Walkabout photo kit


in Daily updates, Geek stuff, Photography

My standard set of photo gear for walking around and taking photos has expanded considerably, of late. It now includes:

  • Canon Rebel XS dSLR
  • Canon Powershot A570IS
  • Canon 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 lens
  • Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens
  • Lens hoods
  • Canon 430EX II flash
  • PC to hotshoe adapter
  • Sto-fen omnibounce diffuser
  • CyberSync flash trigger and receiver
  • Collapsable reflector
  • Ultrapod mini tripod (for A570IS)
  • Ultrapod tripod (for Rebel XS)
  • Polarizing filter
  • Lens cleaning equipment
  • Extra batteries (dSLR and AAs)
  • Plastic zip-loc bag, to prevent condensation when moving from cold to warm places

Among these, the polarizing filter is probably the least used item. The most useful item relative to its price is the Ultrapod mini tripod.

A useful and affordable addition would be a clamp for attaching the flash to things. The addition that I think would be most useful is a 70-200mm lens. It would allow for much better wildlife photography, as well as more capability at concerts and similar events.

See also: Building a 35mm camera system.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

robin February 15, 2009 at 9:39 pm

What kind of bag do you use to use to carry it around?

Milan February 16, 2009 at 8:59 am

I carry the SLR around my neck, with the lens cap off and the settings suited to wherever I am, the P&S camera in my left breast pocket, and the rest of the stuff in an ordinary backpack.

I very rarely use camera bags, having learned several years ago that the delays they introduce between seeing things and photographing them undermine their protective benefits.

Litty February 16, 2009 at 12:59 pm

That is a lot to lug around.

How many photos of the day rely on this equipment?

Milan February 16, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Canon Rebel XS dSLR

I have used this for most of the photos of the day (POTD) since I gave it to myself as a 25th birthday present. An easy way to tell which photos were shot on it is to look at the aspect ratio. The Rebel XS produces images that are 3:2. That means thumbnails that are 450 by 300 pixels, like this one.

Canon Powershot A570IS

The aspect ratio here is 4:3. That means thumbnails of 450 by 337 pixels, like this one. I had to scroll back a long way to find one! I have certainly been focusing on the Rebel XS lately.

I pretty much always have this camera with me, so it is more likely to be used in situations where I didn’t expect to be doing serious photography.

Canon 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 lens

This is the more commonly used of my lenses. I am increasingly fond of the telephoto range, and I think the optical quality of this lens is better than that of the 18-55 kit lens.

Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens

I use this when I want wide angle capabilities, or when I am shooting in low light. The image stabilization can make a big difference.

Lens hoods

I have the custom hood for the 28-105 and pretty much always use it. I have a collapsable rubber one for my other lens, for use in rain or snow. Given that neither my Rebel XS nor my lenses are weather sealed, I don’t use them much in such conditions.

Canon 430EX II flash

Used for relatively few POTD – mostly portraits and shots taken in social circumstances.

PC to hotshoe adapter

Only used with the flash triggers – this makes them play nice with my 430EX II.

Sto-fen omnibounce diffuser

Used for some portraits. It makes people look more interesting, certainly, but I don’t generally find it flattering.

Example image

CyberSync flash trigger and receiver

Used whenever my flash is being employed off-camera. Mostly, that has been in the course of my studio lighting experiments.

Collapsable reflector

Used mostly for portraits in natural light. Sometimes, for still life or macro type work.

Sometimes used in conjunction with an off-camera flash, to fill shadows.

Ultrapod mini tripod (for A570IS)

Very useful in low light. Used here, here, and here.

Ultrapod tripod (for Rebel XS)

I just got this on Sunday and have yet to try it out. I expect similar performance to the small version.

Polarizing filter

Almost never used – very seldomly when shooting water or glass.

Lens cleaning equipment
Extra batteries (dSLR and AAs)

Used as necessary.

Milan February 16, 2009 at 11:48 pm

PocketWizard just released some flash triggers that are significantly better than my CyberWizards, in functionality as well as range.

If I was deciding again, I would probably spend the extra money and get the PW system. Radio-based wireless TTL? Very nice.

Tristan February 17, 2009 at 2:32 am

Annoyingly, after amassing an impressive amount of photo gear myself, all of my best photos have been taken on a rollei 35 purchased for 5$, which has no auto focus, no auto exposure, and a very rudimentary light meter.

I would very much like a digital point and shoot with a fixed lens at 40mm equivalent – if only to kill the awful barrel distortion.

Milan February 17, 2009 at 9:05 am

A digital SLR is a new experience, if only for the photographic promiscuity it offers.

On Saturday, I shot about 120 frames (not counting ones I immediately deleted). Perhaps five or six will end up as photos of the day.

As such, using a dSLR lets you experiment more than your budget would otherwise allow.

Tristan February 17, 2009 at 11:02 pm

I do want a DSLR,

although, I recently learned you can process Kodachrome by just dropping it off at shoppers drug mart. And, I want to shoot kodachrome more than I want a dslr.

Milan August 9, 2010 at 5:23 pm


  • Canon Rebel XS dSLR – Canon 5D Mark II dSLR
  • Canon Powershot A570IS – Flip HD video camera
  • Canon 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 lens – Canon 70-200mm f/4L lens
  • Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens – Canon 24-70 f/2.8L lens, plus Canon 50 f/1.8 lens
  • Lens hoods
  • Canon 430EX II flash, plus LP120 flash
  • PC to hotshoe adapter
  • Sto-fen omnibounce diffuser
  • CyberSync flash trigger and receiver
  • Collapsable reflector (rarely caried around)
  • Ultrapod mini tripod (for A570IS)
  • Ultrapod tripod (for Rebel XS 5D)
  • Polarizing filter
  • Lens cleaning equipment
  • Extra batteries (dSLR and AAs)
  • Plastic zip-loc bag, to prevent condensation when moving from cold to warm places
Matt August 9, 2010 at 11:27 pm

Tristan, just read your post regarding Kodachrome:

I’ve been scanning tons of Kodachrome slides that my grandfather shot over the decades. I’ve been using a dedicated slide scanner with an infrared channel for dust removal. With the Kodachrome, the IR dust removal doesn’t work, because the Kodak dyes don’t disperse IR uniformly. Also, I’m finding a lot of them have an overall blue appearance that needs to be corrected with software.

On the other hand, I’ve scanned some Fujichrome and it doesn’t suffer from either of those problems. The dust corrected scans come out almost looking like they were shot on a modern DSLR. Anyway, just though you might be interested.

Tristan August 10, 2010 at 5:07 am


That post was from over a year ago. I’ve recently converted to a DSLR-having-person, and I enjoy it a lot. The superior quality of slides is, for me, overshadowed by the high per-shot cost.

Matt August 10, 2010 at 2:36 pm

That’ll teach me to look at dates.

But anyway, it is amazing how good slides can look. Some of the ones that were stored well, particularly ones newer that ~1970 (which I’m guessing benefited from improved film) look as though they were taken yesterday.

Conversely, the film negatives I have scanned with the same machine look okay, but not incredible. Slide positives are very obviously superior when compared this way.

Milan August 10, 2010 at 3:08 pm

I was never all that happy with my experiments with slide film. I suppose I am used to dealing with light sensitive media that tolerate a wider range of brightnesses.

It’s neat that it is so enduring, however.

Tristan August 10, 2010 at 4:17 pm

I did a project once which involved looking at kodachrome slides taken in the late 40s – they do look like they were taken yesterday. While modern E6 is stable enough for our lifetimes, nothing can touch the colour stability of kodachrome. Except digital, that is!

Milan August 10, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Provided your hard drive doesn’t die, along with your DVD-Rs.

Of course, there is always paper.

Tristan August 10, 2010 at 4:23 pm

This is the collection I used:

Nan Cheney was a well-known B.C. portrait painter as well as a medical artist for the University of British Columbia, who met and corresponded with many Canadian artists. Cheney enjoyed a close friendship with Emily Carr in the period before Carr’s work had gained general acceptance. Cheney collected material about Emily Carr until December 1979.

hysical description 91 cm of textual records;
279 photographs;
107 slides


Milan August 10, 2010 at 4:28 pm

What did you do with the slides?

Milan August 11, 2010 at 10:15 am

OKCupid reveals which cameras are used to take especially attractive photos of people:

Embrace Panasonic, Leica, and Canon. Shun Motorola phones.

R.K. August 11, 2010 at 11:15 am

What’s the scale on the left? The post doesn’t explain.

Maybe standard deviations?

Milan October 7, 2011 at 10:57 pm

Along with my 5D II body, this was my gear for the fifteen days of the Washington protest.

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