Hello and welcome to another instalment in my ongoing blog entries about my photography life. Let’s face it, my whole site is pretty much geared toward my efforts and experiences with a camera. Fortunately for me, I have a knack of turning pretty much anything into some form of content. One of my favourite recurring blog entries is my annual exploration of what is inside my camera bag. Having said that, I just realised that I did not do a ‘what’s in my camera bag’ for 2019. Not sure what happened there. But if you want to check out some of my previous years then you can take a look at 2018 here, 2017 here and my profile over at Shotkit.com right here.
Since picking up extra writing and content creation work over the past 12 months, I have been in a better position financially to ensure my kit was up to date and meeting my needs. Previously, I had trimmed down my photography kit to what was essential for street photography and for travel. Even with the travel stuff I only took a minimal kit on my last couple of trips. For example, on my last trip to Tokyo in May 2019, I only took my Fujifilm X-70 and the Fujifilm X-T3 with the XF 23mmF2. That was all I needed and pretty much all I owned. Since then, my photography needs have completely changed.
Now, as a direct result of my content creation work I have a new set of gear needs. For example, I often review Fujifilm lenses that are sent to me. I have to attach these to a camera to both test and get product shots of the lens. I need a second camera to be able to photograph the first. Also, in doing more product shots I found the need for a longer prime and zoom – I usually only stick with wider primes. While not a reason for expanding my kit, the side benefit is that when I do a bag review I can show it loaded up better.
As any photographer will tell you, what you pack in your bag will change from day-to-day. Even little changes such as packing lens hoods during the day but not for a night shoot. Or just taking a small bag for a single street shoot camera or a big messenger for a more important gig. I have different setups depending on the situation and what my plans for the day are. As a result, I decided to break down my ‘what’s in my camera bag’ into a few different set-ups. One of the benefits of being a gear reviewer on Shotkit.com is the amount of camera bags I get sent. During the busy season, (not during Covid) I was getting a bag for review every two weeks. In most cases, I would sell these still-brand-new bags to members of my photography community at a discounted price. Every now and then I would hang on to a select bag or two. As a result, I can use different bags for different situations.
Peak Design Everyday Sling 6L – Everyday Carry
For street photography, I tend to only carry a small amount of gear. The whole idea is to be minimal and discreet – like a ninja. There is no point lugging all this big camera gear when you are trying to blend into the crowd. For me, I will usually take Peak Design Everyday Sling 6L. This is a neat little bag from the V2 range of Peak Design bags. I have always loved Peak Design products for their use of high-tech materials and brilliant design qualities. This was a free review bag and came in a dark blue finish – I also received an ash grey one but gave that to someone else. And, like the name suggests, I use this bag as my everyday carry bag. It is the bag that I take with me the most when leaving the house. It is small, compact and incredibly comfortable even for a big guy like me.
The sling is pre-loaded with my everyday gear ready to go at any time. This will always include my Crumpler leather wallet, iPhone, keys, hand sanitizer, face mask and glasses case. The same applies to the other bag configurations I cover from here on. The main compartment is one large space that can have folding dividers dropped in to help separate your gear. For the most part, I don’t use these as I only carry the above gear plus my Fujifilm X70. Along with this, I will pack a spare battery depending on the duration of my outing. You can actually check out a more in-depth review of the Everyday Sling 6L that I wrote over at Shotkit.com. In that review, I showed two layouts of my gear. The first is as described above – my everyday gear choices including the Fujifilm X70. Here is a quick guide to what camera gear I also pack:
- Fujifilm X70
- Spare battery
Peak Design Everyday Sling 6L – Street Outing Carry
The second layout shown in that same review is similar to what I would pack for a more extensive street outing. The same everyday gear would be packed including my wallet, keys and phone. Then, I would pack the Fujifilm X70 (I never go on a shoot without it) and either the Fujifilm X-T3 or Fujifilm X-E3. With either of those two bodies, I would attach one of the smaller prime Fujifilm lenses and possibly throw in a second for good measure. Even with both cameras in the sling, there is still room for my everyday gear and a spare lens. It is a bit of a squeeze and the bag becomes less comfortable to wear for long periods but it works. Here is a guide to what I might pack for a long period of street work:
- Fujifilm X70
- Fujifilm X-T3
- Fujifilm XF 23mmF2
- Spare batteries for both cameras
A Word on the ONA Prince Street
Even though I get sent a lot of free camera bags and I am spoiled for choice, I still have my own expectations of what makes a great camera bag. And being a bag review kind of guy, I am pretty fussy and have high standards. For example, I dislike bags that have a separate rain cover – it is 2020 and there are plenty of waterproof materials out there so there is not excuse. In my 2018 camera bag update, I was using the ONA Bowery and ONA Prince Street bags. The Bowery has gone to another home and I use the Peak Design Sling as described above in its place. The ONA Prince Street was the bag I would use when on a bigger outing that required more gear. ONA make gorgeous bags constructed of leather and waxed canvas. They look amazing and for the most part, are functional. My biggest criticism of the ONA bags I experienced is that due to the thick cuts of leather and canvas, they are heavy and unyielding. Empty, the ONA Prince Street is already 1.5kg or 2.6lb in weight. However, the size of the bag was good and the dividers meant I could customise the interior to hold my mirrorless kit.
Crumpler Muli Camera Messenger 4500 – Street Outing Carry
With the recent sales, I made the decision to move on from the ONA Prince Street and find something that was lighter and more user friendly. As I mentioned, I get sent a lot of bags but I had not come across a messenger style bag that met all my needs. Then, I came across a bag that ticked all the boxes – the Crumpler Muli Camera Messenger 4500. I have owned a lot of Crumpler bags over the years with my very first being a custom Crumpler Barney Rustle Blanket that my wife got me for my birthday. I have also owned several Crumpler camera bags. They are well-made bags with good design, good construction and have the interest of creatives in mind.
I wanted to take a look at the current range of camera bags but my local Crumpler store in Prahran had none at all. So I ventured over to the store in Fitzroy and there, sitting alone on the shelf amidst the sale stickers was a black Crumpler Muli Camera Messenger 4500. It was the last one apparently. I instantly loved the look and size of the bag – not too big yet big enough to carry a couple of cameras and lenses plus all my sundry items. I had already done the necessary internet research about this bag and understood what it had to offer. I gave the bag a thorough inspection before making the cashless transaction required in today’s environment.
The Muli 4500 is made from a very soft and smooth nylon outer shell. There is a hidden rear zippered pocket that disappears amongst the padding. Other than that, there are no visible external pockets making it a very stealthy bag. True to Crumpler design, the bag is covered in a large smooth flap. The base is reinforced with double the material and the broad shoulder strap was super comfortable thanks to the included shoulder pad. Inside, the main compartment was customisable with the velcro dividers. On the underside of the main flap is a mesh zip pocket perfect for spare batteries or cables. The front of the bag has a pocket perfect for carrying a phone or wallet plus a smaller divided pocket made for memory cards. The only other section is a laptop sleeve – not that I carry a laptop but it would be good from my Moleskine notebook.
The best bit, the bag only weighs 700gm or 1.5lb empty. Plus, thanks to the use of thinner materials, there is more give to the bag and more storage space. I took it out over the weekend for a night walk in the city. I was really happy with how it performed and what I was able to carry. This is now my main camera bag and one that I can use for both paid gigs and photography outings where I want to take more than my street kit. I generally don’t carry a tripod around with me so the lack of tripod straps doesn’t impact me at all. Although, I did notice that the main flap is held down by two buckles that are strapped to the bag. The straps have a bit of give so you could hold a tripod under the main flap – sitting on top of your gear.
Here is an example of what I would pack for into the Crumpler Muli 4500 when on a photo excursion:
- Fujifilm X70
- Fujifilm X-T3
- Fujifilm XF 23mmF2
- Fujifilm XF 16mmF2.8
- Fujifilm XF 50mmF2 or the Fujifilm XF 90mmF2
- Fujifilm EF-X20 TTL Flash
- Spare batteries for both cameras
- Cura cleaning kit
- Pelican SD card case
- Business card case
This is just one example of the kind of kit I could pack into this bag. Obviously, the bigger the lenses, the less I can carry. On my outing over the weekend, I didn’t have quite this much gear. The bag was very comfortable to wear for the duration of our time out and about. Plus, as it is winter here, I had a pair of gloves, scarf and beanie that I would stuff into the bag when not needed. The broad strap, shoulder pad and padding on the back of the bag provide a lot of support. Accessing the bag and my gear was very easy as I could slide the bag around to my front without issue. I love that there is no velcro used to keep the main flap down – velcro is so noisy and challenging for me. Instead, there are two hardened plastic clips that close securely to keep the contents from spilling out. While it didn’t rain, the bag is weather resistant which is reassuring. And, thanks to the neat carry handle, getting in and out of Ubers was a sinch.
That pretty much wraps up what’s in my camera bag for 2020. If you want a better understanding of how I take care of my gear storage at home, then check out this blog here. It covers a recent upgrade I made to my home studio and gear storage. I hope that you have found this article helpful in some way – especially if you are trying to work out the best way to carry your gear. If you have any questions or comments then please leave them below and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Happy shooting. G