What’s In My Camera Bag – 2022 Edition

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The calendar has rolled over once more, so it’s time for another update on the gear that I’m using for my photography business. This has been a year of additions for me, as I continue to build my Sony kit after a switch from Canon back in 2020. Nothing has been removed from my bag in 2021, but you will find a new camera, a few new lenses and some tweaks to my accessories.

Cameras

Sony a1

The Sony Alpha 1 continues to be my primary camera – sometimes paired with the VG-C4EM battery grip. 50MP images at 30fps and 8K video recording boggles my mind. I still have no clue how they managed to pack all of this into a regular-sized Sony camera body, especially when you consider that it also contains a full-sized HDMI port and an ethernet port. As for the a1 autofocus system, sometimes it feels like you are cheating! The Sony Alpha 1 is a tour de force in camera making. It is by far the best camera I have ever used. If it wasn’t so darn expensive I would have two of them.

Sony a1 Price Check:


Sony a7 IV

The long-awaited Sony a7 IV has been added to my bag for 2022. Though this is a lesser camera than my Sony a1, I cannot afford to have a pair of a1s because they are nearly three times the price of an a7 IV! For this reason, the a7 IV will be acting as my backup camera or second body on 2-camera shoots. The 33MP sensor provides plenty of resolution for my regular work, and the autofocus system is a vast improvement over the previous a7 III. Throw in 10fps continuous shooting, and you have a camera that will accomplish the needs of most photographers.

Last year, some of the backup camera duties were performed by my old Sony a9 II. While this is still a fantastic camera, I found it tricky to jump back and forth between it and the Sony a1 due to the different menu systems. By switching to the a7 IV and selling my a9 II, I now have a stable of three camera bodies that all use the newer, more straightforward style of Sony menu systems.

Sony a7IV Price Check:


Sony a7S III

Since it was first launched, the a7S III has worked well as my “blogging camera”. I used it for all of my YouTube videos and all of the product photos in reviews on this site. The 12MP sensor produces images with a resolution of 4240x2832px – more than enough for online use on this website.

I have also used this camera as a second body while shooting astrophotography images, including Northern Lights photos, time-lapses and star trails. The low light quality of the relatively low-resolution sensor is exceptional and works particularly well for 4k time-lapses at night. 12MP images from this camera have been purchased for commercial tourism usage on a few occasions. In that case, I use Topaz Gigapixel AI to interpolate the images to a larger 24MP size. The software does a great job with this task, particularly when it is fed the low-noise, highly detailed RAW files from the a7S III.

Now that the a7 IV has joined my collection, I suspect the a7S III will see a little less usage. This camera will continue to be my blog content creation tool, but the higher resolution a7 IV will take its place as a backup camera in my pack while I’m away from home.

The a7S III will still be my go-to tool, paired with my Atomos Ninja V to capture 4K RAW footage for video-specific jobs. For a time, I thought about replacing this camera with the newer Sony FX3 – basically an a7S III in a different body – but decided against it due to the lack of EVF on the FX3. If I were only going to use the camera for video, the form factor of the FX3 would make sense, but since I still want to use my a7S III to shoot the review photos for this site, I value that EVF. Picture and video specifications are identical between the a7S III and the FX3.

Sony a7S III Price Check:


Lenses

Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM II

When I first switched from Canon to Sony, I wasn’t impressed with the original 70-200mm lens. After all, it was one of Sony’s first mirrorless lenses, and it was showing its age. I opted to skip it for a time, knowing that a GM II version of the lens must be around the corner. At the end of 2021, it arrived.

Sony did everything right with this lens. They kept the internal zoom architecture but somehow managed to shave 1/3rd of the weight off the original, making it even lighter than Canon’s telescopic RF 70-200mm. Most importantly, they added the XD Linear Focus Motors that make such a vast difference to focus speed. Paired with the 1.4x Extender, it also delivers an excellent 280mm f/4 lens that can focus faster than the 100-400mm GM, somewhat making up for the lack of a 300mm lens in the Sony lineup.

Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 GM II Price Check:


Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II

The original Sony 24-70 GM lens was not all that impressive, and I never bothered to buy it, instead choosing to use the much cheaper Tamron 28-75mm lenses. Although I like those lenses, and the G2 version is of excellent value, for me, they were simply a stopgap until Sony launched a new version of their lens. When that time came in 2022, it was a no-brainer for me to buy the new 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II lens.

A 24-70mm lens has always been a real workhorse for me. The wide end is wide enough for landscape photography, and the long end is perfect for portraiture. As a complete package, this lens can get much work done. If ever I’m in a situation where I can only carry a single lens, you can be sure I’m choosing a 24-70mm. With this new GM II lens, Sony has created the lightest lens of its type on the market, along with outstanding image quality.

Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II Price Check:


Sony 14mm f/1.8 GM

Last year, I used the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 ART, but I replaced the Sigma when Sony launched this GM version. The Sony 14mm f/1.8 GM is smaller, lighter and sharper than the Sigma lens while remaining the same price. The bulbous front element makes filtering the lens tricky for landscape photography, though I have sourced some filter holders that I’ll be testing this year. That said, this lens is most often used at night for northern lights and astrophotography when filters are not needed.

Sony 14mm f/1.8 GM Price Check:


Sony 20mm f/1.8 G

I’ll always call the Sony 20mm f/1.8 G the “Hidden G-Master”. This lens bears the G moniker instead of GM, but I have never figured out why. It’s just as sharp as the 24mm GM and produces much better sun stars for landscape photography. I have also come to love the 20mm focal length for landscapes. Too often used to use a 16-35mm lens and whack it out at 16mm. Pulling things back to 20mm removes distortion and delivers a lovely frame with a touch more compression. This lens is one of the great bargains of the Sony lineup!

Sony 20mm f/1.8 G Price Check:


Sony 24mm f/1.4 GM

The Sony 24mm f/1.4 GM is an excellent lens for aurora photography and general astrophotography. For an f/1.4 lens, it is tiny and light, making it easy to put in my bag even when I’m not sure if I’ll use it. I prefer the wider 20mm prime lens for landscape photography, but alongside the 14mm GM, this 24mm GM is a must-have for those who like to shoot at night.

Sony 24mm f/1.4 GM Price Check:


Sony 35mm f/1.4 GM

The Sony 35mm f/1.4 GM is probably my favourite lens. It is incredibly sharp wide open, and the bokeh roll-off is to die for. I have always been a bigger fan of the 35mm focal length than 50mm, so this 35mm GM makes a tremendous walk-around fast prime for me.

This is the first lens I have ever used where I can genuinely say that there is something extraordinary about the rendering of the OOF backgrounds. It produces a smooth, three-dimensional look that is hard to describe and ignore once you examine the images. Given both the quality and its small size compared to similar lenses from other brands, I think this is probably the best 35mm lens in the world right now.

Price Check:


Tamron 28-70mm f/2.8 G2

I love the original version of the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 for Sony cameras, so it was a no-brainer to add the updated “G2” version to my bag in 2021 as soon as it hit the shelves. The previous version was roughly comparable to the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM; this new G2 lens is much sharper. Tamron improved image sharpness and focus speed; they also added a customizable button and a USB-C port for firmware updates and feature additions. The first version of this lens was excellent; this second version is fantastic.

I used this lens for about six months before buying Sony’s new 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II. The Sony lens now lives in my camera bag, while this Tamron lens is used in my studio for all the products shots that are needed for reviews on this site.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 G2 Price Check:


Tamron 28-70mm f/2.8

Having purchased the newer, sharper G2 version of this lens, I was on the fence about what to do with the original version. For now, I’m keeping it, although it stays in my tiny studio and is only used for video purposes on the a7S III.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Price Check:


Sony 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G

A handful of Sony lenses are so good that they are worth considering a switch from another brand. The 200-600mm G lens is one of them. I can’t think of a better wildlife photography lens for most people. The fact that this lens is under $2000 blows my mind. I would have been happy to pay twice that price. It’s fast, sharp, and easily hand-holdable for hours. For wildlife, I much prefer this lens over the ageing Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM.

Sony 200-600mm G Price Check:


Sony Teleconverters

In 2021 the only lens I owned that was compatible with the Sony teleconverters was the 200-600mm G zoom. This year I added the new 70-200mm f/2.8 GM II lens to my kit, so now I have a few more reasons to put these to use. With its wide f/2.8 aperture, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that these actually work better on the 70-200mm than the 200-600mm. This gives me a 98-280mm f/4 lens, and a 140-400mm f/5.6.

As usual, image degradation is more severe with the 2x, so I’ll not likely use it very often. But the 1.4x on the new 70-200 GM II is a powerful combination that’s proving to be excellent for long lens landscape work.

Sony 1.4x Teleconverter Price Check:

Sony 2x Teleconverter Price Check:


Tripods

Really Right Stuff TFC-24L MK2

The RRS TFC-24L MK2 is still the best tripod in the RRS tripod lineup, and thus the best tripod in the world as far as I’m concerned. It has incredible height when I need it, and it’ll easily support my gear while remaining light enough for hours of carrying.

RRS TFC-24L MK2 Price Check:


Really Right Stuff Ascend 14L

A close second to the TVC-24L is the new Ascend 14L tripod. This tripod is incredibly light and includes a built-in head with a panning clamp. When I need to carry a second tripod, I will always choose a more lightweight tripod for the b-cam. The Ascend 14L fits the bill. This is also the tripod I choose when I know I’ll be hiking for long distances.

RRS Ascend-14L Price Check:


Peak Design Travel Tripod

I first purchased the Peak Design Travel Tripod to complete my extensive review. Despite having a couple of great RRS tripods in my gear closet, I haven’t been able to part with the Peak Design tripod. I love how compact this tripod is, and if I ever need to hike a long distance with two tripods, it pairs nicely with the RRS Ascend-14.

If you are thinking of buying this tripod, I urge you to read my review. This is an excellent tripod for some people but not suitable for everyone. Many hyperboles have been used by others to describe it, and some are nonsense. Read my review and get the truth.

Travel Tripod Price Check:


Tripod Heads

Acratech GXP

In 2021 I tested a lot of ball heads for an upcoming gear guide, but my go-to solution is still the incredible GXP ball head from Acratech. It had some tough competition this year from the new Gitzo Series 4 Center Ball Head and ProMediaGear BH50, but in the end, it was the amazing capacity-to-weight ratio of the GXP that won me over, just as it did in my review.

Price Check:


ProMediaGear Katana Jr. Gimbal

No change here either. The Katana Jr. gimbal from ProMediaGear is still the best gimbal head on the market. Other companies have started to copy the design, but you should not buy the fakes! If you like a splash of colour, PMG did just launch a green version!

ProMediaGear Katana Jr Price Check:


Filters

Breakthrough Photography X4 CPL

A good CPL filter should be in every photographer’s bag. The Breakthrough Photography X4 CPL is the most colour neutral one I have found on the market. Check out these before/after animations if you are not sure why you need this filter in your bag.

Breakthrough Photography X4 Dark CPL

The Dark CPL combines a 6-stop ND filter with a CPL filter. They are mainly used for smoothing out water in landscape photos.

Breakthrough Photography X4 GND Filters

Unsurprisingly, I also rely on Breakthrough Photography’s amazingly colour neutral filters to satisfy my needs in the GND department. These filters help me balance landscape scenes that include dark and light areas. I carry a 2-stop soft ND, a 3-stop hard ND and a 3-stop reverse ND.

MindShift Filter Hive

After creating my guide to the best photography filter cases, I now have a large selection in my closet. Still, the MindShift Filter Hive remains my favourite solution. No other filter case combines 100mm filter storage so will with circular filter storage.


Camera Bags

Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter 18L

When my lens needs don’t exceed anything longer than a 70-200mm or 100-400mm, the Kiboko City backpack is my go-to. Don’t let the word “City” in the product name influence how you might use it. This bag is still part of Gura Gear’s Kiboko lineup, which means it is built with ultra-tough X-Pac material and designed to be a comfortable camera bag for nature photographers.

The fundamental difference between this and the standard Kiboko packs is the addition of a quick-access roll-top compartment, a side access hatch, a rear panel opening, and a greater capacity to EDC carry tech items such as a 16″ laptop and tablets up to iPad Pro size. It also includes travel-specific features, including an RFID-shielded passport pocket and a hidden Apple AirTag pocket. Overall, this is a fantastic product and, for most photographers, the best camera bag on the market right now. My review has all the details.

Gura Gear Kiboko 30L

The butterfly-style opening of the Gura Gear Kiboko backpacks is designed to work perfectly with super-telephoto lenses. This design is unique in the camera bag world, so I keep the 30L version in my gear cupboard. The Kiboko also has what I call extreme capacity efficiency for travel. 30L might not sound like much compared to other backpacks, yet here is a bag that will hold both a 600mm f/4 and a 400mm f/2.8, with two camera bodies, and still fit easily within carry-on limits for air travel. No space is wasted, making it a perfect travel companion.

Gura Gear Kiboko 30L 2.0 Price Check:


Shimoda Designs Explore V2 25L

Shimoda Designs launched the Explore V2 series in 2021. I tested two different sizes for my review and came away with a particular fondness for the 25L version. Often when you select a smaller backpack, you are also forced to pick from brands making lesser quality bags. The Explore 25 V2 bucks that trend.

This is a perfect travel photography bag for people with a more petite frame or who just want something that doesn’t feel bulky while moving through their travel day. It also makes a great EDC city bag that can double up as an adventure photography pack on the weekends.

Shimoda Explore V2 25 Price Check:

Shimoda Designs has offered Shutter Muse readers a 10% discount on anything purchased in their online store. Simply use the discount code ShutterMuse10 after clicking here to access the store.


Shimoda Designs Action X70

At 70+ litres, the Shimoda Action X70 is one of the largest photography backpacks on the market. Too big for everyday usage, but perfect when I want to carry a lot of additional non-photographic equipment for a specific adventure. If I want to have my underwater camera gear with diving equipment, this is the bag I choose. If I want to carry overnight camping gear with some camera gear, the X70 gets the nod.

Shimoda Action X70 Price Check:

Shimoda Designs has offered Shutter Muse readers a 10% discount on anything purchased in their online store. Simply use the discount code ShutterMuse10 after clicking here to access the store.


MindShift BackLite Elite 45L

The BackLight 45L is an excellent mid-sized outdoor photo pack built with premium materials. Although I’m lucky enough to have a closet full of bags that I use for specialist purposes, the BackLight is a fantastic middle-ground that would suit most adventurous photographers as a “one bag for all” solution. Read the BackLight 45 review for some insights into the design of this bag.

MindShift BackLight Elite Price Check:

US Customers get a free gift when they spend over $50 in the Think Tank/MindShift online store after clicking this link. For more details, or if you have any issues, see this post.


Pelican 1626 AIR

While researching a new guide to the best Pelican cases for photographers, I ended up adding a Pelican 1626 AIR case to my collection. This case is large enough to hold an entire 70L photo backpack while remaining within airline check-in baggage dimensional restrictions.

Pelican 1626 AIR Price Check:


Pelican 1535 AIR

Sometimes I need a carry-on sized hard case for my gear. The Pelican 1535 AIR was added to the kit this year for this purpose.

Pelican 1535 AIR Price Check:


Camera Strap

Peak Design Slide Lite

The Peak Design Slide Lite remains my favourite camera strap for its low weight and easily foldable design. Nothing much has changed here, although they did launch the strap in a gorgeous new green colour this year and a smart-looking deep blue.

Slide Lite Price Check:


Photo of author

Dan Carr

Professional photographer based in Yukon, Canada, and founder of Shutter Muse. His editorial work has been featured in publications all over the world, and his commercial clients include brands such as Nike, Apple, Adobe and Red Bull.

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19 thoughts on “What’s In My Camera Bag – 2022 Edition”

  1. Ok, you converted from Canon to Sony…. Why???
    Did you dump all your canon gear??
    I’m looking for a 600mm canon lens. πŸ™‚
    So you’re such a nice guy, I will give you my address and you can send it to me.
    I” even pay the postage. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Reply
  2. To much Gear – Pro or Advanced Amateur. I am into Photography since age 8. And I had some of the best gear in the world including Leica, Rollie TLR, some 13 Lenses – blah blah. On my world travels I carry a DSLR with 2 or 3 Zoom Lenses. Do note my Zooms are brutally sharp, as I will go on buying one till I find my Keeper. Flash Guns, a Travel Tripod with a ball Head that has 4-Thumb Screws. CPL + GND Filter Kit, a Cleaning Kit, SD Cards, Tiny Remote for the camera, Batteries. My Backup Camera is a Canon P&S and of course my Smart Phone. I am covered from 10 to 300 mm with my (3) Zooms. I am not into Birding or World Life so don’t need Bazooka Lenses.

    Reply
    • Too much gear for you? Maybe. Everyone has different needs. This is not, and never was a list of things I’m telling you to buy. It’s simply β€œwhat’s in MY bag”. Everything I have on this list gets used and has a purpose that I have explained.

      Reply
  3. Dan wondered if you could help? I have the A1 and new 70-200GM MKII combo, and noticed a very audible click with each focus aquisition when shooting stills in self timer mode. That said, camera was in AF-C AF mode. When I turn off the self timer the lens is completely silent . Is this normal? Would you be kind enough to test your copy? Thank you!

    Reply
    • I can’t recreate this noise with mine. Note that self-timer mode automatically switches the camera to AF-S even if the dial is set to AF-C.

      Reply
      • Dan -upon further testing this audible focus noise seems to be the lens diaphragm when the camera/lens combo hunts in low light (very low contrast area). I can duplicate the issue easily when focus hunts – otherwise the lens is dead silent and accurate. I believe this is normal… and my initial assessment was incorrect. The issue also occurs when not using self timer mode. The lens focus becomes audible when focus hunting only – so i do not expect this to be an issue. Please let me know if you have a moment to try duplicating (i used a black object in low light to focus my camera on – where the issue becomes easily repeatable) Thank You Dan!

        Reply
  4. Hello Dan – I also made the switch from Canon to Sony about 2 – 3 years ago. One thing that bothers me is the lack of long prime lenses at a lower cost than the 400 and 600 that Sony offers. I shoot college football in the US (not paid – mostly just for fun). With Canon b/c they’ve gone to multiple versions of these long lenses, used ones can be had much cheaper.

    Based on your posts, you’ve made the switch from the 200-400 Canon lens (not a prime but close enough) to the 200-600 Sony lens. You’ve indicated elsewhere that the Sony is not as sharp as the Canon (not surprising given the $), that the Canon is better wide open and that the larger aperture of the Canon is needed at times.

    I guess my question is – do you still miss the 200-400 when you take out the 200-600? I love the savings ($2k vs right now about $6k used) and I love my A9 over what’s available for Canon right now. But I still think about picking up an R6 and the Canon 200-400 or used 400 2.8 ii and saving some considerable cash vs a Sony 400 2.8 which I think would be necessary to get professional looking shots.

    Do you have any thoughts on this? I’m weighing this pretty significantly right now. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi pab. Good questions!

      You’re right, I currently use the 200-600 in place of my Canon 200-400. This was mainly a financial decision because when I switched systems I could not immediately afford the Sony 600mm. I had expected to use the 200-600 for only 6 months or so because I did not think it would be quite good enough as a replacement, but now I have used it for two years!

      I started to get used to it. And became more impressed with it when used with the a1. I have ordered a 600mm f/4, but the wait list for this lens is potentially 12 months right now with the current global shortages. The good news is that I do not mind so much.

      Regarding sharpness, the Canon was a bit sharper (a tiny bit, maybe 1-2%) when used as 200-400. When you engage the extender in the 200-400, to make it up to 560mm, I actually think the Sony 200-600 is sharper in the 500-600mm range.

      I agree with you that Sony is lacking some telephoto options. The big hole in the lineup is a 300mm f/2.8, but I suspect that even if this came to market soon, it would be too expensive for your needs. What Canon has, as you say, is lots of great cheaper older lenses.

      Anyways, all that said, I don’t really think it would be worth buying an R6 and going down that route. The 200-600mm lens is fantastic, and these days I do not miss the 200-400.

      Reply
      • Thanks Dan for your reply. Sorry for not acknowledging it sooner but I didn’t get any email about it.
        As an FYI I decided to get the R6 and the Canon 400 F4. I’m still using Sony for practically all other stuff but this to me was the most practical way to get what I wanted with less output in cash. Bought the R6 refurbished from Canon and the Canon 400 F4 used.
        While it is not a light lens, so far I find it actually not too bad to handhold. I found the 200-600 awkward to handhold for some reason.
        Time will tell while shooting a college football game if this still holds up. So far I am extremely impressed with the sharpness and the quickness in AF. About as quick as the A9 without doing an actual comparison. It will be interesting switching between camera bodies during the game but I’ll prepare for that. One thing I’m not impressed with is the rolling shutter, but I knew that was a possibility prior to going with the R6 and that 12 fps mechanical would be plenty fast enough.
        Thanks for taking the time for your reply.

        Reply
        • You’re welcome. The 400mm f/4 is a wonderful lens. It was probably my most-used telephoto lens when I was a full-time Canon DSLR user. I miss that lens! Canon knows how to make big telephoto lenses, that’s for sure!

          Reply
    • I would recommend the a7 IV. It offers nearly identical ISO performance to the a7S III but a much higher resolution. If you were to normalize the a7 IV file resolution to the a7S III, downsampling them, you would eclipse the ISO performance of the a7S III. The a1 is very similar too, but about twice the price. There is no point in buying an a1 for astrophotography because you are paying for the crazy speed of the a1 but not making use of it. The a7 IV is a fantastic astrophotography camera. Going forwards, the a7S III will only be used for video work.

      Reply
  5. Hi Dan,

    which L bracket you using there?

    i have A1 as well and trying to understand which l bracket i should get

    many thanks in advance

    Reply

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