What’s In My Camera Bag?

By Kim Vargo /

When I last left off, I shared 3 tricks for snapping better interior photos right now, a question that I’m often asked by friends and family. There were no fancy tools other than a tripod, and every tip could be implemented with a simple brain shift. That first question is typically followed up with, well, okay, but what kind of camera do you use?

Here’s the truth: I’ve been using the same DSLR camera (which stands for digital single-lens reflex) for almost 10 years! That’s most certainly a relic in the digital world, but I say this to assure you that my camera bag holds a handful of some pretty basic photography gear. I’m a simple person when it comes to my equipment, as evidenced by my three go-to lenses. So, what’s in my bag? Below, from left to right: Sunpak tripod, Nikon D200 camera with a Tokina 12-24mm wide angle lens (strap by Couch), 50mm f/1.8 lens,20mm f/2.8 lens, lens cleaner and an extra battery.

In a nutshell, my 50mm lens (commonly nicknamed the Nifty Fifty) is one of my favorites, as it’s great for portraiture and capturing everyday details. The 20mm lens is perfect for wide shots without too much distortion, and I use this most frequently for shooting interiors. Also for interiors, the wide angle 12-24mm lens is one step shy of a fisheye, and while it can easily capture a room in its entirety, it does distort your photo. At the same time, it can be pretty fun for capturing landscapes, parties and giving your pets the “bobble head” effect!

To show you how a lens can drastically change the look and feel of a photograph, I took a snapshot of my living room using each of them. Starting with the 50mm, you’ll see that the focus is almost entirely on the stack of coffee table books. I used a low aperture to create the widely loved bokeh effect:


From the same place, here’s a wider view of the room using the 20mm. You’ll notice that there are actually two chairs in the room, and I left it in the foreground for a dose of interest:

Without moving, I swapped in the wide angle 12-24mm, and when zoomed out at 12mm, you’ll see both frames above the couch, two full chairs, our ceiling fan and even the edge of our media center on the opposite wall!

While the photo above isn’t the most flattering photo of our room – you can notice now how the wide angle lens distorts the size of our furniture – it’s still a lens that I use almost daily. By shifting my camera position and shooting horizontally, the living room now feels more inviting:

By the third setup, the books were no longer the focus, but it goes to show how choosing your equipment carefully will change the view from behind your lens, quite literally. When travelling, I pack as much from my camera bag as possible, always remembering not only an extra battery, but the battery charger as well (I learned that the hard way)! And while my gear has been with me for the better part of a decade, it doesn’t mean I don’t have my eyes set on this guy. A girl can dream, can’t she?

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