The Gear I Use & Why + A New YouTube Channel

Ok nerd out time.

Some of you may have seen a few videos posted on-line recently about the gear that I use, these videos are up on my new YouTube channel along with a few others.

The reasons I started with the gear videos/post is to get it out of the way and done with ready for the meat of the channel which will be tutorials, fundamentals, critiques and some Q&A.  So on that note lets get to the gear.

My kit is made up of cheap/used primes and 2nd hand gear for the most part.

Bag A - Stills (Think Tank Airport International V2.0)

This is the main bag and thankfully it has wheels.  I moved from using the Think Tank Antidote V2.0 (no longer made) a while ago to save my shoulders and back, that bag now holds the much lighter video kit.

So far the Airport International V2.0 has been great, its well made and can hold allot of kit.  Plus the build quality and wheels are second to none.

As you can tell from the title this is my main stills bag (Bag A) and its pretty full, I have room for one more lens that I need want with a bit of reconfiguring and enough room for two 5D2 bodies with grips or the 5D2 with grip and a Fuji X100 that currently live in the bag.

You can see two sets of wireless triggers in the bag at the moment, this is because I am evaluating the Cactus V6 transceivers before I make the jump to them completely.  By the way I have a few videos about those triggers on the new YouTube channel

Content List

The front pouch normally holds a 5in 1 reflector and the front pocket holds memory cards, business cards, torch and pens.  You can also see the blue rain cover in the side pocket.

In the bag we have the following.

1. Pockets - Multi Tool, lens pen, 3.5mm to 5.25 jack, spare batteries for the light meter.  Notice the business card, all of my bags have one or two thrown into easy to see places. The clear pockets make it easy to see what the contents are.

2. Canon 5D Mark II with Canon BG-E6 battery grip.  I am just too used to shooting with a grip now so all cameras get them added where applicable.  2 spare Canon LP-E6 batteries in a Think Tank battery holder. I am shooting with the 5D2 and not the 5D3 for a few reasons..

            A. Price
            B. Price
            C. I don't like the 5D3 grip all that much.  I hear the AF is great.. would be
            nice but that thing is close to £2000, I can buy 2 used 5D2 bodies for that.

Sure the AF on the 5D2 needs the sun to be able to work but you can get by, and that sensor .. I love it especially in natural light. 

3. Canon EF 35mm F2 prime - this lives on the 5D2.  By far my fav. lens and a bargain used.  It's a 19 year old design and sounds like a pissed off wasp when focusing but it's a great lens.  It's cheaper than the 35mm F2 IS and F1.4L and works fine for me.  If I was to replace a lens in the kit with a more expensive higher end version it would be this one but that L lens costs silly money. UPDATE 23/04/15 this lens has died due to being dropped 3 or 4 times. It will be replaced with the same lens due to this.

4. Fuji X100.  My Fav. camera.  It gets replaced with the 60D if I need a DSLR backup for a job.  4 Spare X100 batteries in a Think Tank holder.  That camera chews through batteries (Seriously Fuji you need to work on battery life).  Seriously this thing can run circles round the 5D2 when using flash.

No way the 5D2 could of gotten this shot in this light.  That's 1/1000th sec wireless sync with a Canon 430EXII running full power and 70mm zoom.  F16,  ISO250,   1/1000th

No way the 5D2 could of gotten this shot in this light.  That's 1/1000th sec wireless sync with a Canon 430EXII running full power and 70mm zoom.  F16,  ISO250,   1/1000th

5. The side compartment where the rocket blower is hold a few things. 

Cables bag for sync cords, spare batteries (AA & AAA) for the lights and triggers - stored in powerpax caddies to keep them from rolling around.  The batteries are Sanyo Eneloop.  (Get yourself rechargeable batteries and a good solid charger if you are starting out with off camera flash work it will save you money in the long run).

I place positive up for good and negative up for flat batteries in the caddies.  The batteries are also numbered in groups so if one cell goes bad I replace that group in full. 

Also I have some Rogue gels packs (correction and effects), reversing ring for macro, a stofen thing to make the flash bare bulb and a umbrella bracket just in-case I get caught short on a shoot or the stand bag goes missing.

6. The Glass - Buried under the lenses are some lens cloths and a Lightcraft Workshop Vari-ND filter.

Canon EF 24mm F2.8 (used, old design)
Canon EF 35mm F2 (on the 5D2)
Canon EF 50mm F1.8 Mark II (under the 24mm)
Canon EF 85mm F1.8 USM

Canon EF 24-105 F4L IS (not in this bag as it lives with the video kit)

I'm a prime lens shooter because I prefer the results and workflow using them.  So far I don't own a lot of glass or any of the high end stuff because I don't really need to be droping that kind of money yet.  The last lens I will add to the kit will be the Canon EF 135 F2L but that's really a want instead of a need, you see i'm not a shallow depth of field kind of guy for the most part...that said I would sometimes like some more compression.

7. Phottix Strato II Multi triggers - I have 2 transmitters + 4 receivers and they have been rock solid.

8. Cactus V6 Transceivers  - I am still evaluating these but am 95% sure I will move to them. Remote power change a go go. Videos Here. UPDATE 22/04/15 I have sold these things due to frankly piss poor battery life. 

9. Sekonic L358 light meter- paid £60 for it... bargain. They run for over £100 now. 

You don't have to have a light meter but they are useful at times and can also save you time during shooting.  You will need to calibrate it to your camera.

10. Opteka Speedlite Grids - I have a 1/4th and 2 1/8th grids in the bag always. Love these things.

11. The Lights.

Canon 600EX-RT - Got a good deal on this other wise I would of bought another 430EX II.  It's about 2/3rd of a stop more powerful than the 430EX II which in F-Stop money means if the 430EX II gives you F4 the 600EX will give you F5. Which is not a lot I know but those extra stops cost £££ no matter which way you go about it.

Canon 430EXII *3

Just got rid of the Yongnuo lights because I had to build a more solid light kit with lights that don't break or spit out random amounts of power.  Please know I am not having a go at Yongnuo and I know people use them and love them.. my experience has not been that great so I moved away from them.

Bag B - Video (Think Tank Airport Antidote V2.0)

This was my first Think Tank bag and the one that made me switch from Lowepro.  No regrets at all.

It now holds the video kit as that kit is lighter (at the moment) than the stills kit in Bag A.  I'm not entirely happy with the video kit but it will have to do for a while yet.

The front holds a 5 in 1 reflector and a mono-pod for a mic boom.

Inside pockets hold lens cloths/pens, flash foot (for mic), spare batteries for the Lapel Mic and Sekonic L-358 as it cam meter video whilst taking iris/shutter in to account.

In side the main compartment is the following kit.  The weak link are the Kodak HD cameras as they need a crap ton of light to work well.

            1. Canon EOS 60D + Canon BG-E9 Battery Grip.

            This is also my backup DSLR for stills gigs but its primary duty is video it
            will be moved to video full time once I pick up another backup stills body 
            which will be another 5D2.
            2. Spare Canon LP-E6 batteries. Each bag has 4 of those in.
            3. Kodak Zi10 (Playtouch) this thing sucks because the touch screen has a
            mind of its own. It has a wide angle lens converter in the kit also.   I also have
            spare batteries for the Kodaks.
            4. Kodak Zi8 - Third Camera given to me by Mark Boadey before I end up
            killing the playtouch.

            I am trying to figure out what to do video camera wise, I could use the backup
            stills body when I pick it up but I would like a good second camera in the
            video kit.  Do I go actual video camera or another DSLR like the 70D that
            will AF in video mode.

            For the moment the Kodaks are the B/C cameras.
            5. Cables and chargers + memory cards (all SD) for the cameras.
            6. Bungee Cords and Gaff Tape.  Vari ND Filter for the 24-105. 
            7. Canon EF 24-105 F4L IS - this gets moved to the stills kit for some
            studio work from time to time.

            8. Delkin Fat Gecko - Suction arm to hold a camera on a car or window.
            9. Rode Stereo Video MIC + extension cable. Also has a Dead Kitten  (not literally).
            Spare 9v Battery.

            10. Zoom H1 external audio recorder + Audio Technica lapel mic. Spare
            Sanyo Eneloops for the H1.

I have video lights as well (3 heads) with screw bayonet fitting and 125w fluorescent bulbs that are said to be daylight balanced but I doubt it.  They are bulky and fragile but they were a cheap way in.  I tend to use the modifiers I have for stills with them.

The Fuji Bag  (Think Tank City Walker 10)

It's small but can hold a fair bit of kit, before now I have loaded the 5D2 with grip and 3 lenses plus a flash/triggers and the X100 but at that point your shoulder knows you are carrying it. 

This bag gets used as my day bag a lot, holds lunch and the X100 and a Speedlite.  The bag is well made but needs extra Velcro to secure the side flaps.

It's currently got the X100, Kodak Zi8, 8" Tablet, over 100GB worth of Memory Cards, Batteries and chargers and a 1TB usb hard disk in ready to travel in September.

The Stand / Modifier Bag (InterS**T)

This thing is total crap and I don't expect it to last another 6 months. UPDATE The dam thing is still going strong in April of 2015. 

No photo of this one as its too big. But the kit it holds is listed below.

            Calumet & Manfrotto Swivel Brackets. *4

            Manfrotto Superclamp *2

            Frio Cold Shoes - best cold shoes around.

            7" Reflectors - Bowens S-Mount

            7" Grid Spot Set for  the 7" Reflector (10,20,30,40 Degree).

            Gaff Tape.

            Head Torch.

            Small Torch.

            Bungee Cords.

            Triple Bracket - will hold 3 lights on one bracket.
            Calumet Studio Clamp.

            Empty Sandbags.
            Bog O Spigots.
            6 A Clamps.

            Westcott 60" Convertible Umbrella   

            Westcott 43" Convertible Umbrella
            Westcott 28" Apollo + 40' Egg crate grid.

            33" Silver Reflective Umbrella.

            Westcott 7ft Parabolic Umbrella - Silver + Diffusion Cover ( this does not fit

            in the case).

            Mono Pod - Aka Boom Arm.

            Gorilla Pod.

            Calumet 6025 3Ft Stand. - Used for Backgrounds.  

            Calumet MF6045 10ft Air Cushioned Stands *3.

            Lastolite 8ft Air cushioned stand.

            Westcott X-Drop Background

            7ft by 4ft White/Black Background (does not fit in)

I also have a background stand and bar set if needed but that thing needs allot of space to set-up.

Needless to say it weighs a ton and frankly I can not wait for this bag to fall to bits (it will) so I can replace it.  Think Tank need to make a stand roller bag ASAP.

You can watch the videos on this link (or watch below).  They cover it all and break it down in sections from cameras to lens to lights & grip. 

The Gear I Use - Play List
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Any questions let me know in the comments below.