Stuck for a new years resolution? Then think 2017, the year of the camera. Whatever you’re doing, where ever you are just make sure your camera is with you; walk the dog, head into town or even meeting friends and family, you’ll be amazed at the pictures you’ll capture over the year. It might sound like a hassle, but with the right everyday kit bag essentials prepared and ready to go, this could be one of the easiest resolutions you’ve ever made.
You’ll find that by always having the camera with you, you’ll capture some spectacular shots that you would otherwise have missed and by the end of the coming year you’ll have a colourful array of pictures that you can show off with pride.
Of course if you’re to do this then you’re going to need some camera kit primed and ready to go, and in this guide I’m going to run through the kit that I’ve assembled over the years and use on an everyday basis. That’s normally when I’m out walking the dog.
Reduce your everyday kit bag essentials to the minimum
Camera kit can be heavy and if you’re like many photographers there’s a tendency to carry every piece of kit you own in your backpack, just in case. You can never be too prepared! However in reality if you’re bogged down with kit then you’re not going to enjoy your day, so just make sure you take the bare essentials.
A great idea is to keep your packed bag by the door so when you’re leaving the house all you have to do is grab it and go. Of course that does mean a certain amount of preparation, foremost of which is remembering to charge the cameras batteries and download your image files every time you get home.
Which type of camera is best for everyday use?
We all own different cameras, but over the last couple of years compact system cameras (CSCs) have really increased in popularity. You only need a little time with the Fuji X-T2, Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II,Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II or Sony Alpha 7R II to realise that the smaller form factor doesn’t mean smaller performance. These smaller cameras are also perfect candidates for your everyday kit bag essentials.
These small, lightweight cameras are perfect everyday cameras. Their small size means that even with a decent lens your entire (striped down) kit will still all fit in a smallish shoulder bag. I’ve been using the Sony Alpha 7R for a few years and the small size and performance makes it an ideal workhorse as well as every day camera.
Will I need several lenses?
When it comes to lens choice you need to pick something small. Most kit lenses these days are perfectly good, especially those from Fuji. If you want to be a bit of a purist, go for a standard 50mm or similar fixed focal length lens. If you want a little more flexibility then push to a 24-70mm or equivalent as these optics can be great allrounders. I partner the Sony Alpha 7R with the Sony FE 24-70mm f4 ZA just for total flexibility.
Bag wise there’s a huge choice out there. I personally like a shoulder bag, so opt for the Billingham Hadley, mine’s now 22 years old and still going strong. Other options are the Tenba DNA 8 or ThinkTank Retrospective 5. These bags might seem expensive but the quality means that they will last for years and have plenty of padding to keep your kit safe.
Straps aren’t everyone’s cuppa, however when you’re juggling filters, memory cards and tripods around or scrabbling up some rocks, a decent strap that you can throw around your neck is always welcome. At present the Peak Design Slide fits the bill and it has the Arca Swiss style plate that attaches to the base of your camera which is exceptionally useful.
Do I really need a tripod?
I also like to take a tripod and recently tested the 3 Legged Thing Punk Travis. If I’m headed out with the intension of shooting landscapes its relatively small size and lightweight construction is ideal. A find a tripod strap is an essential so you can comfortably sling it over your shoulder between shots. The Punk Travis is also fully compatible with the Peak Design Slide strap which makes it an extremely convenient option.
Ideally I’d always like to take a tripod with me, but in reality the hassle it would cause due to setting up and using when out with friends and family means that it frequently has to be left in the car. However I’ll always pack Manfrotto Pixi, these compact tripods can fit discreetly in your bag and are an absolute lifesaver when you do need a bit of support.
Anyone for filters?
Finally I like filters and although using them annoys people if you’re out on a walk, over time you do become pretty adept at handling and fitting them. I find the small Lee Filters Seven5 Deluxe Kit exceptional for CSCs, and you can just about get away with using the set on the Sony FE 24-70mm f4 ZA as long as you don’t mind a bit of vignetting.
Otherwise, use the same filter set just in the 100mm series. The essentials are ND Grad 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 along with a Big Stopper or ND 10 stop filter. I use the Lee Filters just because I’ve owned them for years but there are many other options that are fine and far cheaper.
What about storage?
Finally you need to think memory cards. Don’t pack too many or use cards with huge storage capacities. I usually find a 16GB or 32GB is more than enough and to be honest a 8GB is still probably overkill for my average dog walk. When it comes to manufacturers, at present Sandisk and Delkin both produce decent cards.
Look for class 10 and then a U with a number 3 in. This means that the card has a minimum write speed of 30 mb/s which should be more than fast enough to keep up with your camera.
That’s it for the everyday kit bag essentials. When you arrive back home, you of course then need to download, enhance and print your images and I’ll take a look at these steps in essential guides in the near future.