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Gear Loadout

May 1, 2016

Who doesn't love a solid kit?  Feel free to search the Gear or Packing categories to look at trip-specific packing, but don't get caught up in the gear... it's just a tool, and even the most expensive gear doesn't work if you don't actually use it.

My go-to setup

If I don't have a specific photo in mind it's safe to assume that the Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 lens is attached to my camera, and within any given year, probably 75% of my shots are with this lens.  It's not too long, not too wide, and it excels in low light situations where the ƒ/1.4 aperture really shines.  It gives a good balance in the hand and has suffered a few battle scars and dings with the extensive use it gets.

 

The slight expansion of my setup consists of adding two other primes - the Sigma 24mm ƒ/1.4 and the Sigma 85mm ƒ/1.4.  The wider 24mm probably constitutes 20% of my remaining shots and the 85mm brings in the final 5% of my photos (mostly for panoramas).

The expanded kit:

If I don't have anything specific in mind but I am going away for a weekend or short week, I'll pack a bit heavier.

 

Tripod - For my travels, I use a Giottos 5-section tripod/monopod combo.  My model is several generations old, but the current one in their lineup is the Giottos VGR9265-M2N.  It packs down small and one of the legs is removable to form a monopod with the center section.  It can be a little wobbly in high winds but for general purpose it's great.

 

Essentials - Obviously I have my camera body + 24/35/85 trinity of lenses.  Sometimes I will throw in an old 55mm ƒ/2.8 Micro-Nikkor AI-s lens - it's very cheap on the used market and it's a super sharp macro lens, but obviously manual focus only.  I'll also include a spare battery but honestly the D4 battery is impressively long-lasting.

 

Computer - This is an important part of my digital nomad style.  I personally rock an 11" Macbook Air because of its portability.

 

Storage - In addition to some extra CF cards and a Kingston USB 3.0 reader, I will also include solid-state backup as seen on my travel workflow post and any USB/adapter cables.

 

Connectivity - You never know when a spare audio cord will improve the mood, and a splitter is always a great way to make some friends.  Depending on the weekend, I will also throw in a HDMI adapter or Chromecast for when things wind down at night.

 

Power - If I plan on going extended periods away from any power outlet, I like to include a battery backup.  I use a few solutions but the recent Amazon offerings from Anker and Aukey span the whole gamut of available capacities and connectivity.  If you aren't in a hurry to scoop one of these up, they usually go on sale around Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

 

35mm - Sometimes I enjoy shooting on some cheaper 35mm film cameras on my travels.  The two shown here (Lomo LC-A and Olympus XA2) are fully automatic except for the very coarse focusing scale.  Their unpredictable focus and questionable sharpness / light leaks make for interesting photos but don't rely on them for portfolio builders.  Every now and then I'll get lucky:

 

Lighting - Last, but definitely not least, I try to always bring a flashlight.  My go-to workhorse is the Fenix PD35 because of all the modes it offers and how blindingly bright it can get.  On maximum output, it's perfect for light painting and when in moonlight mode it's great for finding your way back down the trail.  Note that this flashlight uses 18650 batteries so it might not suit your style... for a AA model, check out the many offerings on Amazon or defer to the Fenix LD22 or Coast HP1 which both use the more popular batteries.

 

So there you go - that's my basic kit and intermediate kit.  As I travel more, check back for trip-specific packing and be sure to leave a comment if you have any questions! 

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