Serious photographers: which gear to bring?

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by longslowdistance, Mar 13, 2017.

  1. longslowdistance

    longslowdistance Long timer

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    This question is to experienced photographers who have dealt with this question. Please, only responses from folks who have dealt with this issue, or pros or semi-pros whose advice would help. Thanks

    Upcoming moto tour in summer and early fall: 4 weeks in Newfoundland.

    Should I:
    Bring the really good (and heavy, bulky and expensive) gear that takes great pics,
    or
    Bring the cheaper, light, compact sensor DSLR.

    Issues are weight, bulk, risk/pain of theft, risk of water damage (I'm told it rains in NL), pleasure to use, and of course image quality.

    Background info in case you're still reading:
    I'm a not-bad amateur, sold and published more than a few pics over the years, and smart enough to know that the difference between me and a real pro is huge. That said, 90% of the time I can get the same shot. It just takes me longer.
    Photography is not the main goal of the trip, but it's important.
    The "good gear" would be a Canon 5D mk3 and the usual R lenses. The alternative would be a cheap Canon compact DSLR (SL 1), that I find a joy to use and takes lovely snapshots. Tripod with ball head and pano head comes either way. Will also bring a waterproof point and shoot (pics range from fair to pretty good), and a smart phone. Most of the pics would be web use only, but a few will be used for large prints.
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  2. HotChilliColdBeer

    HotChilliColdBeer Human Swizzle Stick

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    What kind of photos do you want after the ride? Are you going for a motorcycle ride and taking some shots? Or are you going on a trip that you want to shoot, and happen to be riding the motorcycle?

    When solo, I will take the better gear and spend the time. It's my ride and my time, why not. When not solo, I feel that photography can become time consuming and take the lesser gear and spend less time shooting, more time riding.




    Charlie
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  3. rrookey

    rrookey Adventurer

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    I think HOTChilliColdBee said it very well, what do you want when you get home. I can take my MK IV's and all the L glass one would need to a shot and if I'm planning on selling of publication then that's what I carry, I went Nova Scotia last year and brought my Fuji XT-10 w/16-50mm and love what I can do with that and for the size weight and cost I never worried about it.... it's what you do with what you have not what you have, and no tripod, ball head or pano head
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  4. kiwi_outdoors

    kiwi_outdoors Been here awhile

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    Do you want a stunning landscape to hang on the wall - or sell, or lots of snapshots of friends you make along the way. If the latter, get a reliable point and shoot, or use your cell phone.

    For my one-month Alaska driving trip (no motorcycle) I am taking two Nikon D3300 bodies, the 18-55 kit lens and the new 760-300 AF-P zoom. And a wide-zoom-range Canon Zoom for the wife (it does quite well).

    Also taking my huge tripod (Gizo) and ball-head and remote release in case we see any Aurora in the wee small hours (also for the total eclipse on our way home).

    Note - the light in Alaska is dimmer than here because its further north. Its more subdued.

    Reason for two bodies is mostly to be ready for wildlife shots with the long zoom - no need to swap lenses. Identical bodies mean you learn only one menu structure. I did the firmware upgrade on both bodies.
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  5. guideboat1

    guideboat1 Adventurer

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    Let me begin with I have completed your planned trip more than once, and have a perspective on what you will encounter.

    First you must decide on what your goal photography is – Landscapes, animals – what exactly. Second consideration is are you hoteling or camping. Third, how much weight are you carrying on the bike and how, and how accessible will the gear be?

    Rain – ABSOLUTELY! How much depends on the time of year. So that being considered, if you take the expensive glass and body(s) you had better be prepared to keep it DRY and clean. You will likely find that part of your daily ritual will be taken up with assuring that the body and glass is properly dried, cleaned and protected. Silica gel will be your best friend. If camping is your plan, I suggest sacrificing the good gear for something with a decent sensor and decent glass but willing to sacrifice sometime along the trip or later if you have to. Don't forget dust, just as problematic as moisture, more damaging to expensive glass and bodies.

    If you are mostly taking landscape photos with an occasional bird, moose or whatever, ditch the expensive gear. Go for something with a decent sensor, decent wide to zoom, and lightweight. Your decision.

    As for a tripod, waste of time (I am a big tripod proponent I never am without a tripod, unless I am on the bike) but on a motorcycle the weight, time to set up, organize yourself for the photo, repack and move on will drive most people nuts. Travel tripods are a waste of money in my book as they are not stable to the level that I expect when photographing with a tripod is required. So the alternative is a good clamp mechanism. Such as Really Right Stuff Multi-Clamp Kit with BH-25 Ball Head or equivalent set up. The nice thing is that it clamps to anything solid (including the bike), lightweight, and packs easily and small. Chances are you will never actually need or use the tripod. Learning to use solid structures to stabilize yourself and the camera is a best bet.

    Of course you mentioned that most of the photographs will be seen on the web. Are you considering any prints in the future? How large? If the answer is no, then rethink your plan and purchase a good prosumer camera or as I said go with a decent sensor camera like the Canon G series Nikon Coolpix, Sony Cybershot or equivalent. I have taken photos with G series cameras and 60 mp cameras and once processed, only a very well trained eye could differentiate between the two particularly on the web or computer. Remember most people do not have monitors with great resolution or color depth, nor are they color calibrated. A good quality prosumer camera can provide quality photographs that printed to 8x10 or even 10x14 there is very little softness or pixelation. Where most people run into a problem is they over crop and then try to sharpen until it looks horrible, then print. Never works regardless of how great the camera sensor or system is. It is not all about the pixels and zoom. Most medium level cameras non DSLR types take excellent photographs that look wonderful on the 72 dpi web world with RGB color.

    I also recommend that you take lots of memory cards and back-up to a small laptop or card reader / storage device. Never erase your memory cards until you get home. Again, protection from the elements is imperative.

    My recommendation given your parameters is skip the weight and anxiety of carrying a DSLR and lots of lenses, particularly the expensive gear and glass, for the benefits of a small camera that takes excellent photographs (medium size print capable). If you are looking to produce fine art photographs take your best gear in an automobile and take time to take great photographs.

    Hope this helps.

    Ps, yes I am considered a pro at time, but I believe that is only when being paid to take photos. Also, my avitar is me on my RT on Cape Breton, NS.
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  6. Plawa

    Plawa dןǝɥ puǝs

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    What kind terrain do you ride? Anytime I go offroad I carry my 5D III in my backpack to insulate it from direct vibrations from the bike and rough terrain.. I have kept it on the bike even offroad to get the weight off my back but I don't feel like it's a good thing for the body or the lenses...

    This is my setup for carrying my gear on a GS (Pelican 1450), the 70-200 and the 16-35 stay at home when I go offroad and I only carry the 5D and 24-105 in my backpack. Also consider the ease of access.. Ideally you want the camera within reach without even getting off the bike, it sounds lazy but especially when you're in a group it allows you to get far more photos without being (or feeling like) a nuisance to others.. (and then they're all excited about the photos you took, ungrateful bastards..). I hate to admit it but I have resorted to taking cell phone photos a couple times just because it was more convenient..

    [​IMG]
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  7. Boricua

    Boricua Been here awhile

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    When traveling with expensive equipment I always ask myself how much will be worth what I'm planning to shoot? That quickly answer how much Im willing to break or lose on the shoot.


    Sent from my XT1635-01 using Tapatalk
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  8. abhi

    abhi XC on RE

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    If you are on a once in a lifetime ride, take a DSLR. Two lenses: 1. 18-135mm kind of lens which will be your do-it-all lens. 2. Wide angle lens if the scenery is big. Like in the mountains. 3. Optional 50mm/ 35mm prime lens

    But if you are planning to shoot seriously, one other thing you need to take along is TIME. Stopping, removing (at least) one glove, taking out the equipment, making a shot, repacking and gearing up and leaving.

    Also practice shooting with the helmet on, BEFORE you leave on the trip.
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  9. Motomochila

    Motomochila Moto Scientist and time traveler

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    Ask this question every time I load up for another ride. Canon 5DR, 16-35 L and 35-200L, plus a flash, tripod and digital release. Half the time I throw in the canon G7X. If I'm riding my 690, I only take my G7X. At 22 mp, it will give me a great photo for just about everything I shoot. Of course I always wish I took the big gun everywhere, but it's tough on the smaller bike or off-road, where dust and damage is always an issue.

    I built a complete foam cutout for my hard GSA cases so my camera and lenses are well protected. I also wrap each in a plastic zip lock bag before putting them in the case. Keeps them dust free.

    Bottom line; when you are willing to sit for hours waiting for that perfect light, having the good stuff with your is worth the extra weight. Moving fast and shooting great shots you can sell, take the compact.
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  10. Ridercam

    Ridercam Adventurer

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    I am a professional photographer and videographer and have done some long tours with equipment. Been there and done that! It is a major PITA. You will be tethered to your pelican case if you are planning to carry even a small fly kit. A few other considerations. Are you planning on taking filters and polarizers? There is no point to bring a big lens if there is no tripod. One overlooked aspect is... caring a professional camera - some places you want to shoot you will need a permit for the location and the day. Most national parks have these rules BTW. Not to say you most likely can get away with it but still something to watch for.

    The ability to shot something when your are mostly sharing on line... the choices are simple. a great Point and shoot, your samsung / iPhone 6/7 / motorola camera phone are obvious selections. A cool camera i have been carrying is a 4x5 that folds up in a nice pouch that fits in custom case that is 7x7x4... In fact i plan on carrying this on my cross country trip. The images will blow you away! 2 lenses and the ability to skew.
    [​IMG]
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  11. longslowdistance

    longslowdistance Long timer

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    The tilt shift is a big reason to bring the full frame SLR. (Not quite as impressive as yours!)
    Filters are a big reason to bring any SLR.

    Thanks to everyone for these really good responses.
    #11
  12. Ridercam

    Ridercam Adventurer

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    I have been thinking about this more. In all seriousness... an inexpensive rangefinder is the goto shiznik if you are looking for frameable art.. I would be willing to put this little old 50 dollar camera with lens against anything you would bring in your DSLR kit. Goes toe to toe with a Lieca m3 although feels cheaper. Bust this out for a month on the road and you will become 3x the shooter you thought you were. Good chance it will be at the next garage sale for under 20.

    [​IMG]

    Using t100 film
    [​IMG]
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  13. longslowdistance

    longslowdistance Long timer

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    I still have my dad's old twin lens reflex Yashicamat. Medium format is the bomb.

    But getting back on track, not going old school on this trip.
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  14. guideboat1

    guideboat1 Adventurer

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    Ridercam, I like the idea of the 4x5, but most people would not know where to start to use the camera. What back or film are you planning to use? How about lots of glass plate slides like JW Powell did substituting the M/C for the mules. As for permits, my experience is that personal or hobby photography requires no permits, check the NPS website. Commercial use does, even in Canada I have never had any one stop me from photographing anything I want, especially if you do not spend a lot of time setting up equipment, waiting for the optimum moment, lots of helpers to sherpa gear, etc. On the M/C the rule is probably shoot and go. Longslowdistanc needs to decide if it is a vacation or is it a photographic journey; I go for the KISS camera system and let the inner talent and serendipity rule.
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  15. abhi

    abhi XC on RE

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    Nice! Link to more shot on this?
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  16. cosworth

    cosworth Been here awhile

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    First official post lol

    Former pro shooter here. My bike gear is a canon 1Ds Mk.II. It's tough as nails, but heavy. Dust proof, water resistant. Lenses. 17-40, 50 1.8, 70-200F4. 2 batteries. Leaver the charger at home. Some kimwipes in a baggie. Compact tripod, and a tripod head that mounts on the bike of I choose to leave the baby tripod at home.

    Recently, I have thought of getting a used 5d or a bit more $$$ and a 6d to cut the weight down. The 1Ds as rugged as it is, is damn near the heaviest gear I carry on the bike. Think thumper cylinder head size and weight.
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  17. bodean123

    bodean123 Adventurer

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    Sony A6000 and some prime lenses, best decision ever made for traveling light.
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  18. cosworth

    cosworth Been here awhile

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    Also second protip. Multiple small memory cards if you are not a forgetter. Once filled up, store them somewhere really safe deep in the bag in a small container. If the camera gets swiped, dropped in a ravine, etc. You still have most of your pics.

    Lose small things often? Ignore me. Lol
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  19. Ridercam

    Ridercam Adventurer

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    I guess it would depend on your style. there is a retro moment that maybe too hip for the digital age. Have you tried making your own dry plates? If you are inclined it is super nerdy fun otherwise you can retro-fit an existing film holder to use wet plate. If this is a shooting excersise then expect to fill a saddlebag with all the stuff you need. it might not be the most clever to capture doing a off road thumper ride as the chances for scratches are higher and most likely certain. But on a cerebral photographer's satisfaction level, the 4x5 is near the top when you hit it right.

    Permits - I have had problems when i shot in Yosemite and San Francisco around the golden gate bridge recently - twice i was asked for permits when i was all in with my equipment. That said, if i had just used my Nikon D850 with a short prime lens and a cheap looking tripod... i could filled the internet with commercial content from those locations just as they would passed me by as would they if i used simple rangefinder or a trick iPhone with tracking head.
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  20. guideboat1

    guideboat1 Adventurer

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    Honestly, I agree with you that retro has its good and bad aspects. I think everyone who is aspiring to be a pro producing fine art (not those who are pros that shoot for weddings, etc where getting the job done and to the client is paramount) should learn and master both manual cameras and sniffing chemicals in a darkroom to fully understand the mechanics of photography and developing a proper photograph, and the how and why of light, exposure and development without the computer deciding a short cut. Yes I go back far enough that I got the opportunity to play with dry plates. Actually recently I have had an opportunity to work with hundreds of old glass plates and saving the slides from the dumpster. It is amazing the detail in the old plates.

    Actually, in both those places you should not have been hassled, it was probably a mis-informed cop or ranger shooing you away. Many law enforcement agencies, square badges, and people have over interpreted that anyone taking a photo of a "sensitive" location is a terrorist or has nefarious intent. If you question them as to the legal support for their request or a supervisor they usually fold. I got stopped once at the Statue of Liberty because I had my 500mm on a tripod, in short order the cop backed down, then called the NPS who also backed down when I asked them for their policy or statute which none existed. You do not want a full blown confrontation, just not worth it, but then again being bullied based on bad information isn't tolerated either.

    Hell, I've seen hobbiest photographers with every piece of equipment anyone could buy in a huge backpack tromping through parks with no problem, but then they look ridiculous so they do not get hassled.
    #20