After several months of painstaking research and careful consideration of weight limitations and current equipment, I finally decided on my camera gear. If you’re not familiar with my criteria, you might want to read my other post on travel photo gear. My primary body will be the Nikon D7200. It’s bigger than I originally wanted, but is the best compromise between the functionality I needed, weight and image quality. The D7200 will work with all my existing Nikon equipment so I don’t have to go out and get all new gear specific to a new system. I’m also very familiar with the user interface so I won’t have much of a learning curve. It won’t perform as well in low light as a full-frame sensor camera, such as the Sony Alpha 7 series, but it’s a whole lot better than my previous D300 body. Plus, it has full 1080p video saving me from carrying a separate camcorder.
Combined with the body are now three lenses. The main lens I’ll be using the most will be a Nikon 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S VR. It covers the zoom range I like to have when traveling without having to carry a heavy 70-200mm f/2.8. With the improved VR capabilities over the heavier and faster lens, it performs nearly as well in low light situations while weighing less than half as much. Optically, the quality is decent, especially if I keep it in that aperture sweet spot of f/8 to f/11. In addition, I have an existing Nikon 12-24mm f/4 to help capture those expansive landscapes, and a prime Nikon 35mm f/1.8 for shooting at night or when I want the best image quality. I’m also bringing a few professional-sized 100mm filters: ND filters, various graduated colored filters, reverse graduated ND filters, polarizers and the holder and 2 adapter rings. The larger size allows me to use it with the wide angle lens without vignetting. The downside is all that glass and plastic adds up and I’m pushing the limits of carry-on.
I’m also packing a waterproof point and shoot camera for inclement weather and snorkeling. I picked the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS6 because of previous experience with Panasonic cameras, the features it offered and the size. It’s waterproof to 43 feet, shockproof, has built-in GPS, and is small enough to be pocketable. With its equivalent 28-128mm lens and 16 megapixel sensor, I might even be able to use some of the images professionally.
If the budget allows, I’m also looking at the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100. With a 4/3 sensor and a 24-75mm equivalent f/1.7-2.8 lens, it has great low-light performance while being more discreet than my big DSLR. I also shoots in RAW format and captures 4K video. The downside is that it costs nearly as much as my Nikon and only captures 12 megapixels. So the jury is still out on that one.
To power these cameras, I have three batteries for each. That should last over a week if I don’t have access to electricity. However, I don’t want to be carrying separate chargers, so I have one Watson battery charger with a different plate for each type of battery. The only downside to this arrangement is the Watson charger is slow and I’ll need time to charge all the batteries should they all be dead—at least a full day and night to charge everything with just one charger.
With all these cameras, I’ve standardized to SD cards. No more having to carry both CF and SD on a trip. Of course, how many SD cards do I need for a year? Since I doubled the resolution, the cards hold about half as many photos. 32Gb cards give me about 550 photos on the Nikon and quite a bit more on the other cameras. An average 3 week vacation yielded about 3000-4000 images. I plan to do a lot of in camera editing to save media space so I should be able to get a week of photos on 50Gb. With the combination of 128Gb, 64Gb and 32Gb cards, I’m carrying about 1.66Tb or 33 weeks worth of media. I also have Amazon’s Cloud service with unlimited photo uploads and I’m carrying a 2Tb hard drive for my computer. I’d love to be able to keep all the images on the cards as backups to my backups, but I know I’ll have to reuse them. To keep all the cards safe, I’m using 2 Pelican 0915 SD card cases with my email address affixed to the outside. If they get lost, maybe a good samaritan will contact me.
For camera support, I have the Sirui T-025X carbon fiber tripod with the C-10X ball head. After using the D7200 with the tripod’s camera plate, I found I needed something sturdier to mount the camera to the tripod. So I opted for the Pro Media Gear L-bracket for the Nikon and relegated the camera plate from the tripod for the other cameras. To carry my DSLR, I’m using the Pacsafe Carrysafe 150 Anti-Theft Sling Camera Strap for extra security. And to carry it all, I have the Pacsafe Camsafe Venture V16 Camera Slingpack which is nearly full now. Of course, there are also lots of incidental items: lens brush, OP/TECH Rain Sleeves, Triggertrap remote triggering, Rokform iPhone case and mounts, and a Polson hot shoe-mounted shotgun microphone and wind screen.
The only thing left to do with my photo gear is figure out exactly how I’m going to pack all this and stay within the 7kg. limit. Then I can worry about other things, such as my computing choices.