UfD: 10 Things I Can’t Live Without in My Kit

This post was first written May 2015. It was interesting to go back to the original and see how much as changed. I have to say not a lot. I have updated it in a few places, but these are still the pieces of kit I can’t live without.

If your photography kit is anything like mine, you have a bit, but there will be pieces that you can’t live without.  So today I thought I would share with you my top 10 things that I couldn’t live without.

1/ My Camera

What would a photographer be without their camera.  I don’t think I am alone in my feelings towards it.  I have a Nikon D800 and it has been the most spectacular camera I’ve ever had. I have loved it, but it is showing its age now and I have ordered the new Nikon D850.  It is something we all have to do is to get a camera that we love using and one that will do what you want it to do.

2/ My 24-70mm LensLeanneCole-banyuleflats-20140525-9353

I first got the Nikon 24-70mm lens because I thought it would be a good portrait lens and that sort of thing for doing cycling.  I did have plans for doing some portrait work, but didn’t do much. When I got it I was using my Nikon D300s and I was a bit disappointed with it.  I found it wasn’t as wide as I had hoped, so I thought I had made a massive mistake.

Then I got the D800 and it was perfect for that camera.  Now I use it all the time and I am so glad that I got it. It is my go to lens.

3/ My Lensbaby Velvet 56

The Lensbaby Velvet 56 opened my eyes to new possibilities for macro photography. It is easy to use and the way it blurs images is amazing. I love the effects you can get with it. I have had for a year now and I wouldn’t want to be without it. I’m now trying out the Velvet 85 which is another lens from Lensbaby and is a great mate for the 56.

4/ My Benro Tripod

I got my first tripod over 20 years ago and it served me well.  It was a Manfrotto and while it wasn’t fancy, it did well. The aireysinlet-milkyway-lighthouse-stars-astrophotographyonly reason I decided to replace it was because the screws that I had to use to tighten the legs weren’t working too well and the legs would sink.  So it became time to get a new one.  I did get a Manfrotto one, but it is quite large, however, I became a Benro Ambassador for Australia and part of the  deal was a tripod. They gave me a Benro SystemGo Plus, FGP18C and it is now the tripod I use all the time. It isn’t a small tripod, more medium, but it is light and easy to carry around. The only time I have to use the other one is when it is really windy.

5/ My Remote Shutter Release

It is an underrated item, but I am glad I got it.  It has been so useful in so many situations.  I was also delighted when I found out that it was also an intervalometer.  That has been fantastic for doing long exposures and astrophotography.

6/ My Computer

emu-flat-church-colourA couple of months ago I upgraded my PC and have been so happy with it.  I think any photographer these days understands how important having a computer that can keep up with you and what you are doing is an absolute must.

7/ Adobe Photoshop

There are so many different types of software for working on photos out there.  I don’t know them all and some I will never use, but I do love Photoshop.  I love what I can do with it and what it can do to my images.  There isn’t anything I don’t like.  It is great to experiment and find out new tools and see what else I can do.  The learning never stops.

8/ The Formatt Hitech ND Filterspinnacles-phillip-island-victoria-578

I have a few filters now from Formatt Hitech and I love them.  Long exposure photography has become an important part of my work since I first got my filters. I love doing images of the city and ocean with them. Simplicity becoming a key component of that.

9/ The Benro Ranger Pro 400 Bag

I have many bags, but the Benro is by far my favourite and the one I use the most.  It doesn’t stop me from changing lenses and it isn’t too big to carry around.  My tripod fits on it nicely and well, I think it is so comfortable, so I am never tJonesy-camp-night-sky-milkyway-105ired of wearing it, well almost.

10/ My 14-24mm Lens

When I had a cropped sensor I loved this lens, but when I went full frame I found it a lot harder to use, it is very wide. Then as I got more into long exposure photography I could see the benefits of it. Getting filters was expensive, but it has meant that I have far more options with it. It takes great long exposures. I love it again now.

So there are my Top 10 pieces of photography kit that I really couldn’t live without.  So what are you favourite items and what couldn’t you live without?

The photos today reflect the images that I was able to get because of my top 10 favourite pieces of kit.


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  1. AH, yes, thanks for the advice on the 16-35. I believe that means a 100mm filter system will suit it and my 24-70, rather than having to get a 150 as well 🙂 Thanks again for your help xo

  2. Hi Leanne, thanks for taking the time to respond as I really respect your opinion! I know – it’s lots of new gear! I’ve been saving for full frame for about 2 years, and I’ve only got DX lenses, so it’s all or nothing! I’m sooo excited. I change my mind every two seconds, one moment I think I’d like to have the different focal length of the 105 and the next, I want the softness and creativity of the velvet. Just have to remember it’s not an unchangeable decision (it just requires more saving if I want to change later 😂). Thanks again!

    1. YOu’re welcome Sally, happy to help, if I can.I know that feeling, I do the same thing, which one should I get. Like I said I love the velvet lenses, and they are quite a bit cheaper too. The 105 is a heavy lens too, if that helps. That is a very good point, nothing says you can only have what you get now. Good luck with it all. Enjoy.
      On the note about wide angle lenses, I wish when I had got mine I had gone for the 16-35mm.

  3. Hi Leanne, your work is amazing! I was just hoping to ask one question. I’m interested in delving into macro and am about to upgrade to a Nikon D750. Would you recommend a standard macro lens or the velvet 56 for someone new to macro (and landscape)? I’ve been mainly taking photos of my kids, and plan on expanding. I’m thinking of getting the 24-70, a samyang 14mm and a macro lens. Then, when funds allow, get a wide angle also. I’d really love your advice. Thank you in advance.

    1. Thank you Sally. It is a hard question to answer. There is a massive learning curve with both and takes a bit to learn either. I have both, but I have to admit, I love the Lensbaby Velvet 56 and the 85, I use them far more than I use my macro lens. The Lensbaby is manual focus which puts a lot of people off, where as the macro lens has autofocus. They give you different effects, so I guess you need to do some research and work out which ones you like more. So many new lenses, I’m jealous. They all sound good Sally.

  4. Just got a new lens outside of my kit lens and I LOVE it, and I’m not waiting on my tripod!!! The remote is next, thanks to adding to my list. This stuff is fun!!

    1. Hello Svetlana, I don’t really use graduated filters, but on the rare occasions I do, I go for the soft edge. I hope that helps.

  5. Camera (of course) – 16-35mm lens, Gitzo tripod (heavy, but oh, so stable), Photoshop, 511 messenger bag – for my “work” – I never go out without the P100 respirator and Kevlar shin guards – Now I’m good to go!

    1. I would love the 16-35mm, but I am going to have to settle for 14-24mm. Sounds like you are all set Robert. Thank you for playing along.

  6. Always helpful Leanne. I have been privileged to see you grow and just amazing your energy for your photography
    and getting out there for sponsorship

  7. What a helpful summary of your kit, Leanne. I also just found your review of the Benro Ranger Pro 400 Bag that you list here: https://digital-photography-school.com/review-benro-ranger-400-pro-backpack/. A great review!

    I am currently using a Lowepro Hatchback (BP 250), which has a padded compartment at the bottom for camera gear – so you can only take one camera plus one lens (and at a push another small lens) – the top compartment is for spare clothing, food, etc… I use it as a walk-around backpack. Nice for urban areas, as it doesn’t look like a camera backpack, and you can only get into the camera compartment if you slip it off, so no one can steal your camera. And nice for hiking when you can’t take a lot of gear.

    For longer trips or more demanding shoots, I’m currently using a Lowepro Flipside Sport 15L, which fits two cameras with lenses attached, and some extra stuff. It has only one compartment with adjustable padded dividers, so no space for snacks, water or spare jacket, and you can only get to your gear if you slip it off… which is a bit of a hassle – I like the side-access option of your Benro bag. But at least it still fits into overhead compartments on flights (though overseas flights sometimes change their rules), as I don’t want to check-in any of my precious gear! Does your Benro fit into overhead storage?

    Unfortunately, local photo shops don’t stock the Benro range, or the Kata range, which I also love. Have you ever used the Kata backpacks?

    I think, as you say, it is good to have different backpacks for different purposes, depending on how much gear you want/need to carry, what photos you want to take, how safe the environment is…

    1. Glad you enjoyed my review Reggie, I do love that bag.
      I haven’t worried about stuff being stolen, I do feel quite safe here. I have that flipside too, but I find the Benro bag more comfortable.
      No, I haven’t used Kata bags, so I have no idea what they are like.
      I think so too, I also have one on wheels for when I’m in the city and my back needs a break. Thank you Reggie.

    2. You are soo lucky to feel safe going out with your gear… In our country, we have to look over our shoulder *all* the time, especially in urban areas. So for me, it’s an absolute joy, when we are overseas, to be able to walk around towns and cities, and even to go hiking, with my camera gear, without having to worry *constantly* about safety.

      Take care – and happy ‘snapping’! 🙂

    3. I am lucky, though I don’t know if I am being naive. Well you must come here to Australia, it is good walking about here.
      Thank you Reggie, you take care too.

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