What gear will I be taking?

It occurred to me that some people might want to know what gear I’m taking with me on my cruise.

Background: In the past, I thought that the best thing to do was take the best camera I had, which at the time was a full size Canon DSLR with tripod. I took it and a 24/70, 2.8 lens with me to Paris one year, only to have it sit in my hotel the entire time. Another time, while travelling to Toronto, Canada, I took a Canon 5D Mk 3 and a couple of Paul Bluff Alien Bees, thinking I would get a chance to shoot some cool portraits of players on Toronto FC (another story, for another day) and, you guessed it, it never came out of the hotel.

What does work for me, and works quite well, is an Olympus OMD EM1, with an Olympus 17mm, 1.8 lens and a Panasonic 25mm 1.8 lens (they’re interchangeable), and a very lightweight tripod. Olympus and Panasonic have the smallest overall camera/lens footprint. Period.

Sony & Fuji bodies are cool, very lightweight and small, but their lenses are full size. So, there’s no real weight drop, which is a real bummer when you’re trying to travel light and still get amazing image quality.

The sad news is that my Olympus OMD EM1 has some sort of physical flaw where the aperture won’t change. I’ve been told that Olympus knows about this and has corrected it in their Mk 2 version, which doesn’t help me at all. Sooooo…the Panasonic GX85 comes to the rescue!

I’ve used the Panasonic GX85 a number of times, travelling to Kaui & Maui, HI, Monterey, CA, and shooting various family events, and it’s a real work horse that has amazing features in a puny footprint. For me, it’s perfect. The only thing I wish it had was a bigger grip, like the OMD EM1, because I have big hands. But that’s not a deterrent, really. Because I strive for light weight, primarily, image quality and ease of use secondarily, both of which it has in spades.

Here are some Panasonic pics (so you can get a sense of the quality):

These are pics of my grandsons and Monterey, CA. They blow up very nicely for printing and framing. So, I’m good.

For a different post, I’ll do a review of the Panasonic with a like/dislike review of various aspects of the camera. For now, though, suffice it to say that it is a VERY capable camera that will not disappoint. Period!

I didn’t say this, but I think I should. I’m a professional photographer. Which means, I think about the gear I use for the shoot I’m on. Travelling is a different beast: you’re on your feet all day and it can be really tiring carrying around 5-15 lbs of gear. Thus, the small footprint focus.

Here are my essentials:

  • Multiple (like five, at least five) 32+ gb memory cards
  • Two lenses, 17mm 1.8 and 25mm 1.8
  • Panasonic Gx85 (don’t forget to check what electrical adapters you’ll need for the country you travel to)
  • Cell phone (iPhone or Android), don’t get caught without a back up camera
  • Tripod
  • Pure white index cards (for custom color balancing)
  • Domke F-5xb bag &/or Lowepro, Slingshot Edge 150 AW bag
  • Notebooks & pen (you MUST be able to take notes)

Here’s a pic of what my kit looks like:

Gear I'm taking on the cruise

The gear I’m taking on the cruise


As for processing:

  • MacBook Pro (although my Dell PC work just as well)
  • Photo Mechanic (an absolute must for any photographer)
  • Lightroom & Photoshop
  • Topaz Labs, Photoshop plugin (there are so many, many; I prefer Topaz Labs)
  • Snapseed app, the only app I use to process cell phone photos

Next, is workflow. I’m a bit of a stickler about this. It’s much easier to find photos in the future if you have some sort of system for processing. I have one, and it never changes. More on that in another post.

I’ll have done a fair amount of research in advance. So, when I get there, I’ll have a pretty good idea of what to shoot and can make adjustments on the actual day(s) as time and group allow.

That’s it for now. If you have any questions, shoot them my way and I’ll do my best to answer them.