The long and the short of it 2018
I'm frequently asked about what gear I use when photograph and what gear to take when traveling. Essentially there are two major factors which leads me to what gear I carry. The duration of the trip and if the equipment allows me to capture the most from the trip. This year I'm off on a few trips. Some short (two weeks), and some have snowballed into longer trips that will have me on the road for just over two months where I will be photographing in several different locations and conditions (Morocco and Japan etc) Here is a rundown of my equipment of necessary equipment that will allow me to travel effectively and get the most out of my photography, while also comfortably where I have just the essentials and not carrying the kitchen sink. My best advice to anyone with packing conundrums is that you know better than anyone else your shooting style and what you are after. If your gear gives you coverage without compromise, then bring it.
Photography Essentials for Short Trips
The short trip is going to be a week or two. The short haul where I will be flying low cost airlines internationally and not necessarily working the entire trip. Flying with low cost airlines means the 7kg carry-on limit and a need to watch how much gear I have on hand and how conspicuous my luggage appears to airline staff who might enquire to weigh my volumes of luggage. On a trip to Japan with this setup, my bag tips the scales in at 7.8kg. Just within the limit and still with the right equipment that I can still get some decent photos and create some interesting content.
WANDRD prvk 21 - The biggest draw card for this pack is how streamlined it is for 21 litres. It's slim and doesn't draw attention unnecessarily. It's a well designed Frankenstein of great ideas. Camera modular, rear access, quick side access, intuitive pockets and expandable roll top for another 4 litres. I haven't got the bag wet yet, but I have confidence in the materials being quite durable as well.
Sony A7III - The new “basic” Sony A7 camera just arrived and I’ve been happy with the performance of this camera so far. The image quality and focus system is a vast improvement from the previous generations where a lot of the innovations from the A9 and A7RIII have been incorporated. I’m keen to shoot more with the 24mp as in a lot of situations 43mp is just overkill for what my images are being used for.
Sony 16-35mm - this lens essentially lives on my camera. As a travel photographer I usually relate to capturing landscape and views of the wider variety firstly.
Sony 70-200mm - the alternative to the wide angle is this lens which allows me to capture the far away details and people on the street or crowded market without being too close that I gain their attention and lose the candid opportunity. This was the lens that I used to win the Sony Landscape award, unconventional to the wide angle most would use.
Sony 55mm - My prime lens that's in between the wide and zoom lengths. One of the most compact, bright and sharp lenses in the Sony range of glass. This is my street photography walk around lens.
Sony Rx100iv - A point and shoot camera that's never too far from me. Usually setup to shoot video and time lapse footage while I might be waiting for a "set piece" shot to happen (eg. Sunrise, sunset). Otherwise a camera that might be in my jacket when out during a trip when photography isn’t the main purpose. As the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have on you.
Ipad- For the short trip I'm taking the ipad to minimise weight. I'm not a fan of editing images while I travel, so the ipad I'll be using to back up sd cards, emails and watch movies.
Microsoft universal keyboard - a near full size Bluetooth keyboard that's compact and tactile to use with the ipad. **Kingston Microlight** - plug in your SD cards and a portable hard drive. Use the ipad app and there's your storage backup solution without the use of a laptop.
Seagate 1TB Portable drive - I’ve found these to be a relatively safe and cheap option to backing up images while travelling. Lightweight and small in form, these do the job well.
Joby Gorillapod - a tripod that can be used anywhere (even some places where they say no tripods!). Something I can always carry around without the weight and size penalty of a tripod.
Sony wh-1000xm2 noise cancelling headphones - I tried both the Sony and the Bose QCii's. The Bose are marginally more comfortable. But the all round features with the Sony of sound, app controls, battery life and build quality are brilliant.
Taotronics bluetooth transmitter - with the new age of Bluetooth headphones that don't have a physical cable and jack, I can use this with the planes entertainment console with my noise cancelling headphones.
Sony CyberEnergy - for those long days on the road where the phone cops a beating, a power bank is essential.
Wriststrap - I have dozens of neck and shoulder straps that I hate using. I'm trying to at least keep my equipment safe when I might be on the move while shooting.
Photography Essentials for Long Trips
I’m going to be travelling for over 2 months on one trip that will include running 3 workshops back to back. I’m going to be travelling long distance without the chance to get back home to Oz to swap equipment or clothes out. I’ll need to have everything with me to handle all the different shooting situations and environments. I will mostly take the majority of what is on my short list, but with a larger bag, a more robust computer setup with a laptop instead of a tablet and an 85mm prime for when I need more crisp portraits.
Shimoda 60L - for the longest time I've been looking for a backpack that is light, durable, can be bought down in volume, yet be a complete solution for when I need to have all my camera gear and then some other essentials to get through a few days of changing conditions. Weighing less than 1.5kgs, modular and room for up to 60 litres, this bag also allows me to pack extra clothing and food if required. The aluminium frame helps distribute the weight off the shoulders and is fantastic for any backpack I've ever used.
Sony A7RIII - the current generation of the A7R is an incredible improvement in the series. The larger battery, improved frame rate and focus. One feature I'm looking to utilise more is the Pixel shift capability with landscapes, so dar the results I've seen have been phenomenon in detail.
Zeiss Batis 85mm - my portrait lens. For me it's the beautiful bokeh it provides that separates it from the other 85mm's. the 85 is a beautiful lens to isolate a subject in frame.
Lee filter set - Essential bit of kit whenever theres waterfalls, water or amazing movement with clouds. I usually carry a grad filter, a 6 stop and 10 stop. This usually covered enough bases to capture water smoothed out or nice blue in cloud movement.
MacBook Pro 13 - I usually don't enjoy editing photos on the road, but this is the closest mobile setup to mimic what I use at home. I’ll need my laptop during workshops to show my editing techniques to participants.
Wacom Bamboo - using a Wacom tablet for editing is the only way to get fine detail editing done. This compact tablet is perfect for travel.
LaCie Rugged 2TB - I've used a few hard drives in my travels and LaCie is probably the most reliable and best value. This should be enough to back up 2 months of photo and video content while mobile.
While there is never a one size fits all recommendation for your photography essentials packing list, if you've checked off the gear mentioned here you can be sure you'll be ready to make some great photos on your next adventure travel or photography vacation.
This article originally published by Andy Yee, guest instructor for the Morocco Cycling and Photography tour. Check out Andy's upcoming photography workshops at AndyYee.com