You are probably wondering what camera and equipment I use when travelling. Throughout this blog I have used a variety of cameras, all from a point and shoot to a more specialised prosumer DSLR. Following is a guide on what’s in my travel photography bag. All the cameras have all done me well and all have their pros and cons especially when it comes to travel photography and having to lug your equipment around. If you are chasing just a easy to use point and shoot then I can highly recommend Panasonic’s Lumix DMC range. It takes great quality jpegs (drawback is that it does not shoot in RAW so it is difficult to get the most out of your pictures in post production).
I know there’s always the temptation to get the latest and greatest upgrade out there, but it is always cheaper to get a superceded model off Ebay. I have bought all my gear off Ebay, and made sure I do my research re pricing and read all of the feedback for the seller before committing to buy or bid. I have never had a bad experience (touch wood). Remember at some stage your baby was the latest and greatest on the market and photographers out there took some pretty damn good pics with it. Besides I always live by the mantra that it’s not the camera that takes good pictures, it’s the person behind the camera! A living testimony to this mantra is this picture I took with my very first basic point and shoot digital camera, bought when digital was starting to take off.
There were no filters or anything fancy, although I did ‘stitch’ several photos together in Photoshop and submitted it to a national photography competition and won a trip to Canberra as well as $4000 (that was 10 years ago).
My workhorse over the years has been a Canon 30D with a wide (Tokina 16 – 50mm f2.8) and zoom lens (Canon IS 55 – 250mm) which I have taken overseas in the past. However, since the advent of micro four thirds I have now opted to leave these at home when going overseas.
My new camera which is fantastic for overseas travel due to it’s light weight and unobtrusiveness, is a Olympus E-M1. There are a variety of lenses you can buy, but for travelling I go with a Tamron 14-150mm, f3.5-5.6 (28-300mm equivalent) as the wide and zoom range is so versatile without compromising sharpness. I do find the 14mm end a little restrictive for landscapes so am currently investigating buying an Olympus 9-18mm f4. I took this picture with the Olympus E-M1.
OK now that I have a new camera, I now had to rebuy all the accessories that go with it, or did I?
Filters – I can not live without these. Nothing makes up for them even if you have the best software on the market. My kit has a UV filter for each lens (a very cheap insurance policy which always stays on your lens unless you are temporarily using another filter), a Circular Polariser, a Variable Range Neutral Density filter and a Graduated filter. They don’t take up much room and rather than keep them in the individual containers they come in when travelling, I bought one of these filter keepers/caddy off Amazon. No need to rush out and buy a whole heap more filters because your lens size is now diifferent on your new camera. Just buy some step up or down rings off Ebay or do my totally revolutionary technique, hold my old filter (which is bigger than my lens) and hold it there by hand!
Off Camera Flash – I try not to use the flash because I hate it. I hate it for several reasons. One, I find it hard to get my head around the technical aspects of it. Two, I have lugged it half way around the world, used it once and it weighed a tonne. Three, natural light is much better to work with. One look at the subject and what you see is what you are going to get in terms of light. I only use a bit of fill flash with my on camera flash in back lit situations or at night if required.
Buy some spare lens caps and even better, buy a lens keeper off Amazon so your cap never strays far from home. Bring several lens cleaning cloths. Pack a shower cap – great for covering your camera in the rain! Don’t forget the spare batteries. When you are out all day and drain the first one, the second one is in your camera bag ready to go when the first runs out and the third is back at the hotel or in your hire car being charged.
Travel tripod. I have a Velbon PHD-31Q. It’s nice and compact but still a bit heavy to be putting in your carry on luggage if you’re tight for weight. I always pack it in my checked luggage. If that goes missing, then it’s not the end of the world because you’ll still have your selfie stick for those silly family shots with your mobile phone!