There is a problem with being a professional photographer. It’s a nice one to have, though:
What camera gear do I take with me on holiday?
I can choose from two pro-spec Nikon cameras (one mirrorless), a Panasonic compact travel camera, an Olympus Tough camera, suitable for underwater photography, an Osmo (video on gimbal), a camcorder and a drone. I have gimbal stabilisers for the Nikons and the Panasonic, in case I want to capture video. Oh, and there’s my phone, which has a perfectly decent camera within the limitations of these things and for which I have a gimbal stabiliser.
The holiday covers Barcelona and the Balearics. So, for Barcelona, went my thinking, I need something to capture cityscapes; for the Balearics I need something for landscapes and possible underwater work if we go snorkelling.
- My general preference would be to use a mirrorless Nikon for high-quality images, but this would require taking two lenses – a 24-70 and 28-300 (with adapter). It would also be a bit heavy and cumbersome for lugging around, and (particularly in Barcelona, given its reputation) a bit of a security risk.
- I could instead take a Nikon DSLR with a general purpose (18-300) lens (as I did for South America). This is also quite heavy and isn’t so good for video work.
- For landscapes on the islands, I’d also love to take the drone (a Mavic – foldable and portable).
- If we go snorkelling in the islands (not my favourite pastime, but a way of getting some nice pictures), I need to take the Olympus.
At one stage, given the bewildering possibilities, I even considered taking nothing but my phone and its mobile gimbal. That would, I though (or rather hoped) cover most stills and video eventualities, although not with the highest quality images, and would give me an excuse not to go snorkelling, thus saving me from having to pack flippers, tube and mask. The main disadvantage is a lack of a decent zoom.
When we booked our time in Barcelona, the original plan was to spend a leisurely few days pottering about marvelling at the modernista architecture and generally go Gaudi hunting. We have a slot booked for entering the Sagrada Familia. Much opportunity for cityscapes, really needing a Nikon, surely? Just have to be careful in crowds. But could try with just the mobile….?
Then serendipity took a hand. I contacted someone with whom I’d worked many years ago and who now lives in Barcelona, with the main idea being to get some restaurant recommendations. She told me that our stay in Barcelona coincided with their major festival, La Mercè. We didn’t realise this at time of booking and it has several implications:
- The place will be rammed. This makes it less sensible to be carrying posh camera gear around.
- There’s a rather special item in the festival: Castellers, or Human Towers, something we’d seen on TV and really want to see. This will take place in Plaça Sant Jaume, which will be packed. A video-capable camera is going to be essential.
- There’s a Costa Coffee on the edge of the square which has an upstairs – perhaps we could get there early enough to be able to watch from (slightly) above? But even so, we’d be distant from the action, so the mobile won’t do (no realistic zoom).
- The best compromise here would be the Panasonic on a gimbal.
So I think I’m coming to the conclusion that I should leave the big Nikons at home, and use the smaller cameras and gimbals to capture the various aspects of the holiday; I will almost certainly miss out on some opportunities (e.g. wildlife shots), but I simply can’t carry gear to cover all eventualities. Here’s my probable packing list:
- Panasonic TZ-100 (travel compact with 1″ sensor and decent zoom)
- Zhiyun Crane M2 (gimbal for the Panasonic – not a 100% solution, but workable)
- Olympus TG-5 Tough for underwater photography
- DJI Mavic Pro drone, with Samsung Galaxy Note 4 phone for control
- DJI Osmo Mobile 3 gimbal for my phone
- Two 20,000 mA power banks
- Spare batteries for all the above plus cables, adapters and card readers.
- And, of course, the tablet.
Now to go and see if I can fit all that into my backpack!
Well, waddayou know!
There’s even room for a DSLR (if I pack cables and card readers in my hold luggage).
However, with the DSLR I would need to include a laptop as well (for photo editing), which takes the weight of the thing up to 25lb – about 11.5kg in new money.
I might have to think again. Again!