While my backpack is always changing, the stuff inside is pretty constant. Here’s what you’ll find me carrying around with me almost all the time:
Canon R5 – This is my go-to camera for hybrid purposes. The video is fantastic, with full frame 4K as well as the ridiculous ability to slow things down with 60 and 120 fps video. I updated from the original R for the better dynamic range, better weather sealing, full frame 4K video, and nearly perfect still image quality. So now, when I go out with just one camera body on a hike and leave the heavy 5DSR and full kit at home, I can meet all my video and photography needs with just this body and a single lens.
Canon 5DSR – While more of my specialty camera body dedicated to landscape photography, with it’s unfiltered, 50.6 megapixel sensor, it tends to be the camera body I’ll grab when a scene is static and likely to be a final portfolio image. It takes more time to create a careful, deliberate composition for a clean final image, but the exceptional detail is more than worth it! I absolutely love this camera despite the limitations and extra work it demands.
Canon 11-24mm f/4L – Holy Wide field of view! I cannot believe how much more of the scene this heavy chunk is able to squeeze into the frame. I never thought I would need something wider than my 16-35mm, but I must admit that this lens will help drive some really unique images that really set apart my photography. There’s truly nothing else like it on the market, and my test shots show it is super, super sharp. I’m excited to get this guy out while on some trips soon! With how heavy it is though (about on par with my 85mm 1.4L IS), I doubt this will be used on really long backpacking hikes. I’m sure I’ll take it along most of the time.
Canon 16-35mm f/4L IS – An exceptionally sharp, lightweight wide angle lens. The IS is incredibly useful for blue hour photos and video work if hand holding, and the clarity can be even better than the workhorse 24-70mm 2.8L II. If keeping weight down is important on a long hike, I’ll pack just this and the 70-200mm f/4L II.
Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II – The standard workhorse lens that I usually grab 70% of the time. It’s tough, remarkably sharp, and so versatile with the wide angle to short telephoto view. If I could only take one lens out for the day, this is likely to be my first choice.
Canon 35mm f/2 IS – A standard video work lens that I use on my Canon R5 for filming and also a great lightweight walkaround lens. The IS and focusing is a bit noisy so I do have to be careful when filming, but it is so lightweight and sharp that it more than makes up for this drawback. It’s also my top option for hiking when weight savings is paramount. If even my standard “two zoom” duo is too heavy, I’ll take just this lens on my Canon R5 with a water bottle for those long, grueling hikes.
Canon 35mm f/1.4L II – One of my favorite lenses for video work due to the exceptional clarity and low light ability with the huge aperture. It will be a top option for portrait work (more to come in 2021), when weather sealing is needed for video work, and for when image sharpness & detail capture paired with the 5DSR are the highest priorities.
Canon 50mm f/1.8 – This was the first non-kit lens I’ve ever purchased from many years ago. The low cost/financial risk and solid sharpness make this a great lightweight hiking option for when the trail may be rough or weight savings is critical. It will usually stay in the bag though for other options, especially so when poor weather might happen due to the lack of any weather sealing.
Canon 85mm f/1.4L IS – This lens was a deliberate investment in portrait and video work. The ability to create separation for in field videos creates a dramatic effect that cannot be replicated by other lenses. The lens is superbly sharp and weather sealed, and it has a huge max aperture, making it an ideal video and portrait lens, as well as an option to bundle with the 35mm f/1.4L II and the 5DSR when chasing the pinnacle in image quality.
Canon 85mm f/1.2L II – I came very close to selling this lens to fund the purchase of the 1.4L IS prime version, but I just couldn’t bring myself to go through with parting ways. The sale likely would have not even covered the entire purchase, and there is something to be said about the magical rendering delivered with a f/1.2 aperture and the ethereally rendered final images. It’s entirely different from the 1.4L and is legendary for a reason. For now I’ll hold on to this one for studio portrait work even though for the purposes of this site, it won’t see much use.
Canon 135mm f/2 – This lens is sort of the same story as the 85mm 1.2L. It’s supremely sharp and has very unique rendering thanks to the f/2 aperture, however it’s not weather sealed and a bit niche for landscape work. I’m sure it’ll be used for portrait clients, but not as much for landscape work. I do think it’ll get used somewhat more often than the 85 f/1.2 though.
Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS II – This is one of the best zooms I’ve ever owned. I briefly thought about selling it to fund the 100-400L, but they are materially different enough that there is a place in my bag for both. On any given hike, I’ll choose either this or the 100-400 depending on weight savings concerns or reach needs. When I’m looking for a lightweight kit, I’ll choose this zoom, the 16-35mm f/4L, and the R and call it a day with ~85% of potential photographic needs met.
Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II – Oh man, where to start. This lens is INSANE. It is so sharp, and so versatile, that if I could only pick one zoom it might be this. I could easily have a bag of the 35mm 1.4L II, 85mm 1.4L IS, and this zoom and never need another lens because all three are so stellar. The only time this one stays at home is when I need to save weight and choose to go with the 70-200 f/4L instead. Otherwise this lens is superior in every way.
DJI Mini 2 – For years I’d never been a big fan of drones, but after DJI introduced a small, 4K-capable drone that weighed about as much as an apple and fit easily in my bag, I decided to take the plunge and add some aerial high definition abilities to my YouTube video work. I will also certainly introduce aerial photography as I learn more about photographing from the sky!