Welcome to the first edition of a new feature here on CanPhoto.Net called CanPhoto Kits! This will be an ongoing series of articles where we take a look inside the camera bag of a Canadian photographer to see what kind of gear they’re using. Kenneth Armstrong is a freelance photographer currently based in Sault Ste Marie, and he has graciously offered to be the first Canuck photographer to tell us about the gear he’s using and why he uses it. Kenneth works as a stringer for Reuters and the Canadian Press, as well as daily newspapers such as the Toronto Star and Ottawa Citizen, and his work has appeared across Canada in a variety of newspapers and online news sources. He has also worked for NGO’s such as the Nelson Mandela Childrens Fund and La Reine Soleil Haitian Childrens charity.
Peeking into another photographer’s kit bag is one of my personal guilty pleasures and, as a working photographer, it’s only fair that I share mine. I want to thank Andrew for inviting me to do so because I’m not ashamed to admit that I am a gear-head at heart. Like any photographer my camera and lens choices have evolved over the years.
I did have a “no-gap” solution up until about 4 years ago that included a 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8 with a 50mm f/1.4 prime lens thrown in for good measure on a full-frame camera. With that setup, which is a very common one for a lot of photojournalists, I was ensured not to miss anything because I had everything covered from 24mm to 200mm. But I wanted something a little different.
Currently I have two main camera bodies, an original Canon 5D and a Canon 1D Mk III. This will probably be the last year for the 5D because it is really starting to show its age. I think a 5D Mk III is in my future to replace it.
My lenses are a Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L, a Canon 50mm f/1.8 II, a Canon 135mm f/2 L and a Canon 300mm f/2.8 L. I do miss having the 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom range but I like having the extra stop and shallow depth-of-field that the 135mm f/2 gives me. I also have a Canon 1.4x Tele-Converter that I will sometimes use with the 135mm and 300mm lenses if I need a little more reach.
I recently borrowed a 2x Tele-Converter from another photographer while on assignment and I think that is in my future as well. I think an 85mm f/1.8 lens would fill the gap between my 50mm and my 135mm lenses, though I have yet to push the button on that purchase.
I also carry the Fuji X100 camera, which offers an f/2 lens with a 35mm field of view. It’s a really nice camera and I have warmed up to it over the last year, despite some early misgivings. I try to bring it to most assignments if I have room.
It is a great camera to use at night because of the lack of digital noise on long exposures and depth-of-field scale in the viewfinder. I recently used it for an assignment shooting in Elliot Lake at about 5:00 AM.
My bag of choice right now is the Think Tank Retrospective 20. It will fit most of this gear if I carry one camera separately over my shoulder. It will even fit the 300mm f/2.8 if I reverse the hood and detach it from a camera body.
I carry a Metz 58-AF2 speedlight, which I use with the Cactus V5 wireless triggers. I also carry a motor drive cable that I can hook up to the triggers in case I want to set up one camera as a remote. In that case one Cactus would be on the hotshoe of my main camera and every time I press the shutter it will wirelessly trigger the second camera.
Rounding out the bag is a Blackrapid strap, earplugs, Honl Speed Grid, Speed Gobo and gels, various filters, VisibleDust sensor cleaning kit, Zeiss lens wipes, extra batteries, and a Pixel Pocket Rocket by Think Tank that carries all my extra CompactFlash cards.
Thanks again to Kenneth for being the first contributor to CanPhoto Kits. If you would like to be the next photographer featured here, please send us a message. We’d love to hear from you and see what kind of camera and lighting gear you’re using. Please feel free to post your questions or feedback in the comments section below as well.