When you have to carry all your own gear, it can be really hard to figure out what camera to take on a multi-day hike. That 70-300mm lens sounded like a great idea at the time, but after four days of trekking the extra weight really adds up. I’ve just got back from a six day hike lugging my own gear. Thankfully this time I’d converted to a lighter body, the Nikon D750, and my new full frame camera meant I only needed to take one lens (the Nikon 24-70 f/2.8) vs two (an additional wide-angle). But you might be wondering what the best option is for you…
Two and a half weeks with only cabin baggage sounds terrifying to most people. And it’s exactly what I’m doing tomorrow morning. I’m flying off to the States with only a small backpack and my camera satchel.
This week’s camera question comes from Haviwah of the Barefoot on Backroads blog. He asks:
“What’s your take on Neutral Density and/or Polarizing camera filters? I’m pretty sure I’ve seen somewhere on your blog before that you have a few and I’m wondering if you rate them/think they’re worth while.”
I do rate camera filters as a worthwhile investment for most travel and landscape photographers. They allow a lot of flexibility for taking well exposed images without having to rejig them later in Lightroom.
When I was looking to buy my camera I found it very useful to see what other photographers had in theirs. Here’s a little poke into my camera kit…
The Nikon D7000 came out just when I was looking for a new camera. It’s small and light. While it’s not a full frame camera, the DX body works great and has a decent sensor size. It also takes HD video. Of course I’d love to get a full frame camera, but my budget didn’t allow for one… which leads me to my next item.
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
Of all the advice I received when looking for a camera kit, the best was “buy the best glass you can afford and upgrade the body every few years”. I was tossing up between buying this lens and a cheaper one. I considered that if I was ever going to go professional that I would need professional glass, and that if I bought a standard lens at the time, I would still want to buy a professional lens in the future. So instead of spending money on two lenses, I bought this bad boy and have never regretted the decision. This lens is so sharp it can capture the shape of salt crystals on a table. The bokeh is as creamy as a glass of Baileys. Although it is on the heavy side (nicknamed “The Beast” by many a Nikon user), I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s my go-to lens.
Sigma 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6
While this lens doesn’t have the best optics and a fair bit of distortion on the edges, it’s a hell of a lot of fun to use. And fun is really important in being creative and discovering new angles to shoot. It’s also great for shooting enormous things like the Hoover Dam.
On both of my lenses I have B+W UV filters. Always buy a good quality filter for your good quality glass!
Circular Polarizing Filter
I have a circular polarizing filter in my kit, but because both of my lenses are fairly large in diameter, it produces mixed results.
Graduated Neutral Density Filters
If you shoot landscapes you really should have a set of these in your bag. I’ve gradually been learning how to use them over the past year, and they help a lot in creating a balanced exposure in mixed light conditions. I have a set of Cokin filters.
Vanguard Lens Cleaning Kit
I always use the hankie sized microfiber cloth when I am out shooting to keep dust off my lens. It’s also really helpful when doing timed exposures in wet conditions. I keep the cloth over the lens until I’m ready to take the photo. And recently it doubled as an emergency hankie, while I was struck with the sniffles outdoors. Thankfully the washing machine brings these up like new!
Lowepro Fastpack 250
So you have all this fancy camera gear, but where are you going to put it? I’ve had a number of Lowepro bags over the years, but the Fastpack is one of the best designed travel camera backpacks you can get. The camera is loaded on the side, which means you can get to your camera in a matter of seconds. But it doesn’t look like a camera bag, so those sneaky thieves can’t find your gear! Added to this, there is a slot for my laptop in the back. While I don’t carry around my laptop everywhere, it fits all my valuables in a cabin baggage sized bag. Added to this, there is a handy upper compartment where I store my raincoat and snacks if I am hiking. One addition I would make to the bag is an inbuilt rain cover and straps for holding in a tripod on the side.
Manfrotto 190CX and Grip Ball Head
This is the newest addition to my camera family. I’ve been using a Gorillapod for a while, but I’m moving into shooting video as well as stills. And while the Gorillapod has been great, especially in places that don’t allow tripods, it gets difficult shooting landscapes with it! Because I do a lot of hiking and travelling, I opted for the carbon fibre version. Well worth the money and very lightweight.
Tres useful for putting your pictures on the computer and it means you don’t need to fuss with carrying another cable.
16GB Memory Cards
Memory cards are more important that you think. Most people don’t realize why some memory cards are more expensive than others. It’s because of their speed. The number on the front tells you how fast it is. If you shoot video you need a card that is an 8 or more.
What was in my kit that’s not there now?
I did have a few things with me on this trip that I’ve since discarded or sent back to Australia. This includes my old kit lens 70-300mm which wasn’t good enough quality on the D7000, added to which I hardly used it except to take photos at the zoo. I’ve switched to cloud backups for my music and photography, which cut down on the three external hard drives. Everything else in the picture is still with me, except I replaced my Nalgene bottle in the states. And yes, all this fits in the backpack. Cool hey!
Things I would like in my kit
Ahh… so here comes my wish list of things I would like. Thanks Santa!
- Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8
- Nikon D600
- GPS Adaptor
- Remote shutter release