What gear will I be taking?

There’s an old saying: “Don’t let your eyes get bigger than your stomach.” That saying applies to many things in life. We all have a tendency to serve ourselves more than we can eat. Photographers are no exception.

In the past, I would have taken a full size DSLR, two to four lenses, a tripod, and a good sized backpack. Once, I took my Canon 5D Mk 3, a 50mm, 1.8, a 24/70mm, 2.8 lens, and a Canon GX 11 with me to Paris. The way I had it worked out in my head was that I’d be on all these epic photo expeditions and, of course, I was going to get equally epic shots. The inconvenience and fatigue of lugging around a backpack full of camera gear on and off the subway, for 10 hours didn’t occur to me. The 5D made it out one day and sat in the in my hotel the rest of the  time. The GX 11, which is super stealthy and lightweight, went with me everywhere.

Now, I travel as light as I can.

Mirrorless is the hands down choice for travel photography, and there are a lot of options. You may have your favorite.

My preference is the 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. Because my kit is so small, I take a Panasonic Lumix GX85.

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. So, the Panasonic GX85 comes to the rescue!

I’ve used the Panasonic GX85 a number of times, in Kaui & Maui, Monterey, CA, shooting various family events, and street photography. 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 lighter weight, primarily, image quality and ease of use secondarily, both of which it has in spades.

Here are some Panasonic Lumix GX85 pics, to give you  a sense of the quality:

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

The Panasonic Lumix GX85 is a VERY capable camera that will not disappoint.

As a professional photographer, I think about the gear I use for the shoot I’m on. To me, 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, I have a small footprint focus.

Here are my essentials:

  • Multiple memory cards (I try and take at least five)
  • Batteries and charger (I like having two batteries)
  • Two lenses, 17mm 1.8 and 25mm 1.8
  • Panasonic Gx85 (side note: don’t forget to check what electrical adapters you’ll need for the country you travel to)
  • Lens cleaning cloth
  • Cell phone (iPhone or Android and its charger), don’t get caught without a back up camera
  • Tripod
  • Pure white index cards (for custom color balancing)
  • Domke F-5xb bag (in the pic, below) &/or Lowepro, Slingshot Edge 150 AW bag
  • Notebooks & pen (you MUST be able to take notes)
  • Cliff blocks (not a necessity, but they’re nice if you’re not close to food and get hungry)

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.