When you’re travelling, weight and bulk are important. Heard of the 80:20 rule, which suggests that 80% of your images will come from around 20% of your kit? Less is definitely more when it comes to holiday kit…
Do your research
As with any holiday, it pays to do your research. So your kit-list planning should kick off with a good look at your destination’s location, climate and photo opportunities (for example, beaches, underwater scenes, mountains, cityscapes, ancient monuments, culture and people). The main thing to watch out for is “just in case” packing: those two extra lenses, that third ancient camera body, your entire filter kit, that hefty tripod… The more gear you take with you, the more onerous it is to cart about and the harder it is to keep a safe eye on it.
One good tip is to get out everything you think you’ll need for your destination, pack it, weigh it (to see how well it fits in with hand-luggage requirements for air travel, for example) and then walk round the house with it to get an idea of how carrying it everywhere will feel. Now put it away for a couple of days and leave your subconscious to mull it over. When you revisit it, while you may realise you need to swap a few items, you’ll probably feel comfortable dumping a few, too.
When you’ve made your final selection, make a note of it and when you get home, compare it to what you actually used. This will help you hone your packing list for your next trips. If you do find yourself short of a couple of items, don’t panic – improvise and adapt. A telephoto zoom at its longest setting can be used for close-up details; a rolled-up T-shirt can double up as a make-shift beanbag for steadying your camera; the self-timer will work in place of a remote release… and your imagination will help you fill in the gaps and work out what is possible with what you’ve got.
Here are some more useful ideas for your checklist:
The D7500 DX-format camera is lightweight and versatile, while the new 45.7MP D850 packs the ultimate in resolution and speed in the full-frame arena; the D750 is another great FX option, with a compact body that makes it idea for travel.
If you want to keep it really light, a wideangle to telephoto zoom like the 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 will cater for a huge range of situations, from panoramas to details; or keep it tighter with the 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6. For serious landscape images, if you’ve only got to pick one lens, it’s got to be the 24-70mm f/2.8. Add the 14-24mm and 70-200mm to create the classic f/2.8 landscape pro’s line-up. The 24-120mm is a great single-lens alternative.
Pack your battery-charger lead and cables, plus a travel-plug adaptor if you’re travelling abroad.
On holiday you need plenty of portable storage, so take several spare memory cards and upload to the cloud if you have the option, for back-up.
A polarising filter intensifies blue skies, improves colour saturation and cuts down on glare – it will also protect the front element of your lens.
In bright conditions, checking your images on the LCD screen can be challenging, even after you’ve adjusted the brightness levels. An LCD hood shades screens from bright light and makes them far easier to use.
Choose something that’s compact, well padded and waterproof. Backpack styles are ideal for travel. If you’re flying, take your camera gear as hand luggage (never trust it to the hold), so check with your airline about restrictions on how much you can carry on.
A lightweight tripod or monopod will help you to take atmospheric, flash-free night shots and shake-free daytime exposures. Don’t forget to pack a remote release to trip the shutter with; otherwise, you can use the self-timer.
Quick tips for protecting your kit
- Clear polythene bags keep your kit dust-free in dry conditions and dry in the rain; you can also buy tailor-made covers.
- A lens cloth is a must, especially in dry, dusty conditions, while a blower is useful for removing sand and dust without risk of scratching.
- Ensure you have the correct insurance for your kit and destination, and make a note of all the model and serial numbers in case anything is stolen or damaged.