Around the world~♫ around the world~♫ around the world~♫
October 19, 2010 2:48 PM   Subscribe

BucketList preparation: Traveling around the world, what kind of photography equipment would you bring with you? I'm mainly interested in (Canon) lenses, but recommendation for accessories is also welcome.

I'm thinking,

1) nifty fifty for people, because I'm sure I will meet a lot of interesting people during my trip. 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4
2) a wide lens for lanscape. 10~22mm? (and like all things in photography, this one is of course, "cheap".)
3) I have a $20 tripod that does the (basic) job. What would you recommend?
4) I read some past threads and am deciding to get a Kata DR467i backpack.
5) External flash? I prefer to get Canon brand as I was told they talk to the camera body better.

anecdote: I'm taking photography class and have basic understanding of it. I'd like to keep the budget (for photography equipment) under 1.5k. I already have Rebel XS and may or may not upgrade to something else (7D?), but that's not part of this budget. Thank you very much!
posted by jstarlee to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
A 28 mm lens for taking shots with little distortion.

If you're taking a photography class, I wonder if they would let you rent out a larger format camera. It would be great to have some shots with the detail provided by a 4 x 5, or even a 2 1/4.

Most importantly, I would get a memory card with an enormous amt of storage, extra camera batteries, and lens cleaner. I am so jealous of you!
posted by xammerboy at 2:58 PM on October 19, 2010

Response by poster: I forgot to explain a little more about the trip. This will be one of those "I-have-saved-up-enough-money-and-have-no-relationship/family-obligation" multi-month trip. When I say "around the world," I meant that literally.

I know if I don't do it soon, it will be increasingly difficult to do. I'm aiming for next year summer.
posted by jstarlee at 3:10 PM on October 19, 2010

Best answer: Gorillapod! There's an SLR and a SLR Zoom version and they are very handy.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:36 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I've done a lot of traveling with a 30D and a 5D. I'm not sure what your traveling is like, but my default advice is to always think about the weight of your gear. Camera stuff can get heavy, even with just a camera and a couple of lenses.

I use a Kata 3N1-20 bag. I love that it can be a sling bag, a backpack, or a hybrid mode they call the "X" position. On a typical trip, I'll switch from mode to mode daily, using it as a backpack on planes, a sling while out and about, and a hybrid if I'm hiking. I don't carry an insane amount of gear (usually a camera, two or three extra lenses, and occasionally a tripod), but having a backpack that can distribute that weight is a lifesaver. Plus, it's big enough that I can leave behind the extra gear and carry a water bottle and lunch.

Lens-wise, it depends on what you like. If you gravitate towards general snapshots, then get a good "walk around zoom" that covers a nice range of focal lengths. If you want to do people shots or indoor shots, then primes are probably a better choice. The 50mm coupled with a 24mm and a 100mm can give you a ton of flexibility.

Personally, I travel with a 24-105 f/4 and I love it. I also carry a 17-40 f/4 and a 70-200 f/4, but I use the latter two very rarely (often enough that I would regret not bringing them but rarely enough that most of the time I wonder why I brought them).

Get a couple of filters. I use a UV protective filter when it's rainy, windy, or "spray prone" (like near a waterfall). And I love my polarizing filter. I always travel with both of them. I have them with me right now and I'm just sitting here at work.

For a tripod, having one is better than not having one. Having a light one is nice. Having a quality one is nice. Having a light and quality tripod is very expensive. Use what you have, but you'll figure out it's limitations quickly - whether it's weight, quality, or both.

Get a lot of memory cards. I can go through 40GB with my 5D in a few days (but it does create something like 25MB raw files). Since you're traveling around the world, you should consider bringing a laptop or something to offload the pictures periodically.

Think about getting an extra battery. Also, I love having a car charger around. I use a basic DC - AC converter that my standard camera charger plugs into. I can also use it to charge my cell phone, laptop, or whatever else. If you're not driving, get a bunch of international power adapters. You'll want them anyway.

Get some basic cleaning spray and microfiber towels. I guarantee you'll get something on your lenses, and at the end of the day it's nice to be able to clean them.

But most importantly, HAVE FUN! Take a bunch of photos and share them with your friends and family. Enjoy yourself.
posted by fremen at 3:39 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well if you are doing the backpack thing weight and space are a big factor. I would personally forget the external flash and instead bring along something that allows you to store your photos on in the event of cards getting stolen, lost etc.. If you are not then ignore my advice on saving space and weight.

I would also not bring a tripod and instead get a gorilla pod. One of those small bendable tripods. They work really well.

***Actually, a side note about tripods in general to any budding photographer not shooting large format. If you are going out during the day to shoot photos, leave them at home. They just get in the way. The sooner you learn this the better.***

As for lenses, 50 is great, or the sigma 30 1.4 if you are using a camera with a 1.6 crop. The 30 is like a true 50 on those bodies.

You would probably want to look into a longer zoom too. The standard 'fast' zoom is a 70-200 f2.8. Sigma makes a good one of those too. Or you may find a used canon one.
posted by WickedPissah at 3:57 PM on October 19, 2010

In addition to the real gear, take a cheapo little digital with you, or get a phone that can take decent enough shots. There will be times you won't have your camera with you and will want to take little shots here and there. Don't be wishing you had your real gear handy, and don't be resenting the fact that you have to lug your real gear everywhere.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:58 PM on October 19, 2010

I'd say you should get a small, dedicated point-n-shoot instead of a phone with a camera, because even p'n's can get you some downright nice pictures, and have the ability to take pictures with (vaguely) manual settings. Camera phones, while advancing, probably won't last long enough if you're using them to take a decent sum of pictures, plus you can't get second batteries as easily as you can for cameras.

If you really want to travel lightly, and have the flexibility of limited luggage, spend money on a great point'n'shoot with ample storage cards and back-up batteries. Easier to hide, less likely to draw attention, and you can still get good shots. But that's from me, whose last "big" camera was a PowerShot G5.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:15 PM on October 19, 2010

... which I loved, but found it 1) too slow for shooting on a whim, and 2) increasingly annoying to have it bouncing around, even in a good case. Having a little point-n-shoot that you can stick comfortably into a pants pocket is great, in my opinion.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:16 PM on October 19, 2010

Agreeing with CPB about a small simple pocket camera with not much zoom but a good lens. I'd agree with the fastest 50 (although I've been reading about 35's). If you have the bucks, that new nikon 18-300 sounds sweet. Maybe try out a monopod? I'd have one of those mini-tripods with bendable legs. I know I'm slipping off topic but really more than the camera, research. Great locations and how to get there before sunrise so you can get the light. And the next location each day at evening magic time. Sounds like a great trip, post your upload site in projects.
posted by sammyo at 5:17 PM on October 19, 2010

Best answer: When we travel, our bare bones camera kit is:

- One body with cheap looking neck strap (it's comfortable but it doesn't say CANON all over it)
- a 10-22mm EFS
- a 24-70mm EF
- a 70-200 ultrasonic IS - this thing weighs about 5 lbs so it's the most likely to be left at home and it also draws a ton of attention, so it's not useful in cities.
(I haven't traveled out of the states with it yet, but I love, love, love my new 100mm EF F2.8 L IS for close shots of small things and for, surprisingly, people. It's small and light and it might get added to our barebones kit.)
- a cleaning kit - lens cloth, air puff, maybe a brush or something for knocking dust off the sensor
- lots and lots of gigantic size plastic bags that will fit each lens and body
- those packets of silica gel that absorb water that come in shoe boxes. If you're buying shoes for the trip, just ask the nice sales person to round some up for you.
- extra battery + charger
- extra memory card
- some kind of external hard drive that photos can be dumped down onto on a daily basis. This gadget generally stays in the hotel room while we're out and about. Bonus - some can store movies which can be watched on the trip out. Then the movies can be deleted to make room for the photos. We use the Vosonic 8860. Get one with the screen, because in the evening you can look over the pictures and maybe get someone to identify some of what you shot.

You might consider marking your gear in some subtle, identifying way. Engrave it, scratch it, nailpolish dot - something that you know it's *your* lens and not somebody else's lens.

We've used lowepro bags. We won't use them again. All lowepros are too long for my spine. Worse, our lowepro allweather slingshot resulted in us not being able to use our 70-200mm for the last week of a trip to Borneo and having to mail it back to Canon for a repair. A poncho and/or plastic bags have worked better at keeping water out of the lenses.

Whatever bag we're using, we try to scuff it up and take the logo off if it's something like lowepro that can only be a camera bag.

You don't always realize how dusty the world is until you get there. Sometimes you just can't switch lenses if you value your sensor. I wouldn't take the fixed length lenses - you can't always change your standing, you can't switch lenses fast enough, it's not always easy to juggle the two lenses and a body, and you don't always want everyone knowing just how much gear you're packing.

Some of my best people shots are with the 70-200 - you can get gorgeous shots from across a plaza, and most people think you're shooting the scenic church behind them and don't pose so much. This would be unethical to do in a situation where people expect to be compensated for letting you take their picture, or if they were the kind of people who just don't want you to take the picture at all.

We don't travel with a tripod and have managed to get decent shots even in the jungle (very, very low light, much lower than you might expect.) Often you can lean the lens on some object. Sometimes you just can't get the shot. We don't use a flash, either. It's too much overhead.

Accept this: you won't get every shot.

Our camera gear, with the 70-200, weighs about 12 lbs. We compensate by otherwise traveling extremely light.

Cool Papa Bell has good advice. There will be times it's just not safe to whip out a big camera. You might be thinking, oh, it's just a Rebel, but when you're in a place that considers $5/day to be a decent salary, there's no reason to rub it in. You might be surprised how many people you'll run into who know exactly how much a given lens costs. I'd get a phone rather than a cheap point and shoot just because in many countries it's starting to get difficult to travel without one. I use my iphone camera more than I use my real gear anymore and it's good enough for those quick little "want to remember this" shots that won't ever get printed and hung on my wall. My various point and shoots do nothing but collect dust until being given away.
posted by arabelladragon at 5:43 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'd bring a better strap than what usually comes with the cameras. Either one for better security or stronger one for travel, depending on where I was going. At home I use a quick release strap but I'm not sure I would bring it, maybe, maybe not.
posted by acheekymonkey at 5:53 PM on October 19, 2010

Best answer: I know you said Canon, but if you're not committed to that yet you can do an awful lot worse than:

- Nikon D7000
- 10-24mm AF-S
- 18-200mm AF-S VR
- 35mm AF-S Prime (50mm equiv on DX frames)

... and a $50 entry-level (but excellent, lightweight and delightfully knockaround) Velbon tripod.

That gives you your tripod and covers virtually the entire range a user could want. But consider two super-important things, if you're traveling: one, how do you intend to back these photos up? Because you're going to want to have them in more than one place - consider buying a few hundred gig of storage from Google before you leave and an SD-USB reader, just so you've got a place to back up your data. Pack more SD cards than you think you'll need, for sure.

Second: bring a competent point-and-shoot. I cannot advocate this strongly enough: the best camera you can have is, and always will be, the camera most likely to be in your hands when the shot you want comes along. Have the DSLR, sure, have the tripod and the kata bag, but you should definitely also have an SLR you can fit in a front pocket, that you can get out, turn on and shoot with one hand in less than five seconds. A lot of the best shots I've taken have been with a point and shoot, not because it's an amazing camera but because I was there, the shot was there, and I could take it before it disappeared.

Finally, one tip - wide-angle lenses aren't for landscapes, or at least, not for landscapes in the way people usually think of shooting them. You'll get much bolder, more interesting pictures when you're standing right on top of your subject and rubbing the viewer's face in it.

Good luck, and safe travel.
posted by mhoye at 6:02 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I did a one year backpacking trip (flickr link in my profile) with a 50mm f/1.4 and an 18-200mm and a nikon d40x for the body. I would not bring more than two lenses. I did get some neat shots with the 50mm but really it wouldn't have been problematic to have had only the 18-200mm. If you are just learning photography now don't worry about upgrading the body - it will be plenty, and don't upgrade until you can see a purpose for the extra features you will get from the higher end bodies.

I did not bring a pocket camera with me - I think they're worth bringing, but as a personal choice I didn't want to have the camera out 24/7, and I particularly didn't want it out all the time while socializing. Photography is an extremely self aware activity and for me part of the purpose of travel is to put that away for a while and just feel life happening.
posted by MillMan at 12:42 AM on October 20, 2010

I would heartily recommend an Arctic Butterfly for cleaning your sensor. IMO, it's essential for the travelling photographer.
posted by Magnakai at 3:48 AM on October 20, 2010

Response by poster: Even though I didn't mark every answer as best answer(s) - I appreciate each and every single one of them.

I'm using Lightroom 3 and a 500gb external harddrive to manage my photos and will get more SD cards. Will definitely come back and review this page from time to time until my actual trip.

Thanks again!!
posted by jstarlee at 2:03 PM on October 21, 2010

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