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hen I travel for long vacations, I normally bring a full set of camera gear. Two or three camera bodies, six to eights extra lenses, two flashes, grips, batteries, cleaning kits, filters, tripods, brackets, wireless and remote triggers, light stands, reflectors, loupe, light meters, rain covers for camera and several camera bags. Each gear has a specific purpose for an extended trip This was my gear from a recent extended trip:   Several photography sites have published their list of essential items to carry in a camera bag, here’s my stripped down, walkabout version. My list is based on my current setup with the lighter but higher resolution 36 megapixel mirrorless Sony A7r camera. Other publications include the camera manual as an essential item; I did not include it in my list as now we can access the manual through an iPhone or iPad or other handheld gadgets.   Always have extra memory cards near your camera—I carry mine in the Black Rapid strap pocket. Running out of space while shooting an event or a nice landscape scenery is a common woe for photographers, whether pro and amateur. The memory card in use may malfunction and not having a spare in the middle of nowhere could be a catastrophic event.

Additionally, if you want to make sure that your images are protected, make it a habit to immediately transfer your files from memory card to your computer/hard drive after a shoot.  

Each battery pack can only shoot a limited number of shutter clicks. If you are shooting the whole day, make sure you have enough batteries to last.

Also, always bring your charger. I experienced running out of battery charge in the middle of the day while shooting the Angkor Wat and charged the battery while enjoying a nice Cambodian lunch.

You can also conserve battery life: on the Sony A7r, I turn off its Wifi access and set it on airplane mode, I also reset the auto focus when using adapters with Canon lenses.  

Have a brush and microfiber cloth to remove smudges on the lens. Use the brush first to remove any grains of sand before wiping with the cloth. I actually bring more cleaning tools when I go to dusty locations like the desert or the beach.

I bring a rocket air blower, a bigger brush and cleaning liquid (distilled water is good to use with the microfiber to remove smudges). There are small kits you can buy from camera stores.  

It’s always safer to bring extra lenses. A choice of different lenses with varying focal lengths and speeds allows you to shoot several subjects under varied conditions.

For the Sony A7r, I normally carry three lenses—55 mm, 28 mm primes and a wide angle zoom of 17-40 mm. On longer trips, I bring another lens, a telephoto 70-200mm.  

A flash is key for any serious photographer. I use flash when shooting during high noon, the fill lights remove shadows and raccoon eyes.

A flash can help create better pictures during sunset , twilight, evenings or at interior locations.  

A mini tripod will be very useful when shooting at low shutter speeds. I normally bring two or three tripods but the mini table top is most useful in many locations.

Here is a photo taken with the mini tripod on the table at the Mix Lounge, on the 46th floor of The Hotel at Mandalay Bay, in Las Vegas. This was shot with the Sony A7r and Canon 17-40 mm lens at a six-second shutter exposure.  

As a minimum, I carry a circular polarizing filter (CPL), useful when shooting under harsh sunlight conditions, the polarizer makes the sky bluer and cuts down light reflected by water, like your polarized sun glasses.

I also carry a neutral density (ND) filter. It’s useful when I want to cut down the light for longer shutter exposure to capture the silky texture of bodies of water. I also use graduated neutral density (GND) filters for sunset and sunrise shoots.  

This is the most practical way to make your camera waterproof when shooting under the rain or near bodies of water. Place the camera inside and cut a hole for the lens to shoot thru.

You can also use the sealed bag to reduce condensation when moving from indoors to the outdoors with different temperatures. In Manila, I experienced condensation when moving from a very cold room into hot and humid outdoors. From the air-conditioned cold room or car, keep the camera inside the resealable bag and wait for a few minutes for the temperature to equalize before opening the bag outdoors.

Protip: If your camera bags don’t have rain covers, carry a large garbage bag, too.


Antonio Nievera

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