Travel Light – Photography Gear

Just a quick shot of a few pieces of essential travel photo gear I’m carrying everyday while I’m shooting in Europe…(and after the writeup…and a not so quick explanation.)
Bottom right: Fuji X100s
My GO-TO travel/everywhere camera.  I shoot with this camera quite often as it’s very small and lightweight.  It’s a fixed focal length lens which helps push me creatively.  I find myself using my “feet as a zoom” often with this cam.  While it’s not the megapixel range that my Canon Pro Series cameras are at the 22-25 MP, the 16.3 MP compares quite well against anything Canon produces (see here for a comparison…this is one of the reasons I’m switching to Fuji…Unprocessed image comparison at 100% crop – Fuji on left, Pro Canon body on right!).  I shot an entire trip through Europe in 2013 and 2104 with this camera.  While it’s a generation old, I don’t find the newest version has that much over the X100s.  Wifi streaming to your phone is nice with the new model, but while abroad, it’s not much use as I’ve no data plan to cover the file size to upload anywhere. 😀 This camera when at home goes with me everywhere…in a shoulder bag or in the glove compartment of my Jeep…I never know when I’ll happen upon that perfect shot.

Bottom left: Fuji XT-1  (*w/ 56mm lens)
My new standard (until I get my hands on the X-Pro 2 to try out).  I love this camera.  It handles like a DSLR camera with interchangeable lenses that now are up to rivaling Canon’s series of L-Glass Pro lenses.  I carry this camera with three lenses while shooting travel related images.  Most of my travel photography focuses on the people and places so I use the X series lenses as follows…
35mm 1.4 – The bulk of lifestyle and people shots are shot with this lens.  This lens is more of a 50mm lens equivalent for full frame sensor cameras.  It’s perfect as a general walk around lens.  Last year I would’ve told you that the 18-55mm zoom lens was the lens I’d shoot most.  That said the light loss in the variable aperture is what led me to select two fixed focal length lenses instead.  Don’t get me wrong the 18-55 is quite capable, but for the way I shoot, I was better suited with the prime options at the mid and long end of this range.
56mm 1.2 R (*pictured on the XT-1) – Portraits and detail shots.  I love shooting with the 85mm beast that Canon makes….that said the Canon 85mm is 3x the weight of the 56mm Fuji and 1.5x the weight of the Fuji body and lens combo!  This lens produces tack sharp portraits with natural light that are like NO OTHER! I love this lens and if I didn’t shoot the cityscapes and lifestyle shots, it would be bolted to the front of the XT-1.
10-24mm 4.0 OIS – Landscapes, interiors, exteriors and anything that lends itself to a super wide angle without fish eye distortion.  I started using this lens only a month ago and I absolutely love it for getting the feeling of “being there”.  It captures wide panoramas without a panoramic distortion.  I love it for capturing a unique angle or perspective without getting too “GOPRO” fisheye feeling.  It’s not on my camera as often as the prior two, but it rounds out my travel pack with enough to allow me to cover just about anything that I want to cover.  Add to that the Optical Image Stabilization allows me to shoot at 1/15 -1/30 of a second handheld!

Paracord – I don’t use expensive camera straps for the most part anymore.  I loop a small 15-18″ bit of paracord through one of the neckstrap loops on the cameras  to allow me to walk around the backstreets and have some security that it’s not going to fall or be ripped out of my hand.  As well, you don’t scream “tourist” or “hey I’ve got a hunk of cash on the end of this camera strap”.  Paracord is THE ONE THING that I take on every single trip I take ANYWHERE.  I have a wrist bracelet made of it, a keychain with a small length of it, two of my pair of boots are laced with it.  It’s just that versatile.  I used it last year as a clothes line when I was in Assisi, Italy and din’t have access to a dryer after washing my clothes!  Do yourself a favor.  Cut off 3-4′ and stash it in your pack.  You’ll be surprised at how many uses it has.

GoPuck – I carry two GoPuck 5x to charge my cell phones and Fire tablets up to 100% multiple times…not just a top up!  GoPucks are darn near indestructible and carry a reliable charge in less than the size of a hockey puck.   Add to that, my go to portable battery charger just got better!  With the GoPuck addition of the 6XR to it’s lineup…It now charges my camera batteries!!

Ogden Made – I travel with my gear partitioned into separate mini stash bags made by Ogden Made in Ogden UT.  These bags help me compartmentalize the mess that is a camera bag.  I put everything from chargers to lenses to tether cords in these bags.  One carries my fully charged batteries, one carries my deads, one carries my X100S, etc, etc, etc.  They come in varying sizes from a small case enough to hold 10 pencils to a boxcar size that will hold 2-3 small Fuji X Series lenses.  They save me all kinds of hassle when breaking down my large Tamrac Anvil 27 bag* that I use to transport all my photo gear on long trips.  I pull out what I need and put it into an Ogden Made shoulder bag and voila! I’m ready to roll quickly for a full day without a complete re-pack.

One last benefit I want to share about that “Old school film camera look” of the Fuji X Series cameras…
The Fuji X series lineup looks “old school” for those who give a rat about that.  But also, one of the biggest side benefits is that the X Series cameras don’t look as expensive as the brick of a camera that Nikon or Canon DSLR’s do!  While traveling abroad, as much as I like to believe in the goodness of people, there are those that are looking to pounce on you.  The X Series are small and unobtrusive.  Not once has someone asked me – “wow what camera is that!?!” like they do with the Canon Pro Ds series cameras.  Yet I still get every bit of image quality as the Pro Canon gear.

*Not shown my Tamrac Anvil 27 that carried everything over here for this adventure… 😉  Save that for another post.

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