Inside A Professional Photographer’s Kit Bag: Tesni Ward, Wildlife Photography

Inside A Professional Photographer's Kit Bag: Tesni Ward, Wildlife Photography


In the first of a new series sponsored by MPB, we will profiling professional photographers from different genres and looking at what gear they keep in their kit bag and how they know when it’s time to move on to a new camera or lens. First up, wildlife photographer Tesni Ward tells us what go-to gear is always in her kit bag, what gear she has sold over the years and how she knows when it’s time to move on from a camera or lens.

What camera are you using right now?

I bought the OM System OM-1 when it came out. I decided to upgrade from my Olympus OM-D E-M1X because of the OM-1’s subject detection and because its lowlight performance was significantly improved. It’s the biggest jump in camera quality I’ve seen since upgrading from the OM-D EM-1 to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II.

What gear is in your kit bag right now?

Inside my bag these days, I have the

  • Olympus OM-1
  • Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 150-400mm f4.5 TC 1.25X IS PRO
  • Olympus OM-D E-M1X w/ M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40-150mm F2.8 PRO
  • M.Zuiko Digital ED 12–40mm F2.8 PRO

Sometimes I have the M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm F2.8 Pro and M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro for subjects like common lizards to help capture detail. I’m not a macro photographer but sometimes I like to dabble.

How often do you sell your gear?

I rarely sell my gear for various reasons. I like to hang on to old camera bodies because I always have a second camera when I go out. I still like the E-M1X because of its handling. It’s like it’s moulded to your hand. I really like using that camera, so I kept it.

There are also occasions when I want to have a dabble at camera trapping. So having an older camera that I’m not as worried about losing or breaking, gives me that flexibility.

How do you know when it’s time to sell your gear?

When I switched from Canon to Olympus years ago, I sold my gear because it needed a new home. I also needed to help fund my new purchases. I sold my kit lenses to help me buy pro lenses. Nowadays, I try to get it right the first time around.

How do you make sure the next gear you purchase is right for your needs?

I try to use it first. In the UK, Olympus has testing days. You can go to a retailer and say you want to use this camera and lens, and they’ll give it to you for a weekend. Sometimes pros can get things for a little bit longer. Even general users can get hold of most of the gear to try before I buy.

With lenses, I look for image quality. I’ve had lenses in the past that failed me. There’s nothing more frustrating than when you’re doing everything right but your kit is letting you down. AF is very important in my work, and so I look for fast, accurate AF performance. Newer lenses are much faster and more accurate. I don’t want AF to be hunting when I’m trying to take a shot.

What’s your advice for new photographers who might be looking to sell their beginner gear?

My advice is to go to retailers like MPB. They’ll give you cash and you can put that money towards your new kit. It’s so much less stress and hassle. You can get a quote online. All you have to do is fill in a form and state the quality – they give you a quote – you send it off and they assess it. If you’ve said it’s good, but it’s like new according to them, you can often get more money.

I sent an old camera system in the box brand new. I’d misquoted them because there was an extra lens in the box that I wasn’t aware of. I won a competition and the prize was a camera that was more a holiday camera than what I need for my work. It was never going to be used, so I sold it. It couldn’t have been easier.

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