Chris Prescott

Filmmaker. Photographer. Sound Designer.

What's in my bag?

I've had quite a few people get in touch recently with various questions about the camera equipment I use. Rather than reply to individual questions I thought I'd write a blog about what's in my bag. Although this seems to change constantly as I switch things in and out this is pretty much my standard setup. Having said that this is for an average shoot and excludes things like winter or alpine shooting where i'd most likely drop the majority of the kit and go for a DSLR, a couple of lenses and maybe a few filters. This is also my photography kit rather than for video, which is a whole other post in itself and usually involves a vast amount of extra (knee and shoulder crippling) kit to carry up the hills.

I've been using F-Stop ICU's and bags for a couple of years now and they definitely appeal to my OCD nature by letting you compartmentalise all your kit and giving quick and easy access to it in the mountains through a back opening system. Depending on the shoot i'll usually take along the 'Large Slope' ICU, which gives me enough space for my full setup (see full list below). The unit can also be removed from a bag and carried as a standalone case, which is useful if you want to dump most of your kit and go shoot something nearby.

F-Stop Large Slope ICU with all the camera equipment used on an average shoot. See full list at the bottom of the blog.

I've spent a lot of time playing with different lenses and camera setups but i'm pretty happy with my current line up. The 3 lenses I use give me coverage at f/2.8 from 14mm to 200mm (and f/5.6 to 400mm using the extender). Although the 70-200mm is a particularly heavy beast the quality of photos it produces makes it hard to leave behind. The only other lens I use is the Canon 100mm Macro but mostly for video work as the 70-200mm covers most of my photo needs.

I often get funny looks from other photographers when they see me shooting with a Canon 6D rather than the industry standard 5D MkIII but having shot with both I found the two cameras to be very similar in terms of features and image quality but with the 6D being smaller and considerably lighter (200g), which is a big bonus when you're already laden down with all the other gear.

As you can probably tell i'm also a big fan of my filters and they're a key part of my setup. Rather than going into too much detail here I wrote a blog a couple of months ago that goes into a lot of detail on the filters and what I use them for here.

One of my gear top tips has to be the use of round screw top food containers to keep lenses in. The cases specifically marketed for lenses can cost a small fortune, add loads of bulk and generally only protect the lens a bit anyway. The food containers can be picked up for £1 each in a lot of bargain stores, are totally crush proof and waterproof as well. By adding a small length of sling with heavy duty duct tape I can clip the cases to my harness gear loops and access them while shooting from a rope without always needing a bag.

I spent a lot of time getting annoyed with various camera straps that never seemed to work quite how I wanted them or were massively uncomfortable until I was sent some gear to try out from Peak Design. One of the best pieces of kit they make for shooting from a rope is the 'Capture Pro Clip', which is basically a tripod plate attachment that you can fix to a belt or harness and I have one that lives permanently on my shooting harness (Black Diamond BIg Gun). The pad conveniently fits over the front gear loop of the harness and is held in place with a couple of cable ties to keep it from moving. The clip allows you to fix your DSLR out of the way whilst ascending ropes, moving positions, changing lens etc. When combined with the beefy 'Slide' strap it gives lots of different options for attaching your camera as they are fixed with quick release buckles, which allow you to quickly switch the camera from being round your neck to attaching it to the harness gear loop and back again.

That's pretty much everything I have in my bag. I generally try and keep my DSLR out and ready to shoot as much as possible and rarely put it away or use lens caps (you're not going to get good photos if it's buried in a case inside your bag!). If I do need to get rid of it i'll shove it under the rucksack lid so it's quick to get at.

The key thing to remember is that kit is secondary to everything else and learning how to take a good photo is far more important than the gear that you're carrying. Although it's tempting to think that by buying more gear you'll be able to take better photos (something i've definitely been guilt of in the past!) learning to use what you already have is far more important and your bank balance will definitely appreciate it. Spend some of the money you were going to blow on a new piece of gear on a trip somewhere to shoot something special, I guarantee it'll be more memorable and give you better results than being broke at home with a £2,000 lens.

The final thing to note is that the gear mentioned in this blog is a comprehensive list of what I use but certainly isn't what I take on every shoot. I spend time in pre-production considering what i'm going to take on each shoot depending on the scope and purpose of the shooting and tailor my kit accordingly. Something I was definitely guilty of when I first started out, and probably still am to some extent, is taking way more gear than is really needed. Although this might cover you for every possible shooting scenario what is more likely to happen is you cursing your extra heavy rucksack as you sweat to keep up with your shooting subject who has a tiny rucksack full of lightweight gear and has just pissed off over the horizon never to be seen again.

Here is the full list of kit I use for all the gear nerds out there:

DSLR and Lenses -

  • Canon 6D
  • Canon 14mm f/2.8 Mk2
  • Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS Mk2
  • Canon 24-70 f/2.8 Mk2
  • Canon 100mm Macro f/2.8 IS
  • Canon 2x Extender Mk3
  • 3x Canon Batteries

Filters - 

  • LEE Filters Soft Grad Set
  • LEE Filters Hard Grad Set
  • LEE Filters Big Stopper
  • LEE Filters Little Stopper
  • LEE Landscape Polariser
  • LEE Pro Glass ND
  • LEE Filter Holder
  • LEE Lens Adaptors

Extras - 

  • Gitzo GT2542L Tripod
  • Gitzo GH2780QR Tripod Head
  • 2x Canon 600EX-RT Flashes
  • Canon ST-E3-RT Flash Trigger
  • Lastolite Ezybox Softbox
  • 2x Lightstands (for flashes)
  • Peak Design Slide Strap
  • Peak Design Capture Pro Camera Clip
  • Peak Design Pro Pad
  • Canon TC-80N3 Intervalometer
  • F-Stop Large Slope ICU
  • F-Stop Loka
  • F-Stop Tilopa BC
  • F-Stop CF Wallet
  • Apple iPad (for remote image reviewing with clients)

© Chris Prescott 2016. All rights reserved.