Losing Weight to Travel

When I started this blog I did so with the intent of not reviewing cameras. This isn’t so much a review as an advisory, related to travel and street photography. If your main goal in travel is to create outstanding photographs without be overburdened by your gear, this article will be helpful.

If my recent road trip taught me anything, it’s that I need to make photo travel less cumbersome. Carrying multiple cameras, tripod, computer and other accessories, even when traveling by car, has become overwhelming. To that end I am changing the camera gear I take with me. On this last trip to Canada and points east, I took the Canon R5  with three lenses,  the RF 14-35 zoom, the nifty-fifty (RF 50mm 1.8) and the longer RF  70-200 zoom lens. For me, carrying what I thought was a minimal R5 kit in a shoulder bag got a tad uncomfortable after about an hour or so, in two hours it becomes painful, in three excruciating, and I had to stop shooting. Yes, some bags are more comfortable on my shoulder than others and I’ve looked into and owned many bags over the years. I’ve looked at regular shoulder bags, sling bags, backpacks (an absolute no-go for me) and roller cases. No one method is best for all occasions, but I find the sling most comfortable if I am carrying only a camera with one extra lens. So the question became, how do I pare this down and to what gear?  

Here I need to digress into a little photo geek talk. Some folks shoot only for Instagram and a smartphone will do, while others make prints or photo books.  Some, like me, make large prints to hang on their walls. That used to require full frame 35mm format sensors for the best prints, however, digital cameras manufacturers have upped their game. Todays’ smaller mirrorless cameras, with APC-S sensors, are capable of making high quality prints up to 32 inches. I typically make prints up to 48 inches to hang in my gallery and that can demand the larger sensor as in the Canon R5. Most of my prints are under 3 feet and a good print house can upsize the APS-C sensor image to 4 feet and maintain sharpness and color fidelity. Considering all of this, why am I carrying this heavy gear? It was time for a change so I bought a Fuji XT-4 body with two lenses, a Tamron 17-70 zoom lens and Samyang 12MM wide angle. Why? Let’s do the numbers. The  Canon R5 kit in its Gitzo Messenger bag weighs in at 8 lbs, versus the Fuji kit in the Peak Design sling bag at 4 lbs. That is a HUGE difference on my shoulder hour after hour.

Aside from the ability to make super-sized prints, what do I give up with the Fuji kit? Not a lot. The Canon RF 70-200 has greater reach, but I rarely go past 85mm. The Fuji APS-C at 70mm is equal to a 24- 105mm lens in the 35mm perspective, so I’m covered for over 90% of what I shoot. The Samyang 12MM has a perspective equal to 18mm, not as wide as the Canon 14-35,  but again, close enough for most of my work. If I am working on a project that has specific requirements, like an important architectural shoot where the 14MM is mandatory, I still have the option to shoot with the Canon R5.  

Is the Fuji kit a complete solution to my travel weight issue? For most trips, yes, it will be, for some it may not be, but I realized something important. If I miss a shot because I don’t have the right lens/camera combination with me at the moment, life does go on. I will still have dinner with my wife, talk to my sons, chat with my best friend Bob and at day’s end kick my shoes off, settle down and watch something stupid on Netflix.