Brian Lackey

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What's in my Camera Bag 2018

Since three or four people have recently asked me about it, I figured I'd make a quick post about the gear I'm currently using for nature and travel photography. This isn’t every piece of kit I own, but represents most of what I might take with me out shooting these days and covers a wide variety of settings and conditions. I'll do my best to keep the list updated, but if you have any specific questions, definitely reach out and I'll see if I can answer them.

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Sony a7rii

This is a beast of a camera and does everything I ever ask of it. Only downside is the battery life, so I have something like 7 extras. I think they’ve fixed that with the newer model, but I don’t have enough of a reason to upgrade right now.

Sony 24-105 f/4 G

On my camera 90% of the time lately, this is a great all-around lens. I decided the extra reach to 105 was worth it for me over a faster aperture of a 24-70 f/2.8, especially since I have a handful of even faster primes for when the light gets really low.

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Sony 70-200 f/4 G

Such a fun lens to use in the mountains and even for some portraits in a pinch. Not quite long enough for a lot of wildlife shots, but for bigger animals or situations where I don’t need quite as much zoom, it’s a much sharper and generally better lens than the big Sigma below.

Sigma 150-600 C

+ MC-11 Adapter

This is an okay combination for the few times I do wildlife photography, but I probably wouldn’t buy it again. The autofocus is pretty garbage with anything fast-moving and in low light, but I’ve still gotten some nice shots with it. If I were to do it again, I’d probably ditch this and the 70-200 and get the Sony 100-400 GM with a 1.4x extender instead.

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Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art

A relatively new guy in my bag, this one has been a lot of fun to play with after the sun sets. The fast aperture combined with the camera’s stabilization and high ISO capabilities basically means I can shoot handheld in the dark. Heavy lens, but really, really sharp.

Samyang 35mm f/2.8 AF

Cheapest lens I own by far, but it’s tiny and does a surprisingly good job. I picked it up for experimenting with street photography, but have been surprised by how often I’ll throw it on for a lightweight walking-around lens in lots of settings.

Sony Zeiss 55mm f/1.8

Man, this is probably my favorite lens ever. It’s small, incredibly sharp, and produces stunning images. Fun for everything from street photography to portraits. Such a good focal length on a full-frame camera.

Peak Design 20L Everyday Backpack

This bag doesn’t quite fit all of my gear, but I’m usually not taking everything I own with me on a trip or a shoot. Not perfect, but it’s a well-designed bag that fits my needs most of the time.

There’s quite a bit more gear that I use occasionally, but most days just sits in my closet unused. My wide-angle 16-35 f/4 lens rarely gets used anymore as I’ve found I prefer other focal lengths with less distortion. I found my drone to be too much of a hassle too and they’re not allowed in many of the places I visit in the US and Canada in any case. While I do have a couple tripods (Manfrotto) and will use them occasionally, I’m finding that they’re really not needed for anything other than long-exposure shots with modern gear these days.

I should also note that while the latest and greatest camera gear is objectively better than older and cheaper stuff, it very quickly hits diminishing returns. After a certain threshold of gear quality the differences are pretty minuscule in all but the most demanding situations. If you're just starting out in photography, or are just on a tighter budget at the moment, my earlier post on a good comprehensive beginner kit for under $800 might be a better place to start.

GearBrian Lackey