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What’s in my camera bag?

Undoubtedly the question that I get asked the most is what camera equipment I carry with me when I go on an assignment. My first bit of advice is to only carry what you need. After all, who wants to walk around all day with an extra 10kg (20 lb.) on their back? But at the same time you don’t want to be caught short so, as always, planning carefully and creating a shot list before you travel can be invaluable.

Photographer at Aysgarth Falls in Yorkshire Dales

You should try and get together a basic set of equipment which will cover you for most situations. You can then add more specialized equipment depending on the nature of the shoot.

Here is what is in my camera bag:


My camera of choice is a Canon 5D MK II. It is a exceptional camera that won’t let you down, and stands up very well at high ISO settings. I usually carry an extra body with me, which I leave in my hotel room in the event that anything happens to my main camera. The last thing you need when you have limited time at a place, is to have to run around to try and find another camera so a spare could be essential.


Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 II USM zoom lens

The Canon 24-70 f/2.8 is my work horse and is what I use the majority of the time. The focal range means it is perfect for landscapes and is also a wonderful lens to take portraits with, as it means you have to get close to your subject. It is also fast enough to use in low light conditions, so it’s ideal for places such as markets.

 Canon  EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens

This is a wonderful telephoto lens which comes with a hefty price tag but is definitely worth the cost. Great for portraits and close-ups, the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 is also fantastic for landscapes in which you want to isolate a small section of the scene.

Abu Dhabi cityscape at night

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM – focal length: 100mm

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens

Someone once asked me if I could carry only one lens what would it be? My head would say my 24-70mm Canon lens but my heart would go for the 50mm f/1.2. The great thing about prime lenses like this is that, as a photographer, you have to move and get up close to what you are photographing. This becomes especially powerful when photographing people as it helps build a connection with your subject. It is also fast enough so that you can photograph in low light conditions without having to bump up your ISO too high.

Whats In My Camera Bag-Cappadocia-People

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM – exposure: ISO 640, 1/250 sec at f/2.0

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

For anyone interested in travel photography, one of the most important parts of a destination is the local food. Although not essential, macro lenses are great for photographing food as they allow you to get really close and pick up the beautiful details of what is on the dish. The Canon 100mm f2.8 IS is my macro lens of choice.

Whats In My Camera Bag-Food-Macro

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM – focal length: 100mm


One of the common misconceptions about flashes is that they should only be used in low light settings. However, they are extremely useful when you need some fill flash (for example: if you are taking a portrait of someone in intense light which is causing harsh shadows on their face, a flash can help minimize the shadows). For this reason I always carry my Canon Speedlite 580EX II flash with me.


A tripod is essential if you are planning any shots which require long shutter speeds. But a tripod is also what’s going to support all your expensive camera equipment, so choose it wisely. The Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 is a sturdy carbon fiber tripod which is lightweight to carry. I also use a Manfrotto 327RC2 light duty grip ball head to connect my camera to the tripod.


All of my lenses are fitted with a Hoya Pro 1 Digital UV filter. This helps protect the lens glass, especially in very harsh conditions such as the desert. I also carry a range of Cokin Neutral Desity filters and Graduated Neutral Density filters which are extremely useful for landscape photography.

Other bits

Memory cards, hard drives and laptop – I take enough memory cards with me so that I can cover each day I’m away on a separate card. I also take a few additional ones in case I need more than one in a day. However, at the end of each day I still back up my card on two separate 250GB hard drives so that all my photos from that day are saved in 3 different places.

Lens and camera cleaning kit, spare batteries and chargers – You should get into a habit of giving your camera and lenses a wipe at the end of each day and charge your batteries so everything is ready for the next day.

This is the basic set of equipment that I carry with me wherever I travel, and I add to it as I see fit. For example, architectural photographers might want to take a tilt and shift lens, or wildlife photographers a 400mm lens.  But remember try to only take what you are going to need.

Further reading on “What’s in your bag?”

What’s in your camera bag? Tell us in the comments below what is in your essential kit.

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Kav Dadfar
Kav Dadfar

is a professional travel photographer, writer and photo tour leader based in the UK. His images are represented by stock agencies such as 4Corners Images and Robert Harding World Imagery and they have been used by clients such as Condé Nast, National Geographic, Lonely Planet, and many others. Kav is also the co-founder of That Wild Idea, a company specializing in photography workshops and tours both in the UK and around the world. Find out more at That Wild Idea.