What’s In My Bag? Costa Rica Edition

Here it is! I’ve had a TON of requests over the years for a “What’s in my bag” video. The trouble is, what’s in my bag varies by location. So, I decided to start with the wildlife kit I use when I’m in Costa Rica. However, this is also a really great “general purpose” wildlife kit as well.

For this video, we’ll discuss not only what’s in the bag, but WHY it’s in the bag as well. I’ll cover the bag I use, the accessories, the light modifiers, lenses, and cameras. So, sit back, relax, and hit play πŸ™‚

Please Note: The video above is about what works for me. I’ve spent a lot of time in CR and this kit works perfectly for what I shoot. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to go and I’m certainly not implying that it is. I’m just showing you what I take and why.

I’ve also had good luck with my D500 and 600 F/4 + 300 F/4. I’ve taken along the 180-400 once, as well as my 200mm macro instead of my 105. I have also used a 500PF there too in some conditions. Tons of options with LOTS of overlap. So, this isn’t meant to me the end-all and be-all of CR gear, just what I’m currently using πŸ™‚


Also, I’ve had a few comments (some snarky) on YouTube about the expense of the gear. Please keep in mind that I do this for a living and the camera and lenses are my business equipment.

In reality, the cost of equipment for a wildlife photographer is quite low when compared to other businesses. Compare the cost of the gear in this video to the cost of opening a simple Subway restaurant (it can cost upward of $260,000).

I certainly understand that what’s in my bag is mighty be considered excessive for a hobbyist, but at the same time showing you a bunch of less expensive stuff I don’t actually use would have been disingenuous.

Links / names of the products in the video (order in which they appeared)

Gura Gear Kiboko 30L Bag

Op Tech USA Rainsleeve

LensCoat LCRC2PM4 RainCoat 2 Pro

Rocket Blower Kit

Micro Fiber Cloth (I like the 10×10 size)

LensPen NLP-1

Nikon Lens Wipes (they work on other brand too πŸ˜‰ )

Wimberley Module 8 M-8 Perpendicular Plate

Sony XQD Cards (64GB) | Sandisk UHS II 64GB SD Card

Nikon 77mm Polarizer | Nikon 62mm Polarizer | Drop In Polarizer for 600mm F/4E (and 400mm 2.8E)

Nikon WR-R10/WR-T10/WR-A10 Wireless Remote Adapter Set

Acratech Stainless Steel 5/32 Allen Wrench

Samsung T5 Portable SSD – 2TB

iProtec Pocket Chameleon 4 Mode Flashlight

Nikon lens / body cap set (generic – less than $7)

Impact Collapsible Circular Reflector Disc – Silver/White – 12″

Vello Octa Softbox for Portable Flash (Medium, 8″)

Nikon SB-5000 AF Speedlight

MagBeam Wildlife Kit | Better Beamer Flash Extender

Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 300MM f/4E PF 

Really Right Stuff LC-A12 (300mm Collar)

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL

Really Right Stuff LC-18 (600mm Foot)

Running Buddy Magnetic Buddy Pouch

Nikon AF-S FX TC-14E III (1.4x) Teleconverter

Nikon Z7 FX-Format Mirrorless Camera Body 

Kirk BL-Z L-Bracket for Nikon Z7 And Z6

Nikon D850 FX-Format Digital SLR Camera (grip)

Nikon D5 DSLR

Columbia Crater Peak Suitcase

Really Right Stuff 34L MK2

Wimberley WH-200 Wimberley Gimbal Head II 

PANO-GIMBAL CRADLE CLAMP | PG-CC

Clamp System:
Really Right Stuff B2-LR-II Lever-Release Clamp (60mm) (clamp)
Really Right Stuff TH-DVTL-40 Round Dovetail Plate (Dovetail Small, round)
Really Right Stuff TH-DVTL-55 Dovetail Plate Dovetail (for larger heads, like the BH-55)

Ball heads (not in video) BH-40 & BH-55

Gitzo GM4552L Series 4 Carbon Fiber Monopod

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This entry was posted in Nikon Gear, Travel Tips, Using Your Gear.

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Ralph F Smith
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Ralph F Smith

I shoot birds in flight and kids in flight (hockey ((70-200)) & basketball). Thinking of replacing my 200-500 f5.6 with a 300 f4 pf and 500 f5.6 pf to use with my D850 (mainly) and D500 (with a soon to be purchased 300pf and 1.4 III conv). Just read the D5 which you predominantly use in low light CR has much better tracking (bif and BB). Even with the D6 over the horizon ($7000) a used D5 ($4200) might increase my keepers. Sound reasonable including “used” D5 camera bodies? Advice? Many thanks.

Ronda
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Ronda

What are your recommendations for shooting a D5 with a 200-400 f/4? Will a teleconverter be enough? (can’t afford the 600mm πŸ™‚

Stuart Wanuck
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Stuart Wanuck

What size running buddy?

Jerry
Guest

Just curious what you take to CR for rain protection for yourself. A poncho, umbrella, nothing and just get wet? Thanks for all the great videos.

Gary
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Gary

Another excellent and needed Vid Steve, thank you !
FWIW, Just returned from my annual trip to our Tropical north (Queensland)
Your quick release system was well worth the price (forgotten about it already ), maybe the wife take a little longer! πŸ™‚
With this vid, I can leave the ballhead at home! (Wimberley 8 plate!)
Regards,
Gary

Teresa Lapetino
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Teresa Lapetino

Is the z-6 good for macro as well? It’s supposed to be better in low light and it shoots faster. Only difference is MP count as far as I can tell.

Walter Madej
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Walter Madej

How do you backup your XQD cards to the SSD drive?

Teresa Lapetino
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Teresa Lapetino

That’s a 15 inch mb pro…

Teresa Lapetino
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Teresa Lapetino

Steve, I have the 22L Gura Gear bag and it does have space for a laptop. I carry a 5 inch MacBook Pro in it. Are you saying yours has no space for it?

Stephen Ross
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Stephen Ross

I’ve seen a number of “what’s in the bag” videos. I have yet to see one that includes one of the most important items of all. Toilet Paper :-).

Anthony
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Anthony

Great video!
Sorry to nitpick, but do you really clean your lenses with the rubber disc on the Lenspen? I get using the brush for dust and pollen…lightly…but rubbing a dry, solid object across the lens (without somehow cleaning off what ever you wiped off at the last use) makes me cringe.
I received one of these as a gift years ago but have not been able to mentally justufy using the disc end!

Philippe Rouquet
Guest

Many thanks Steve for this invaluable video. May I ask you what the final weight of your kikobo bag once all your gear is packed.
Also, do you have any tips or workarounds on circumventing or mitigating airline carry-on weight restrictions? Have a great time in CR.

Bob
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Bob

$$$$$ Way out of my league.:):)

David B. Francy
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David B. Francy

Didn’t se the Samsung drive you mentioned in video. Link?

Tom Jones
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Tom Jones

Thanks for another informative video Steve and for reigniting my GAS.

Vincent Van der Beken
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Vincent Van der Beken

i am not a man of gamble but I see the upcoming AF-S 120-300mm f/2. 8 E FL SP in that backpack of yours next year πŸ™‚

Garrett Winslow
Guest

What do you use to record your videos? Camera, lens, and mic. Which are very well done BTW…

Geoff
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Geoff

Great video, thanks, Steve! In your opinion, is the 500mm PF just too slow for Costa Rica? I’m heading there soon and considering renting a 600mm, but the extra cost – and weight – is making me think really hard about whether or not f/5.6 would be “good enough”…

Dale Elliott
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Dale Elliott

Steve great information as always, thank for taking the time to make this video. i have never traveled there i didn’t drive , it was very helpful for me. Thanks again Dale

Srinath Ramaswamy
Guest

Hi Steve,

Love your videos and books. Had a quick question – how do you backup the cards to the drives everyday? Through a laptop or is there another gizmo you use?

Thanks!

Raphael Kopan
Guest
Raphael Kopan

Great Video. Any comments on the D500 in Costa Rica?

Bill Naiman
Guest

With a bag and contents like that, who needs a gym for workouts LOL. Seriously, a very good video and information. Thanks.

Bill Naiman
Guest

PS – I saw the FTZ on the Z7 in the video. Looks like it is missing from the list. I sure hope you did not find it too heavy … kinda like the straw that broke Steve’s back πŸ˜‰

Bruce
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Bruce

After my last trip to Costa Rica earlier in the year where I had the 600mm f/4, 500mm PF, 80-400mm zoom, and TC-14 teleconverter, I have decided to leave the 600mm behind on future trips. The 600mm replaced a 500mm f/4 and for Costa Rica the 500mm with or without the 1.4x teleconverter worked much better. Even with the 500mm sans TC-14 it was often too long a lens and I would be using the 80-400mm instead. I take the Nikon 200mm macro and it provides more working distance for flash and to be a litte further away from poisonous… Read more »

Vincent Van der Beken
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Vincent Van der Beken

23 minutes of nice gear info, we just love our gear πŸ™‚