The Gear I Use: How And Why 

What you pack in your camera bag at home or on the road will dictate the breadth of images you can capture. You don’t want to bring the kitchen sink but you do want to have the right tools to provide you with the flexibility to be as creative as your imagination.

Below are the essential components of my camera kit plus some equipment I’ve used and loved but don’t own. I don’t bring everything with me on every trip, I usually consider the situation (street, portrait, wildlife) and pack accordingly. For each item, I talk about why or how I use each item.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

(I have no paid relationships with these brands. However, if you buy something using the links below I will receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you.)

CAmera bodies

Canon 5D Mark lll

Canon 5D Mark III

When I first decided to purchase a full-frame DSLR, I made my decision between Nikon and Canon very simply: The one that felt better in my hand. I know that people will argue the virtues of their favorite brand for days, competitions abound, but that was it frankly. I held the two bodies and the Nikon felt wide for my palm. I figured it would be a strain to hold on to it for a long period of time.  That was three years ago, and I love my Canon. I’ve put it through its paces. It’s scraped and worn ( I had a little issue with a stone wall during a storm in Cuba) and it’s been great. And I’ve loved the images I’ve taken since then so that’s pretty much the most important, right?

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Canon 5D Mark lV

Canon 5D Mark IV

I recently upgraded and treated myself to the  Canon 5D Mark lV. Like the III it’s a great camera but the IV has touchscreen controls which comes in handy if you’re in a hurry. I still have and use my III, but only as a second camera, which, frankly, I need often. 

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GoPro HERO7 Black — Waterproof Digital Action Camera

GoPro Hero7 Black

A great video camera that’s very versatile and has in-camera stabilization. A lifesaver for me. There are newer models on the market but this does me just fine. 

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Gura Gear Kiboko 2.0 22L Backpack (Black)

Kiboko 2.0 Camera Backpack

Use Promo Code: “Portnoy15” at checkout to receive 15% off! 

I love love love this bag. I bought my first Kiboko v1 years ago after watching wildlife photographer and co-founder Andy Biggs present it on a Youtube. It was something like 2:00 am and I remember buying it right then and there. Since then, I’ve become friends with Andy, and an ambassador for the brand. I love the butterfly wing construction, all the zip pockets to pack everything I need. The 16L (which is mean for mirrorless cameras but I use it anyway when I travel with a small kit) and the 22L have a 15″ laptop compartment which I really comes in handy.  The 22L is my go-to bag unless I’m photographing wildlife. For that I use the 30L and the lens (typically the Canon 200-400 mm 1.4x, which is a long, heavy lens) and a body fit perfectly on one side.  For more on the bag: Check out my Kiboko v2 review.

View 16L View 22L View 30L

LENSES

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard & Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras - Fixed

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

This lens delivers huge bang for the buck. The glass is wonderful (portraits are lovely) and at f/1.8 it’s fast too. Best part you can buy it for under $200.

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Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

I have my eye on the 24-70mm f2.8 lens. It’s versatile, will pair well with my 70-200mm, and fast. The image quality is outstanding. I’ve used it a few times on trips and I want one. It’s on my to-get list for sooner rather than later.

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Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L is III USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS I USM

I have a v1 model, and I love it, however, the link below leads to v3 because the it doesn’t make sense to suggest a model that’s two versions old . The only con is that it is heavy. 

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Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Wide Angle Lens

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM 

You can never really go wrong with a prime lens. I was nervous about being limited at first—not have the flexibility of a telescopic lens—but I found that the limitation was a good one. It forced me to think about how to approach a shot and be more thoughtful with composition. The fact that it’s a f1.4 means I can be creative with depth of field. I use this a lot for street photography when I’m in more of a *photojournalistic* mood. I think it’s because I originally bought it on the recommendation of some photojournalists I admire. It’s a fast lens too, so, again, it’s great for low light situations.

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Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L 1 USM Lens

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L ll USM 

I love this lens. It’s wonderful for big imposing landscapes like mountain ranges and astrophotography. I also used it a ton in Cuba. I found the 16mm was perfect for inside homes and down narrow alleyways, and the 35mm was perfect for classic street photography. The fact that it was a fast lens too, made it one of my favorites. I hear the updated version is phenomenal. My v2 had a little bit of warping and focus issues at the sides, I’m told the v3 (below) is flawless.

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Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

I bought my 5D Mark lll with this lens. I wasn’t sure if it would be a good lens because kit lenses can be questionable. I was happily surprise to find it’s quite good. At f/4 it’s not a fast lens but I rarely found that to be an issue. It was my everyday lens for a long time until I was able to get the 24 – 70 mm f/2.8, which is a wonderful complement to my 70 – 200 mm f/2.8

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Canon Professional Services Logo

Canon Professional Services

If you’re dedicated to photography whether you’re an avid enthusiast or a professional and own a Canon kit, you may want to consider Canon’s Professional Services. Multiple membership levels mean you can find the program that’s right for you. I’m a Gold member with an annual fee of $100 per year. 

As an example, for a gold membership I earn the following: 

Exclusive member hotline; 20% repair discount; Equipment Evaluation Loans 

and Expedited Services, and other good stuff. 

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Camera Bags

Gill Race Team 60L 60 Litre Capacity Waterproof Bag

Gil Dry Duffle 

When I went to Antarctica and the South Georgia Islands, we had to take zodiacs to the beaches where we’d photograph the penguins. The water was often choppy sending salt sprays into the air. Nothing is worse for a camera that salt water as it will corrode the inner workings. Hence the need for a good dry bag. Most dry bags load vertically from the top, which just doesn’t work well with a camera bag. This duffle. however, was just the ticket. It kept my bag protected on the water as well as the beach when curious elephant seals and penguins wanted to check out my kit. 

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Accessories

Hoya 77mm NXT Plus Circular Polarizer

Gil Dry Duffle 

When I went to Antarctica and the South Georgia Islands, we had to take zodiacs to the beaches where we’d photograph the penguins. The water was often choppy sending salt sprays into the air. Nothing is worse for a camera that salt water as it will corrode the inner workings. Hence the need for a good dry bag. Most dry bags load vertically from the top, which just doesn’t work well with a camera bag. This duffle. however, was just the ticket. It kept my bag protected on the water as well as the beach when curious elephant seals and penguins wanted to check out my kit. 

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Benro Adventure 2 Series Carbon Fiber Tripod

Benro Adventure 2 Series Carbon Fiber Tripod

I’m using my tripod more and more these days as I experiment with long exposures and Astral photography. This Benro model is easy to use because of the lock levers that allow you to quickly collapse and telescope the legs versus tedious twist locks. Twist locks make me crazy. 

The carbon fiber tripods can be more expensive but it’s worth the splurge spent it’s so much lighter than conventional materials

When purchasing a tripod, consider the heaviest lens you may want to use and make sure that the tripod’s load capacity is up to the task.  

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Manfrotto XPRO Ball Head with 200PL Quick Release

Manfrotto XPRO Ball Head with 200PL Quick Release

Ok… it’s a little big. Ideally, I’d like this ball head to be somewhat smaller and a little lighter. That said, I love the big knobs and levers. They’re easy to use in the dark when shooting night skies. The quick release is a very important feature. You want to be able to remove the camera from the tripod swiftly should you need to.   

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Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT Flash

Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT Flash

On the whole, I prefer to use natural light for my photography, but I am experimenting more with flash. I use it the most as a fill for days when the sun is harsh and there are a lot of shadow. I’ve also played with flash during a snowstorm while shooting longer exposures. The added light enhanced the flakes in a way that really made the photo.  

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Energizer Rechargeable AA and AAA Battery Charger

Energizer Rechargeable AA and AAA Battery Charger

Yep, they are more expensive on the front end, but rechargeable batteries will save you a bunch over the years. 

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Mag Mod Flash Starter Kit

MagMod Starter Flash Kit 

The Magmod attaches to your flash via magnets and delivers a lovely diffused light when you need it. The dome is made of flexible rubber which can be shoved in a coat pocket without breaking. I’m a big stuff-things-in-my-pocket person. 

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BlackRapid Breathe Curve Camera Strap

BlackRapid Double Breathe Camera Harness

I use this when I’m walking around with two bodies.  I love being able to switch between camera seamlessly and know that the camera I’m not using is safe by my side and ready for action when I need it.  

Tip: You can buy the double harness and convert it to a single when you don’t need two bodies. 

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BlackRapid Breathe Hybrid Camera Strap

BlackRapid Double Breathe Camera Harness

I use this when I’m walking around with two bodies.  I love being able to switch between camera seamlessly and know that the camera I’m not using is safe by my side and ready for action when I need it.  

Tip: You can buy the double harness and convert it to a single when you don’t need two bodies. 

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Cotton Carrier G3 1 Camera Harness Gray

Rogue 2-in-1 Collapsible Reflector

Super Soft Silver / Natural White 32”. Sometimes ambient light needs a little help. I don’t use reflectors much but when I do, I’am glad to have it handy.

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Rogue 2-in-1 Collapsible Reflector - Super Soft Silver / Natural White 32”

Rogue 2-in-1 Collapsible Reflector – Super Soft Silver / Natural White 32”

Sometimes ambient light needs a little help. I don’t use reflectors much but when I do, I’am glad to have it handy.

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MindShift Gear House of Cards Memory Wallet for CF and SD Cards

MindShift Wallet for 6x CF and 3x SD Memory Cards

I have a crapload of memory cards. Seriously, I have about 20, and when I’m traveling they all come with me. Nothing is worse that running out of storage on a great trip. Having that many also means I’m less likely to have to delete images before I’m ready. This Mindshift wallet enables me to keep 6 CF cards at my fingertips when I’m in the field. A second wallet stays in my camera bag. 

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Pelican 0945 Compact Flash Memory Card Case (Black)

Pelican CF Memory Card Case 

When I’m in a situation where a rugged case that’s waterproof is need for my memory cards, this Pelican is my go-to accessory. 

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SAMSUNG T5 Portable SSD 2TB

SAMSUNG T5 Portable SSD 2TB 

If you’re on the road working with photos and you don’t have at least one external drive with you as a backup, you’re asking for trouble. This Samsung 2 TB drive is not only credit card size and super light, the fact that I have 2TB of storage to play with makes me so happy. 

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Heavy Duty Foam Padding Kneepads

Professional Knee Pads for Work 

I love to work with a variety of angles which means I may be on the ground one minute and climbing a fence the next. These knee pads were spectacular for my trip to Antarctica when I wanted to shoot at penguin eye-level on rocky beaches and tough terrain. I could drop to my knees in a second to capture a moment without worrying about easing down and finding a comfortable stance. 

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Amazon Basics Water Resistant Neoprene Camera Lens Accessories Protective Case - Set of 4, Black

Amazon Basics Water Resistant Neoprene Protective Case Set of 4

I keep these around for extra lens protection. I’ll use one for a lens in my purse when I want to move about without being hampered by a camera bag. I also use them in my camera trunk at home to keep my lenses safe between shoots. 

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Go Pro Accessories

GoPro The Handler Floating Hand Grip (GoPro Official Mount)

GoPro Camera the Handler Floating Hand Grip

Lightweight, floats, small enough for a pocket. Perfect when you’re in or near water. Wrist band makes sure you won’t lose it. 

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GoPro Fusion Grip (Official GoPro Mount)

GoPro Max Grip + Tripod – Official GoPro Mount

This handle is a lot bigger than the floating handle above. It extends for more flexibility and a higher POV and the grip opens to create a tripod so you can set it down and film hands free. 

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GoPro Suction Cup Mount (GoPro Official Mount)

GoPro Suction Cup Mount (GoPro Official Mount)

I’ve used this on car hoods, kayaks, boats and other vehicles with flat surfaces to capture action as it happens. 

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Smatree Baseball Hat with Quick Release Buckle Mount

Smatree Baseball Hat with Quick Release Buckle Mount 

When you want an easy, hands-free, no fuss, higher POV. 

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Cool Stuff

Borrowlenses Logo

Borrow Lenses

Don’t miss opportunities for wonderful photos because you don’t have the right equipment. Rent. Borrowlenses will ship the gear to you for a fraction of the purchase price.

Try a new camera before you commit with your wallet. Enjoy capturing wonderful wildlife images because you finally have a long enough lens. Pretty much anything you need you can rent from Borrowlenses. 

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Photo within the LIghtroom Develop Mode

Adobe Lightroom Classic

I use LIghtroom for my content directory and post processing. I’m not a Photoshop. I can’t imagine using anything else. I love it. There is a bit of a learning curve when you first start but once you’re comfortable it’s a dream. 

FYI – If you’re new to Lightroom and would like some one-on-one tutorials over Zoom, 

For more information click here

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