Sometimes I get questions about traveling with a camera. They particularly seem to come from Disney fans, since I spend so much time taking photos there. I have an opinion, of course.
Here’s the basic premise of traveling with a camera. How do you want to spend your time while traveling? That’s really what matters. If you’re the kind of person who is going to feel weighed down by a camera and it prevents you from doing the things you enjoy, then leave it at home and take some snapshots with your iPhone. There is absolutely no sense bringing something you won’t want to take with you during your trip.
For those of you who are going to Disney to enjoy the rides and photography is an after-thought, then leave the big DSLR at home. It’s not what motivates you.
The rest of us don’t even have to ask the question. Photography is a passion. We can’t take photos if we don’t have a camera. In fact, the whole point of a trip is often to take photos of the place. That’s what we do. If I take my camera on a ride, it’s because I want pictures of something on that ride. If I’m not going to take photos, I don’t bring the camera.
Another Disney example is Star Tours. I’ve been on that ride perhaps more than any other at Disney World. They don’t permit photography on that ride (one of the rare exceptions where you can’t take photos at Disney). It’s a fantastic ride and I do it for the experience. Never brought my camera there on any trip when I expected to ride Star Tours, though.
Traveling With a Camera
Going to Disney World isn’t really traveling for me, since I’ve always lived in Central Florida. When I go on a trip somewhere, I tend to lug along my basic gear:
- Camera body (a Nikon D700 or Nikon D800)
- Nikon 14-24mm
- Nikon 24-70mm
- Nikon 70-200mm
- ThinkTank Sling-O-Matic or ThinkTank Airport Takeoff
- Really Right Stuff TVC-33
- Really Right Stuff BH-40 Ball head
- Nikon SB-900 Flash
When I’m traveling with a camera, I may look like I’m armed for bear. The trick is to find a way to be comfortable lugging this stuff around. It’s easy for me to carry my tripod and I find the ThinkTank gear does a great job of protecting my gear and making it easy to carry around.
Some folks prefer to travel much lighter than I do, perhaps with good reason. I know a few folks who would rather just take the Nikon 28-300mm lens rather than all of the gear I lug around. Nothing wrong with that decision at all. It’s just not for me, though.
I always say that everything in photography is a compromise and this is another example. You want light weight gear? Take the all-in-one approach. You want higher quality photographic options? Then lug around more glass.
The 28 – 300 has a reputation for a lot of distortion. It’s also a variable-aperture lens, so it’s not fast glass and it isn’t going to have spectacular bokeh. If you tend to shoot at f/5.6 and above, this could be your lens. It’s sharp and convenient.
If you need fast glass at different focal lengths, then you’re carrying a bag of lenses with you. If you want shallow depth of field, then you’re either adding some fast primes or shooting your 70-200mm racked out. You can have quality while you travel, but you’re going to have to carry it.
If you like shooting HDR, then toss a tripod into that mix. I know some folks who shoot handheld and I’ve done it, too. It’s just not ideal, though. You want that tripod to keep your photos aligned and eliminate hand shake. If you want to shoot at night with long exposures, the tripod is your buddy.
You may look like a mess lugging that gear into a restaurant for dinner after a shoot, but at least you can go home with something the average tourist isn’t going to get with an iPhone.
Embed This Image On Your Site (copy code below):