Sunday, January 26, 2014

Oh my oh my! What a big camera you have!

Camera, lights, action!!

Ah yes, the freaking great big DSLR camera and all it's paraphernalia.

Some people travel with no camera, or just a small point and shoot or smartphone camera. I did just that in New Zealand in 2012 and enjoyed the freedom of less bulk, yet still managed to take some great photos with my iPhone. But I prefer making pictures with a camera I can tweak lots, and have invested heavily in improving my knowledge, technique and art. I see myself pursuing my passion for photography post retirement from the doctor job. Which means leaving the DSLR behind just isn't an option.

Mt Hutt panorama using iPhone and stitching Apps

This trip I'm changing it up a bit. I've tended to travel with a Tamron 17-250mm lens, a Canon 10-22mm wide-angle, and a 50mm prime. All too frequently I failed, through sheer laziness, to change to either of the latter lenses and found myself with quite a few shots that are a bit soft. So this trip I'm dumping the Tamron and just taking the wide angle and prime. It will force me to work my camera more to get the shots I want, rather than relying on a zoom lens. I'm going to concentrate on landscape shooting, street portraiture, and a few flower shots. I am particularly looking forward to spending some time in the Botanical Gardens in Bogor. I'm such a plant geek!!

Heliconia in Tropical Gardens, Yunnan Province, China

The camera with 10-22mm lens mounted weighs 1317g which is stowed in a Thinktankphoto holster strapped to my chest. The original holster used 2 padded straps crossed over my back to secure it comfortably where I could access my camera easily at any time, but it was a crude design and quite bulky.

original holster and harness

They've come up with a better designed harness, which  I've ordered, but the lower strap requires 2 anchor points on the holster not one. Yes, they redesigned the V2.0 holster with 2 anchor points, but I don't really want to buy a new camera bag just for the sake of a couple of eyelets. There were none in stock anyway.

mmm, much more streamlined..
2 anchor points for bottom strap

I'm sure I can work out something.

Inside the camera bag I stow my spare memory cards, 2 spare batteries and my shutter release cable. Bag and contents (excluding camera) weighs 934g.

Then there's my tripod. I spent a small fortune on a carbon fibre tripod quite a few years ago, and it has faithfully followed me to the summit of many hills, mountains and volcanoes, has allowed me to capture some beautiful sunrises, helped me experiment with long exposure photography, and provided selfies for all my fans  - OK, for my mum! It isn't one of those dinky gorillapods or lightweight travel monopods, because I wanted strength, durability and flexibility. Especially height flexibility, and if there isn't a tree or fence to curl your gorillapod around, you're a bit limited ain't you? It weighs 1037g, I accept this.

Still to pack is a memory card reader, a camera battery charger, and something to download the photos onto. Since I purchased my camera, there's been huge improvements in the cost and quality of electronic components. This means I can now find a CF card reader weighing 16g, and DC/AC battery charger weighing 68g. And neither cost more than a few bucks.

old CF card reader and cable on the left, new one on the right

The 50mm prime lens weighs 152g, including caps and a reversing ring for doing macro. I've a selection of neutral density filters and polarising filters for my wide angle lens so I can play with waterfalls and long exposure dreamy moving water shots and I'll also pop in the Olloclip for the iPhone! Filters 178g in soft case, Olloclip 24g.

Aside from the tripod, which will be stuffed into a side pocket of my backpack, most of this gear will be in my pockets or in the camera bag across my chest. At least to get through the check in. I'm not including most of it in the challenge, because I'm pretty sure I don't need to. No airline has ever asked to weigh it in the past although I have been asked to stow it for takeoff and landing. I look like a freaking tourist - I am, so what? - but I haven't had to worry about my camera being stolen either.

Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yunnan, China and geeky tourist!

I have a few thoughts on the "freaking obvious you've got a big expensive camera" debate. I figure that if I am in a really unsafe place then my camera and bag should be totally stowed away out of sight. BUT, and here's the bit that doesn't make sense from all the paranoid people: If I pull my camera out of whatever bag I am stowing it in and take a photo then I'm outed. So I choose to wear my camera close to my body, where a thief has no chance to opportunistically steal from me. I've also exchanged the brand name camera strap, for a smaller, stronger, generic strap.

But the main reason I wear this set up is so I can be mobile and have camera access in seconds. Awesome for hiking and street photography, I love it.

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