T4P – What’s in My Bag

Lately I have received a lot of questions about what kind of gear I use, so I figured it was about time for an updated What’s in My Bag post! When I’m shooting, I always carry the same gear on me:

Shootsac or Kelly Moore Bag
Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 50 f1.2L (stays on my camera the majority of the time)
Canon 100 f2.8 Macro (mostly for detail shots like rings and some portraits)
Canon 35 f2 (great for big sweeping ceremony photos, wedding party photos, large formals, and reception dancing photos)
Canon 70-200 2.8L (used during the ceremony for closeups)
Canon ST-E2 Wireless Transmitter (for firing my flashes)

I like to work light, so this is the only gear I actually carry around with me (plus copious amounts of memory cards and batteries). I also have a second gear bag that holds all my miscellaneous items. This gear serves as my backup kit, as well as supplemental gear for my second shooter, should she need it.

Lowepro Pro Roller 2

Canon 5D Mark II (backup camera)
Canon 16-35 2.8L
Canon 28 2.8
Canon 85 1.8
Canon 50 1.4
Tamron 28-75 2.8
Canon 580 EX (4)
Canon ST-E2 (backup)
Canon flash sync cord
Ice Light
2 Lightstands
1 Monopod (to use a light-on-a-stick, as held by my assistant)

Here are a few things I DON’T use (nothing against any of these items, I just don’t find them necessary for my shooting style):
-Lensbabies
-Pocket Wizards (I own them for emergencies, but rarely use them)
-Filters
-Flash diffusers (I have a couple but they have been gathering dust since I bought them)
-Strobes
-Flash brackets
-White balance tools (ExpoDisc, grey card, etc)
-Reflectors (again, I have a couple, but I never use them)

There are a lot of neat gadgets and gizmos and add-ons that the camera industry pimps out, but in my experience most of them are either gimmicky or easily replicated in Photoshop/Lightroom. Gear is useful, but only to an extent. The truth is, if you can’t take a good photo with a Digital Rebel and a kit lens, you’re still not going to take good photos with a 5D and a 50 1.2L. However, if you CAN take a good photo with a Rebel and a kit lens, investing in professional-quality equipment will help you take the quality of your already-good images to the next level.

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  • Andrew - I just picked up a 50 f/1.2 today so we will see if I fall in love with it! Also thanks for lending us your video light..it sure came in handy when I lost my keys at the after party shoot yesterday…. :)

  • Jonny - Nice… I liked the pro roller but ultimately got the AW Trekker 800 instead… still fits in an overhead… although I do miss the wheels :(

    How do you find the ST-E2 system? I use PW’s +II’s… Reliable, but sometimes a tiny bit cumbersome on the flash end of things.

    I’ve been using the 24-70L on the 5Dmk2 since January… awesome combination, but man i’d live to do a wedding with the 50 1.2 for a change just to see what I can do with it… i’d love the 85 1.2 more… but man $2400 up here in Canada!

  • stacyreeves - The 85 1.2 is FAR too slow in focusing for me. It’s like molasses.. It takes foorrreeeeverrr to focus, and if your subject is moving, forget it. Great for portraits but pretty terrible for PJ stuff. I try to avoid zooms at all cost, and pretty soon will be trading in my 16-35 for a 35 1.4.

    ST-E2s have never been anything but stellar for me. I’ve seen a lot of complaints around the net but I’ve never had any problems at all. May invest in the new line of PWs, but still doing some research on that one!

  • Jonny - Good point on the 85 1.2…. I didn`t even think about that, especially being well adjusted to the lighting fast focusing of the 24-70. I`d probably throw it out the window after the first walk down the aisle ;) But i`d love to try the 24 1.4 or the 50 1.2 for a session… i`d probably be an instant convert :)

  • Ben Q - Great info, as always:) I had the 50 1.2. it was way to soft:( even at 1.4 and 2.0. How do you handle that type of lens…I was trying so hard to love it but it did not work at all. Have you shot wide-open let say at 1.4 or 1.2?

  • stacyreeves - Ben, I virtually always shoot wide open at 1.2 (except for group shots, which I do at f4), and really haven’t had softness issues. Maybe you had a bad copy? The focus can be hard to tack with moving subject, so I try to refocus and reshoot really important things like portraits 2-3 times, to make sure I’ve got at least one that is dead on.

  • Lynn Michelle - Truest words ever written: “… if you can’t take a good photo with a Digital Rebel and a kit lens, you’re still not going to take good photos with a 5D and a 50 1.2L.”

  • Sarah Neal - Really thinking hard about what to buy this summer as far as flashes and lighting go. I have a couple of dark weddings… and was curious in what instance you use your Lowell ID 100w video light w/ 4-way barndoors?

  • Richard Annable - “The truth is, if you can’t take a good photo with a Digital Rebel and a kit lens, you’re still not going to take good photos with a 5D and a 50 1.2L. However, if you CAN take a good photo with a Rebel and a kit lens, investing in professional-quality equipment will help you take the quality of your already-good images to the next level.”

    No truer words have ever been said.

  • valentiPHOTOGRAPHY - Amen to this!
    “if you can’t take a good photo with a Digital Rebel and a kit lens, you’re still not going to take good photos with a 5D and a 50 1.2L”
    Oh, so true! how many photographers I see with tons of equipment on top of them that take really crappy pictures!

  • Rachael - So the gear info is really great and all…and I must agree with the “if you can’t take good photos with the rebel then your not with the million dollar equip.” but what kind of information (books, lectures, workshops, etc.) did you find helpful in becoming a better photographer??? I know how to use the stuff…how do I become “better”? Any suggestions?

  • Natasha C - I’ve only photographed my first wedding in April this year – with a Digital Rebel & kits lenses. I was so nervous I nearly puked but it all turned out fine. I’ve found your work inspiring – everything I’d like my work to be really. I’m only 4 months in and I seem to be making headway – based on my 1 wedding experience I have 7 weddings booked for summer and another 4 new client appointments over the next 3 weeks. I’ve got 2 new lenses which I love – 50mm 1.8 and the 28-135mm and they’ve made a great difference. I’m hoping that my photo’s with my rebel turn into much better photo’s when I get my 5D II later this year. Btw your pricing guide has been a revelation – thankyou.

  • Ryan - Thanks for sharing your gear bag with everyone. Your portfolio is awesome and definitely an inspiration for me. Love seeing all the primes. Oh, and thanks for the awesome pricing guide!!!

  • Ethan Tweedie - Hey Stacy,

    It is always interesting to see what equipment others use, especially when they have put it in practice, so thank you for posting your information. I read your comments regarding the 85 1.2L, question, was that the newer Mark II version? (I understand that the newer version focuses much faster.) I am looking at that and or the 50 1.2. I do mostly portraits so that is also a consideration for me so I was leaning towards the 85 1.2 and a 50 1.4

    See you in January!

    Regards,

    Ethan

  • stacyreeves - Either lens is good for portraits.. The 85 1.2 is probably better for portrait work due to the longer focal length, but I swear by my 50. I haven’t used the 85 Mark II so I don’t know if the focus is faster or not.

  • Ana Gargollo - Hi, I just found out your site and I think its great! and very useful…. thankyou for the tips! I am thinking about buying a Canon, but dont have much budget and i am changing brands (from Nikon to Canon)so I was thinking about the Canon D50, but I would like your advise if its possible.
    thank you
    Ana

  • Christine Hines - Wow, thats all I can say…. Ok, now I can say more after the initial shock. You’ve open your heart and your business in the world of photography. I apprieciate the help. I love photography. I hope to get better. My past clients have been pleased with my work. just wondering what step to take.But I always feel I need to do so much better. I am looking to upgrade my equipement.(I have the rebel xti/28-135)I’ll continue to work on my art. Thank you so much for sharing

  • Susan - THANK YOU – for giving me permission to learn how to create good photos using my 5 year old Rebel. My DH gave it to me for my birthday and I’ve only played around with it. Now I really want to learn. I’ve been intimidated on some of the forums with the gadget crazy clickers, but I kept thinking that it’s not the camera, but the practiced eye,composition and learning the techniques.

    Now I’m going to go out and play and find someone locally to help me learn. Thank you for the gift!

  • Ted Eachus - I’m curious. Recently, (three weeks ago) I did a BiLo commercial using nothing but the Canon 5D Mark II. After spending a lifetime working with Panavision cameras this concept came out of left field for me. I’ve been entertaining the idea of shooting weddings as a sideline. Is it ever requested that you also shoot video with your 5D during a wedding shoot? If so, how do you price yourself? Would you alter your lens and go with the Zeiss Lens pack instead?

  • Tino - Hi Stacy
    Hi yes i Tino from Malta i been 30 year as photgrapher and i used the best cameras around but now with the djgi one is like starting a new life i am a fashion and wedding photgrapher i used mostly m/formt i still use the hass 6×6 and the canon digi D1s yes l Love reading the coments on your page i thinking of buying a new lens for wedding 50mm 1.2 or 85mm or 1.2 or 200mm 2.8 all my lense are canon 28mm to 70mm 2.8 i need more for chruch for the bride and groum to get good close up kinly can you recomed
    Tino

  • Amanda - Hi Stacy,
    I basically just looked though your whole site. Now I have a few questions. What time of day do you generally shoot at? The light always seems PERFECT! Do you use a combination of natural and a key light using “Lowell ID 100w video light w/ 4-way barn doors + Bescor battery.” If not what do you use for your key light source and what do you use the lowell light for. Does the battery work for strobe packs? I’ve used natural light and reflectors my whole career (4 years) ;) and now we are learning about strobes on location in class (Texas A&M Commerce Photography) and I am a little lost. The thought of constant light sounds good if it is what you used in all of your fabulous engagement/ day after photos.
    Thanks for your help and inspiration,
    Amanda :)

  • Dallas Wedding Photographer - Great to know, I am looking to have the same equipment.

  • Victor - This gear setup really shows how professional Stacy is. She has pretty much a back-up component in range for all her primary equipment. It’s great that Stacy thinks ahead. Time to time lenses do stop working or the body’s shutter fails then the photographer is in serious trouble.

    I can also vouch for the 85mm 1.2 being very slow in low light, but in some instances (stage lighting) photographing moving dancers, there’s not really an issue.

    Keep up the fantastic work Stacy! =)

  • Dewey - I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you create this website yourself or
    did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz answer back
    as I’m looking to construct my own blog and would like to know where u got this from. kudos

  • kamala beach hotel - Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely useful information particularly the last part :) I care for such info much. I was looking for this particular info for a long time. Thank you and good luck.

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