Last updated 01/08/2010

It is always interesting to see what is in another photographers bag (whether they are a professional, enthuisast or a hobbyist) and this often leads to the question as to what should be in the bag.

The short answer…..whatever does the job!!!

I cannot start to look at what is in the bag before the bag itself, so please excuse this short diversion whilst we look at bags in general. There are a number of manufacturers that make camera bags: Lowepro – my personal preference, Kata, Tamrac, ThinkTank. Each of these manufacturers make a large variety of models that can be grouped into three categories: backpacks, shoulder bags/slings and beltpacks each of these have their own inherent advantages and disadvantages and we all have our own preferences.

So lets look at what everyone will have in their bag, the camera. A camera forms the basis of the kit (I use Nikon, others use Canon, Olympus, Sony, Pentax….) and it is probably the component that most people take great care in purchasing. However it is this item that is most likely to be the transitional part of the kit in the bag.

After the camera we have accessories: lenses, flashes, cards, filters cleaning kits etc. Some people will carry a huge array of accessories whilst others will carry very little, so what is needed?

THE BASIC KIT – what everyone should carry

  • Camera + lens (usually a wide angle zoom, but superzooms – 18-200mm- are becoming popular)
  • Lens cleaning cloth
  • extra memory card/s
  • (OPTIONAL) Circular Polarizer filter

All of the above will fit into the small ‘snoot’ style shoulder bags. (I like the Lowepro Toploader series and the ThinkTank Digital Holster series)

THE BASIC PLUS KIT – when you can carry a little more

  • Camera + lens (usually a wide angle zoom)
  • Telephoto lens (usually 70-300mm or 55-200mm range)
  • (OPTIONAL) Prime Lens (50mm – great for portraits)
  • Lens cleaning cloth
  • extra memory card/s
  • (OPTIONAL) extra battery
  • (OPTIONAL) Circular Polarizer filter

This kit will fit nicely into a small shoulder bag or a small backpack. (I like the Lowepro Nova series shoulder bags or Fastpack and Flipside series backpacks).

THE KITCHEN SINK – when you carry everything including….

  • Camera + lens (wide angle zoom)
  • 2nd Camera + lens (telephoto zoom)
  • Prime lens/es (50mm, 85mm…)
  • Macro (Micro) lens
  • Flashes
  • Circular Polarizer filter
  • Neutral Density filters
  • Cleaning kit (Air rocket, lens cloth/tissues, lens fluid)
  • extra memory cards
  • extra batteries

This is when a good shoulder bag or backpack is needed. (I like the Lowepro Vertex series backpack and the Lowepro Magnum AW series shoulder bags).

What is in my kit bag…


Thom Hogan has a few good articles on lens choices (for Nikon users here, here and here) and bags.