Photography

A Peek Inside Franklin’s Camera Bag

A day in the parks presents so many opportunities for so many types of photos. Being prepared for any number of situations helps me take the best pictures I can. It’s taken years of perfecting which equipment I need in the parks. For those of you who are just starting to branch out in your Disney photography, it will take a lot of trial and error to figure out what works best for you. Here’s a look at what equipment works best for me.

Camera

I am currently using the Nikon D600. Released in 2012, this was Nikon’s first “budget” full-frame DSLR. I chose this camera for its extreme low-light capabilities. Dark ride photos are one of my favorite challenges.

Lenses

While the functionality is in the camera body, the image quality is all in the lens. My favorite lens is the Sigma 35 mm f/1.4 Art. It is extremely sharp, even at f/1.4. That wide aperture is also ideal for low-light situations such as dark rides or hand-held night photos. This stays on my camera about 80 percent of the time. I pretty much use this for everything; food, character meet-and-greets, walking around.

The other lens I use quite often is the Tokina 11-16 mm f/2.8. This lens is made for crop-sensor cameras, but can be used on full-frame cameras at 16 mm without vignetting. While this is an off-brand lens, it is actually very sharp. Oh, and it is super cheap too. I use this ultra-wide-angle lens for fireworks, exterior and interior architecture and many other creative perspectives.

My most versatile lens is the Nikon 24-120 mm f/4 VRII. I will use it when I need to adapt to rapidly changing situations. At 24 mm, it goes wider than most kit lenses and 120 mm is more than enough for most photos. I have used this lens for parades, safaris and walking around the parks.

Accessories

I tote around a tripod with me in the parks. While this is not for everyone, it is highly recommended fireworks, night time landscapes or general long exposures. I have the Manfrotto 055CXPRO4. This particular tripod will be overboard for most people. The main reason I purchased this particular tripod was that it is the tallest tripod that will fit into a Magic Kingdom locker. It fits diagonally into the locker at 21.5 inches, without the tripod head.

A couple of other accessories I use along with the tripod for long exposures is a remote and a neutral density filter. While on the tripod, I use the remote to trigger the camera to prevent blurry photos that shaking causes. Any sort of touch to the camera/tripod system will cause shaking, especially with cheaper tripods.

For fireworks, I use a 3 stop (0.9) neutral density filter. Disney fireworks are extremely bright and this filter will help prevent blown out photos.


One of the most useful accessories to have is a good camera strap. The neck strap that comes with the cameras are generally worthless. It puts the pressure right on your neck. After a long day in the parks, it can cause neck pain. I use a cross-body style camera strap from BlackRapid, the RS-Sport. This puts the weight on your stronger shoulder muscles. It make a huge difference and your camera is always ready at your side.

Finally, I need a camera bag to carry it all. The backpack style suits my needs the best. A shoulder bag is usually not big enough to fit everything I want to carry, and I don’t find the sling style to be comfortable. I also need a separate slot for a laptop. The Kata 3n1-22 is just large enough to fit my equipment, yet small enough that it is not obtrusive while walking through a crowded park.

Thanks for taking a quick peek into my camera bag. If you have any questions on specific photos you see in other posts, please feel free to ask. I would love to share my creative process with you.

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One thought on “A Peek Inside Franklin’s Camera Bag

  1. This is awesome! Thanks for sharing. I got some advice from you on Facebook in the early fall as I was prepping for my first DSLR and while I was in the parks (struggling with my lenses and bag actually) I wondered what you and other Disney photography buffs do in the parks.

    I did make the switch to a Black Rapid strap before heading to Disney. I made a theme park trial run with my DSLR before heading to Disney and ended up taking my camera back to the car about 1/2 through my day because of the pain I was in. LOL. The cross body makes it super easy to carry a camera around!

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