A Look Inside the Bag of a Hobby Photographer on a Budget

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We often get to see inside the bags of professional photographers. You know, the bag that we dream of having ourselves, filled with three full-frame bodies and six or more lenses with plenty of accessories to fill out every pocket the bag has to offer. Well, I’m not a pro – and today’s ‘inside the bag’ post might not be something to drool over, but it should give you an idea of what you can do on a reasonable budget if you’re planning to do some serious photography on the weekends.

Inside the bag of a hobby photographer on a budget

hobby photographer gear

As you can see from the photo, I have a fairly well rounded collection of lenses that let me capture anything from ultra-wide to super close. I wouldn’t consider anything inside this bag “pro-level”, but the collection is very capable and allows for a wide range of subjects.

My camera body for the last three years has been the trusty Nikon D7000. I highly recommend this camera, or its bigger brother the D7100, to anyone who’s interested in getting into photography seriously. While it’s not an FX (full-frame) body it does have a lot of pro-like features, is very capable in low light situations and being marketed at the enthusiastic hobbyist it’s fairly affordable as well.

As far as lenses go I use the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 most frequently, followed closely by the Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G. It really depends on the mood that I’m in but I tend to spend most of my time at the extremes of my focal length range. On occasion the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G and the  Nikon 18-105 3.5-5.6G, which came with the D7000, will be used for specific shots. The Nikon SB700 speedlight featured in the photograph above is rarely used and is probably my greatest regret in terms of purchases (not that it’s a bad flash, just that I don’t use it nearly as much as it deserves).

On top of the DSLR stuff I do carry two Olloclip adapters (the telephoto + circular polarizer and the 4-in-1 kit) for my iPhone along with a Gorillapod with an iPhone mount attached to it. Sometimes I just enjoy the simplicity and creativity that the iPhone allows.

Other little things not pictured above include a wireless remote shutter release, 77mm circular polarizing filter, and a 77mm Hoya ND filter.

To support the main camera I use the Manfrotto 190XPROB aluminum tripod with the basic Manfrotto ball head. It does the job I need it to do, and has served me well for three years, but I do want to upgrade to a carbon fiber tripod in the future for the added strength.

What bag holds it all and how’s it packed?

I manage to fit all of this into a Lowpro Slingshot 102 AW which when fully packed it’s bursting at the seams. The bag itself is designed to fit a camera body with a small lens attached, two smaller lenses on either side, and has a couple other storage compartments for extras like filters, charging cables and cleaning supplies.

I almost never pack my flash as it’s not typically something I use, but if I do pack it, the 18-105mm is usually the lens that gets left at home. Here’s a couple photographs to show you the bag fully packed.

hobbyistphotobag1

Main storage compartment from left to right: Tokina 11-16mm, Nikon D7000+18-105mm, 55-300mm.

hobbyistphoto3

Secondary compartment – 50mm, Olloclips, cleaning supplies and remote trigger.

hobbyistphoto2

All closed up and ready for a shoot with Gorillapod attached to the side.

The filters and other little things that I may need can fit in the front compartment and if I want to bring the Gorillapod along I can attach it to the side of the bag using the built in tripod holder (which doesn’t really work well for anything larger than a Gorillapod anyway.

What do I use this kit for?

Whether it’s waterfalls, seascapes or the night sky; the D7000 plus the Tokina, supported by the Manfrotto, works like a charm. While I primarily shoot landscapes, the 55-300mm lens comes in handy when I want to capture a shot of some wildlife or simply looking for a change in perspective. I’ve also done some cityscape photography, a few portraits and one wedding (read: The Story of Photographing my First Wedding also Likely my Last to find out why I won’t do that again.)

hobbyist-photo5

Hobbyistphoto4

All in all I think it’s a pretty well rounded kit for someone who spends his weekends hiking through forests taking photos. Obviously there’s a lot more that I could add to the collection, and I plan to do just that when I have more money to invest into it. Currently on my ‘next to buy’ list is a macro lens and then it might be time to upgrade the body.

So that’s my bag – what do you think about it and feel free to share your own in the comments below.

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John Davenport is the creator of PhoGro an online community that aims to help you grow your photography through engagement with other photographers. Join today! John also offers a free email course 6 Weeks to Better Photos. This course covers the most important techniques you need to learn when getting started with photography.

  • marty

    Thanks for the help i plan to get started right away. These last to articles that i have read are very helpful.

  • Roy

    Best Guidelines ever found on web about Fotografy

  • Now that is what I call a budget-friendly bag and gear. 🙂 Although the Tokina is still out of my budget, but I couldn’t care less cause I don’t really need that.

  • Sunischit Ray

    please discuss the weather-sealing features of nikon d7000,7100,7200. I mean, how powerful are these features (rainproof, waterproof, snow-proof etc) . thank you

  • Bad Bred

    I enjoyed the article. I often think is it my skill level that’s poor, or is it the camera? I tend to think better gear solves problems but this post makes me realize maybe it doesn’t.

  • mike winslow

    Next up, “What does a photographer carry in his wallet”. Anything from his auto registration to business cards from other photographers.. Certainly not cash. 😉

  • Andy Whiteman

    Great article – Made me feel very good about my stuff. I have a similar set up with the addition of my D300 which I love. D7000, 24mm, 50mm, 18-70mm Nikkors, 18-250mm Sigma, 10-20mm Sigma, 75-300mm Nikon, 28-85mm Nikon & SB600 (my biggest regret for the same reason). Currently use the Sigma 18-250 most because it gives me the coverage I need. Gives me everything I need to get the shots I want and a D7000 body, right now, has to be the best bang for your bucks, new or used, out there. Looked at perhaps moving to mirrorless with Fujifilm but the price of their lenses freaked me out. If I were starting up now it would be a used D7000 and 18-250 10-20 and a fast prime probably 20/24mm. Hope that helps.

  • Andy Whiteman

    Go for a used D7000 and some used Sigma lens 18-300mm and 10-20mm plus one fast prime (used) – you can buy on eBay or from a good dealer.

  • Clive

    Good post. Nice to see an average, amateur set up, rather than one where they have two Nikon d3’s as back up. Most people probably get buy with the kit lens, or upgrade to a better quality zoom, a few filters and leave it at that.

  • Clive

    Entry level cameras are okay for basic use, but once you want to experiment a bit with different shooting modes, metering patterns, setting aperture or shutter speed, etc, your self rather than the camera doing it, the slightly more advanced models make it a bit easier as on the cheaper models lots of stuff is buried in the menus.
    You can pic up a second hand Nikon D300 body for less than £200, a semi pro model, built like a tank and if you can use that you can use any camera.

  • Brett DrMorph WilliamShaw

    this is a really good post as i started small from a D3200 with it’s kit lens (18-105mm) 2 years ago and been steadily progressing with a nikon 55-300 lens bought 2 months after. now at this current time have a D7200 body, 18-200mm 3.5-5.6, 50mm 1.8D (FX lens equivalent to 75mm), Sigma 10-20mm 3.5 wide angle, Sigma 105mm 2.8 macro lens, Metz 52AF-1 and 64AF-1 flashguns, 52mm through to 72mm Variable ND Filters for all lenses and 2 Tripods (1 being a manfrotto)…and finally a Lowepro AW300 backpack to stuff it all into. i am far from being an professional… though i have 4 Wedding photo shoots over the course of my getting into photography… i would love to get into full frame but it is very expensive… my next camera kit will be downgrading to a mirrorless setup as it will be easier to carry and transport. especially overseas/ cruises etc. i am glad that i’m not the only amateur who carries around 3+ lenses and associated kit where ever i go.

  • Mario Oostendorp

    Great Write up, I Started with a D3000. I upgraded to the D7000 body. I use a Tamron 17-50 f2.8 non VC,have a 50mm 1.8g,60mm Micro a Yongnuo YN565EX Flash. Lowepro backpack and Manfroto Tripod and Monopod and still have the 55-200 kit Telephoto from the D30000 Image taken with 55-200 Kit Tele

  • DavidR8

    That’s pretty much my setup; D7000, Nikkor 12-24, 24-110, 35 and 50mm’s and and SB600 speedlight. All packed in the same bag!

    I bought everything used except for the 35 and 50 mm lenses.

  • Daniel M

    I can relate not having a budget. One camera one lens…boom

  • Ghuna Ganesan

    I have a nikon d7100 + tokina 11-20 , a nikon 35mm 1.8 prime and tamron 70-200 2.8 packed in a Lowepro 22l aw backpack.Just ordered a Benro IT 15 travel tripod.

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