The Gear Bag Video Tour

EDIT: This blog has MOVED. You’re on the old, dead blog. Everything (including this post) has been migrated onboard my website. Here’s the direct link:

Update your bookmarks! See you there!

We now continue with our original programming….


First, has anyone noticed the new, wider, format of this blog? I figured out how to do that all by myself! The reason I wanted a wider column was that I’m planning to include much more video going forward, and this will allow you to view it without using a magnifying glass. Of course, you could also just click the “Full Screen” button at the bottom of the video window.

There’ll be a sequel to my “Correcting Verticals” video coming out pretty soon, and I have a couple of other video projects in the works, which will be WAY cool if they work, so stay tuned. And the list of “regular” blog topics keeps growing, so don’t worry, this won’t become YouTube anytime soon.

Today’s topic, though, is yet another in my “Frequently Asked Questions” series. “What kind of camera do you shoot with?”, “What lens do you use?” “What kind of umbrella should I buy?”, etc. etc. etc. I get emails like these almost every day, and while I try to answer them as quick as I can, here’s a pro-active response: I’m going to pull every piece of equipment out of the camera bags and show it to you.

It’s about 11 minutes long, so get a beer, sit back and enjoy. This was shot in the kitchen of a house I was about to shoot, because I had my personal videographer with me and the stager’s crew wasn’t ready for us yet. Not shown is all the crap I use on more involved shoots; that’ll have to be another video.

And why the hell do I keep smacking my gear around?!

62 responses to “The Gear Bag Video Tour

  1. Enjoyed the video. I’ve been shooting for just over two years now (after many years in the corporate world) with some success, but still learning a lot. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Nice kit Scott. Thanks for sharing.

    How do you like that Benro tripod? I’ve been thinking about one of them. They look like nice Gitzo knock offs. What’s your impression?

    • Luis, I love it. Relatively lightweight, but seems very very solid. Air-cushioned leg joints, and they have a “soft stop” at about the halfway point of the extension, which is very nice. Hard to explain, but makes setting it up at intermediate heights much easier. Seems well-built.

      The 229 head is also good, but one of the motion axes (axises?) is a little less smooth than I’d like.

  3. I don’t steal your lens! The 14 just works better on a cropped sensor. I can’t help that you went full frame. By the way, I still have your stolen CF card in my bag. heh

  4. I say this with some hesitation, but I was afraid that an 11 minute tour of the gear might elicit a yawn or two, but it was actually quite riveting. Rather than the Slik tripods, I use Sunpak, which are very similar. Curious, why don’t you put your camera on one of those when shooting real estate (you know, if you need a tripod)?

    Nice job on the video. Nicer job on the captioning. ;^)

    • It was the shimmery shirt that captivated you, wasn’t it? Note to self: don’t wear a Moire-pattern shirt in front of a cheap video camera.

      I’ve used those sliks as camera platforms before, in a pinch or when I was too lazy to walk out to the car to get the Bogen. But they’re pretty shaky with a big camera body on top. Besides, I only have a few of them, and they’re usually holding the lights!

  5. Tripod, tripod, Scott don’t need no stinking tripod; only mere mortals do. Very nice work Scott, pulling the curtain back in this “Behind-the-Scenes” video. I particularly liked the make/hair routine, ala “Moe, Larry and Curly” at the beginning.

  6. Thanks for the video.

    Are you gonna shoot a video of you actually photographing a house from start to finish?
    Explaining as you shoot.


  7. Great video, Scott. Very informative and I love your witty caption commentary.

  8. Ileen Cuccaro

    Very very informative, thank you so much for sharing

  9. great video and knowledge sharing! much appreciated. I second the thought of a video of you shooting a house.


  10. I wanted to see the bikini clad assistant that carries all the bags around!

  11. Funny to see a Canon-user using Nikon flashes. 🙂 You should try the newer ones, they rock!

  12. I love my Slik tripods. I need to add gaffers tape and some white/silver reflectors to my bag. The color checker would be nice too.

    Thanks for diving in to your goody bag Scott, gave me some ideas on small things to buy next!

  13. I would add a 2nd camera body. I have needed mine about once a year. One time I came inside after shooting out side in the cold moist air and some dew sensor click on and the Canon turned off. I went to my second body and finished the shoot. Later when my camera warmed up for a few hours it was fine again.

    Another time I had the mirror come loose in the middle of a shoot. Back to the second camera.

    2 bodies are a must have for me..

  14. Excellant down to eath instructional video. Real estate is new to me and I really like this video as well as the one on verticals. Excellant information! Thanks for sharing.

  15. I was visiting this page before on da iPhone, WPtouch-ed, NO VIDEO!
    tkss tkss Scott.

  16. Great video scott!

  17. Hey Scott! You are quite the entertainer!!! Great video. I am resupplying my bag do to theft…another life lesson learned. So this video is perfectly timed. I will catch up with you at another one of your workshops soon I hope. -Michele

  18. Scott,
    Great video (and assistant of course). I flew from Chicago to Raleigh this summer for a Saturday session and the ambient shots were a great reminder, thanks for RE-emphasizing. Amazing how many published RE photographs have windows completely blown out, but you’re always dead on …and nice tip to use a color card. Looking forward to a Chicago session in 2010!

  19. Hey Scott,

    What is the deciding factor for using a shoot through umbrella in a room as opposed to bouncing into a corner.
    Is it the size of the room?

    • Mike, the Silver one gets used almost exclusively for headshots, these days, or as a sort of “flag” to control the spread from the satin brolly. Hard to explain. The silver bounce umbrella is a much more directional light source, which I think has it’s uses, but I haven’t yet really incorporated it into my thinking, for interiors.

  20. Scott,
    Great work! Enjoying the videos as much as gaining the knowledge. I am curious to know if you recommend an alternative to the SD 80s. Something I could buy..well…today.

  21. SB 80’s that is…my bad

  22. Excellent – I love the text comments at the bottom!


  23. nice video, helpfull for start, thanks

  24. Enjoyed the video, thanks for sharing. I also enjoyed the comments at the bottom of the page.

  25. Jose Maria Ruiz

    Informative video. One question… How do you use the Nikon flash equipment with your Canon camera?

  26. Andy Cansdale

    Scott, thanks for the vid. Could you tell us how you setup the satin brolly? Is it fixed onto one of the Slick stands with the flash? What kind of connector do you use? At the moment I’m just bouncing a few SB600’s of walls and ceilings, but I’m guessing i could get better shots with an umbrella.

    It would be great to see a video of an actual shoot so we can see the placement strobes and the use of stands et al. I tried TulipChain’s link to the other videos, but it seems to be broken. Thanks again for the info!

  27. Thanks Scott, very informative and generous of you, much appreciated!

  28. Great video Scott!
    I use the 17-40L as well with my 5D MkII and personally I can’t stand the barrel distortion from this lens. I am saving up for the 17mm TSE and I can’t wait to get rid of the 17-40. Maybe it’s my copy but don’t you find the distortion unbearable at times?
    Looking at your nice straight images I am thinking you spend a LOT of time in Photoshop correcting this lens. As soon as I find a good used 16-35, I will grab that first then eyeball the TSE.

  29. Peter, sounds like you’ve got a bad copy of that lens, I don’t find the distortion bad at all. But thenI don’t usually shoot at anything shorter than about 19mm. I think you’ll find the 17 (on a full-frame body) to be fairly useless for interiors – it’s so wide the perspective distortion will ruin you, even if you can find a way to compose shots with it!

  30. agreed scott! after taking and putting to the test your advice.

  31. Thanks for the advice Scott…….unfortunately I am still at the stage where I do every type of home (even the ones that are not photo worthy) and so for the small homes, the agents want nothing more then ridiculously wide exaggeratd shots to make their tiny bugalows look big.
    I even pulled out the Sigma 12-24 once and shot mostly at 12 mm. Looked “gross” but they still liked it! I want to sloooowly start make the transition to the higher end homes! Can’t wait for your book!

  32. I might wanna save this question for the calgary seminar but seriously i love your lighting bag, i just wanna know what it is.=)

  33. Scott,
    We have the same gear in the “camera bag”. I just got the 14mm, mainly because of the barrel distortion from the 17-40. For kitchens with vertical lines, the distortion is very apparent. I correct it with software, but don’t like to do that. The 14mm is truly rectilinear, but its so wide. And in the corners you get severe (what I call) stretching and the image can look very distorted. You have to get close enough due to the utlra wide angle, but then the corner distortion gets more exageratted.

    Any thoughts or comments?

    • geggdesign,
      I makes a HUGE difference what camera body you’re mounting that 14mm on. I bought mine way back when I was shooting with a 20D, which is a crop sensor, so my effective focal length was about 21.5mm. I would NEVER shoot interiors on my current full-frame camera using a 14mm.

      I should probably update this video….

  34. So what would be the point of the 14mm on a full frame sensor camera? I wanted it for the rectilinear qualities, but really don’t like the corner distortion. I have a 50D also, but seems like puting the 14 on that body 14×1.6=22.4 is not different that using my 17-40 on the full frame 5DmkII, other that maybe the barrel distortion.

    My 17-40 is about 6 years old, do you think there have been any improvements in the barrel distortion since then? Seems like they would have given it a mkII name or something if they changed the optics.

  35. Hey Scott
    Thanks for sharing the information.
    I have been refused to use lighting equipments for architectural and real estate photography until I bought your e-book few weeks ago. Great information in the book. I have bought some equipments that you recommend. I am still figuring out what level of power should I use for each speedlight. I missed the workshop in Arizona and hoping you will have another one in LA soon.

  36. Can anyone suggest a tripod with a small footprint to mount my hot shoe strobes onto? TheSlik SDV-20 is no longer available and I have not been able to find a tripod to fill that void.

  37. You need to take part in a contest for one of the finest sites on the net. I am going to recommend this web site!

  38. Hi Scott
    are you using the same lighting equipment and techniques for both your real estate and your hi-end architectural interior design photography?
    or do you use a different light setup and technique for the high end stuff?

    • Grant, there’s overlap, but real estate dictates a lot of shortcuts and compromises. I shoot real estate almost exclusively with speedlights, but other work is lit with Elinchrom and Bowens heads, and a lot of continuous lighting. And there’s just a lot of fussy detail work that happens, that just can’t be done in real estate.

      • ok thanks for the insight scott, have you gone into this higher end lighting stuff in your lighting for real estate online course at all?
        have you thought about doing a online course based around this higher end photography?
        or can your perhaps do a post and going to all the fussy details around all this. i’d like to take my photography to that level and it’s really hard to find any information on the high end photography tips. have you got any resources you might be able to suggest in this area at all?

  39. Scott, not sure where to post this question, so I’ll try here.
    I see in your shoots you have what looks like a 24mm TS lens. I’ve been considering purchasing this lens also, but want to make sure it’s a worthy investment; since it’s so expensive.
    I shoot only my own work, which is kitchens and baths, so I can’t justify it based on cost, but I can justify it based on high quality images.
    My battle is often with DOF. I see in your photos what looks like endless DOF, but I struggle to achieve this with my current lens without getting into really low f-stops. Typically I shoot with a 24-70 f2.8L or a 17-40 f4L.
    If there is something on your site that talks about this please let me know and I’ll read up there. If not, a word of advice would be greatly appreciated.


  40. Geggdesign,
    The Canon 24TS is easily in the top 5 lenses Canon makes, and it’s sharpness and resolution (and lack of discernable distortion) is as good as some MF glass. Also, lens movements are fundamental to architectural work, specifically. So….yes! I rarely take that lens off the camera.
    DoF is purely a function of focal length and aperture. Shooting wide-angle, as we do in interiors, it’s largely a non-issue, but below f/8 you could find softness in the background if you looked for it. I tend to hang out in the f/10-f/13 area because that’s the sweet spot of the lenses I use.

    I shoot most of my real estate with a 17-40, and the 24-70 is a great lens, as well.

  41. Just ordered it, thanks.
    Also thanks so much for this Blog. You’ve been a great teacher here and in your book and video series, especially in a specialty segment of photography that there is little instruction or guidance available. I’d love to attend one of your workshops. Do you ever make it to the Midwest? or St. Louis?

    • Scott,
      It looks like you now have 2 people, me included who would like a work shop in St Louis, MO., any interest?

      • Cheryl,
        No one in the US produces this kind of workshop! I’ll go wherever the gig is…but it’s not happening in the US, it seems.

  42. ok thanks for the insight scott, have you gone into this high photography lighting stuff with continuous lighting etc in your lighting for real estate online course at all?

    have you thought about doing a online course based around this higher end photography?

    or can your perhaps do a post and going to all the fussy details around all this.

    i’d like to take my photography to that level and it’s really hard to find any information on the high end photography tips.

    perhaps instead you may have some resources you might be able to suggest that cover this area at all? or perhaps you have attended other architectural photographers courses yourself in this area that you could suggest to me to check out?

    i really really want to learn this high end stuff.