What's In Your Backpack, Ryan Libre, Professional Photographer?

Photo + Video + Film
by Ryan Libre Feb 3, 2009

Every year, my camera bag grows and my personal gear shrinks. My camera gear is now two times my personal gear in volume, five times in weight and 100 times in cost.

Photo by Ryan Libre

Often, when someone finds out I’m a photographer their first question is, “What gear do you use?”

So let’s see what’s in my bag…

Digital SLR Camera

I go through camera bodies way too fast.

I am currently shooting with a Nikon D90.

It is the only DSLR that takes movies at any price, yet is affordable for most travelers.

It has almost every feature I want and I can access 95% of them without searching through the menu.



Fixed Lens

More interesting than cameras are lenses.

The lenses you use have a much bigger effect on the final image than your camera. One thing every SLR shooter needs in their bag is a fast fixed lens.

That is a lens that does not zoom, but is small, light, has great depth of field and shoots well in low light without a flash.

I use the Nikkor 50mm F/1.4. Fixed lenses are also cheaper than zooms. The non-pro version, the 50mm 1.8 sells for around $100!


Wide Angle Lens

When I wanna get really close to my subject and still show a lot of context I use my Sigma 10-20mm ultra wide angle zoom.

At 10mm this lens is close to fisheye and you get a cool curvy distortion around the edges.

At 20mm it is still very wide but gives a more normal perspective.

Great to have them both in one lens.




I don’t use a flash a lot, but when I need one my Nikon SB-600 works wonders.

Even off the camera it knows wirelessly what lens I’m using, all my camera settings and even how far away my subject is!

You can also change the flash output in camera and it puts out more or less light no matter where it is located.

Takes most of the hard work out of using a flash.


Circular Polarizer

A Circular polarizer filter can do amazing things.

Polarizers can take reflections off glass or water, make skies bluer, make fall colors more colorful and much more.

A good start towards kicking the Photoshop habit.




Mini Laptop

Lastly, Ebony, my little black beauty. This mini-notebook has a six hour battery, the latest Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, three USB ports, an SD card reader and a built in webcam. I got mine for just $500, including the upgrade to 2GB of RAM.

After talking about the gear I use with curious travelers they often wonder where my big telephoto zoom lens is. I don’t have one and it hasn’t hurt my portfolio at all.

I follow Robert Capa’s advice, “Get close, then take another step.”

Next time you meet a photographer please do them and yourself a favor by asking, “What projects are you working on?


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