What’s In the Bag, Lately

Note: Hit the movie start button above to empty the bag!

I’ve been updating my Keynote presentations for next year’s series of National Geographic Traveler Photo Seminars (coming soon to a city near you!) that I present with my colleague and good buddy Ralph Lee Hopkins.  While working on the “what’s in the bag” section,  I came to the blinding realization that I’m pretty much using small, variable aperture zooms as my main glass for travel assignments these days.

This is something I swore I’d never do, because I loved my f/2.8 fixed aperture zooms as much as life itself. Of course, I am also the person who was quoted at a seminar presentation years ago as claiming that “I’ll switch to digital when they pry the Nikon F100 from my cold, dead hands….”

So the takeaway lessons?  Stuff happens, things change, small lenses get sharper, VR gets better, and sore backs get older. Oh, and also; I have a big mouth into which I insert my foot on a regular basis!

For a rundown of what I’ve been carrying for the last year, and what I wish I could add to it, hit the jump.

CameraBagCloseup.001

Photo © Bob Krist

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Two D90 bodies, one mounted with a 70-300mm VR Nikkor and the other with the 16-85VR Nikkor. Gotta admit, they rarely come off.
  • A 12-24mm f/4 AF for the tight spots, and the small, sharp 35mm f/1.8 and 85mm f/1.8 AF Nikkor primes. These little primes are great for available light and give me the FX-style bokeh I crave at times.
  • SB 800 with SD8A battery pack
  • Olympus LS-10 Audio recorder with Sennheiser MKE 400 mini shotgun mic (with windmuff). Also, not pictured, a small Gorillapod to use as a mic stand/handle
  • mini rain umbrella and raincover for the camera
  • extra batteries for the camera, a headlamp for me
  • A Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket  (which clips inside the bag) filled with 8GB and 4GB fast SDHC cards
  • A miscellaneous bag with cable release, PC adapter (in case I have to plug in big flashes), flash filters, model release forms, wrist brace (!), hot-shoe bubble level, IR remote for camera, hex wrench.
  • A Tamrac Velocity 9x sling bag or a Lowepro Outback 300 AW belt/shoulder bag. Which bag I pick depends on how my back is feeling at the time I’m packing for the gig (the Tamrac rides high, the Lowe is at your waist). If I have room, I take both and alternate ( it helps to keep that spine feeling springtime fresh after a 14 hour day!).

The whole kit weighs a few pounds less than the D300s & f/2.8 zoom setup that I used to carry on travel gigs and still use on commercial assignments.

One thing I wish somebody made and that I’d pay good money for?

A sharp, fast, compact, DX-format wideangle prime, like a 17mm f/1.8 or something! Yeah, I know, fat chance on that. But I can dream, can’t I?

This entry was posted in Ironies, Photo Gear, Travel.

79 Comments

  1. Mark Olwick December 1, 2009 at 10:26 am #

    Love the setup, Bob. I really appreciate you sharing this.

    By the way, where’s the Bob Krist travel vest that was in your last “incredible shrinking bag” post? 🙂

    Mark

    • Bob December 1, 2009 at 10:42 am #

      Mark: The vest goes in the computer bag, as always. My computer bag setup is just about the same as it was when I wrote that older post you referred to.
      cheers, Bob

  2. Mike Morse December 1, 2009 at 10:29 am #

    Bob: In the heat of the battle, when I whip out my D-90, assume the position and shoot before the moment flees, I later discover that the selector wheel at the top of the camera moved from “A” to “M” or something else as I pulled the camera out of the bag. Bad news. Any suggestions there other than the obvious check your settings?
    Also, my D90 and D300s have beautiful LCD images but my D200 LCD looks kind of faded and flat. I tried adjusted the screen brightness but it is more the color saturation. Does this mean I need another new camera?

    Your blog brings a smile, even on the dreary days. Mike

    • Bob December 1, 2009 at 10:41 am #

      Hi Mike: Yes, that little wheel can get spun in the bag and you find yourself on portrait mode or something. Doesn’t happen that often in my bag setup, but it happens. I’ve just learned to glance at the top of the camera as I pull it out, although sometimes I forget and don’t notice until I see some weird setting.
      The D200 LCD is not as sharp/colorful as later models. Does that mean you need a new one? I don’t know…what kind of year did you have? That might be the decision maker! Bob

  3. Mark Olwick December 1, 2009 at 10:35 am #

    One more request: Could you share how you define a “commercial shoot” and when you’d pull out the 2.8 kit? I know you’ve had things published in NG from your D90 too, so am trying to figure out the trade-off or situations that would require the larger/heavier/more $$ kit.

    • Bob December 1, 2009 at 10:39 am #

      Mark: A “commercial” shoot I’d define as one where I have an assistant, have to use big strobes, have a defined assignment that doesn’t involve carrying a bag on my back for 12 hours, need to shoot in front of a client (it sucks when they have “better” equipment than you do), etc.

      HTH, Bob

  4. Terry Clark December 1, 2009 at 11:51 am #

    Very interesting kit Bob. As an official “old fart” who still carries a 2.8 zoom kit along with ff bodies plus those monster 1.2 and 1.4 lenses from the “other guys,” I can totally relate to back issues. My commercial work (much of the time) plays out like your editorial shoots, run and a lot of gun. I just don’t know if I could or would bring myself to the variable zoom camp. It’s hard enough to get good focus with fast glass.

    From a purely techie-geek side, have you ever felt sensor envy with your smaller cameras? Has anyone ever noticed or cared (i.e. client)?

    • Bob December 1, 2009 at 12:02 pm #

      Hi Terry: It is a leap of faith to go with those zooms, I agree.

      Have I ever envied the bigger format? In my time, I’ve envied a few bigger things, digital chips included:-).

      Has a client ever noticed? Nope.

      In fact, I even offered to borrow an FX format camera for a recent gig that featured a lot of low-light situations for a very, very technically savvy and demanding client. He basically said don’t bother, since, from his experience with ISO 1600 and 3200 from DX, it looked fine in print anyway.

      So I didn’t! Of course if I were shooting big ad billboards, it might be different, but then, I’d probably be using lights and have a cadre of assistants, and they could carry the stuff! BK

  5. Renee G December 1, 2009 at 2:13 pm #

    Bob, you make 3 out of 3 pros who recently told me they regularly and/or always use the 70-300. That might be my next purchase – and with my luck they will announce a new improved replacement the week after I do! Also, can you clarify the wrist brace? Do you mean a wrist strap or an actual brace? And why not SB900? Is that a weight/size issue too?

    • Bob December 1, 2009 at 2:53 pm #

      Renee: SB 900 is great but big…I’ve got one but for travel it’s still the 800. The wrist brace is CVS standard issue elastic! Bob

  6. Payne December 1, 2009 at 5:35 pm #

    Been considering the Think Tank waist modular system. Hadn’t seen the Tamrac bag you use. I like the idea of the Tamrac as it sits higher in the small of one’s back. What are the two saddle bags you have on the side of the 9X?

    • Bob December 1, 2009 at 6:46 pm #

      Brian: They’re modular pouches that Tamrac sells as add ons. Those specific ones have been superceded by a different line, but I believe they are closest to the current MX5380 Extra Large Lens Case. I keep the flash setup in one, and the audio setup (plus some extra batteries etc) in the other. Bob

  7. mike a December 1, 2009 at 6:34 pm #

    First off, love your blog Bob. I enjoy the equipment posts. Recently I’ve been thinking I NEED a FX camera to go along with with my 2.8 zoom lenses but I ask myself “haven’t you gotten along just fine with the DX format” I mean no one ever asks me to shoot with FX, and they still pay me. As I get a little older (my back is bad too)I have separate the bull from what’s real. I know many folks making a living with DX cameras so I should be able to as well. I think I just answered my inner debate between FX and DX. Anybody need a 2.8 zoom?

    • Bob December 1, 2009 at 6:49 pm #

      Hi Mike: Thanks for the kind words!
      As for gear, what we need and what we want are often two different things, but I’m not sure I’d get rid of those f/2.8 zooms just yet. However, you can stop feeling guilty if you find yourself reaching for the littler stuff on a regular basis! Bob

  8. David Kay December 1, 2009 at 7:13 pm #

    Bob, Great post! Although I love my D700 & D3, I have promised Anita that I will not treat our annual Christmas trip to NYC as a photo shoot. So I am taking only the Panasonic GF1 with a 20mm pancake and the 14-45mm zoom. In playing around with it this week, I now recall the fun of the Leica M3s of my lost youth. I suspect that 5 years from now we may all be surprised at what magic is in our hands!

    • Bob December 1, 2009 at 7:47 pm #

      David: Love to hear how you like that Panasonic. That size/weight/quality is very intruiging to me. Bob

  9. David Buge December 1, 2009 at 8:37 pm #

    Bob,
    Good to read your blog – it’s one of the more valuable and interesting. I second the small camera/zoom strategy. I’m keeping my 2.8’s like security blankets, but I find I’m using them less. At 67, I find a need to work around ever-increasing physical complaints. Sling bags don’t work with my rotator cuff, Domkes eat away at my tendonitis, and there is nothing to do for the knees. So staying in the game is a race between smaller & lighter and quality. So far, quality is keeping pace given good shooting discipline. Autoexposure came out when the eyes started to give out, VR when my grip got shakey, and sensor technology is staying ahead of of weight. Bless the D90, 16-85, and 70-300. Same for Blackrapid straps. Next stop will be Thinktank Shape Shifter to keep weight equally distributed on the shoulder and belt packs to keep it low.
    You know what though? It’s worth every bit of the pain.
    –david

    • Bob December 1, 2009 at 8:48 pm #

      David: You’re right, it’s worth it, and that’s the bottom line! Bob

  10. Tim December 1, 2009 at 8:53 pm #

    Bob,
    Now I was wondering if you carry that small umbrella setup still and the quiver? Additionally is the Olympic Recorder a B&H item?

    • Bob December 1, 2009 at 10:57 pm #

      Tim: Go here: http://www.bobkrist.com/blog/audio-au-go-go/, and click on the links and you’ll get to where you need to go to buy the recorder at B&H.

      The umbrella/quiver thing clips onto the ring on the outside of the sling bag when needed.

      HTH, Bob

  11. Nick December 2, 2009 at 3:20 am #

    What kind of usable ISO are you able to get up to with the D90, say for a magazine?
    I have a D200 and D70 and am thinking of upgrading, mainly for the high ISO. Was planning on waiting for the D700 replacement given the D700’s amazing abilities. I am also worried about getting out of DX before the makers abandon it for serious cameras (when no one will want my 17-55 2.8)

    • Bob December 2, 2009 at 8:35 am #

      Nick: I go to 1600 without thinking and 3200 if need be. BK

  12. Arun Paul December 2, 2009 at 7:25 am #

    Bob:
    I love that bag – I squeeze in both the D700 and 300s with the Battery grips in there. Snug and a better fit than the my other velocity which carries my strobes. I love the 300s and its your opinion that guided me. Thanks !! The video with 2.8 and 1.4 glass is beautiful.
    Any thoughts using external condenser mics with the D300s. ( I am slacking on reading the manual here.)

    • Bob December 2, 2009 at 8:34 am #

      Hi Arun: That same Sennheiser MKE 400 works great with the D300s for video. You might want to look at the slightly wider Tamrac Velocity 10x for those two bodies….a tad more room! BK

      • Arun Paul December 4, 2009 at 7:27 am #

        oops – I meant the 10x
        Thanks Bob

  13. James Atkinson December 2, 2009 at 8:22 am #

    Bob,

    As I stated in a previous blog post comment, I’m a bit jealous of your DX habbits. I know I know… the low light photography of FX is unbeatable. But when I find myself lugging around a D700 with a bag full of lenses, grips, and other assessories, I find I’m much less agile.

    I think camera makers and photographers are starting to realize that bigger is not always better. The 4/3 sensor cameras and small interchangable lens “rangefinders” are making a comeback. I saw Jim Richardson post a photo on Flickr taken with a tiny D3000. Heck, look at the revolution Chase Jarvis started(?) with the iPhone.

    As for my F100… it will never be sold, but I doubt it becomes more than a personal museum piece.

    Thanks for the great posts!

    James

  14. Shawn December 2, 2009 at 10:18 am #

    Bob,

    Thanks for the look into your bag. I have been searching for the perfect bag for years, I don’t think it exists.

    Just curious, is the bag you are using in your Spirit of Place video the one that you designed and sold. BTW great video.

    Thanks!!

    Shawn.

    • Bob December 2, 2009 at 10:31 am #

      Hi Shawn: Yes, that was the LLBean BK bag—-now, unfortunately, a collector’s item! BK

  15. Mike Starling December 2, 2009 at 10:44 am #

    Hey Bob, thanks for sharing this info! I was at one of your workshops and took note of what you said about shooting video. Our publishing company is starting to explore this now too, mostly for web-friendly short video segments to complement stories with photos. It sounds like the D90 is a good tool for this kind of work. Have you encountered any problems using it for this? Also, I think you said you used Final Cut Pro for editing. Is our free iMovie a good way tolearn, or would you recommend going right to something more powerful like Final Cut? Thanks in advance for your help! Mike

    • Bob December 2, 2009 at 10:50 am #

      Mike: Nope, never used Final Cut…said in past posts I’m trying to avoid it. D90 is great video quality, but sound quality with built-in mic is not up to snuff. You’ll need to record a separate audio track. I suggest searching my blog for these topics to see what I’ve written in the past. You might find some ideas and answers there. Bob

      • Mike Starling December 2, 2009 at 2:59 pm #

        Thanks for the info on audio, very helpful!

  16. Juergen Laske December 3, 2009 at 9:42 am #

    Hi, just found your blog 😉
    Interesting, that nowadays with the technical advance of the camers the gearbag suddenly becomes small and smaller. I wonder, when are you hopping on the Leica-train 😉
    I personally (ok, just an ambitious amateur) sometimes think, that ONE camera and ONE lens should be enough for a day 😮
    I also have more lenses, but most of time I end up with my now-old D200 and the 18-200 Nikkor and walk and walk and walk …
    My next investment might be a small Canon S90 for cycling here in Shanghai – the Leica M9 is a little bit ouf of budget 😮
    Best regards from China, Juergen

    • Bob December 3, 2009 at 10:35 am #

      Hi Juergen: I like that 18-200mm VR myself. Shanghai is one of my favorite places to shoot. Never at a loss for subject matter there, right? Bob

      • Juergen Laske December 4, 2009 at 1:41 am #

        Yepp, great place to be. I am pretty happy over here and try to capture more of the ‘real’ Shanghai – not just the glossy sides in downtown Pudong.
        Are you coming to Shanghai?! Let me know then,
        Juergen

        • Bob December 4, 2009 at 8:22 am #

          Juergen: Wish I were. I was over a year ago or so for an Epson seminar. I’ll keep you posted should I get back that way. Bob

  17. Lola Akinmade December 3, 2009 at 1:52 pm #

    Hi Bob. Absolutely love your blog and been following it for awhile now.

    I was wondering if it would be okay for me to reprint this post as part of our “What’s In Your Backpack?” series over at Matador Goods – http://matadorgoods.com/category/whats-in-your-backpack/

    We peek into the bags of professional travel writers, photographers, musicians, filmmakers, etc

    Would be honored if you give us the thumbs up!
    Cheers

    Lola

    • Bob December 3, 2009 at 1:58 pm #

      Hi Lola: Yes, that would be fine! Bob

  18. Alex Rasputnis December 3, 2009 at 1:54 pm #

    Bob, thank you for very interesting info. I was not able to meet you in DPS meeting last month. But I do many works near New Hope, PA I work for PennDOT and do traffic study on SR202 behind Lahaska (Lower York Rd) I probably have more questions than all pro have answers….. If you will have chance check, please some of my shots on http://www.JPGmag.com under name “Tusik47” ( I also have around 90 shots with National Geographic(in my shot). Let me know what you think, please
    Alex

  19. Jeff December 3, 2009 at 5:09 pm #

    Bob,

    Thanks for sharing ‘what’s in the bag’. I would love to see a short video clip or shot(s) of all of it going IN the bag. Do you really get all that into what looks like a pretty small bag, especially since you said the flash and mic are in the outside tubes?

    PS When will you be in/around Chicagao next?

    Thanks, JFinChgo

    • Bob December 3, 2009 at 6:31 pm #

      Jeff: I think you’ll have to play the movie in reverse to see them going in! Bob

  20. Colin Povey December 3, 2009 at 6:54 pm #

    Great post.

    I too want a wide prime. What I want is a 10 to 12 mm, f/4 AF prime, with a street price of around $350-400. When most ‘normal’ lenses start at 16-18mm, the available wide DX zooms have a tremendous amount of overlap with them. They are also big and expensive.

    Just think, a 10mm prime, a 16/18-XXmm ‘normal’, and the 70-300mm VR. Throw in the 35 f/1.8 and an 85 f/1.8 for backup and low light, and you would be set for 95% of photography.

  21. nick December 3, 2009 at 9:23 pm #

    hey bob,

    how come you don’t use the 2.8 zooms anymore? Is it just that cameras nowadays can handle higher ISOs relatively easily?

    I was actually debating going with a fleet of primes for the extra speed! (24, 35, 50, 85 etc.) Maybe I’m just not realizing how much trouble a setup like that really is…

    -nick

    • Bob December 4, 2009 at 8:23 am #

      Nick: It’s pretty much explained in the post! Give it another read and all things become clear! You gotta do what you need to do, and that differs for each shooter. BK

  22. Ilya Genkin December 4, 2009 at 4:31 pm #

    Hi Bob,

    No questions about 16-85VR – quite sharp and lightweight lens. But 70-300VR… Hmm… It has poor quality in 200-300mm range. So why don’t you use 18-200VR instead for more flexibility? Especially the new VRII version. I know you’ve got 18-200VR. One camera with 12-24 and another with 18-200VR. Less weight without loosing quality.

    BTW, I always pointing young photographers to you when they are saying something like: “I need FX and 2.8 zooms”. I’m telling them: “Look, Nat Geo photographer is shooting with DX and budget lenses. And look at his pictures! A photographer is taking photos, not camera!” 🙂

    I’m dreaming about 10mm DX prime (it could be even f/4) with 77mm or 82mm filter thread.

    • Bob December 4, 2009 at 5:19 pm #

      Ilya: Haven’t noticed too much of a drop off in the 200-300mm range until you get right to 300 and even then, it ain’t bad! BK

  23. ChunFye December 8, 2009 at 9:17 pm #

    Hi Bob, it’s really nice reading your blog. I am currently using the 18-200VR and contemplating to switch to 16-85VR and 70-300VR set up. I have seen some reviews suggesting that the latter set up provides better results. However, when I browse through the pictures taken using the 16-85VR and 70-300VR on PBase, I don’t find the quality significantly improved. Just like to hear your experience of using them. Thanks.

    • Bob December 8, 2009 at 9:19 pm #

      ChunFye: I’m no expert (I just shoot photos for magazines and sell stock for a living), but I think these two lenses compare favorably, and give you more range, than the 18-200mm. How much more favorably is up to the many internet experts who have time to do the exhaustive tests needed to determine that. Me, I’m too busy shooting in the real world! Bob

  24. Mike Morse December 13, 2009 at 1:33 pm #

    Bob: Really enjoy your blog and I don’t feel as guilty leaving a comment as I did directly writing you. A few questions. I am going to Uganda to photo the chimps and gorillas in a few months. I will buy one of the netbooks and take a portable hard drive for backup. I have an Epson P-5000 but don’t see the need to take it given the above. Of course the computer could always crash and I know you are Mr. Redundant when it comes to your images. I am also torn on which lenses to take in the low lighting in the “Impenetrable Forest of Bwindi”.I have taken a variety of lenses in the past, from the Nikon 80-400, 70-300VR, 18-200, 70-200(2.8), Sigma 50-150 (2.8), Nikon 17-55(2.8), Tamron 17-55 (2.8),Nikon 12-24,and the 50(1.4). Not every lens on every trip. I don’t have the 16-85. I assume you tailor your lens selection based on the type of trip? If not, would it make sense to take my Tamron 17-50 and the Nikon 70-300VR since they are both pretty light. Would the 16-85 be a better choice? Sorry for the OCD.

    • Bob December 14, 2009 at 10:45 am #

      Mike: For the gorillas, the faster the lens the better. This would be the place where the fast glass is worth the effort. If you do the 17-50 and 70-200, though, see if you can also bring something to cover that 50-70 gap as some of the stuff you see will fit right in that gap…Murphy’s Law.

  25. Rey December 13, 2009 at 9:43 pm #

    Hi Bob, I upgraded from the D80 to D90 a while back and gave the D80 to my brother and his wife in Shanghai. Thought I would get more pix of my niece. Oh well! I also gave them a Tamron 18-270 VC zoom. I used it a few times before I sent it over. I thought it was every bit as sharp as my Nikon 18-200VR. Any thoughts on this lens? What are your thoughts on 3rd party lenses in general? I guess you know what Ken Rockwell says. Thanks.

    Rey

    • Bob December 14, 2009 at 10:46 am #

      Rey: I don’t know that particular Tamron lens, but in general, their glass is excellent and I wouldn’t have a problem using their products…their 17-50mm f/2.8 is just killer. Bob

      • Rey December 16, 2009 at 12:24 am #

        Yes I agree with you on that Tamron 17-50mm zoom which I own. I have been very happy with it.Thanks.

        Rey

        • Bob December 16, 2009 at 8:15 am #

          Rey, yes, that is a little gem of a lens! Bob

  26. Dave L December 14, 2009 at 2:50 am #

    Hi Bob,
    Thanks for the post! Speaking of fast ultra-wides. I bought the Tokina 11-16 f2.8 and I love it. I know its not 1.8 but it’s not too shabby. I wish it was just a prime 11mm since the limited range is kind of useless and probably adds some optical compromises, but its a really fun lens to mess around with. It is DX but I think it will even fill an FX frame at 16mm. Cheers – Dave

    • Bob December 14, 2009 at 10:47 am #

      Dave: Glad to hear you’re messing around in wide angle land. Will you be home for the holidays? C’mon and see us…it’d be good to catch up! Bob

  27. Mike Morse December 14, 2009 at 10:55 pm #

    Bob: Another question about the netbooks. How do you plan for backup if it fails?

    • Bob December 14, 2009 at 11:02 pm #

      Ay Carumba, Mike. You are actually more paranoid than me, and your rent check doesn’t depend on this crap.

      Short answer. TAKE MORE CARDS! How many days are you away at a time, anyway?! If SDHC cards get any cheaper, I may never buy another hard drive!

      When my kidneys and/or liver go, dude, (and it’s only a matter of time at this point) I am coming to you because I want a doc who thinks of every damn thing when I’m dying due to my less-than-wise lifestyle choices!

      This is supposed to be fun for you! For me, it’s a living, for you, it’s supposed to be relaxing!

      But to answer your question, I take an Epson, which backs up onto the 1.8″ HDs. But I’m doing the same trip we did in Tanzania next month, and I’m just bringing a slew of SDHC cards and the netbook for email! Bob

  28. Mike Morse December 14, 2009 at 11:26 pm #

    Great minds think alike. I thought I was too “low tech” if I took a bunch of cards. One, of many things I admire about you, is that you are really practical.
    I looked at some “practical” intermediate zooms. Nikon 24-85 2.8-4 and the Tamron 28-75 2.8. They don’t break the bank. Any feelings on those two.

    • Bob December 15, 2009 at 12:06 pm #

      Mike: The Tamron is very sharp and also usable on an FX camera. Bob

  29. Jacob Maentz December 16, 2009 at 5:57 am #

    Hi Bob…thanks for sharing. I’ve enjoyed reading your post and all of the comments and follow-up. I have been shooting with a D80 for almost three years now and still find that the camera does almost everything I need it to (there are times though when I wish I could shoot at a higher ISO with less grain). I am always upgrading my gear when I can, but my body has yet to change. I may have to look into that 16-85mm and wait for the next version of the D90 to come out. Have you heard any rumors?

    Thanks again for opening up your bag for us. I have found this to be very useful and insightful.

    • Bob December 16, 2009 at 8:15 am #

      Hi Jacob: I haven’t heard of a new D90 coming down the pike, but I’m always the last to know anyway. You’ll notice a difference in the high ISO noise between the current D90 and the D80, but who knows what’s coming? It’s always the way. Bob

  30. Shawn December 18, 2009 at 12:03 pm #

    Bob,

    I need some honest real world advice. I am currently using a D70 and looking to upgrade. In terms of lower ISO noise and image quality, is the D80 enough of a step up to warrant a change to it?

    I have read some reviews that the D70’s meter is more accurate, but I am not sure. I know the D90 would be a definite improvement, but it is not within my limited photographic budget.

    Thanks for your help.

    Shawn.

    • Bob December 18, 2009 at 10:41 pm #

      Hi Shawn: Honestly, I’m not sure how much of a difference you’d see between the D70 and the D80. The meter accuracy thing? That’s the first I’ve heard. If you want a marked improvement on your high ISO/low noise, at a reasonable price, I’d consider the D5000. Plus you’d get video and that nice swivel screen. You’d need to buy a second battery, and you’d have to check that your lenses would autofocus, but that’s the best I can think of for price/performance improvement. Hope it helps. Bob

      • Shawn December 21, 2009 at 11:16 am #

        Hi Bob,

        Thanks for your help, especially the heads up on the autofocus. Happy Holidays! Shawn.

        • Bob December 21, 2009 at 11:28 am #

          Hi Shawn: You too. Good luck in your decision. I don’t think you can go wrong whatever you choose. Bob

  31. Charles E. Pike December 20, 2009 at 4:40 pm #

    I just found your site. I was in engineering all my life, but on the fringe of pro photography. I shot for a weekly newspaper for 10 years, and am published in some magazines now. I find your choice of equipment interesting. I have the D200 and my main lens is the 17-35mm f/2.8 Nikon lens. Do you give up anything other than speed with your 16-85mm lens? Also, you sound pretty happy with the D90. I am getting ready to purchase a body next year, and have just started looking at the D90 instead of the D300. I will turn 70 next year, and hope to keep shooting a lot longer. Eisenstaedt kept going to the Life magazine office when he was in his 90’s.

    • Bob December 20, 2009 at 5:20 pm #

      Charles: Couple of things to keep in mind. You’ll need new flash media if you switch from D200 to the D90 since the latter takes SD cards, not CF. Also, your filter size is going to change if you give up the 17-35 for the 16-85, and depending on what your other glass is, you may not want that.

      The 16-85 gives you smaller size, more range, VR, but it’s not as fast. Sharpness wise, I don’t see much difference, but I haven’t had that 17-35 on a body in ages, although there still is one kicking around my gear closet.

      There are too many factors that go into equipment choice for easy recommendations. It’s your call! BK

  32. Steve December 30, 2009 at 9:56 pm #

    Bob — love the blog and your articles in Outdoor Photographer. Always bummed when I get an issue and your article is not in it. Hoping you might offer a bit of advice for a lens to pair with a D300. I have a 2 year old who I mostly photograph along with architecture in Chicago where I live (great article on the bean). I currently use a 35 2.0 Nikon AF but want to move to a zoom to get shots of my daughter without being on top of her trying to get a shot and hearing “no way, no way”. Being a prime lens user, I like the faster lens and bokeh I can get. What has been your experience (and what would you recommend) from lenses like the 16-85, 17-55 (would buy used) and a Tamron 17-50? I know you really like the 16-85, but not sure I would be able to get a good bokeh.

    • Bob December 30, 2009 at 10:03 pm #

      STeve: Probably the 17-55 would be the choice for fast focus and bokeh. The Tamron is smaller and just as sharp, but a tad slower in focusing. The 16-85 would give the greatest range, and the VR is good for low light, but it’s not a bokeh-lovers lens. cheers, Bob

      • Steve January 1, 2010 at 8:40 pm #

        Thanks. Thought you might appreciate this… My wife is from Puerto Rico and I visited the island for the first time 11 years ago. My in laws live there and my father-in-law, who shoots as a hobby, gave me a beautiful oversized book entitled “Caribbean”. I was looking at the book on my bookshelf and realized it is your book. I just spent a half hour looking at the photos. They are just as impressive now as when I first looked at the book when I was given the book years ago. Great work!

      • Steve January 23, 2010 at 4:47 pm #

        Bob — one additional lens question. Noticed elsewhere in your comments on this blog that you think very highly of the Tamron 28-75 2.8. Is this a lens that would focus as fast as the Nikon 17-55? And, in terms of focusing fast, does the slight difference make a big difference in getting the shot one is trying to? Thanks again and I promise it is the last question on lenses.

        • Bob January 25, 2010 at 3:55 am #

          Steve: If you look at the focal lengths of the two lenses you’re asking about, you’ll notice that it’s apples and oranges. If you want to compare to the Nikkor 17-55, then it’s the Tamron 17-50f/2.8. It focuses slower, but the non IS version is a lot smaller. The IS version is larger, but has image stabilization. I like the smaller, non IS version. How many shots you miss with the difference in focus speed is hard to say. It doesn’t seem to be significant. BK

  33. Dimitri January 13, 2010 at 1:24 am #

    Wow, excellent Blog. Your equipment choice is almost the same as mine. I find this set-up can handle almost anything anywhere and is not too heavy on the back. I even use this on my mountain bike for “out-there” shots.

    Love your Blog and site. Provides me with inspiration.

  34. Matt January 13, 2010 at 9:49 am #

    Bob, thanks for your post.

    I’d like to chime in. I shoot weddings and at one time had the big gear bag: two D300s w/ grips. 12-24 f/4, 17-55 f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR. 4 SB-800s etc.

    After a while, lugging around all this gear just became more and more and more heavy. The thought of lugging the big gear bag around started sucking the joy out of why I started doing this in the first place. So today?

    Two D90s. 20mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.8. SB-900, SB-800 and two SB-600s as CLS slaves. I want to add a zoom, so I might go with the 18-200mm VR, even though it’s not a fast lens. Most times I zoom with my feet. I miss the W I D E, but I’m hoping for fast wide primes one of these days. We’ll see.

  35. Shawn February 5, 2010 at 3:52 pm #

    Hi Bob,

    What is your opinion of the D80? Did you ever have any issues with them? I know that they are almost in the antique category, but with prices dipping lower it seems like a good value to pick up a pair.

    I would like to save a little on the body and invest in more glass. This was alway my philosophy in the film days, but I don’t know if it holds as much water in the digital age with technology changing so fast.

    Thanks for your help and thanks for an excellent blog.

    Shawn.

    • Bob February 5, 2010 at 6:56 pm #

      Shawn: I liked the D80—-great image quality, compact size. Once you use the larger 3″ LCD, it’s hard to look at the smaller ones like the D80, but if you can live with that, and the price is right, you can’t go wrong. BK

  36. Steve March 8, 2010 at 8:26 pm #

    Hi Bob. I have a tripod question for you. In an article that ran in Outdoor Photographer, you spoke very highly about the Gitzo Traveller Tripod. Do you travel with a tripod in carry on, and if so, have you had any issues with TSA. I am traveling next week and have no assurances on whether I will have an issue. I wrote the TSA and here was their reply: “Please understand that regardless of whether an item is on the prohibited or permitted items list, Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) have both discretion and authority to prevent an item from being carried through the screening checkpoint if they believe the item poses a security threat. TSOs are trained to determine if an otherwise permitted item presents a security threat and should not be allowed to pass through a screening checkpoint.

    If the TSO does not allow you to carry an item through the checkpoint, you will have the option to consult with the airlines for assistance in placing the prohibited item in checked baggage. You will also be allowed to make other arrangements for the item, such as taking it to your car, mailing it, or leaving it with someone who is not traveling. It is important to clarify that there are no provisions to return prohibited items when passengers choose to leave them at the security checkpoint.

    We hope this information is helpful.”

    The tripod I am taking is small (16″) and aluminum. I called TSA to get further clarification and was told that if a security agent deems that I would use the tripod as a weapon, they can restrict me from taking it through carry on. So, just wondering what your experience has been.

    Best regards,
    Steve

    • Bob March 8, 2010 at 8:37 pm #

      Steve: I don’t know because I’ve never, ever carried a tripod on board in my life. It goes into checked bags. These days, overhead space is at a premium, and why try to take something rugged like a tripod into the cabin, where you’ll be fighting for every last spare inch for your delicate gear, the cameras and the computers? I don’t get that. Put it in your checked bag, and don’t worry! BK

  37. martin April 17, 2010 at 10:44 pm #

    do you still use an epson p5000and are you still able to make a backup into an external drive? which drive are you using? I will be hanging out is south america for a few months and don’t want to take my labtop.

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  1. […] You don’t ALWAYS need fast glass Filed under: Equipment, Photo, Tips — Hannu @ 20:34 http://www.bobkrist.com/blog/whats-in-the-bag-lately/ […]

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