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UfD: 10 Things I Can’t Live Without in My Kit

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If your photography kit is anything like mine, you have a bit, but there will be pieces that you can’t live without.  So today I thought I would share with you my top 10 things that I couldn’t live without.

1/ My Camera

What would a photographer be without their camera.  I don’t think I am alone in my feelings towards it.  I have a Nikon D800 and it has been the most spectacular camera I’ve ever had. I couldn’t be happier with it.  It is something we all have to do is to get a camera that we love using and one that will do what you want it to do.

2/ My 24-70mm LensLeanneCole-banyuleflats-20140525-9353

I first got the Nikon 24-70mm lens because I thought it would be a good portrait lens and that sort of thing for doing cycling.  I did have plans for doing some portrait work, but didn’t do much. When I got it I was using my Nikon D300s and I was a bit disappointed with it.  I found it wasn’t as wide as I had hoped, so I thought I had made a massive mistake.

Then I got the D800 and it was perfect for that camera.  Now I use it all the time and I am so glad that I got it. It is my go to lens.

3/ My Macro Lens

This is a new lens foflower-garden-show-macro-edit-1042r me.  I got the Nikon 105mm Micro lens at the end of last year.  I was lucky with having an opportunity to try out some other macro lenses during the year, most notably the Tamron 90mm macro.  So when it came time for me to get my own macro I had a very good idea about what I wanted.  I did get the grant for the book, so I was able to get the Nikon macro. I have used it a lot and I am enjoying where my macro images are going.

4/ My Tripod

I got my first tripod over 20 years ago and it served me well.  It was a Manfrotto and while it wasn’t fancy, it did well. The aireysinlet-milkyway-lighthouse-stars-astrophotographyonly reason I decided to replace it was because the screws that I had to use to tighten the legs weren’t working too well and the legs would sink.  So it became time to get a new one.  Who doesn’t want a Gitzo tripod, but it was too expensive for me, so I decided I would stick with Manfrotto. I got a carbon fibre one with a ball head.  I have used it so much and it has fabulous. I couldn’t live without it.

5/ My Remote Shutter Release

It is an underrated item, but I am glad I got it.  It has been so useful in so many situations.  I was also delighted to find out last year that it was also an intervalometer.  That has been fantastic for doing long exposures and astrophotography.

6/ My Computer

emu-flat-church-colourA couple of months ago I upgraded my PC and have been so happy with it.  I think any photographer these days understands how important having a computer that can keep up with you and what you are doing is an absolute must.

7/ Adobe Photoshop

There are so many different types of software for working on photos out there.  I don’t know them all and some I will never use, but I do love Photoshop.  I love what I can do with it and what it can do to my images.  There isn’t anything I don’t like.  It is great to experiment and find out new tools and see what else I can do.  The learning never stops.

8/ The Lee Big Stopper Filterpinnacles-phillip-island-victoria-578

I have a few filters, and a few more on order, so I don’t know if this will remain my favourite filter, but right now it is.  I enjoy doing long exposures and I know I haven’t experimented enough with them, so will be working on that in the next few months.  If the weather of late is anything to go by there will be lots of opportunities to practice.

9/ The Lowepro Flipside 15L Bag

I have three bags, but the Lowepro is by far my favourite and the one I use the most.  It doesn’t stop me from changing lenses and it isn’t too big to carry around.  My tripod fits on it nicely and well, I think it is so comfortable, so I am never tJonesy-camp-night-sky-milkyway-105ired of wearing it, well almost.

10/ My 80-200mm Lens

I have lots of stuff, and this last one was hard to work out.  It was a toss up between this lens and my really wide, the 14-28mm, but in the end I thought, what would I want if I could only have one of them, and in the end I decided I wanted the 80-200mm.  It is a good option and I can also use it for long exposures as my adaptor ring for the Lee Filter holder will also fit it.

So there are my Top 10 pieces of photography kit that I really couldn’t live without.  So what are you favourite items and what couldn’t you live without?

The photos today reflect the images that I was able to get because of my top 10 favourite pieces of kit.

115 Comments
  1. Yep.. we need to talk landscape photography, the big stopper and some other stuff eh Leanne? xo

    May 8, 2015
    • Anytime Susan, sounds like a good plan, when you have time let’s skype. XOXO

      May 8, 2015
  2. Very interesting article, Leanne, and superb shots! 🙂

    May 8, 2015
  3. I agree with your list – mine is just a bit different, but pretty close – the only big change for me (due to the nature of what I shoot) is I’d swap out the 80-200mm for my 16-35mm.

    May 8, 2015
    • I thought about the 14-24, but with the 24-70 I thought I would want the option of something a little longer. It is interesting what we all think is important. Thanks Robert.

      May 8, 2015
  4. Reblogged this on villeneuveteresa.

    May 8, 2015
  5. Really enjoyed the article, felt the advice was really good and the images you shared are stunning!! Great post

    May 8, 2015
    • That’s wonderful, glad you found it usual and thanks for what you said about the images.

      May 8, 2015
  6. Beautiful 🙂 I especially like the Lighthouse/Night Sky image ❤

    May 8, 2015
    • Thank you Morgan, I do love that image as well, one of my all time favourites. 🙂

      May 8, 2015
  7. Great post, and super photography! Bravo, Leanne! 🙂

    May 8, 2015
  8. I am photography challenged, a newbie, but highly motivated to learn because I love taking photos and revisiting them periodically makes me happy. Though, I am a long way for using a lens beyond the one that came with my Nikon 5200, which I gifted to ME for Christmas. I retain all that comes across my path for future reference. And, this post is one. Thank you for sharing.

    May 8, 2015
    • Sounds like a passionate photographer to me, the way many of us began. It will come, one day you will realize that you want a new lens, something different, it is great and then you have to decide what. It’s different for everyone and each person what lenses to get, depends on what type of photography you are doing as well. You’re welcome and good luck with your photography.

      May 8, 2015
  9. Hi Leanne! My standard equipment is quite simple: Nikon D7000, Nikon 35mm DX lens, a rather cheap but light manfrotto tripod with ball-head and a small tamrac bag (all can be put in mid-size messenger bag). Furthermore I carry a pol-circ filter with me, in case I encounter surfaces with reflexions (glass etc.). Sometimes I also use a Metz digital flash and for my DIY-experiments I use all kinds of bicycle lights (which are surprisingly very good), which I set up on my homemade mini tripods made from cork and tooth-picks … Anyway, me too, looking into a macro lens, and one around 105 mm. A next addition will perhaps be a second external flash unit (probably another Metz). There’s other equipment, but this is about that what I often employ. Cheers, Adrian

    May 8, 2015
    • Sounds like you have it all worked out Adrian, which is great, it is good when you know exactly what gear you need for what you are doing. I hope you can get the Macro, great lens, I love mine. Thanks for that Adrian.

      May 8, 2015
  10. I love my Nikkor 24–70 mm and my remote shutter release. My food photographs at home have become much sharper as a result.

    May 8, 2015
    • Oh yes, the 24-70mm is a very nice sharp lens, I love it. sounds great Gary, thanks for sharing that.

      May 8, 2015
  11. Reblogged this on zekeshare.

    May 8, 2015
  12. jess #

    your photos are amazing!!!! do you have a facebook page? I would love to support you and follow you! I have one as well!! I’m also always looking for tips

    May 8, 2015
    • thank you Jess, that is wonderful, and yes, I do have a facebook page, there is a link to it in the side panel near the top of my blog.

      May 8, 2015
  13. These are incredible images Leanne! I especially love the final photo of the boat in the harbour at sunrise. The clarity of colour and sharpness of the focus blow me away. If you ever come up to Brisbane to run one of your courses, please let me know!

    May 8, 2015
    • Thank you Chez, that was a great morning for photos I loved it. Wow, Brisbane, maybe one day, right now I am having trouble finding people to do them in Melbourne. But you never know.

      May 8, 2015
  14. The lighthouse shot is absolutely fantastic! Also, thanks for the tips on kit. Checking out the Nikon D800 right now.

    May 8, 2015
    • Thank you, it was a great shot to get, You’re welcome Radhika, I love my D800, it is a massive camera, but so good.

      May 8, 2015
      • Thanks! It’s definitely on my bucket list! 🙂

        May 8, 2015
      • A good thing to have on the list. 🙂

        May 8, 2015
  15. Thanks for this post, Leanne! I’m feeling I deserve some new and better equipment soon so this is very useful.

    May 8, 2015
    • You’re welcome Tiny, that is great, always good to help, thanks Tiny.

      May 8, 2015
  16. Truly stunning work Leanne, and like you, I can’t live without anything in my camera bag.

    May 8, 2015
    • Thanks Emily, it can be hard having to leave things behind, good to have them though.

      May 8, 2015
  17. Great post, Leanne! Living here on the edge of the Everglades, my ultra thin compact rain gear that fits into a 5X5X .5″ pack has saved me many times in unexpected tropical rainstorms 🙂

    May 8, 2015
    • Thank you Mary, oh yes if you live somewhere where it rains a lot it would be important, I a plastic rain cover for the camera, but I am very happy that I haven’t had to use it much. 🙂

      May 8, 2015
  18. My 70-300mm lens. It is not a great lens but it is very light and as I get older, that is a big consideration.

    May 8, 2015
    • That is something I will have to start thinking about soon too, I have that one as well, so many to think about. thanks for sharing that Tootlepedal.

      May 8, 2015
  19. Thanks for sharing your “magic” tools!

    May 8, 2015
  20. I love my camera, my 18-200mm Nikkor Lens, my 18-50mm lens, Photoshop, lightroom, new tripod, I love my CL polarization filters, my backpack is usable, and I cant live without it, but it’s not high on my list. My Macro is not high on my list only a 50mm, well now I’m stumped……….does this mean I need more kit? lol

    May 8, 2015
    • Maybe Julie, though I have to say I found finding 10 things was hard, or trying to narrow it down to 10. Sounds good what you have, and I’m sure in no time you will find you will find you have so much you won’t be able to narrow it down. LOL

      May 8, 2015
      • possible, although my back is still aching from carrying everything around on sunday. If i take it all i get a back ache, if I don’t take it all I wont something I don’t have 😛

        May 8, 2015
      • I have learned to work out exactly what I want and what to leave at home, it has saved my back and it is very grateful. 🙂

        May 8, 2015
  21. I have a tripod but I can live without it and I have no remore shutter release but one lens that I do love a lot is the 35 mmm f/1.8 for its wide aperture as for the rest of your suggestions, I agree with you

    May 8, 2015
    • I’ve thought about the 35mm, but might have to wait on that one. I love love my tripod, so good for the long exposures and since I’ve spent quite a bit of money on filters lately, I probably should use them and my tripod. LOL, but we all do things differently which is fantastic. Thanks for sharing that Nelson.

      May 8, 2015
  22. Very useful information, really. Helped me add to may list of needed/desired items–especially the macro and the bag. Thanks.

    May 8, 2015
    • That’s good to hear, glad to have helped, couldn’t live without the macro or bag, very important. Thank you.

      May 8, 2015
  23. very informative, thank you 🙂 I’ve a older Canon I’m wanting to update & I’d wondered what specific camera you had!

    May 8, 2015
    • That’s great Debi, glad to help, though if you have a Canon and the lenses, you might want to stick with Canon, can make the transition a lot cheaper. Though having said that I do love Nikon, always have. Thanks Debi.

      May 8, 2015
      • great suggestions & helpful pointers regarding the expense…. very true. thank you Leanne 🙂

        May 8, 2015
      • You’re welcome Debi, and really something to consider. 🙂

        May 9, 2015
  24. Extra CF or Sd cards, too

    May 8, 2015
    • I feel they are part of the camera, I suppose, though extra cards is always good.

      May 8, 2015
  25. Awesome post Leanne .. and guess who needs a tripod! I suspect that I just might be better at photoshop very soon too 😉

    May 8, 2015
    • Thank you Julie, oh yes, tripod can be annoying, but very important. I suspect you could be right. 😉

      May 8, 2015
  26. I’ve always wondered whether the photos of night sky with galaxies and stars were real. Last few months I’ve seen a lot of these by you and various other photographers and the theory of long exposure shots.

    Your pictures are amazing and so is your backpack.

    http://wp.me/60y6a

    May 8, 2015
    • Yes, they are real, it is amazing what the camera picks up that our eyes don’t see. Thank you so much.

      May 8, 2015
  27. a wonderful idea (and list). I guess, mine is quite similar.

    May 8, 2015
    • I think many of us would have a similar list. Thanks Solaner.

      May 8, 2015
  28. lensaddiction #

    Great idea for a post, I did the same on my blog, linking to you of course!

    The one major difference I added was my walking shoes, gotta get to where you need the camera to be and good shoes are an essential in my kit 🙂

    May 8, 2015
    • I saw yours Stacey, great list, and thanks for the link.
      Yes, the shoes, I didn’t think of those, though I have recently spent a small fortune on some shoes, exactly for that reason. I love my hiking boots, my feet think they are the best thing ever.:)

      May 8, 2015
      • lensaddiction #

        Yup great footwear are a necessity whatever the weather!

        May 9, 2015
      • Oh absolutely, especially when you spend hours walking around on them.

        May 9, 2015
  29. I really enjoyed reading this Leanne. I read Stacey’s list too. Makes you think about what you really need 😀

    May 8, 2015
    • Thank you Robyn, I read her list too, it is amazing how similar they are. It does make you think. 😀

      May 8, 2015
  30. I have a similar list: Love my new Camera (Canon 7dii) default lens is Tamron 18-270 for versatility, then right lens for right purpose with the 2 favourites being for birding: canon 100-400, and macro: Canon 100.
    Then my filters, especially Lee Big Stopper, my Gitzo tripod (so happy with it) head torch for pre-dawn/night shoots, and the Lowe Pro Flipside 10l to force me to keep the max amount of gear I carry to a minimum. PS and LR for processing and that’s my top 10!

    May 8, 2015
    • Lots of similarities to mine Chris, nice to hear what everyone has on their list. Thank you for sharing it with us Chris.

      May 8, 2015
  31. Excellent post Leanne!

    I have been wanting a remote shutter release for awhile. I’m always trying to ambush birds in flight, and a remote release would make the technique I use easier.

    I set up my camera on an avenue of approach to a food or water source and start firing off shots like an anti-aircraft gunner before they fly into the frame.

    I also, tried my first series of night shots on a factory recently. I noticed that I bungled more than a few, probably by introducing a slight vibration into tripod with my ham-handed touch on the shutter release.

    May 9, 2015
    • The remote shutter release can make it all so much easier, and I would highly recommend getting one. Once you get it, you start realising there are lots of other things you can use it for.
      Interesting way of shooting birds. Thanks for sharing Chris.

      May 9, 2015
  32. anita ibeakanma #

    Reblogged this on Anita.com.

    May 9, 2015
  33. Thanks for sharing – I like to keep it simple. My usual kit is my Canon 6D and my 35mm 2.0, or I’ll take the Canon M2 with the 22mm and the 40mm.

    May 9, 2015
    • I think keeping it simple is good too, which I often do when I go out, but it is nice to have choices, so I like having lenses to shoot different things. Thanks Luis.

      May 9, 2015
  34. Sun's Shadow #

    Really, thanks!

    May 9, 2015
  35. Les #

    Like you, my camera is the first on the list. Since I started my Blog, I’ve been using my Nikon D7000 more & more because I think that Nikon does a much better job than my Pentax K10D. always have the Nikkor 18-200mm Lens attached to my D7000. I also have the Nikkor 18-140mm Lens which is always along in my bag. A 72mm Polarizing Filter, a 72mm ND Filter, a 2x Doubler for my Tamron 80-300mm Lens, a cheap Tripod that works just as good as the fancy priced ones, and a cheap Monopod. I also use a Gimble Head for the 80-300mm Lens. Keeps the pictures more steady, but a bit heavy to carry around. I have 3 other Lens that I use for the Pentax, but don’t haul them around all the time. Just too much to lug around. I’m pretty sure that I have more than enough.

    May 9, 2015
    • I have to say that having a blog has made me take so many more photos, I’m always looking for more photos for it, it is such a great motivational tool, if that is the right way of putting it. That sounds great Les and thank you so much for sharing the things you couldn’t live without.

      May 9, 2015
  36. I have different cameras, so I’m in love with different lenses … but I don’t know what I’d do without Photoshop. I have a tripod. I should actually use it. I might love it, but I’ve never given it much of a try. Great list!!

    May 9, 2015
    • Oh I’m with you on Photoshop Marilyn, it is the best thing ever really. Yes, you should use it, lol. I don’t like using it, but I know some photos are just better with it. Thanks Marilyn and thanks for sharing yours.

      May 9, 2015
    • lensaddiction #

      I had my tripod for several months before I was actually brave enough to use it, isnt it funny. They do have to be carried around and I carry mine by hand but I don’t mind, I would much rather have it than not, so its a necessary part of my gear. I do have a new back pack coming that might allow me to strap it on to there which could be exciting.

      Mine goes everywhere with me, I had two trips to Australia recently and specifically bought a suitcase that fitted the tripod lengthways (with the head removed)

      May 9, 2015
  37. and Leanne’s magic eye!!

    May 9, 2015
    • Haha, wouldn’t it be great if you could bottle that, and yours, and lots of other people’s.

      May 9, 2015
  38. In addition to Photoshop I must have Lightroom. I also need my 80-400mm lens for wildlife with my Nikon D750. I find that I can use that and my macro lens for just about everytthing.

    May 9, 2015
    • Great to hear what you like Sherry, that’s great and thank you so much for sharing it with us.

      May 9, 2015
  39. Great post Leanne. The additional item that I always carry is an extra fully charged battery. So many times I have been grateful to have had it with me. Best wishes 🙂

    May 10, 2015
    • I always have an extra battery in the kit too, and a couple of others, didn’t really think of those things. Thanks for sharing that Andrew. 🙂

      May 10, 2015
  40. I agree with your choices. I’d add a spare battery, my Lowepro utility belt and Tamron 10-24mm lens

    May 10, 2015
    • Yes, Andrew just said the same thing, I guess I just have those and don’t really think about them. Thanks for sharing those John.

      May 10, 2015
  41. Our kits are relatively similar then. I do not bring a computer though (the Gimp instead of Photoshop) and only one lens. I do always have a packet of Lens Cleaning Paper (or in a pinch an old silk tie). You never know…
    Great insight and beautiful photos!

    May 10, 2015
    • I don’t take a computer with me either, but I can’t live without it, I have to have it at home for working on my photos. I use cloths for cleaning spectacles for cleaning my lenses, very soft and good for cleaning. Thanks for sharing what you use.

      May 10, 2015
  42. Thank you for this informative list. I have a Nikon D3100. Soon I would like to upgrade, but am not sure where to go from here. I love shooting nature, food and architecture. Any ideas?

    May 10, 2015
    • You’re welcome Jade, that’s a good question, you would probably be best to stick with Nikon as you can then still use the lenses. There are so many options, you could go a step up to the D5300 or go to the D7100, which a lot of people seem to have really like, though I don’t know a lot about it. The next level is full frame, and while full frame is great, the lenses are a bit more expensive and to get the full benefit you would need to get new lenses, otherwise your DX lenses would automatically crop your photos, so it would be like having a DX camera. I hope that helps.

      May 10, 2015
  43. Thanks for the good info that helps beginning photo enthusiasts like myself. Your photos are stunning, as always.

    May 11, 2015
    • You’re welcome, glad it was of use, thank you. 🙂

      May 11, 2015
  44. This was helpful, thank you. As much as I love my camera bags, they’re just not big enough. I checked out the range you use and they all look far more capacious than my current duo! Thanks again, Laura

    May 11, 2015
    • You’re welcome, just be careful that you don’t go to far the other way and get something too big, that can be bad too. Glad to help Laura.

      May 11, 2015
  45. Yep all the above but my wide angle almost comes before my camera… and those trusty but reclusive memory cards…. 🙂

    May 11, 2015
    • My 24-70mm is almost a wide angle, and I can put filters on it, but I can’t put filters on my 14-24mm, so it loses. LOL. I think I just thought memory cards were a necessary thing, like the battery in the camera, just have to have it. 😀

      May 11, 2015
      • just have to have it but sometimes JUST forget to take them….. and leave the memory card in the computer…..happens all the time to me. Should have a check list but then would have to read it….

        May 11, 2015
      • Haha, I have to say, that I used to do that, but now I don’t put my memory cards back in until I am ready to go, so when I’m getting my gear ready it is one of the things I do to get ready.

        May 11, 2015
  46. I’ve got lots of impressive equipment but I could do without any of it. Just use something else or buy something new or make do.

    What I couldn’t do without is my mind, my sense of adventure and my health.

    Probably what would impact me most to lose equipment-wise would be my hard disks and backups. And it would be a problem to lose all your camera equipment or disk storage while travelling.

    May 15, 2015
    • Those things are for anything Murray, and I really think what the post is about is more what parts of your kit do you really love and are so happy you have. I couldn’t just go out and buy a lot of it again, I don’t have the money, so I am very grateful that I do have them.
      I had thought of the back up, but yes, that is a good one, I do love mine, my husband has set up a great back up system for me. Thanks.

      May 15, 2015
      • I lost some images in January 2014 when three hard drives crashed within a week and I had a hole in my backup system. Hopefully I learnt from that.

        True, there are quite a few items of equipment that I’m glad I have. I guess I could nominate several cameras, quite a few lenses, tripod, monopod, printer, computer, monitor, software, colour management equipment….

        However, I think it’s easy to over-identify with particular items. There are always alternatives and if necessary cheap alternatives, for most purposes at least. I think digital cameras are going to prove more durable than most people suspect and for the last few years pretty well all DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are good cameras so I think its going to be increasingly easy to get good cheap cameras second hand. Also, if you have a DSLR that takes AI lenses there are lots of old primes that are cheap and sharp.

        I was also thinking of when I went to New York and because I wasn’t sure about security (I needn’t have worried) I only took a Fuji X100. Somewhat to my surprise it was perfectly adequate and I didn’t feel deprived at all.

        May 15, 2015
      • That would suck big time, my husband has set up something to prevent that from happening, at least we hope.

        I don’t think they are all the same, I’ve used cheap lenses, and they are nothing like the expensive ones, so different. Nikon have never changed their mounts so old lenses will always fit.
        I like to have options, I like that my camera can give me lots of options.

        May 15, 2015
      • At least I have web versions of the images I lost because they were published to the web. They were live music images from 4 or 5 years ago and not a lot of call on them but still….

        Sure there’s a world of difference between say a 300mm f2.8 and a 28-300mm zoom. I’m serious about the quality of my equipment – but you can also find people on the web taking great images with fairly cheap equipment. Almost any lens is OK at f8 on a good tripod. Options are always good and lens quality is always good but it seems to me that the best camera and lens at any particular time is the one you have.

        May 16, 2015
      • Yes but still, I understand what you mean.
        Yes, but if I’m not about to ditch my stuff for cheaper stuff, I still think an experienced photographer can tell the difference and maybe others too, though maybe they don’t realise that.

        May 16, 2015
  47. KristerP #

    1. The Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRII. Yep this is a beast of a lens but it’s so amazingly good that were it a human I’d marry it instantly

    2. Blackrapid camera strap, this connects to the tripod mount of the camera – since my setup with the above lens is rather heavy it is far more ergonomical to use than the Nikon strap that came with the D800 . Carrying the weight with this strap is a breeze. (add to that the fact that the camera hangs by the hip for easy and fast access.)

    3. Adobe Photoshop; probably the finest piece of software in existance.

    4. Extra battery; should be on any photographers list of essentials 🙂

    May 15, 2015
    • I’ve looked at the Black Rapid strap, might get one eventually. I don’t use the strap that came with my camera either.
      I love love love photoshop.
      Yes, extra battery is a great thing. and lots of memory cards.
      Thanks for sharing what you love.

      May 15, 2015
  48. Thank you for visiting, Leanne – I will pass these tips onto my daughter – the real photographer!

    May 21, 2015
    • You’re welcome, I think we all have different, but similar lists, thank you.

      May 21, 2015
  49. For me it’s the glass. Though I don’t have many lenses, they are good ones and are in my bag at all times. Like the old saying goes, “A camera is just box that holds film.”

    June 1, 2015
    • I’ve done the same, I have spent a lot of money on very good lenses and been careful about what I got. That is so true it is the lens that takes the photo, and in the old days it was film now it is the sensor. Thank you for sharing that.

      June 1, 2015
  50. Thanks for sharing helpful information. Your images are always great!

    June 3, 2015
    • You’re welcome, thank you, that wonderful to hear.

      June 3, 2015
  51. What a good idea to sit down and explain which pieces of equipment are really useful and why

    June 5, 2015
    • You’re welcome Diana, I’ve noticed that people have been a bit confused about the different ones so thought it was time to explain them.

      June 5, 2015

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