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The Equipment Dilemma: The Lightweight VS The Heavyweight (Which Are You?)


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Are you a Lightweight or Heavyweight photographer?

Do you travel light?  Or do you like to bring all your gear with you on trips, never knowing exactly what situations and opportunities you’ll have?

Every time I travel I go through this same painstaking process of deciding what camera gear to bring with me. From lenses to cameras to flash and more, I deliberate. Some might say, “if you are a well-versed photographer, you would just know.”  Others might say, “just bring the basics and keep things light.” And others may think, “put everything in a rolling bag to be prepared.”

Which photographer “travel personality” are you (when on vacation not on a paid assignment):

  1. The Know-It-All – knows exactly what he/she needs for every occasion (this “name” is meant to be funny – don’t take it too seriously)
  2. The Lightweight – who carries a Point and Shoot or maybe an SLR with just one lens attached (possibly one extra lens)
  3. The Heavyweight – who carries as much as possible – your SLR (maybe even 2) and a number of lenses, a flash, possibly a tripod or monopod, and more…
  4. The Indecisive – cannot decide on what to bring, changes out the camera items in the camera bag many times before settling on a final configuration

Where you fit in?  If no categories fit, come up with a name for your own.

Where I fit in: “The Indecisive”

I wish I made quick decisions. I dream of being a “Know-It-All.”  I wish I could keep packing simple.  I often second guess myself and bring far too much, but definitely not everything I own.

australia-600x321 The Equipment Dilemma: The Lightweight VS The Heavyweight (Which Are You?) MCP Thoughts Photography & Photoshop News Photography Tips

Photos courtesy of Tourism Queensland

My upcoming trip: I am one of the fortunate ten bloggers who leaves tomorrow on a plane for Australia courtesy of Problogger and sponsored by Tourism Queensland. I’ll be blogging about my experiences when I return, but while there I will post some images and details on my Facebook Page and my personal Facebook too – so make sure to watch for these updates. I hope to share pictures of Koalas, Kangaroos, marine life, the rainforest and my new friends from around the globe.

In addition to deciding what travel pillow, clothing, and shoes to bring, I once again needed to decide what camera equipment would make the trip. Here’s a glimpse at what I decided.  Tell me what you think in the comments.

Decision 1: I recently bought the Canon 5D MKIII. My first decision was should I take my old camera “just in case” something happens or my new one since “why have it if I’m not gonna use it.”  Originally I thought I’d go with the old.  But have decided on the latter and the 5D MKIII will be making the trip.

Decision 2: What lenses? My favorite lenses are now my Canon 50 1.2 and the Canon 70-200 2.8 II.  90+% of the time, one of these two lenses are on my camera. The 50mm is a prime lens, so not typically a solo travel lens.  The 70-200 is ultra heavy.  But I love both so much that they will both make the trip. You may notice a “hole” in my lineup – a wide-angle lens. Tamron, an MCP Blog Sponsor, just sent me their brand new 24-70 2.8.  So I will be bringing this along and give it a workout.  I debated on bring a macro and a fish eye lens, but it is just too much gear.

Decision 3: How should I handle underwater photography on the trip? My choices were to rent housing for my SLR along with underwater strobes, use my G11 with housing (that I own) or buy a small waterproof camera.  I went back and forth. I decided to buy a small Panasonic DMC-TS4 waterproof camera since my G11 housing is bulky and my space is very limited. We will see if this was the right decision.  It, along with every other similar camera, has mixed reviews.  A few note leakage, so I am nervous.  But every single underwater camera on Amazon has some of these negative reviews.  I will report back. For Panasonic’s sake, I hope it does not leak 🙂

Decision 4: Let there be light… Flash or not to flash. I have a Canon 580ex II flash.  It is large, heavy and cumbersome, especially with a large lens attached too. I decided to buy a Canon 270ex II, and if I like it, I may start carrying a flash more.  I prefer natural light but for certain conditions, such as for fill flash, this could be perfect.

Decision 5: How to transport what I picked to Australia… I have a lot of camera bags, beautiful and fun girly bags.  I need something easy to carry through multiple airports so I immediately thought of my Lowepro Rolling Bag. One problem, it weights 12 pounds.  Virgin Australia restricts people to one 15 pound carry-on. None of my other bags will fit my iPad, travel pillow, an SLR, three lenses,  waterproof camera, and other miscellaneous things.  This is one time Amazon was not the perfect place to buy something.  I could not tell what would fit just looking at pictures.  So I went to a local camera store, and found this Tenba backpack style camera bag which filled is exactly 15 pounds.  I did it!

As I write this I think “I hope I made the best choices possible.”  It is so hard for me to imagine what situations I will be in and therefore exactly what I will want with me. If I just used a good point and shoot, life would be simpler, but probably less fun!

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No Comments

  1. Mark Jolly on June 1, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Hi Jodi,I always take too much gear when I shoot locally. I admit that I am never at a loss for having what I need on hand, but pretty much every time I think “why did I bring all this…its so heavy and hard to lug around”. I even bought a huge Pelican case on wheels to help.Travel brings you to the realization that you HAVE to get by with pretty much the basics. I recently bought a 24-105L for this reason. All my favorite lenses, flashes and bodies add up to just too much weight. I think for your trip over here, I would just bring the 5DIII, 24-105L, 580exII, and a monopod. Oh.. and the laptop and a spare hard drive …and a bunch of memory cards….I know you will enjoy our backyard. Make the most of it!Mark

  2. Marmot Ridge on June 1, 2012 at 9:39 am

    My backpack weighs 32 lbs. emergency rain jacket. Water. The rest is lenses, batts, tripod, and my old 7D. Not too lite.

  3. Stephanie on June 1, 2012 at 10:13 am

    I am a mix of all of the above. I’m indecisive for sure but when I’m traveling out of town I take everything with me, just in case. Then, when I head out for the day, I pare down to just one camera body and one or two lenses (I spend two weeks in Italy with just my camera body and my 50mm and I’m totally in love with all my photos). It sounds like you really thought through your choices and went with the best options given the circumstances. Don’t second guess yourself now! Just take the absolute best photos you can (which I know you totally will!). Have a great trip!!

  4. Christina G on June 1, 2012 at 10:43 am

    I usually stick with a 35mm on the camera and a zoom lens (18-105) just in case… unless I know I’ll be needing to take a picture of something I can’t get close to–then I take a heavier zoom. I’m usually the “know it all” but sometimes pack heavy!

  5. Anna Hettick on June 1, 2012 at 11:57 am

    I am also an Indecisive. I am still so new to this that I never know just exactly what I want/need to bring but I would prefer to travel light and get what I can with what I have.Great article! =)

    • Claudia Lewis on June 1, 2012 at 12:04 pm

      I’m a lightweight. I carry a small camera bag with a lens attached to my camera and an extra lens. I’m always tempted to take more but decide that my vacation is about having fun and not lugging camera equipment around. I try not to sweat the small stuff.

  6. Sarah Crespo on June 1, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    I’m definitely indecisive as well! Last year I went to Alaska as more of a lightweight. This year I’m going to Hawaii, and I think I’ll be more heavyweight. But I’ll definitely go through that moment of, “Well…”

  7. Rae Higgins on June 3, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    What an awesome opportunity!

  8. Richard Ella on June 4, 2012 at 7:20 am

    This decision plagues me, not only for travel but also for my daily camera kit. I have my heavyweight kit consists of Nikon D3s, 24-70 f2.8, 17-35 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8, 50 f1.4, 105 micro. My lightweight kit is Nikon V1 + lenses. I recently advertised the heavyweight kit for sale but I just couldn’t do it. However increasingly I find myself going for the Nikon V1 but I’m always worried it just won’t deliver on the quality so feel I should take the heavyweights. I have actually once taken both kits. I’ve also considered a complete change to Nex 7 kit but I just can’t decide. Did I say I was indecisive. Someone help me.

  9. Wendy Jukich on July 5, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I just spent 2 weeks ‘walking’ in Seoul and other cities in South Korea and a couple days in Tokyo – was an awesome trip. I would make sure your backpack is good for long walks and easy to get the camera out. I had the camera around my neck most of the time and the lenses, water bottle, sunscreen and light sweater in the backpack. I really debated on the Canon 100mm macro and chose not to because of the size. Missed it for some of the flower photos, but that was really all. Hardly used the 70-200 either. Never needed a flash – had a little Canon 90s for indoor and food shots. Did use the wider angle lens a lot. We didn’t need underwater there, so will be fun to see how that camera works for you. Let us know how your Tenba works out for you – still looking for that perfect size/comfort bag. Also, make sure your camera strap is comfortable – I had a good one that was for my Mark 5D II, but the 5100 Nikon had the original strap and it really bothered me after all that walking. Have a great trip!!

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