We told you how we keep our camera kit safe on the hill, but what do we class as an essential bit of kit for our camera bag when we’re out on the mountains? Not your bag of course, as it depends on your own style of photography, pet lenses and budget.
Here’s what we’ve usually got tucked away in our pack, though we’ve just transitionined from cropped sensor lenses to ones more suited to full frame.
1 – Camera! Obviously… We won’t get into the ins and outs of Canon/Nikon, Mirorrless, 3/4 and whether full frame is a waste of money or not! Some of the newer mirorrless cameras have the capabilities of a DSLR in a body that’s comparable to a compact. We carry a Canon EOS 6D – which has only just replaced our 600D. It may be heavy, but once you’ve paid that sort of cash for serious kit, it’s criminal not to carry it on every trip.
2 – Ultra Wide Angle Lens. The Tokina 11-16mm hasn’t left my camera since buying it! This was my essential lens, unless I’ve got review shots to take. However, it’s not ideal on the full frame and has been replaced by an equally fast 14mm Rokinon/Samyang (shown on the 6D above) that’s meant to be the mutt’s nuts for nightscapes and landscapes, if only we’d get some clear weather to try it out. Or a nice 6.5mm fisheye like the Opteka below, does the job on a cropped sensor.
3 – Multi purpose Zoom – the one lens you’ll take when you’re only taking one. You can get travel zooms that go from wide to zoom (such as the Sigma 18-250mm) which are ideal when weight is at an absolute premium. We’re using the Canon 24-105 USM which is a nifty bit of glass and the 24mm will be wide enough for most people.
4 – Spare Batteries!
5 – Gorillapod – this seems to be too handy not to take on every trip! The proper tripod head adds weight, but essential for framing that shot.
6 – Lens Cloth. Weighs nothing, helps pad things out in the lens pouches and avoids introducing the temptation to polish the lens with your shirt corner.
7 – Sony Xperia z – As it’s out in all weathers, waterproof and used to take ‘snaps’ when it’s not suitable to use the DSLR. I may replace this with decent compact by Olympus, but the only advantage that brings is the impressive 24x zoom.
The following may or may not be included, depending on the conditions.
8 – Macro Tubes – If we’re likely to see some wildlife, we’ll take some of these with us in order to focus on those bugs and plants.
8a – My 40mm Canon Pancake lens – As it’s a quality macro lens when used with the tubes. Not essential perhaps, but if you lack a multi purpose zoom, it’s good to have a choice of another lens to turn to. I like this for product review shots.
9 – ND Filter – For blurring the waters. This is the only filter that’s anywhere near essential, most other effects can be done in post processing. A variable ND for high contrast scenes is also useful for serious landscape photographers.
10 – Tripod – I only take this at night, if I’m taking the ND Filter or it’s looking promising for a decent sunset.
The most notable absentee is a fully blown telephoto lens, which invariably stays at home for us, but would be essential if you’re into your nature photography. Likewise, the ultra wide landscape lens may stay at home and the bottom end of your multi-purpose zoom may well suffice. Spare memory cards aren’t carried either as 64 gigs is more than sufficient for most trips.