Exhausting my search with every possible source for lightweight, dependable, compact and more importantly, affordable equipment, I’ve narrowed it down. The best purchases I made were two octagonal soft boxes and some generic TTL flashes. I have found these to be as dependable as any equipment that cost hundreds more. They’re actually well made and easy to replace if necessary. Most of what I’ve picked up came from Amazon. B&H has had some equipment but it’s more convenient to order more expensive items since they don’t charge sales tax. Amazon has cheaper items and a better selection. Plus, having Amazon Prime, I get all my stuff in 1 or 2 days at no extra shipping charge.
I generally only carry two bags. I carry my camera sling bag most of the time or a very lightweight backpack if I need to bring my laptop with everything else. The other is a 37″ extra large tripod bag. This holds two compact 7′ stands, two octagonal soft boxes (32″ and 47″), reflector arm, grip, one compact 42″ umbrella, 24″ reflector, two umbrella adapters, two clamps, a small bag of 24 Eneloop AA batteries with caddy holders, pack of gels, flash grid adapter, and a flash. There’s even some room to spare for an extra flash or extra stand. In my camera sling, I’ve got a camera body with lens, an extra lens, three camera batteries, one flash, colorchecker passport, expodisc, a wireless TTL controller, one dust blower, lens cleaner, 15′ tether cable, iPhone/iPad backup battery charger, iPhone cable and plugs, pens, business cards, extra SD cards, some small miscellaneous items and an iPad. If I need to take my 13″ MacBook Pro, I’ll throw it in a separate laptop bag or put everything into a camera/laptop backpack. When I need to recharge my AA batteries, I have a charger at home that will do 10 AAs at the same time. In camping or remote situations, I carry a fold up solar charger pad.
Since I travel to so many different locations in the city, it’s important to keep everything as compact and light as possible without sacrificing quality. With just two bags that are fairly light, it’s perfect. Now if everything was made out of carbon fiber, that would be heavenly.