Travelling with a Camera – The Essentials
I live and work in South East Asia and have travelled extensively with my camera equipment and there are a few tips and problems that are useful to know when travelling in hot and humid environment that many may not have come across if you live in more temperate climates.
Carrying your gear
Don’t be tempted to take too much gear with you. One or two camera bodies depending on the length of your trip and how reliable you feel your particular brand to be but if it’s the trip of a lifetime take no chances.
- Spare batteries. 3 or 4 as new batteries can be difficult to source if yours breakdown or go missing.
- Lots of memory cards (they are really cheap now) so don’t stint. I normally take at least 50GB in mixed cards (2GB to 16GB)
- Lenses. These are the all important ingredients to making good travel picture so choose wisely. The mixture between quality and quantity (hence weight) must be fought. My normal travel kit when travelling light (ie by air) would be and I will carry this on in a Peli 1510 flight case which is the right size for international flights and gives me piece of mind:
I use Canon (and Nikon) cameras but the make really does not matter as much as having the right gear with you for your type of shooting
● Canon 50mm f1.8 or 1.4 + Canon 85mm f1.8
● Canon 24-105 IS f4L zoom
● Sigma 15-30 zoom
● Canon 70-200 f2.8L zoom
● 1 x Canon 1D Mk4 and 1Ds Mk1
● Fuji X100 and X Pro 1 + 18-55 zoom
● Batteries and cards plus cleaning equipment packed in a Domke F2 which is my main street bag. Some may decry it lack of padding but for me it works. Or a Lowepro Flipside 200 depending very much how much foot travel I will be doing
● Maybe a laptop but not always.
This kit should cover most things and is not to heavy and bulky to carry with me, in fact I would sometimes thin this down on a daily basis and leave some of the things in the safe at the hotel or guest house if I think they with not be needed. Trying to have the right gear with me at the right time. Planning my itinary is very important. Remember though you cant take pictures with a camera that’s in a bag with the lens cap on.
Caring for your GEAR
A most important key element to getting good picture whilst on the road is your daily routine care of you camera and lenses. The environmental issues in Asia and the subtropical and tropical areas you may find yourself in can be very challenging for complex electronic equipment of all sorts but, unremarkably, camera equipment can be very susceptible. A good daily routine can help prevent breakdowns and loss of pictures.
- Dust can be a major problem. Regular use of a soft brush externally on the camera to remove dust. Changing lenses as little as possible and if you have to change a lens do it quickly and with the camera ‘’turned OFF’’.
- Moisture is the second problem, moving from air-conditioned hotels to the heat of a tropical day can cause condensation. A good tip is to have some plastic resealable food bags large enough for you camera and lenses to go inside and then when you take them outside allow enough time for them to acclimatize and no condensation should occur.
- Cleaning your lenses. Remember dust can be a killer for lenses and again this is where a soft brush (blusher brush very cheap in the markets here) comes in very useful, and you may consider UV filters for lens protection and ease of cleaning, better to ruin a filter than the front element of an expensive lens.
- Avoid having to clean your sensor unless it become essential, dust can be removed quite well in post processing. You can risk pumping most dust into the camera. I probably only use a ROCKET maybe once a week when I am in a clean hotel room.
I love to take people picture whilst traveling in Asia and this is what dictates the kit I use, you adapt the kit to suit the pictures you take. All of the picture see here were taken with either a 28-70 f2.8L or 24-105 IS f4L which tend to be my favourite walk around lenses. ( the 70-200 f2.8L is also in regular use)
Since first publishing this article I am now using my Fuji equipment much more often, just because it is easier to carry and much lighter but is able to give excellent results. Will not be abandoning my Canon gear totally as there are things it can do better than the Fuji’s in certain situations.