What’s in my camera bag?

When I first started learning photography in earnest, I had no idea what camera equipment to buy. Figuring out how to operate an SLR camera was tricky enough – making heads or tails of the hundreds of camera bodies and lenses available was on a completely different level. I’m embarrassed to admit it now, but at one stage I had no idea that professional grade lenses even existed!

Thankfully, my photographic knowledge is far more respectable these days;) I’ve also have acquired some pretty neat camera gear. So today I thought I’d share what camera equipment is in my bag, why I use it and when.  Choosing your gear involves a lot of research and trial and error – hopefully this will be helpful to all of the photography enthusiasts out there.

Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L IS USM

This was my first professional grade lens, so it will always be special to me. I’ll never forget using it for the first time – it was definitely a light bulb moment. Thanks to the in-built image stabiliser, the focus locked on super quick and the images were incredibly pin-sharp. I was quite gob smacked by the quality, to be honest. It was at that moment that I realised why professional lenses were so expensive (and oh so worth it). I usually use the 70-200mm during the wedding ceremony, as the zoom enables me to give the bride and groom a bit of space. I will also whip it out for the bridal party portraits as I like the depth of field and I think the long focal length is extremely flattering.

The Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L IS USM, photographed with the Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 85mm f1.8

Canon 50mm f1.2 L USM

I was a bit of a blog stalker when I first started out in wedding photography (OK, I still kind of am).  After reading several million photographer blogs, I discovered they all had one thing in common. Everybody seemed to be using prime lenses. And they all seemed to be using the 50mm 1.2. What was going on? I hired one of these babies to see what the fuss was about and was again amazed by the quality.  The bokeh (the blurry, out of focus areas of the image) was gorgeous and creamy and the image was again very sharp. I use this lens for wedding details (flowers, table decorations) and portraits.

The Canon 50mm f1.2 L USM, photographed with the Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS USM.

Canon 35mm f1.4 L USM

The 35mm lens is my favourite lens at the moment.  It’s sooo sharp that it puts all of my other lenses to shame. It’s my go to lens when I want to create a more candid feel to my images. I particularly like to use it when I’m photographing the bridal preparation and guests mingling and dancing. It’s also great for family portraits and wide shots of the reception venue. I don’t use my 35mm very often for portraits, but when I do I find it gives the photos a very editorial feel.

The Canon 35mm 1.4 L USM, photographed with the Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 50mm 1.2 L USM.

Canon 85mm f1.8 USM

I bought this lens specifically for the quality of bokeh it produces.  When using wide apertures like f1.8, the images are really ethereal and beautiful. The 85mm produces a very unique look –I can always tell when another photographer has used one. Like the 70-200mm, the focal length of the 85mm is perfect for portraits. This is the only non-professional grade lens in my bag.  Although the professional version of the lens, the 85mm f1.2, is brilliant, the 85mm1.8 is great value and looks amazing when used on the super-duper Canon 5D Mark III.

The Canon 85mm f1.8 USM, photographed with the Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 50mm f1.2 L USM.

Canon 5D Mark III

This camera is awesome. That’s about all I have to say about it. Just shut down your computer now and go and buy one. It’s that good. Seriously, though, the 5D Mark III is a big improvement on the 5D Mark II. For starters, it has a 61-point focusing system and it has a huge ISO range (meaning you can shoot in really low light without getting lots of grain in the image).  And for some reason, all of my lenses look 100 per cent better on this camera. It is terribly expensive, but if it’s been worth it.

The Canon 5D Mark III, photographed by the Canon 5D Mark II and the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L IS USM.

Canon 5D Mark II

This is my back up camera and the older version of the Canon 5D Mark III. It’s still a fantastic camera and well worth buying (much cheaper too).

The Canon 5D Mark II, photographed by the Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 35mm 1.4 L USM.

Canon 580EXII Speedlite

These flashes are super-handy and produce quite a lot of light. Although I prefer a natural looking feel to my photographs, I have no problem using flashes.  I will just ensure I bounce the light so it doesn’t look harsh. I use my flash mainly during the reception, but will sometimes use it during bridal preparation or during an indoor wedding ceremony.

Canon 580EXII Speedlite, photographed by the Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L IS USM.

Other stuff

I also carry reflectors, a tripod that I hardly ever use, business cards and lots and lots of memory cards (you can never have too many).  I’m never without my Shootsac (bag for carrying lenses) and my Spider Holster (for carrying my camera). I use a Lowepro Pro Roller X200 for moving my gear around.

Well that’s what’s in my camera bag – hope everyone has a great weekend!

Samantha Shannon