashlight is popular with LED flow artists during shows, art exhibitions, events and raves. Turns out that it’s pretty great for illuminating subjects as well.
It’s also supremely durable. And it’s the most comfortable flashlight I’ve ever used, in part due to the rubbery silicone exterior as well as the size.
An intervalometer is basically a remote shutter release that offers more controls. It allows you to tell the camera shutter when to shoot, how long the shutter should stay open and how long the shutter should remain closed until it opens again.
Night photographers use these to create star trails, time-lapse, a succession of images to “stack” to reduce noise in high ISO photos, and more while avoiding vibrations.
The Aream is a wired intervalometer with separate detachable cables. This means that it can be used with just about any camera if you get the proper cable. Fantastic. Oh, and it’s under $20!
While the Pentax K-1 has an internal intervalometer (what doesn’t that camera have?), I still often use external intervalometers for their flexibility. And I can use this with either the Nikon or the Pentax.
Phottix Aion intervalometer
I wrote about the Phottix Aion being the Michael Jordan of intervalometers. But unfortunately, like Michael Jordan, it’s retired. That’s right, it’s not made any more. But that didn’t stop me. I purchased it used on eBay for $25.
The Phottix Aion is wireless, easy to use, flexible, compatible with just about any camera, durable, more ergonomic, and much more. Fantastic.
I keep this in a zippered pouch with their associated cables and a few other odds and ends inside my camera bag.
This snoot directs the light into a more concentrated beam. This ugly snoot was basically a Home Depot DIY project, which I describe here. It screws on to the front of the ProtoMachines, and is great for light painting specific things such as headlights, details, signs, and many other things.
This all-purpose tape is used by gaffers in film and TV production. The gaffer is the chief lighting technician and is typically the head electrician. They need to use tape that is strong but doesn’t leave residue. This is where we come in.
We can use this for all sorts of purposes, so it’s always great to have gaffer’s tape in your bag. Break something? Tape it together. If you break part of your tripod, such as the ball head, you can tape your camera to the tripod. Need to keep something in place, such as a prop or piece of equipment? Hang up some dark garbage bags to keep the sun streaming in the window while you sleep until noon? Gaffer’s tape to the rescue. This wonder tape is one of five tips all night photographers should know.
Water and electronics don’t mix well. This is particularly true if you are photographing by ocean water, which is corrosive. Rain, water play, waterfalls, sprinklers and garden hoses aren’t exactly great for your camera either. And neither is lots of dust, particularly when it’s windy.
Rain and monsoons can suddenly surprise you. This is especially true in desert, tropical, mountainous and island regions. Parts of the southwest can have five or more storm cells roaring through in a single day.
Enter the Op/Tech Rainsleeve. Inexpensive. And it works. I don’t know what more we could ask for.
Tenba Solstice 20L camera bag
What holds all this? This is about what’s in my bag, after all! The Tenba Solstice 20L camera bag. I do completely sick things to this bag. It has survived trips through mud, rain, snow, dust, dust storms, and hasn’t flinched.
I love this bag. It keeps everything nice and safe. It fits underneath an airplane seat. It’s very comfortable to wear. And it doesn’t scream “Hey, I’m a camera bag!” And it has a great, classy look. I personally love it in blue, but it comes in other colors.
What’s inside my camera bag: Conclusion
I hope this article about what is inside my camera bag helps you. It’s always a personal choice. However, having a peek inside someone else’s camera bag can be a lot of fun and helpful! Got questions about my camera equipment list? What do you find indispensable? Let us know in the comment section below!
Leave a Reply