Travelling to New Zealand - what's in my bag?

Image

Normally when travelling I might bring a body, one or two lenses and some cleaning paper. This however, is not a normal trip, this is two weeks driving around what is said to be one of the most beautiful and scenic countries on the planet.

The gear

Suffice to say, I'm going in prepared. Here's a list of what I'm bringing with an explanation of what and why underneath:

  • Canon 5D MK III
  • Lenses:
    • Tokina 17mm AT-X Pro
    • Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L
    • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 L (Thanks to Bryan Seaars Photography for lending me this)
  • Sirui M3204 carbon fibre tripod with Sirui K-40x ball head and Acratech levelling base 
  • Memory cards:
    • 2 x Compact flash memory cards
    • 2 x SD memory cards
  • Filter equipment:
    • Lee filter holder
    • Lee 100x150mm 0.9 hard edge ND filter
    • Lee 100x150mm 0.9 soft edge ND filter
    • Lee 100x100mm polariser
    • Hoya 82mm polariser
    • 77mm Lee adapter ring
    • 82mm Lee adapter ring
    • 77 - 82mm step up ring
    • 67 - 82mm step up ring
  • Wireless trigger and receiver
  • Spare AAA batteries
  • Spare camera battery
  • Battery charger
  • Cleaning kit:
    • Lens cleaning fluid
    • Lens cleaning paper
    • Lens brush
    • Dust blower
    • Microfiber cloth

And except for the tripod, it's all going into a Tamrac Evolution 8 back pack which I recently picked up.

So that might look like a lot, but its mostly lots of little accessories and except for the 70-300mm, everything else actually forms my usual landscape kit that I use when taking landscapes around Darwin.

Lenses

Let's start with the lenses. Why the (now discontinued) Tokina 17mm AT-X Pro over the much more commonly used Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L? Well, I compared the two and the Tokina is just as sharp, if not sharper, and has less distortion. But the main reason is that it cost me $350 second hand compared to the Canon which will set you back $1600 brand new. It's the perfect budget friendly landscape lens that won't break the bank.

The Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II is my recently acquired general purpose zoom lens. I wouldn't call it a general lens though, - I'd call it a monstrously sharp beast that's will do well in a lot of different applications. I had to sell a heck of a lot of stuff to pay for it, but it was totally worth it.

The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 L (Thanks to Bryan Seaars Photography for lending me this) is primarily for animal shots, and the occasional long distance landscape. Let's hope I see some penguins.

Filters

I'd say neutral density (ND) filters in both hard and soft versions are a landscape photographers best friend. They're used to darken the sky so that the exposure is more evenly matched with the ground/ocean, particularly during sunrise and sunset. The hard ND filters have a solid transition making it perfect for seascapes where there is nothing jutting above the horizon. Soft ND filters are for when you do have things poking up from the horizon like trees, mountains, buildings etc.

I use the Lee filter kit because it can easily be fitted on to any lens using the adapters. The Lee filters themselves are a bit expensive but don't give a colour cast like cheaper brands do.

Tripod

I did a lot of reserach before buying the Sirui M3204 carbon fibre tripod with K-40x head. They're not very well known, but the price and value proposition is unbeatable. Very light and extremely well built. The Acratech levelling base makes it easy for me to get a level head for panoramic shots.

Batteries

Always carry spares, simple really.

Other

Wireless trigger and reciever - so I don't shake the camera when pressing the shutter i.e. "camera shake", and wireless so I can walk around and scope different angles whilst shooting at the same time.

Conclusion

People see awesome landscape photos on the internet and their first reaction is "Photoshop". Well, there are a lot of other P words that I think would be more appropriate: planning, preperation, patience, persistence, perserverance....