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Camera Gear

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What camera gear do you feel is adequate for travel? Would you prefer lightweight to quality pictures?
12 years ago, June 21st 2009 No: 1 Msg: #77183  
On another thread, a blogger just asked me what photographic equipment I travel with and what equipment, in my opinion, is necessary for great travel photography. Here's my response:

One of the classic responses you'll get to this question comes from the phenomenal American Photographer, Chase Jarvis . His response to this question is, "the best camera is the one you have with you." To prove his point he has been doing an ongoing fine art photography series taken only with his iPhone. Check his pics out...they are awesome and incredibly humbling for someone who regularly travels with thousands of US$ of camera equipment.

Now for my answer:

I find that the grainy and low quality pics that come from the average point and shoot camera to be insufficient for my needs. But, with that said, I regularly blow my pictures up to 24x36 inch pictures. You just can't do that with a point and shoot. On the other hand, for the average person, the point and shoot camera is more than adequate. My wife uses one and gets great pictures that are great for her.

When I first started our year long trip back in 2006 I started with a Canon point and shoot. I outgrew it fast and moved on to Nikon DSLR equipment. I bought a D80 and the really great all around 18-200mm lens. It sufficed then (and still does sometimes today) for most picture needs, specially in good bright light out doors.

The challenge for most travelers is that you tend to have limited time in one place and are forced to deal with the light and weather you get when you're there. The only way to get Great pictures in bad conditions is to have more and more gear that is capable of overcoming the bad situation. In my case this meant more lenses and even more importantly a tripod and a bunch of photo filters like neutral density filters and graduated neutral density filters which make a huge difference in uneven light (for instance is the sky is really bright on a cloudy day and the ground is dark these filers act like sunglasses for the sky).

Today I own a Nikon D700 and regularly travel with the following lenses: Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8, Nikon 50mm f/1.4 and the Nikon 105mm Macro lens. This is roughly 30 pounds of equipment that costs tons of money. Of course, I've gone pro and shoot portrait shoots that help pay for this equipment and all of it is insured!

For the average traveler this is WAY overboard and totally unnecessary. If tomorrow someone told me to travel with five pounds of equipment I would bring my Nikon D90 backup camera and the 18-200mm VR lens I bought back in 2006 and call it a day. If that was still too much I would probably get a Canon G10 and be very happy with the quality of what I had.

In my opinion there are no wrong answers to what should you travel with and what is enough. But, if I had to give one piece of advice its, "don't buy fancier cameras! Instead become a better photographer with what you have and upgrade only if you get to a point where your equipment just can do what you want."


Anybody else have thoughts? What equipment do you travel with? What would be your ideal setup regardless of cost and weight? What would you take if you were limited by space and weight?

Mike T. Reply to this

12 years ago, June 23rd 2009 No: 2 Msg: #77305  
N Posts: 10
I would highly recommend travelling with one Zoom and one Wide angle lens. I'm no pro but I know one thing from our around the world trip - photos last forever so don't come back from a trip and "wish you had the right gear". I travelled with a Nikon D50, a 70-300 Lens and an very wide angle lens. Before you decide what the right camera for you, ask yourself what photos you are interested in. If landscape is for you then a wide angle lens with a polarizer are a must. If people pics are what interests you, then a nice zoom lens is a must in order to not invade privacy yet zoom in to some amazing wrinkly faces! If you only want to take one lens then a wide angle lens with a polarizer is the choice.

Cumberland Sausage has also addressed this issue in a few entries - check him out.

I get this question about what camera equipment to take at least twice a month. Don't be cheap photos do capture your memories!!! Reply to this

12 years ago, July 1st 2009 No: 3 Msg: #78057  
Personally, I like to travel pretty light - I can see this being a problem as I'm also starting to get into photography! In the past I've never had more than a compact camera and maybe a teleconverter or something, which is great as it'll just slip in a jacket pocket or similar...

... For our upcoming trip (backpacking) I'll be taking a D40 and 3 lenses (Sigma 10-20, Kit 18-55 and Nikon 55-200) + a few filters and a gorillapod. I have the full range covered (as far as I'm concerned) but am wondering how best to carry it all around... If I had the cash I'd get the 18-200 to replace both the Nikon lenses but other than that I feel I'm taking the minimum gear I need to get the shots I want, which means I'm happy. Reply to this

12 years ago, July 1st 2009 No: 4 Msg: #78059  
^Sorry didn't mean to post annon - that was me Reply to this

12 years ago, July 10th 2009 No: 5 Msg: #79142  
B Posts: 602
For a really light weight tri-pod check out ours. It can go on any smooth, non-pours surface. It actually can be sucked down onto a dashboard, so you are not illegal in some states like Minnesota. Reply to this

12 years ago, February 7th 2010 No: 6 Msg: #102785  
I travel with a D80 and one extra, usually 300mm, telephoto lens. It's the weight I get tired of after much travel. I like quality prints however I print very few of my prints beyond 8 X 10 size. If I think I might want to make a large print I will change my camera settings to accommodate myself. I plan to stay with Nikon because of the extra lens I have and will probably move up to a better camera this year although the D80 which I bought before it hit the streets has been excellent. In the 1950s I carried a 4 X 5 Speed Graphic, which I still have, and was that heavy plus I can't imagine anyone today doing the work needed to produce a photo in those days or in fact carrying that camera. Reply to this

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