In the Bag

” You take great pictures!… You must have a nice camera. “

Minolta XG-M 35mm film camera… my first camera.

I understand when I hear the statement above that it’s meant to be a compliment… but, I feel that it takes away from a photographer’s imagination and creativity. Sure, having the latest technology in cameras, lenses, and strobes can assist in capturing a nice image… but, the most important tool in creating a great image is the photographer’s “eye”.

“A camera didn’t make a great picture anymore than a typewriter wrote a great novel” -Peter Adams

With that said… here’s the gear that I use when covering youth sports :

Nikon D3s – My primary body usually coupled with the 300mm. This combination is great for getting shots from the 1st and 3rd base side of a ballfield. If I need more reach, I’ll throw on a 1.4x teleconverter giving me 420mm to work with. If I need more, I’ll throw the lens combination on the D2X giving me 630mm.
Nikon D800 – I needed another full frame camera and a bump in megapixels is a welcome addition. This body is used primarily for portraits but, it his also seen alot of action as a remote camera. -added after initial post
Nikon D300s – I recently picked one of these gems up. Made a trade with a buddy from high school and I really feel I got away like a bandit. I love this body, its a perfect compliment to the D3s. It’s now my primary body when shooting outdoor sports. -added after initial post
– Nikon D2X – Now my second body, this camera has served me well for several years as my primary body. I’ve only experienced one major problem and that was a blown shutter at 320k actuations… not bad since it’s only rated at 150k. I usually have the 80-200mm attached to the body hanging from a BlackRapid camera strap.
Nikon D2H – This is the body I purchased to replaced my first DSLR (Nikon D1) after it took a tumble on the asphalt of a racetrack at 30 MPH. Back then it was “the” sports camera to have. It’s been relegated to remote camera duties and the occasional street photography work with a 35mm lens.
GoPro Hero 3+ Black – A tool to capture POV video, remote floor stills/video, and timelapses. -added after initial post
Nikon 300mm F2.8 AF-S – My bread and butter lens. I use it just about every time I’m out shooting. I originally had a Nikon 400mm F2.8 AF-S II but, that lens was very heavy, to the point that I would leave it home so it wasn’t used much. The 300mm F2.8 is much more versatile.
Nikon 80-200mm F2.8 – Great lens to capture pick off plays at 1st and plays in the infield.
Nikon 28-70mm F2.8 – I use this for dugout shots and team shots after the game.
Nikon 17-35mm F2.8 – The wide angle is great for my remote camera setups.
Nikon 85mm F1.8G – I bought this to shoot basketball in poorly lit gyms
Nikon 50mm F1.8
Nikon 35mm F1.8
Nikon 1.4x teleconverter
Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6
Nikon SB-800 flash (3)
Pocketwizard (4) -added after initial post
– Pocketwizard Pre-Trigger cord (2)
– Manfrotto Magic Arm (2)
Induro Carbon Fiber Monopod -added after initial post
Induro Carbon Fiber Tripod -added after initial post
Thanktank Photo Pixel Pocket Rocket – filled with SanDisk 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, & 32GB Compact Flash & SD cards.
Giottos Rocket Air Blaster
Nikon lens pen

Gear Carriers:
Thinktank Photo Airport TakeOff Rolling Camera Bag – I love this bag! I use it primarily as a rolling bag but, the Airport Takeoff also has straps that converts it into a backpack. As you can see from the image below, it has plenty of room for the gear I use.
Thinktank Photo StreetWalker Pro – As much as I love the Airport TakeOff roller, there were many times that all I needed to bring was one lens and one body. Unfortunately, that one lens is usually the 300mm. The StreetWalker Pro can fit the D3s with a 300mm F2.8 attached and still have room for another body and lens. -added after initial post
– Thinktank Photo Modular Skin Set V2.0 and Pro Speed Belt
– BlackRapid RS-4 Camera Strap
– BlackRapid DR-1 Double Strap

When the need calls for it, I also bring along my “Strobist” lighting bag:

Strobist Bag:
Sekonic L-358 flash meter
Nikon SB-800 flash (2)
Nikon SB-600 flash (2)
Pocketwizard (3)
– Assorted LumoPro Umbrella swivels and umbrellas (not pictured)
– Lumopro Light Stands (not pictured)
– Assorted Light Boxes, Snoots, and Gobos (not pictured)
Orbis Ring Flash (not pictured)
– Gaffers tape

First Aid Kit:

I always have this bag nearby. I have enough items in this small bag to treat most minor sports related / everyday type injuries. You never know when you or your subject will need aid:

A routine slide into 2nd base can easily turn into…

… a painful open wound.

I was able to treat this player’s injury enough to allow him to continue playing (his request). It’s a great way of making friends.

Post Processing:
Adobe Lightroom CC
Adobe Photoshop CC

where all the magic is made

Here’s where all the magic is made… my workstation. This is just a short preview as the workstation deserves its own future post.


3 responses

  1. Some superb kit and a very interesting read. Thank you!


    12/14/12 at 9:35 am

  2. Tracy Reed

    Better late than never … it comes at a time when I’m researching cameras.

    03/20/13 at 2:51 pm

  3. Hi John, I “found” you o the “What´s in my camera bag” group on flickr and your gear captured my eye because of some lens I use (28-70 2.8 and 80-200 2.8) and a body (D2x). Then I kept reading and ended in your blog. I am an amateur, living in Portugal, but I love photography and Nikon Brand. Recently added a D7000 (not so far from your D300s) and it has been a pleasure using it as well. Thank for sharing your gear and your work. Nice!

    09/14/13 at 2:47 am

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