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The Ultimate Camera Bag

A photographer’s two-week tour of Hokkaido, and the tools he brought with him.

Henry Phillips

From Issue Two of the Gear Patrol Magazine. Subscribe today for 15% off the GP Store.

There is no universally perfect camera bag. What works for a landscape photographer likely misses the mark for a sports photographer and probably lacks essentials for the photojournalist. So when I faced a two-week tour of Hokkaido as a “travel photographer” — which, at least in this magazine’s guise, can mean shooting skiing one morning, sushi that afternoon and street photography that night — packing was appropriately terrifying. This kit was my best answer to the conundrum, and the core elements here will improve the work of any photographer on the go.

The two main camera systems I used for the trip were the burly, high-resolution Nikon D810 and Fujifilm’s newest compact mirrorless, the X-Pro2. Pairing a compact, if slightly specialized, camera with a larger, more powerful option means that no matter what you are shooting, there’s always the right camera handy.

Fuji’s X-Pro2 is a low-key camera that lets you carry and shoot it anywhere without being “the camera guy.” Although it is an interchangeable-lens camera, I only used one 23mm f/1.4 lens (equivalent to 35mm on a full-frame sensor), and this focal length is perfect for everything from food to street photography.

As for the Nikon D810, its combination of focus speed, frame rate, resolution and mule-esque durability is unbeatable. Even though the 810 is Nikon’s “studio” camera, it trounced a colleague’s Fuji X-T1 when it came to moving subjects and adverse conditions (like shooting skiers during a snowstorm at 10 degrees Fahrenheit). Of course, with a heavy camera comes heavy lenses — but when traveling, one must learn to embrace bulky, prozoom glass. Prime lenses are lighter and optically a bit better, but the difference in image quality is negligible and taking three lenses instead of six is a good thing when it comes to bag space. The one exception I made to this rule was with Zeiss’s awe-inspiring 15mm f/2.8. If you need to go super wide there’s just no beating it, even compared to Nikon’s heralded 14-24mm f/2.8.

Aside from those two main systems, the rest of the bag is a greatest-hits of photo accessories (Gitzo, LaCie, Lexar, et al.), a couple flashes and a Mamiya 7 II medium-format film rangefinder I brought along because I can’t shake my love of Kodak Portra and Tri-X. It all fits in the rather lovely (and soon to be updated) F-Stop Loka UL.

In short, it’s probably the perfect camera bag.

What’s in the Bag?

Bag, Cameras, Lenses, Hardware


Loka UL Pack by F-Stop Bags $199

X-Pro2 by Fujifilm $1,699
XF 23mm f/1.4 by Fujifilm $559
Fujifilm EF-X20 Flash by Fujifilm $199
Standard Camera Sling Strap by GP x Dsptch $44

D810 by Nikon $2,797
AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 by Nikon $1,797
AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 by Nikon $2,097
Distagon T* 15mm f/2.8 by Zeiss $3,288
Series 2 Traveler Tripod with Ball Head by Gitzo $1,100
Heavy Camera Sling Strap by GP x DSPTCH $46

7 II with 80mm f/4 by Mamiya $1,700+
SF 20 Flash by Leica $140
Professional CF and SD Cards by Lexar $95+
Tri-X 400 by Kodak $5+
Zip Slim Wallet by Makr $110
2TB Rugged Thunderbolt Drive by LaCie $180

Read More in Our Magazine

A version of this story appears in Issue Two of the Gear Patrol Magazine, 286 pages of stories, reports, interviews and original photography from five distinct locations around the world. Subscribe Now: $35

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