In this section of the site I will talk about the equipment I use and why I chose to use a particular setup.
Lighter gear makes a big difference
On our trip overseas in 2013, I did not want to take my Canon 60D with Tokina 11-16 simply because from past experience I know how painful it becomes logging a heavy DSLR all day, and more likely then not I would leave it at home. So I thought I would try using my wife’s Sony NEX 5N since it’s much smaller and lighter, but still has a good sensor and as much control as my Canon.
I have to say that it was a good move and the weight of the Sony was not an issue for me, and it was with me every time we went out. It was small enough to carry in my jacket pocket on colder days, and most of the time I simply carried it in my hand or a small camera bag. If you have ever spent all day trolling a city taking pictures, you would know how quickly the gear you are carrying becomes a problem, all the lenses, tripods, batteries, remotes, flashes, snacks and drinks really add up and you feel exhausted before you even get to a good spot to photograph.
The tripod I brought (a Vanguard Espod 203AP) was the smallest one I could find with a fluid head for video, which Sony did quite well I must add, and just carrying that tripod in my backpack plus a 135mm manual focus lens became a pain to carry around after 5-6 hours. I was real happy that I also brought the tiny Joby tripod on the trip, that I used most of the time, and after awhile simply left the Vanguard at home, and only took it when I knew what I wanted to shoot with it.
After some trial and error my ideal setup to spend all day in the city (dusk to dawn) was to just bring the camera and the little Joby tripod that simply slips into my pocket, and maybe an extra lens. But 135mm f2.8 is a heavy chunk of glass and was really not very usable on the Sony NEX without stabilization, I’ll talk about that later though. Basically, the less stuff I have to carry on me the longer I tend to enjoy taking pictures, and a lot of times the pictures reflected that as well. Go figure!
Below is a quick shot I took using Sony NEX mounted on the tiny Joby tripod. It’s a snap to setup and lets you get real low to the ground for more interesting perspective. Use those puddles to your advantage!
I must admit that I now understand exactly what those mountain climbers and hikers talk about when they obsess about shaving grams from the load they carry. It always seemed strange to me, but now I know how much difference it makes.
If you plan to travel and do some serious photography, think very carefully what you bring on your trip. Get the smallest possible gear or at least have a secondary setup that you can use if you want to just leave your heavy camera in the hotel/car and use your lighter setup. Another idea is that you can use the lighter gear to scout some good spots and then bring your heavy gear after that. In some cases it may not be a good idea to leave your camera gear in the hotel and you have no choice but to carry it with you all the time. Hopefully this post will give you some food for thought.