A book. a travel magazine. my fave-fossil-watch from Brian. some sd/cf cards. android phone. iPod. hand sanitizer. colorful flowers from ikea. bunch of rewritable dvds. battery chargers, scented candle, etc….

Well, that’s how pretty messy my computer table looks like now. Hah. But what I’m actually gonna share to you today is what’s really in my camera bag? Let’s hope it’s not that messy huh?

I’ve been wanting to start this FAQ category posts because I’ve been receiving emails or comments through Facebook asking me ‘What lens I’m using? What camera body can I suggest? Which one is best for portraits? etc. Most of these questions did come mostly from those still starting out with their photography or just out of curiosity to learn more. So I thought it could be easier to respond to anyone who’ll ask me the same question again through this post and I hope it’ll come helpful in any way. Otherwise, like everyone else, I make conversations with Mr Google.

And oh please, forgive me, but I’m not that all smart though especially in terms of technicalities (don’t make me define ISO/apperture okay? hehe), really, I may not be able to answer all your questions in the future but whenever I can, I will and share to you what I had learned barely in my 2 years of photography experience yet. I sure hope we can make this a fun avenue too to learn together along the way. =)

So what’s currently in my bag?

Nikon D40x, D300s & D700
I started out with my ever reliable D40x in Feb 2009. It was a second-hand-me-down camera I bought from a very good friend. And that’s when I started using Flickr and opened my world to a great community of inspiring photographers. Trust me when I tell you this. It’s been one of those happiest days of my life for finally owning a dslr camera. Like a kid owning his first toy car. I had the joys and pain in training my eye through my first camera by getting used to manual focus and so until now, I’m keeping the camera for sentimental reasons. By now, you already know I’m such person. *wink*

On May 2010, I was able to get the D300s. It’s about time to upgrade with better ISO features and auto-focusing than my D40x. I needed a faster camera focus ever since I’ve accepted shooting couples in November 2009. I also fave it’s Live View options because I can maneuver so much on very low or topview angle shots. Yes, I have special acrobatic skills now. If you’ve seen me behind the scenes , you know what I mean. As of 2011, Brian is now using this in second shooting with me.

By May 2011, my stars aligned again for me and I finally have my dream D700 – officially pockets drained!!! hahaha but it’s whoooping worth it! My ISO use has never been that better and framing my subjects has never been so juicy! Yes, I love the ‘juicy’ word!

So, I see you raising your left/right hand…”Which one should I get first Jhoe?”
Well, since I’ve been just a NIKON user, I assume you’re deciding to get the same. And just for the record, I got my NIKON because it happened to be what’s available for grabs, otherwise, I might have started out with Canon. But in case you’d wonder, I don’t see any reason yet to switch to the other side. *wink* If you have the budget now and is fixated to photography for the rest of your life, buy the D700 straight away or any of the full frame goodness. I wish I did if I had the money in 2009.

But, there’s nothing wrong at starting from an entry-level-camera and learn the long but rewarding way as I did. The journey made me appreciate how it was all helpful to practice in manual focus and always shoot in manual mode.

“Your camera takes great photos!”
While that’s been a frequent comment I get a lot but it’s honestly not something I like to respond with a ‘Thank you” somehow. I once read an article written by a really great street photographer in Singapore and he’s one of my inspiration as well. I couldn’t agree more to what Danny Santos said, “One of my biggest pet peeves is when people tell me “You’re camera takes great photos!” It really irks me every time I hear that. It’s like cooking a delicious gourmet meal and your guests complement the stove, or completing a 42k marathon and your friends think it’s because you wore great shoes, or writing a bestseller and your peers think your macbook pro had something to do with it. The fact is, it takes so much more than just a ‘great tool’ to produce great outcome.

I was all ‘nod, nod, nod’. You can read the rest of the thoughtful article here.
My Lenses

85mm 1.8
If the world ends now and I’m allowed to bring only one lens, it’s this. It’s like my soul. I shoot my portraits with this pretty prime baby 90% of the time. Bought it as a 2nd hand, now I am dying to upgrade to the 85mm 1.4 soon. (Universe , hear hear hear!) And whenever I use this lens, everything’s just — yes, I have a  word — yummy!!! =)

Tip: If you’re into a certain budget like I was, I had no choice but either rent or buy 2nd hand lenses. There’s surely a risk but just make sure you find your sources reliable. In Singapore, I usually check out Clubsnap and I rent lenses through Camera Rental. Renting is a better way to try out a lense first before you even buy one so you can really get your own feel to it if it works for you or not. *wink*

50mm 1.4
Well, if the world did end and given the chance to bring another lens — it’ll be this. Hehe When I’m out elsewhere on the mundane days, I shoot with this. During portrait sessions, I grab this to shoot topview angles mostly. Or frame my subjects wide enough during bridal preparations and shoot some details in the reception during weddings. Also bought this as 2nd hand.

50mm 1.8
My first baby love. Using it exactly for the same purpose with the 1.4 except now Brian is the one using it mostly. For anyone who’ll love shooting portraits, I insist that you get your nifty fifty now, it’s one of the best prime lens you can grow old with.

18-200mm 3.5 VRII
I must have bought this in 2009 — I was hoping to start learning street photography then so I wanted a bit faster and anything with the zoom power. It was good back then but later on, I got all focus with prime lenses and well, I didn’t exactly fall out of love with the 18-200, it wasn’t just the next-to-my-breathing-kind-of-lens. Brian loves using this though.

18-55mm 3.5
Oh dear kit lens. What would I have become without you to start with? 🙂 It’s with this lens that I learned my first ISO, aperture, & shutter settings. God knows how many times I’ve awfully scratch my head figuring it all out. Thanks to online references , youtube tutorials and fellow photographer friends. Hehe

24-70mm 2.8
Newest addition to the family last May. I was too lucky to bargain a neat price from a common friend with convenient payment terms *wink wink*. I’m actually not your landscape shooter I admit but since I’ll be needing a medium range and medium wide angle lens, this baby here just fits well enough with my shooting style.

Looks like this has been a really long post. I’ll catch up with another FAQ post again next time, feel free to drop your questions in the comment box or maybe I’ll try to put up a discussion board over at Facebook.

Happy Sunday!!!


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September 4, 2011
i super agree with Danny St..
September 5, 2011
Yay! for Flickr Tweeen...
September 6, 2011
Clap! Clap! Clap! Great article. You went down to the finest details really well. And so later... I'm gonna give my husband the warmest hug so he can buy me my large frame! Ooooh, Christmas! :)
September 30, 2011
hi miss josephine! great post! i wish you posted photos of the actual stuff in your bag though :) next time? :D