The Cat’s Out of The Bag! Part 2

Best gear for professional wedding photography - full wedding day kit bag

The cat’s out of the bag! Part 2 – Mrs F’s Wedding Photography Gear

So, today we get to have a peek inside Katie’s camera bag. Mrs F is all about simplicity, reliability, and being able to get into the moment without any fear of her gear being able to keep up. She’s relentless during a shoot and, shall we say, regularly tests Canon’s durability and engineering standards to the max. I’ve seen her take a chunk of magnesium right out of a canon body before, so if it’s lasted this long, it’s a keeper.

Billingham 307, Khaki with Chocolate Leather

Katie’s always loved the style, quality and practicality of Billingham bags. Our credit card has been less complimentary about them. Her latest one is the 307, which holds 2 x pro bodies, 4 x lenses, spares, accessories and a bottle of water or two. She started out with the Hadley Pro, but after moving over to the Canon f/1.2 primes needed a little extra room to accommodate them. These bags are pricey, but the quality speaks for itself. We’d recommend going to see them in person, seeing how the divider systems work, and if they’d be a good fit for you. We went with the expectation of buying a totally different bag, but this just fit the bill perfectly. The reps were squirming as we ripped apart their velcro and stuffed our battle-scarred gear into their shiny box-fresh display bags, but it’s the only way to know its right. As a bonus, the chocolate leather trim also matches her wedding shoes 🙂 After a year of use it still looks almost brand new – this one’s a keeper!

Holdfast MoneyMaker in Chestnut Leather

Our holdfast harnesses were a new addition in 2016. We’d always end up with neck and back issues from carrying two bodies and heavy lenses around on a long wedding. We looked at a few systems, but eventually went with Holdfast and haven’t looked back. The have ridiculous build quality; we got the second series as we heard that the first editions nip your arms, and we haven’t had an issue. They’re worth every penny and more, and we haven’t needed a physio visit since we got them. They also feel like they’ll outlast the rest of our gear, so we’re set for a good few years with these. Winner!

Best gear for professional wedding photography - Katie's Canon 5D Cameras

Canon 5D MKiii x 2

We’ve shot with Canon 5D bodies since before our first wedding, and we’re currently on the MKiii versions. When we met, I was a Nikon man, but we both love the colours from Canon and don’t think they can be matched at any price point. While we’ve trialled alternatives over the past few months, and even toyed with the idea of upgrading to the MKiv versions, we just LOVE how rock-solid these bodies continue to be. They’re an industry standard that’s never let us down. We each have 2 x of these bodies so we can shoot wide and long without pausing to take a breath. With the Holdfast strap system, changing cameras for a different perspective takes a couple of seconds at most.

Canon 24mm f/1.4L ii

Katie’s go-to for pretty much everything. This is one of the first lenses we bought for weddings after ditching those 24-105 zooms. Katie always loved the wide end of that lens, and this is quite a step up in every department. You have to have some nerve to get close enough with this lens, but she uses this to create beautiful impactful documentary from the heart of the action. Razor sharp even wide open, weather sealed and the focus is pretty decent. A hefty and pricey piece but indispensable. Great for the dance floor action, and we’ve even used this underwater in Antigua!

Canon 50mm f/1.2L

This doesn’t see as much use as the others, but it’s a glorious lens with an unmatched look. We’ve always both loved the 50mm focal length, and how hard it makes us work to get a shot. It’s a difficult lens, but if we’re working harder, generally we’re being more creative. It’s pretty soft wide open and it doesn’t focus particularly quickly, it’s big and heavy, and very expensive. But for all it’s faults it’s spectacularly good at what it does best, and we wouldn’t give it up. The transitions between the in-focus and out-of-focus areas of an image can’t be matched by any other lens, and the bokeh is just stunning. This lens replaced the old plastic f/1.4 version when we wore it out – that was a great lens, just needed a little more care in use to avoid cracking the focus helicoids. The 1.2 version is also weather-sealed which is handy. Mr F often wishes he’d got one of these too.

Canon 85mm f/1.2L ii

Like a steel and glass grapefruit, this thing is built like a tank, and weighs about as much too. Sharp, contrasty, perfect focal length for most wedding venues, it’s very rare it leaves one of the camera bodies. Slow to grab focus but it’s accurate when it does. Unrivalled flare and bokeh characteristics make this one a keeper – if you can stand the weight of it.

Canon 45mm f/2.8 TSE

Katie’s pet. A beautifully engineered, solid-metal articulating tilt-shift lens usually used for architectural photography. Mrs F uses it to bring a little ethereal, perspective-warping magic to our weddings. It’s very delicate and needs to be handled with care as to not snap off the tiny retaining screws from the tilt mechanism. I have a couple of these in a spares bag just in case. The sharpest lens in the bag, with the steepest learning curve.

500ml bottles of Sparkling Water

Absolutely the most important bit. We work long and hard from morning until evening, and keeping hydrated is the key to keeping on our feet and our creative minds in tip-top shape. In the early days we’d forget to drink any water during the day, and suffered badly the next day. Mrs F stuffs as many of these as she carry in her bag first thing in the morning so we don’t have to stop for anything once the action begins.

And that’s it! Simple, high quality and ready for anything, just the way we like it. If you’re now itching to go out and buy your first wedding photography kit, or refine what you have already – think quality, ultility and simplicity, and you can’t go wrong.

Next time, it’s Mr F’s turn to open the bags for inspection, along with our lighting gear and other wedding essentials.

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