This weekend Sue and I are heading off to Prague, Czech Republic to begin a 17 day trip featuring a boat trip down the Danube ending in Budapest. We will be visiting Linz, Vienna and Salzburg among with other middle European locations. We are excited to explore a new region, but Nelly is getting a bit nervous about all the luggage. As we approach the trip I am immersed in my usual camera gear anxiety. What cameras and lens should I take? How much do I really want to lug around? How much weight can I get on the plane. How will I handle image back-up. How will I keep my gear secure? I typically start by listing the "must brings" and then agonize over all the optionals, knowing always that the one thing I leave behind will be the one thing that I will desperately wish I had. It is always my strong inclination to bring EVERYTHING.
Canon 5D MII with my workhorse 24-105 f4 l lens
A ton of CF cards (I bought two new 32 gig cards for the trip)
Canon G11 (nice small, full featured, carry around camera as a backup and to use in situation in which I don’t want to display my big DSLR). I have decided not to bring my old 5D as a backup DSLR.
Small 500 GB external drive ( have the Western Digital passport). My back-up strategy is to keep copies of images on the laptop and the HD as well as on the cards.
Various small, but necessary accessories : cable release, polarizing filters, lens cloths, batteries and chargers, power adapter, mini bunges (always), lens brush, plastic bag rain cover, and my Giotto air blower. Despite all my efforts, I will undoubtedly forget at least one critically indispensable cable and will spend half a day becoming familiar with the camera stores of Prague.
Lens are always an issue. My Canon 16-35 f2.8 seemed a no-brainer. I expect to be photographing inside lots of churches and castles, not to mention capturing grand overlooks. A wide angle lens is essential. My major questions was about bringing my beast, the Canon 100-400 f4." I would love to have it , but it weighs 3 lbs. and, since Susan refuses to be a Sherpa, I can't see myself lugging this monster all over the continent. This is supposed to be a vacation after all. But then I remembered my old Quantaray 70-300. This is the lens that I dropped into a brook a couple of years ago. It never stopped
working, but had a bit of haze on some of the internal elements. Just enough to justify getting the Canon 100-400. When I pulled the lens out, I discovered that the haze had largely disappeared. This lens can't be compared to Canon L glass, but it is MUCH smaller and lighter (1 lb.). I will miss the image stabilization, but It is better than nothing, and the sharpness is not bad. It will be nice to have more reach without a lot more lug. So, three lens.
I toyed with not bringing my tripod. I don't expect to carry it around for most of our walking tours, and, although my carbon fiber Gitzo is not terribly heavy, by the time I add the Kirk ball head, it does add some significant weight and bulk. Then I thought about the wonderful low light opportunities, the lights at night and the chance to try HDR on the classic old world architecture. I'm bringing the tripod.
I still haven't decided about bringing a Speedlite and I may decide only when we do our final weight assessment. A compromise might be to take my lighter 430EX instead of the 580EX II. I doubt I will need the extra power and I will not be triggering any slaves.
Well of course, with all this stuff, I had to get a new bag. Photographers can never have too many bags, but seriously all mine seem either too small to carry what I would need on tours or are too bulky. I don't want to be knocking over precious shrines throughout Europe. I finally found a nice compromise National Geographic shoulder bag which I hope will work well.
It has reasonable padding, a comfortable strap and is compressible for packing. I can fit my 5D and two lens in quite easly with room other necessaries and with reasonably easy access. I must confess that carrying a "National Geographic" bag seems a bit cheezy to me, but the thing has a nice feel and does what I need it to do. I may look for a patch to cover-up the logo.
That's about it. We haven't done the final weighing, so things may change. We are excited about the trip and I will try to post when I can along the way.