Daily Archives: August 10, 2012
I’ve spent most of my career trying to learn how to travel lighter, but not miss the shot. It has led to my having several camera bags, each set up for a certain kind of trip or assignment. For instance let’s say I’m headed to New Orleans to photograph jazz musicians in small clubs with very low light. I would pack my low light kit, Either a D700, D800, or D4 for great low noise in low light and high ISOs along with a 24mm f 1.4, 35mm f1.4 and 85mm f 1.4, maybe a 180mm f 2.8 of I had to shoot from some distance. The right gear for the right situation! For me, and I suspect many other photographers the hardest bag to build is the leisure travel bag. When I go to St Thomas with Sherelene and I don’t want to take a week off from shooting, but I don’t want her to feel that she is tagging along on a shooting assignment, I need to moderate both my behavior and the bag quite a bit!!! Enter the serious compact camera!
Let’s consider the bare minimum you might want to shoot travel and personal photos. I want a camera that can get me good, pretty much noise free or at least low noise, up to 1600 or 800 at least. I need lenses between say 24mm to 28mm all the way out to 120mm or even 200mm. I want something small and easy to carry, yet something capable of making images that can be blown up to at least 20X24 inch prints and still look great! You might think that would be asking a lot, but today’s serious point and shoot cameras have quite a few entries that can match all, or most, of those demands. I’ve personally shot the Nikon 1 J and V models and Nikon’s P7100, and all of these can do that beautifully. Only the P7100 gets out to 200mm without having to carry extra lenses. Your decision will likely come down to brand loyalty, cost, size, weight, whether or not you want to have to carry extra lenses, close focusing ability and many other factors. I personally like the compact cameras with a built in zoom that covers a good range, but is not interchangeable. If I buy a camera that takes more lenses, guess what, I will own more lenses!!! Over the past several years I have used and love, the Nikon Coolpix P7100 a wonderful picture making machine, with great zoom lens, and capable of taking very high end images, it is a good size, yet are built very well.
Once you decide on a camera you need to build a small, easy to carry system, and a bag to carry your travel system. I recently picked up the Domke F-5XB shoulder and belt bag. It’s small enough to be very easy carry and keep track of, and big enough to carry the few accessories I suggest you will really want to help your compact camera, take pictures like your big boy camera! The image above shows the bag and what I consider to be the essentials.
1. A Think Tank Pee Wee Pocket Rocket to hold extra batteries and SD memory cards. I carry three extra batteries and four extra SD cards.
2. A dozen or so, (more can be stashed in your suit case) Zeiss Lens Cleaning Wipes that you can buy at Walmart’s Optical department. Great for lens, eyepiece, and LCD cleaning, as well as iPhone, iPad, and any other glass surfaces that need cleaning while traveling. I’ve even used a couple to clean up an airplane window I wanted to shoot through!!
3. A small tripod and head. My favorite for usewith a compact camera is the Joby Gorrilapod legs the Micro 800 (Around $30.) with a Giottos MH-1002 small ball head, (around $49.) Remember all you want is a convenient way to do hands off shooting for night and low light shots and both of these are well made and will hold a small camera very steady. They are very small and easy to store in a small compartment in the Domke bag.
4. I always carry a polarizer and extra lens cap, plus of course a battery charger, I carry two, so I can top off all the batteries each night.
5. Lastly a cable release. The Nikon P7100 used a slick little wireless release called the ML-L3 and I buy them several at a time.
The most important thing about travel is to have a good time, make photography part of the fun and if you “lighten up” you can do that with less gear than you would have ever thought possible.
I went out to dinner in Austin tonight and then walked around the South Congress Street area, found some cool color shots! Surprising what you can do with just a little gear and some preparation!!!
Above, the value of a small tripod!
Well guys, I will be on airplanes all day tomorrow not getting home until after 11:00 p.m. I will blog Saturday, love you guys, thanks for hanging in there with me!