WHAT'S IN THE BAG?

On this page you'll find an inventory of the equipment I currently own and utilize on a regular basis. I've used a variety of gear over the years (click here to learn more) and created this page as an insight for photographers into what I bring along for both my professional assignment work and my personal work. Note: there really are no poor camera systems today and one can truly make amazing images with any of them. Find the gear that works optimally for your particular use case and stick with it. Remember, the camera doesn't feel, nor can it see. Only the photographer can do that. As a general rule, I believe it's far better to familiarize oneself with one's existing system inside and out—so that it becomes an innate extension of one's vision—than make a wholesale switch to a new brand every two -to-four years. Manufacturers leap-frog each other continually, so any gains you might make in the short term, you may lose over the long term.

For reasons upon which I elaborate a bit more below, Nikon and Fujifilm remain my primary systems of choice; Nikon for the past three decades, and Fujifilm since 2011. Suffice to say I've chosen my kit because as a motion picture and television stills  photographer I need to feel confident my gear is capable of shooting in a wide variety of circumstances that are oftentimes physically challenging and taxing on equipment. After image fidelity and technical functionality, dependability is of paramount importance to me. Nikon, in particular, has decades of experience and a storied history delivering that.

This list goes through periodic modifications—over the past decade a conversion from Nikon DSLRs to a combination of Nikon and Fujifilm mirrorless cameras, for example—so specific items in my camera bag this month might not be there next month (though, once again, switches are piecemeal and typically involve an occasional upgrade here or there). Moreover, this isn't necessarily a complete inventory of my kit, nor does every piece of gear come along for each and every assignment. For example, the film cameras in my possession are absent. All are well-loved, but seldom used professionally nowadays; digital having long since supplanted analogue in my workflow.


CAMERAS AND LENSES


NIKON BODIES

For my money, the best full frame camera system on the market today, when all metrics are added together. Nikon's renowned build quality, ergonomics, and optical performance are offered here in spades, with the Z-Mount lenses in particular consistently ranking at or near the top of all full frame optics on the market...from any manufacturer. The system to reach for when you absolutely, positively have to bring home the shot, no matter the conditions or circumstances. I use Nikon primarily for unit stills work, but it's also my first choice for any sports, action and/or wildlife photography I may be required to do, especially when lighting conditions are at their most challenging. With the largest diameter bayonet mount, and shortest flange distance of any full frame mirrorless system, the Z bodies also pair seamlessly (via adaptor) with most of Nikon's legendary F-Mount lenses.


Nikon Z9

Nikon's first fully professional mirrorless camera, and a model that many pro photographers were anxiously awaiting. 45MP and arguably the most powerful full frame camera on the market as of 2022, when all features are taken in aggregate. Indispensable in my bag for its unique combination of durability, flexibility, ergonomics, speed, autofocus performance, resolution and overall image quality...under the widest array of challenging conditions.

Nikon Z8

The younger sibling to the Z9, the Nikon Z8 offers 90% of the core functionality of the Z9, in a smaller, lighter, more portable package. While the Z9 provides built-in GPS capability and dual CFExpress Type B cards, the Z8 eschews the in-built GPS functionality and uses a single CFExpress Type B slot, along with a secondary SD card slot. Meanwhile, for video shooters, the Z8 records 4K 60p video without interruption for approximately 125 minutes, and 8K 30p for 90 minutes, whereas the Z9 has no limits in 4K, and can record two hours in 8K.

Nikon D3s

A landmark DSLR from Nikon, introduced in 2009. "Old" by today's standards, it's a camera with a 12MP sensor that still produces beautiful tonality and impressive high ISO capabilities, while offering unsurpassed build quality and rugged durability (possibly higher than any other Nikon digital camera ever produced). Though largely retired, just like that venerable WWII battleship USS Missouri, it's a hall-of-famer that I'll still occasionally press back into service for certain duties.

Nikon Zf

Borrowing a page from the retro design aesthetic that has worked so well for Fujifilm over the past decade, the Nikon Zf is more than just a handsome shell that pulls on nostalgic heart strings, however. Using the excellent low light full frame sensor from the Z6II and combining it with the fast Expeed 7 processor from the Z9, the Zf improves on the Z6II's exceptional low light performance, but now couples it with enhanced operational speed, much quicker and more potent AF algorithms, and adds some world's first features as well, such as Focus Point Stabilization, which biases the in-body image stabilization system in favor of whatever focus point is selected. This camera is full frame retro done right and is perfect as a third backup body for my Nikon Z system, while also being an ideal choice as a full frame travel, street, and documentary tool.


NIKON LENSES

AF-S Nikkor 200mm f/2G ED VR II

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GOAT level lens, this optic is probably the finest 200mm lens ever produced and sometimes touted as the greatest F-Mount lens ever made by Nikon. Heralded for its magnificent rendering, it's ideal for concert and theatrical photography, as well as indoor sports and dramatic portraiture. For unit still photography, its extra stop of light over the 70-200 f/2.8 can, at times, be indispensable.

Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Breathtaking. That's the only way I can describe Nikon's latest 70-200 f/2.8 lens for the Z-Mount system. A staple in many a photographer's camera bag, I can confidently say that this new Z variant from Nikon is the sharpest zoom I have ever used, with nearly no CA and minimal distortion at either end of the zoom range.

Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Though not quite as spectacular a performer as the NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S lens, this latest 24-70mm f/2.8 lens from Nikon is still a very impressive optic, and frequently considered the benchmark in its category. Ideal for photojournalism and event work. And a mainstay of most unit still photographers.

AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Even though the AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED was first introduced in 2007, and has been eclipsed by the superior NIKKOR Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S, it's still a solid performer, giving up little to its newer brethren except in the corners. As the least used zoom in my bag, I didn't feel it necessary to upgrade to the Z variant, as this F-Mount lens still produces overall excellent image quality, even on the 45MP Z9. 

AF-S Nikkor 105mm f/1.4E ED

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Like the AF-S NIKKOR 200mm f/2G ED VR II above, Nikon's recent 105mm f/1.4 F-Mount lens produces beautiful imagery, with background bokeh that just melts away. For unit stills work, however, that fast maximum aperture makes it an ideal optic for mid- to-longer-range work.

AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D IF

⭐️⭐️⭐️

Once known as the "cream machine," this is a lens that realistically probably deserves three-and-a-half stars. Though optically surpassed by the G series (and Z-Mount f/1.8 version) that followed, it still provides a beautiful rendering, and remains a favorite portrait lens on my D3S. Manual focus on Z-Mount only, unfortunately, unless or until Nikon brings out an FTZ adaptor with a screw drive. Sample 1 / Sample 2 / Sample 3

Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.8 S

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Often compared favorably to the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 at about 1/8th the cost, this 50mm lens from Nikon is a standout performer in the normal lens category and the most optically "perfect" 50mm lens I've ever owned. It's not an exaggeration to say that this is probably the finest 50mm f/1.8 lens ever produced, and it punches well above its weight. Sample 1 / Sample 2 / Sample 3

Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I'd call this the best travel zoom lens on the market, for two reasons: 1) The versatility of the focal range; 2) The fact that it represents the very best optical rendition of this focal range yet produced, with image quality that very nearly comes within striking distance of the superb Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S. That's quite an achievement, and speaks to the advanced optical designs that the new, larger Z mount helps to enable.

 


FUJIFILM BODIES

Sporting both the world's first stacked APS-C sensor, and the world's first 40MP APS-C sensor, respectively, no other manufacturer today offers a truly compact camera system as universally capable or complete as Fujifilm's X-System. Characterized by the classic dials and switches of the bygone 35mm era, the X-System is also wonderfully light and compact compared to full frame systems, and features beautiful SOOC color science that is commonly lauded as among the best in the business. While the X-System is a fantastic choice for street, travel, and social documentary photography due to its small size and excellent image quality, I also occasionally deploy it for some of my unit stills work, particularly in daylight conditions where I need to maintain as unobtrusive a footprint on set as possible.


Fujifilm X-Pro2

The successor to Fujifilm’s innovative X-Pro1, the X-Pro2 dramatically improves upon the formula in every way, with an excellent 24mp APS-C sensor, faster processor, weather sealing, twin card slots, dedicated focusing joystick, and myriad other operational features and improvements. Yours truly was one of five X-Photographers™ in Canada selected to help launch the X-Pro2 in late 2015, and you can read more about my experiences with it here. Though it has since been usurped by the X-Pro3, it remains a highly capable camera today, ideal for street, travel and social documentary photography.


FUJIFILM LENSES

Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Fujinon XF 16mm F1.4 WR is one of the finest prime lenses I have ever had the pleasure to use, period. In the pantheon of XF Fujinon primes it is perhaps their very best (pre-2022) optic; certainly in the top two or three. Constructed out of metal, it is beautifully well-corrected right out of the box, has minimal distortion, provides some pretty serious background separation with pleasing out-of-focus areas, and offers a very close minimum focus distance of 15cm. Chromatic aberration is minimal, even wide open, with further correction offered in software. As one of Fujifilm's first prime lenses to utilize a clutch mechanism for manual focus, the XF 16mm F1.4 WR is nevertheless weather resistant (WR). At 375g it's a bit heavy for an APS-C prime lens, but that befits its excellent optical design of 13 elements in 11 groups (2 aspherical and 2 extra low dispersion elements) and fast maximum aperture. From landscapes to close-up work to social documentary photography, it's a versatile piece of glass that I can heartily recommend.


Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A bit more clinically well sorted, but perhaps less characterful lens than the XF35mm f/1.4 R, the XF35mm f/2 R WR is nevertheless a wonderful little optic in its own right, and for the money, one of the best 50mm equiv. focal length lenses on the market. Often dubbed in fan circles as a "Fujicron," due to its tiny, Summicron-esque profile, it nevertheless sports full weather resistance, high levels of sharpness, and fast autofocus (much faster than the Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R). On the downside—"downside" being relative here, as this is still a fine lens—resistance to distortion, vignetting and flare are only average, and the bokeh is less attractive than its 35mm f/1.4 older sibling. Most of that (other than the bokeh) is corrected in software, though, using what Fujifilm dubs Lens Modulation Optimization. Don't get too hung up on the term, as nearly every lens manufacturer supplies in-camera corrections for their optics these days. Sample 1 / Sample 2 / Sample 3


Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Originally launched in 2012 alongside the X-Pro1 and two other prime lenses—the XF 18mm f/2 R and the XF 60mm F2.4 R Macro—the XF 35mm f/1.4 R was widely heralded, less for its image quality, per se, than for the perhaps more subjective "quality" it brought to images. Which is not to say it isn't a solid optical performer. It is. But when we speak of a lens' more intangible characteristics (often referred to in the vernacular as "character"), well, this lens offers that in spades. What does that mean, exactly? Well, the rendering this lens provides can really only be described with adjectives such as: "beautiful," "organic" and "pleasing"...with lovely sharpness to out-of-focus transitions, and a very naturalistic tonal rendition. Autofocus is Fujifilm's XF gen one, so it's noisy and not the smoothest, and there is no weather sealing, but it works well enough and some light rain has never caused mine to skip a beat. Sample 1 / Sample 2 / Sample 3


Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Equivalent to an 85mm f/1.8 in full frame terms, the Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R is a gorgeous lens and one of the most cinematic optics I've ever shot with. For photographing people—its primary raison d'être—it offers beautiful separation with high sharpness straight across the human face (depending upon distance, of course), and pleasing out-of-focus areas in the immediate background, becoming ever softer as the distance increases. Skin tones are gorgeous with the 56mm. It's a wonderful lens to work with on set, because while it creates clear separation between the foreground and background such that your subject really pops, it doesn't soften the background to such as extent as to become unrecognizable. For cinematic stills, being able to recognize the context of your background, even while making your foreground subject pop out, is a definite asset for the storytelling process. There is almost no discernible distortion in this optic, though it will exhibit some CA when shooting wide open and pointing the lens at a strong light source. Overall, a wonderful lens. Sample 1 / Sample 2 / Sample 3


LEICA

Leica Q2

The iconic marque that made 35mm reportage photography a staple around the world in the mid-20th century, and has been closely associated with such photographic luminaries as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Gary Winogrand...and countless others. Sporting 47MP, the Leica Q2 produces stunningly beautiful image quality; an easy match for the Nikon Z9 and only bested by larger format cameras such as the Fujifilm GFX series. This is the compact camera to carry with you if you want the ultimate image quality possible...and you favor the 28mm focal length. It also offers the added benefit of 3 stops of optical image stabilization.


LIGHTING


STROBES AND SPEEDLIGHTS

Profoto B10X Plus OCF Flash Duo Kit

My go-to lights for more heavy-duty environmental portraiture and studio gallery work. Two simple, elegant and powerful 500Ws lights with recycling times of only 0.05 to 2.2 seconds at full power over a 10-stop power range. TTL and High-Speed Sync capable, with an LED modeling lamp. Variable color temperature from 3000 to 6500K, with a high CRI of 90-96 for accurate color reproduction. 65 minute run time at full power. (Includes the Profoto TTL Air Remote for Nikon.)

Nikon SB-910 Speedlight

With origins traceable back to the Nikon F4 camera that arrived in 1988—along with the genesis of Nikon's Matrix Balanced Fill Flash, 3D Multi-Sensor Balanced Fill Flash and 3D Color Matrix Metering systems—the SB-910 represents the modern culmination of those various systems: the versatile i-TTL (intelligent through-the-lens) metering system. On-camera or wireless flash control features up to four channel options and is capable of controlling as many as three remote groups (A, B and C) along with an unlimited number of SB-910, SB-900, SB-800, SB-700 or SB-R200 units. The only limitation is power output (approx. 50Ws) and the necessity of optical line-of-sight for remote operation. Ideal for simple run-and-gun portraiture with one person and when using the 24" Lastolite softbox.

Nikon SB-800 Speedlight

Like the SB-910, the SB-800 is a powerful, compact and portable i-TTL Speedlight unit optimized for use with Nikon's Creative Lighting System (CLS) and capable of operating as a stand alone Speedlight, wireless Speedlight Commander (for SB-910, SB-900, SB-800, SB-600 and SB-R200 flashes), or wireless remote unit. Four channel capable and able to control up to three remote groups, as with the SB-910 this Speedlight also offers Auto FP High-speed sync, built-in flash compensation, and a bounce and swivel head for more precise lighting control and creative effects. I use the SB-800 nowadays primarily as a Commander unit for the SB-910s. Both the SB-800 and SB-910 work with the Nikon Z System mirrorless cameras, with only a slight reduction in iTTL  functionality.


LIGHT MODIFIERS

Profoto 5' RFi Octa Softbox

The softbox to end all softboxes. With a 5' octagonal shape, this modifier produces a gorgeous, wrapping light that also works well as a key light for more than one person. RFi stands for Recessed Front–Improved, which means that the unit has recessed diffusers at the front, for better control of light, along with a deeper shape that pushes more light forward, as opposed to sideways. RFi softboxes also offer dual-layered diffusion for a softer quality of light, in front of their silver interior baffle.

Profoto 3' OCF Octa Softbox with grid

The Profoto OCF Octa Softbox measures 3' and can be used as a modifier for singles, small groups (at a greater distance), portraits, and general photography. Like the 5' RFi Octa Softbox, the 3' OCF creates a wonderful wraparound light quality and provides natural-looking catchlights in your subject's eyes. Designed to be more lightweight and portable than the RFi lineup, the OCF series are well-suited to remote location shooting.

Lastolite 24" Ezybox Hotshoe Softbox

Wonderful for single, tight portraits, this is the Joe McNally version of Lastolite's 24" Ezybox Hotshoe Softbox, featuring a white interior material, instead of silver, thus offering a very soft, flattering quality of light for subjects. "It’s just a nicer, more forgiving light," as Joe describes it. I concur, and have used this modifier with my Nikon Speedlights for a variety of portraits over the years. 


BAGS

Tenba Roadie Roller 24

This is my heavy-lifter, the one bag to rule them all, as it were. Capable of hauling almost my complete camera kit, these bags are durably made with ballistic nylon exteriors and a crush-proof interior shell. The Roadies also include YKK® zippers, stress point reinforcements, a removable camera/lens module, and highly-configurable interiors with removable velcro partitions. And while this sort of case is not a new concept in roller bags (LowePro and Think Tank offer similar versions of the same thing), what I love about the Tenbas is that they have the largest wheels of any rollers on the market, an invaluable feature when rolling your bag over all sorts of uneven terrain. Frankly, I'd love even larger wheels, but unfortunately nobody makes a ballistic nylon roller with truly massive wheels. At least not yet.

Think Tank Retrospective® 10 and 50

I've been a huge fan of Think Tank's Pinestone-colored Retrospective®bags for over ten years now. The rough-and-ready look, soft-yet-rugged water-resistant classic cotton canvas, and easily configurable interiors make them highly popular. But many other thoughtful touches also endear this series to me: the removable seam-sealed nylon rain cover; the well-padded bottom; and the interior silencing tabs that "deactivate" the velcro on the main cover flap if you're working in an environment that requires silence. For a long trip, the Retrospective 10 (or smaller 5) are great choices if you need to carry one or two mirrorless bodies, along with a small assortment of lenses (2 or 3) and small accessories. Meanwhile, for a lighter day of assignment shooting—for example working on set in the woods or on the ocean in a pitching boat (where a large roller is impractical)—I find the Retrospective 50 ideal for carrying one pro mirrorless body, one backup body, and my 24-70mm and 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses and sundry items.

Nikon FB-11A Compartment Case

The FB-11A was Nikon's premiere professional compartment case for their SLR cameras of the 1970s and 1980s, such as the F2 and F3 series. Made out of gorgeous, durable cowhide—today viewed as more of a luxury indulgence than a practical material—the FB-11A, and slightly smaller sibling, the FB-15, were nevertheless beautifully constructed camera bags with divisible interior compartments configured to hold the Nikon SLRs, motor drives and F Mount lenses of the day. Fortunately, all of the interior dividers can be removed to create a large interior volume that's ideal for carrying all sorts of things, from large lenses like the AF-S Nikkor 200mm f/2G ED VR II to larger accessory items such as lighting gear, if so desired. Sharp-eyed cinephiles may recognize the FB-11A as the camera bag sported by photographer Jack Prescott (played by Jeff Bridges) in the 1976 Dino De Laurentiis production of King Kong, which also starred Jessica Lange, Charles Grodin and René Auberjonois.

Fujifilm Domke F-803 Camera Bag

Made of waxed waterproof cotton canvas with leather accents, metal hardware, a messenger flap, and two small exterior compartments, the Domke F803 co-branded X-series camera bag is a multi-use satchel designed to carry one or two APS-C mirrorless bodies (depending upon size), along with either three smaller prime lenses, or a small and mid-sized zoom lens together. Excellent bag for street and travel photography, with Domke's legendary reputation for smart, simple design, ease of use and long-lasting build quality.

Pacsafe Camsafe X17 Anti-Theft Camera Backpack

This is a relatively small anti-theft camera backpack offering approximately 17-litres of storage, suitable for a small DSLR or two mirrorless cameras and three or four mid-sized lenses (plus accessories).Using eXomesh® slashguard materials and discrete zipper clips that can be interlocked, Pacsafe products are purpose-built for traveling in a wide array of conditions, including locations that might be prone to thievery. The X17 includes a protective laptop sleeve, a side access camera insert with padded, modular Velcro® dividers, and a built-in raincover. It also features memory card pockets, attachment points on the shoulder straps for small items such as pouches, internal pockets to keep your gear organized, an internal attachment point for wallets and keys, and a water bottle pocket. Ideal for travel when a traditional camera bag or messenger doesn't feel secure enough, or one prefers a backpack design.

Billingham Hadley Original

The least used of my shoulder bags today, primarily due to the lack of a carry handle on the top. Nevertheless, the Billingham Hadley Original is a pinnacle of old-world craftsmanship, employing FibreNyte canvas that calmly sheds water, leather and brass fixtures that seem to last forever, and an overall attention to detail that oozes quality. The ingenious buckle and fastener system allows silent entry to the interior and the FibreNyte canvas is soft enough to mold to the body discreetly. Primarily for a small DSLR system or one or two mirrorless cameras with two or three lenses.


SUPPORTING APPARATUS

Below are miscellaneous paraphernalia and software that round out my core kit. I've kept this list to the more significant supporting items and excluded the myriad widgets and grommets one accumulates over the years. They're too numerous to account for, and at this level each person will find adaptations that best suit their own individual shooting needs.

Nikon Z Teleconverter TC-2.0x

Allows for the doubling of focal lengths for select Z Mount lenses. AF and VR functionality, minimum focusing distances and weather-sealing are all retained.

Nikon FTZ/FTZII Mount Adapters

Enables adaptation of Nikkor F Mount lenses to Nikon Z Series bodies. Note: This adapter does not support the screw-drive autofocus mechanism required by older Nikon AF, AF-n or AF-D lenses. Only manual focus may be employed.

Fujinon WCL-X100

Wide angle adaptor for Fujifilm X100 series cameras, offering an equivalent 27mm focal length in full frame terms.

Fujinon TCL-X100

Telephoto adaptor for Fujifilm X100 series cameras that provides a 49mm equivalent focal length in full frame terms.

Benbo 1 tripod

Heavyweight Benbo tripods (manufactured in the UK) utilize a unique bent-bolt design mechanism, with legs that can be used both in a traditional upright tripod configuration, or spread to any angle of support by means of a single lock-handle.

Giottos VGRN 8255 - M3 tripod

Compact, lightweight carbon fibre tripod with removable centre column and head that can quickly be combined together to form a monopod.

Nikon SC-17 Remote Cord

Enables Nikon Speedlights to be operated up to one-and-one-half meters from the camera, with automatic shutter speed and ready-light indication in the viewfinder.

Lastolite Professional TriFlip 8:1 Reflector Kit

Indispensable 33" reflector and diffusion kit that offers 8 tonal options for reflection and 2 stops of diffusion.

Spider Holster

An ideal carrying solution for mirrorless cameras, which takes the weight off one's neck and shoulders during a long day of shooting, while securely fastening the equipment to the waist.

Black Rapid Camera Sling

The original cross-torso camera sling that enables quick and secure access to your camera using a sliding carabiner and case screw that affixes to the tripod socket on the bottom of your camera.

Cameron lighting stands

6' medium-weight stands with collapsible pneumatic configuration.

SanDisk / Sony Memory Cards

PRO SD and SDXC / XQD / CFexpress cards ranging from 16GB to 128GB configurations.

Adobe Creative Cloud 2022

The complete photographic editing suite, including Camera Raw and Photoshop.

Topaz Photo AI

Complete suite that supports enhanced sharpening, noise reduction and resolution upscaling for imagery.

DxO - Nik Collection Six

Multiple image editing plug-ins and tools for digital image processing and enhancement.

Synology DiskStation DS920+

Network-attached storage that streamlines data management and productivity. Two built-in M.2 SSD slots and Synology SSD Cache technology with scalable storage.