What’s in our photo bags?

What to bring on a trip is always a question on how are you traveling and what you expect doing there, and of course your priorities. In most cases you can’t bring all your photo gear, so already there, your priority starts. After we acquired the phenomenal Think Tank Airport International v3 rolling bag, most of our problems did go away.

The bag has a size that allows us to use it as a carry-on luggage on (mostly) all national and international airplanes. It basically holds two DSLRs with lens mounted and four/five more lenses, including a 70-200 f/2.8 and a 24-70 f/2.8 (with hood reversed), and still has some room to spare in the main compartment. In addition it has a padded room for a laptop and a separate room for a tablet. All over and on the inside it has some smaller or larger pockets you can tuck away some extras, like cables, chargers, memory cards, tickets, boarding cards and so on. It even has a tripod pocket on the outside with some additional straps. The main compartment has an integrated lock, the big outside pocket for the laptop and tablet have a lockable zipper and the bag also comes with a wire and a lock to secure it around a lamp post or something when you are not able to watch it all of the time when you take it out on location. Getting this roller bag was a game changer! It doesn’t mean that we pull it with us everywhere, but we leave it at the place we are staying (if we are staying at the same place for several days) or in the car, and choose what to pick for each day or situation in front of us.

So what actually do we have in the Think Tank Airport International v3? We pack two DSLR with mounted lens, mostly the Nikkor 24-120 f/4 VR on the D750 FX-camera, and the Nikkor 18-300 VR on the D5500 DX-camera. Further a wide DX-zoom in the Tamron 10-24 VC, Two fast normal zooms in the Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC G2 and the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC (one for FX and one for DX, we may choose only one in some cases, if so the FX lens goes out). And mostly we bring the big Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 VC G2. We also really like the small Nikon SB-400 flash, so that one goes in there somewhere too, and as music lovers, we often bring a Klipsch Groove, witch is a wireless, rechargeable portable speaker. And of course the usual stuff like cables, chargers, memory cards, cleaning cloths, portable HDD and so on. We do not bring spare batteries, as we’ve never experienced depleting a battery in a DSLR in one day yet, and we are always careful about charging everything until next day. In the outside pockets we put a laptop and sometimes a tablet. This way all our electronic gear and gadgets are safely stored in one place.

As touched into earlier we don’t haul the Think Tank bag with us all of the time, so that brings us to the next question: how do we carry our gear around? Again Think Tank comes to the rescue with the Retrospective Series, we have one 5 and one 7 witch we have pulled out all the loose padding so the bag collapse nicely over the camera and don’t look inflated all of the time. As a rule of thumb, we bring our “travel zooms” and the wide angle zoom if we are mostly going outside or indoors in good lighting, if we on the other hand know it will be low light we leave the travel zooms in the roller bag and mount a faster zoom and consider if we should bring the wide angle zoom too.

From this you might argue, why bring a DX wide angle, and FX tele zoom? Sensor wise it would be better the other way as DX is 1.5 crop and would benefit tele. I totally agree and its something I’ve given some consideration, firstly there isn’t many fast DX tele zooms, and the only one comes to mind is the old Sigma 50-150 f/2.8, witch is not available any more. On the other side, a full frame lens is bulkier and heavier, and needs more room in the bag than a DX lens. I own the Nikkor 16-35 f/4 VR, but so far the decision to bring in the bag has fallen on the DX Tamron 10-24 VC. If we on the other hand decide to bring only one camera, all the DX lenses and camera goes out, and the Nikkor 16-35 f/4 VR goes in.

Update. After some time thinking about what I’ve been writing here, I felt something was missing or not clarified enough. All above are true when traveling by plane, witch is most of the time, but if we on the other hand goes from home with our car we don’t have any weight and size limitations. In those cases we may pack very differently, not necessarily bring all our gear, but at least add the Nikkor 200-500 f/5.6 VR into the mix.

We are not affiliated with Think Tank, but we really love them. The roller bag and the shoulder bags looks like some average good quality business style bags from a distance, and don’t scream “full of expensive photo gear”. If you look closer though, you immediately see that this is work of the highest quality that are meant to be used every day and last forever!

All pictures are taken from the official website of Think Tank Photo.

Comments or questions? Spill it in the comments below.


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