One of the main reasons I got into photography was my love of travel. Since different people travel in different ways I thought I should chime in on how my wife and I travel. Our trips are mostly short in duration, lasting 3-4 days or long weekends. My boss is kind of a jerk so I can’t really take off more than a few days at a time (I’m self employed). The good part about abbreviated vacations is that you can pack light. We take carry on luggage, that’s it, no bag checking. The advantages are obvious... no worries about lost or missing baggage, I am in control of all my gear, and no lingering around carousels wasting time. If you have never travelled this way I highly recommend it. It is liberating.
Camera stuff: As with everything in photography, the tools I chose to bring perform specific functions. The decisions made on what goes and whatstays are based upon what the final output requires. I try to begin with the end in mind.
First, to haul everything around I couldn’t use a backpack because my camera equipment is my “personal” bag on the plane. My backpack has clothes and the like in it, and you can’t wear two backpacks. So along came the Tenba Shootout Sling Bag - Medium. I love this bag. Usually it hold all the equipment I would need for a shoot including two bodies and plenty of lenses, but for traveling I cut it down to the bare essentials.The bag is water repellent and the zippers are weather sealed. It also comes with a rain cover just incase a monsoon hits. It’s designed to allow quick access to your camera. I’ve had it for about a year and It’s been everywhere. Works like a champ.
Body: Nikon D800. With 36 mega pixels in a full frame camera the versatility is extraordinary. This is not a camera review, but take it from me, this is an excellent camera. With so much information recorded in every photo, file size is quite large, but that also means that cropping doesn’t damage files much at all, and the definition is still astounding. The D800 is also weather sealed from Nikon, so getting caught in a shower doesn’t worry me much. I wouldn’t through it in a lake or anything, but it’s nice to feel protected from the elements. I realize it’s only 4fps, but I’m shooting landscapes, or architecture, so that’s not an issue. I leave my D4 at home. The D800 also brackets exposures (great for my HDR’s) has one of the biggest exposure ranges of today’s modern DSLR’s and shoots very well in low light situations. It also has a built in flash, but I’ll take a SB700 if there’s room and an extension cable for off camera flash shots.
Lenses: What a dilemma this always is. If I could only bring one lens it would have to be the Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. It’s sharp and clear all through the spectrum. Often tourist areas are restricted and the reach of 300mm helps quite a bit. It’s versatility also presents itself in its ability to capture a romantic sunset landscape or the flamingo 100 yards away without changing lenses. This is the lens on my camera 90% of the time while I’m on vacation. It’s not the fastest lens, but for travel what do I need to be shooting at f1.4? Which brings me to the Sigma 85mm f/1.4. What do I need to be shooting at f/1.4? Poorly lit places, and portraits of locals as well as my wife. It’s a great lens for food. indoors, or anyplace you can’t take your tripod. The lens I struggle with is my Tamron 16-24mm f/2.8. Is a very sharp lens, and if there’s room I’ll bring it, but it sometimes ends up staying at the hotel. If I’m walking around in shorts with my camera around my neck the last thing I want to think about is where I can stick this heavy, bulky, can’t put a filter on it, wide angle lens. If I need a 16mm shot I take a few and stitch them together in Photoshop.
That’s it for gear, barring the obvious, extra memory cards (32mb sd (2), 32mb cf(2) 16gb sd (4)) extra batteries, and chargers.
Oh, one other thing. The Nikon AW100. It fits great into the cell phone holder on the bag, or in a pocket. It’s drop proof, freeze proof, waterproof (up to 10 meters) and what I would like to call Gavinproof. The drawback is that it doesn’t shoot RAW, but the advantage of being virtually indestructible lets me take it places I would never dream of taking the DLSR. Plus it’s always good to have a backup.
Now that you know how I pack I would love any suggestions you have. I’m always looking to improve and travel even more.