Photo Equipment: What’s In The Bag?

Photo Equipment: What’s In The Bag?

Gear Reviews

It’s the most frequently-asked question and perhaps the least important. “What’s in the bag?”

I say it’s the least important since it’s usually the first (and easiest) avenue beginning photographers take to try and improve their photography work. They believe that better and more expensive gear will create a better photographer but more often than not, it only leads to disappointment. A better investment would be in time – time spent practicing their technique and honing their personal vision. Still, photo equipment is not unimportant either. if you’re not convinced, just try doing photography without it!

So with that said, let’s have a look into my photo bag (all links to Amazon):

Photo Equipment

Camera Bag: One of several MindShift Gear bags, depending on the trip or assignment. Moose Peterson MP-1 V2.0, FirstLight 40L, or BackLight 36L.

Currently, my favorite photo backpack is the MindShift Backlight Elite 45L Camera Backpack. Just Superb!

In addition to the actual bag that I choose for a particular trip, the contents in the bag also depend on where I am going, what I will be shooting, how remote the area, and how much hiking there will be. Here is some of my basic photo equipment:

Canon 1DX Mark II
Canon 5D Mark IV

I’ll carry (2) 5D Mark IV bodies on my landscape or travel photography trips and (1) 1DX Mark II and (1) 5D Mark IV for wildlife excursions.

Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM (when weight is an issue or for bird-in-flight images)
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM
Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM
Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM
Irix 11mm f/4 Blackstone (when I want to travel light and the Canon 11-24 is too heavy and bulky).
Canon Extender EF 1.4X III
Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite Flash (2)
MagMod 2 Basic Flash Modifier Kit
Canon TC-80N3 Timer Remote
Lee Filter Holder with polarizing filter
Breakthrough Photography’s ND Filters (no color cast)
Really Right Stuff TVC-24L Tripod
Really Right Stuff TQC-14 Tripod
Really Right Stuff BH40 ball head (2)
Really Right Stuff BH35 ball head

Wimberley WH-200 Gimbal Head II
Lexar digital media
Mac Book Pro 15.4″ Computer with Retina Display, Touch Bar, 2.9GHz Intel Core i7 Quad Core…
LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt USB-C 4TB Portable Hard Drive

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer in the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. For more great information on new images, gear reviews, book projects, and photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Our Newsletter.


MindShift BackLight Elite 45L Backpack Review

MindShift BackLight Elite 45L Backpack Review

Announcements

MindShift BackLight Elite 45L

The MindShift BackLight Elite 45L.

The MindShift BackLight Elite 45L

Get deeper into the backcountry with the MindShift BackLight Elite 45L from Think Tank Photo. 45 liters of internal volume provides ample room for a combination of photo/personal gear and dedicated laptop/tablet. External attachment points accommodate adventure equipment such as a static rope, set of axes, snowboard/skis, and of course, a tripod. Weather-resistant zippers and materials protect your gear when trekking in extreme environments. And like the other BackLight backpacks, rear-panel access adds security when traveling since your camera gear is protected behind your back. Built “Mountain Tuff” for protection against the elements, the BackLight Elite 45L features YKK® AquaGuard® zippers and waterproof/tearproof sailcloth, robust lumbar padding, and a quick-dry back panel for increased ventilation.

MindShift BackLight Elite 45L

The MindShift BackLight Elite 45L camera backpack being enjoyed in it’s natural habitat, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. Photo © Richard Bernabe

Key Features

  • Storm-resistant construction with YKK® AquaGuard® zippers and
    waterproof/tearproof Sailcloth
  • Superior Fit: Robust lumbar padding, hip-hugging waist belt, quick-dry back
    panel, and foam ridges for increased ventilation
  • Back and top panel access to all of your camera gear, allowing you to work out
    of your bag without getting your harness dirty or wet
  • Meets most international and U.S. carry-on requirements
  • Hydration reservoir ready
  • Removable camera compartment with emergency shoulder straps to avoid gate check
  • Removable waist belt for ease when traveling

Specifications

  • Exterior Dimensions: 12.99 x 23.5 x 7.99″ / 33 x 59.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Exterior Material: Foam, Nylon, Polyurethane, Tarpaulin
  • Water Resistance: Rain Cover, Water-Resistant Material
  • Interior Material: Foam, Nylon, Polyester, Polyethylene
  • Maximum Volume: 11.89 gal / 45 L
  • Weight: 3.97 lb / 1.8 kg (Empty)
  • Camera Compartment Dimensions: 11.4 x 19.3 x 6.8″ / 29.0 x 49.0 x 17.3 cm
  • Laptop Compartment Screen Size: 17.0″
MindShift BackLight Elite 45L
MindShift BackLight Elite 45L
MindShift BackLight Elite 45L
MindShift BackLight Elite 45L

My Personal Observations

MindShift Gear gave me one of these backpacks prior to a recent trip to Argentina and Chile while leading my Epic Patagonia Photography Workshop and Tour, just to try it out and give it a good working over. My conclusion after two weeks of hard use was that it could possibly be the ultimate photo backpack, particularly for outdoor, nature, landscape, and wildlife photographers. I love the modular design (the internal camera compartments can be removed or switched out with larger or smaller versions), the snug, comfortable fit for long walks or hikes, and the rear entry design which is consistent with all backpacks in MindShift Backlight series.

The pack also fits in the overhead compartment of most commercial airlines, which is super important to a travel photographer like myself. This is quite the engineering and design feat considering this is a 45 liter pack! And if it happens to not fit and the crew is demanding that you check your camera gear as a regular piece of luggage, you can simply pull the camera compartment out of the pack and slide it under the seat in front of you before handing them the empty frame and shell. 

But overall, I was impressed with the attention Mindshift gave to all the small details: the waterproof zippers are but one example. I have owned and used literally dozens of photo backpacks over the past 15 years and I can honestly say that the MindShift BackLight Elite 45L backpack is the best I’ve ever worked with and will be my primary photo backpack for years to come.

Get Yours Here

The MindShift BackLight Elite 45L backpack goes on sale today (April 30, 2019) and can be ordered here:

MindShift BackLight Elite 45L (MindShift Gear)

MindShift BackLight Elite 45L (Amazon)

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer in the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. For more great information on new images, gear reviews, book projects, and photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Our Newsletter.


Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 Dragonfly Lens

Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 Dragonfly Lens

Announcements

The Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 Dragonfly Lens

I just received the new Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 Dragonfly Lens from Irix USA. I’ll do an in-depth review once I have the time to actually use this telephoto macro lens, but my first impressions are the following: The lens is solidly built. It feels cool, heavy, and dense in my hand. 150mm is the perfect focal length for a macro lens, in my opinion. The telephoto perspective really allows you to control the background much better than shorter focal lengths. I absolutely love the fact that the lens has a detachable tripod collar (to make it much easier to go from horizontal to vertical and back) with a built-in Arca Swiss mount. Why don’t other lens manufacturers do this as well considering this is the industry standard?

Specifications:

  • Covers full 35mm frame, for Nikon F, Canon EF, Pentax K mounts
  • Manual focus
  • Weather-sealed construction (Dragonfly finish)
  • 12 elements in 9 groups, 3 ED, 4 HR elements
  • f/2.8 to f/32, 11-blade diaphragm
  • 77mm filter ring
  • 12” (0.345m) minimum focus, 1:1 maximum magnification ratio, focus lock ring
  • 3.9” (135mm) long, 4.5” (87mm) diameter
  • 20.5 ounces (840g) weight
  • Detachable tripod collar with Arca Swiss mount; includes lens hood
  • Black
  • USD$ 595
  • Announced by Irix September 24, 2018

Get yours here on Amazon: Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 Dragonfly Lens

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer in the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. For more great information on new images, gear reviews, book projects, and photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Our Newsletter.


Essential Photography: Teleconverters for Wildlife

Essential Photography: Teleconverters for Wildlife

Gear Reviews

What are Teleconverters?

A teleconverter is a magnifying lens that fits between the camera body and the effective photography lens. Teleconverters multiply the focal length of the lens giving it essential reach for small wildlife and subjects that are at a considerable distance. For example, a 1.4X teleconverter (also referred to as a tele-extender) multiplies the focal length by 1.4 so a 300mm lens now becomes a 420mm lens. A 2.0X teleconverter would make that same 300mm lens a 600mm. The teleconverter adds a little extra zoom or reach to your lens, without having to crop pixels to get the same effect. Is this awesome or what?

Now The Bad

But there are two fairly significant downsides to using teleconverters. First, using one will come at the cost of overall lens sharpness. The more glass that sits between the imaging sensor and your subject, the less sharpness and resolution you’re going to experience. The 2.0X will be less sharp than the 1.4X (Nikon makes a 1.7X teleconverter, which is a nice compromise).  

A teleconverter can be an essential piece of photography equipment if you shoot small birds on a regular basis. This ringed plover required a 500mm lens plus a 2.0X teleconverter for an effective focal length of 1000mm.

Because the teleconverter extends the lens mount away from the image sensor, it also decreases the amount of light that enters the camera. A 1.4X teleconverter will reduce the maximum aperture of the lens by one full stop while the 2.0X will cost you two stops. So a 300mm f/2.8 lens will become a 420mm f/4 with the 1.4X and a 600mm f/5,6 with the 2.0X. That’s something to consider when you are working in low light environments. You must also consider that not all lenses work with teleconverters and some camera bodies will lose autofocus if your teleconverter pushes your maximum aperture to f/8 and beyond. Check your camera’s manual to be sure. Here are some helpful online guides:

Nikon AF-S Teleconverter Compatibility Chart
Canon Teleconverter Compatibility Guide (scroll down to near the bottom of the page)
Sigma Teleconverter Compatibility Page
Sony 1.4X Teleconverter Compatibility (scroll to bottom)
Sony 2X Teleconverter Compatibility (scroll to bottom)

Where to get yours?

(All links to Amazon)

Canon EF 1.4X Teleconverter
Canon EF 2.0X Teleconverter
Nikon AF-S FX TC-14E III (1.4x) Teleconverter
Nikon AF-S FX TC-17E II (1.7x) Teleconverter
Nikon Auto Focus-S FX TC-20E III (2.0x) Teleconverter
Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter
Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter

There is good and bad when it comes to using teleconverters but I believe they are still a vital piece of gear for the serious wildlife photographer. Experience and the specific situation will determine when and when not to use them.

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer is the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. For more great information on new images, gear reviews, book projects, and photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Our Newsletter.


Breakthrough Photography Filters

Breakthrough Photography Filters

Announcements

I just recently ditched my Lee Filter system and adopted Breakthrough Photography Filters as my preferred filter line for landscape and travel photography. The choice was actually pretty simple: Better glass, better coatings, better color fidelity, better build quality, and a 25-year warranty on their filters. Here’s more information:

 

  • WORLDS SHARPEST AND MOST COLOR NEUTRAL NEUTRAL DENSITY FILTERS: Breakthrough Photography’s X4 ND filter maintain a very well controlled and flat transmission all the way throughout the visible light spectrum and into IR, delivering the worlds most color neutral results.
  • MRC16 OPTICAL COATING: 16 Layer Multi-Resistance Coated to significantly reduce lens flare and ghosting while making the filter Anti-Scratch, Reduce Reflection, Water Repellent, Increase Surface Durability, Oil & Dust Resistant. These attributes are essential for working effectively outdoors. Our proprietary MRC coating is structurally harder than the glass itself and the reduced reflections improve the efficiency since less light is lost. 
  • NANOTEC: In addition to state-of-the-art MRC, their optical engineers developed new nano coating layer technology, called nanotec, from the ground up to repel dirt, water and other elements by beading rather than absorbing and smearing. Set in our workhorse and built to withstand extreme wind, salt water, dust and other abrasive conditions and elements.
  • 25 YEARS SUPPORT: Guaranteed to be free from craftsmanship defects for 25 years. When you activate your 25 Year Ironclad Guarantee online we associate your X4 serial number to you, so any future discussions on this unique filter are tracked, issues recorded and all that stuff which goes into future product design.

At top: The Breakthrough Photography X4 3-stop ND Filter slowing down the motion of the water in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Bottom: The finely crafted Breakthrough Photography’s X4 Circular Polarizing Filters with blackened brass frames and traction grooves for easy handling in cold weather or with gloves.

Polarizing Filters

Breakthrough Photography advertises its 4X CPL Circular Polarizer as the “world’s most advanced circular polarizer.” The construction is made from blackened brass (less likely for the filters to stick together) with deepened traction grooves on the rim for an easy grip, even with cold, wet, fingers or gloves (although I’ve been told that these grove may interfere with your lens hood. I don’t use a lens hood so I’ve not experienced this). The glass is SCHOTT Superwhite B270® optical glass with nanotech® and multi-resistant coatings. The best part about these proprietary coatings is that rain and moisture slide right off the surface of the filter. With other filters, you might try to wipe off the rain or splashes and it just get smeared around. I tried it and it’s true! I’m amazed.

Neutral Density Filters

For years I have been using Lee Filters’ Little and Big Stopper ND filters (6- and 10-Stop respectively) for long exposure photography (see tutorial on using ND Filters for Long Exposure Photography). The quality of the Lee glass has never been an issue with me but it’s long been known by landscape photographers that these Lee filters impart an obvious and acknowledged blue color cast to affected images. See the examples above. The Breakthrough Photography 4X ND filters are truly color neutral and the glass and coatings are better than Lee’s. Formatt Hitech pushes the colors toward the cyan while B&W goes reddish-orange. These problems can be fixed in post-production (sometimes relatively easily and sometimes not so much) but why bother with that anymore?

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer is the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. For more great information on new images, gear reviews, book projects, and photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Our Newsletter.


Think Tank Releases New Photo Protection Concepts

Think Tank Releases New Photo Protection Concepts

Announcements

The Think Tank Photo Emergency Rain Cover for the ultimate in camera protection.

My friends at Think Tank Photo have released two new concepts in camera gear protection. The Emergency Rain Covers, that come in two sizes, are small, lightweight, fast-deploying protective covers you can have on hand when weather conditions change swiftly and you need to protect your bodies and lenses.

The Think Tank Lens Case Duos for lens protection when transporting and traveling.

The Lens Case Duos are protective lens sleeves that can be used both when transporting your lenses in transit and while shooting.  They are available in a range of sizes to fit most DSLR and Mirrorless lenses.

Don’t forget that when you use these special URLs you will receive free gear and free shipping on all orders over $50. You can order below:

Thank Tank Emergency Rain Cover

Lens Case Duos

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer in the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. For more great information on new images, gear reviews, book projects, and photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Our Newsletter.