Gear: Camera Accessories
Choosing the best camera bag is of course a very personal choice. To start with, with one camera, yeah you can just choose a single bag but most of usually get into a few accessories. I think really valuable being is a small shoulder bag that you can keep a camera, one or two lenses, a snack bar and a few other little accessories. These sling bags can be nice but you don't wanna put too much equipment in them, and that's because they start riding incorrectly, but it's good for a modest amount of gear, you have to access to shoot it and carrying it pretty easily. A mixed use camera bag is really nice because you put camera stuff in the bottom, other stuff in the top, and that's a good mix. You can bring your rain coat, your guide book with you and they'll fit in the top half, and you can carry a body, maybe two to four lenses depending on the size of the lenses. A fully dedicated backpack is nice when you have lots of gear, it's going to be heavier and I don't like traveling with mine. ...
But sometimes I really need that gear there, and it's the most comfortable way to carry it. Most people won't need a hardcase, but if you're doing a trip down the Colorado river for instance, and you're on a raft, you might need something that is really hard shell, waterproof and so they can be handy. Most people won't need a full size roller, that would be more for a professional photographer on a wedding shoot, but if you really had to travel with a lot of equipment and roll it around, that's the easiest way to get around. A few of my favorite bags that I've been using for a few years now, is this little Think Tank Retrospective. It's just great for just a small little bit of camera equipment to take around. My main camera bag, I think my favorite one is the Lowepro Flip side AW II, it just fits and feels comfortable, it fits a lot of camera gear. I do like the version to the left, the FastPack one because you can store other stuff besides cameras very easily in there. If I need to bring a lot of stuff then I bring the larger backpack, but that can get heavy and big, and I prefer not to take it, but it's a good one that I'm happy with. When you get on the plane, of course what you're trying to do is you're trying to maximize your carry-on because that's where you get to keep all your valuable stuff. And so that's kinda the big thing is I need to put all my cameras and all my lenses, my hard drives, my computer, in stuff that I'm carrying on the plane. So I'm gonna carry a backpack that's large, and then I'm gonna carry another shoulder bag as well so that I can get as much carried on as possible. They usually have weight limits, although it's rarely enforced, at least in the United States. There are size measurements, but that will vary according to where you are exactly flying. Of course, most airlines regulate it to about 50 pounds, but that does have some variables in there. One of the big things to remember is that you don't want to put valuable gear in your checked luggage, there are just too many things that go on behind your back that you don't have eyes on. There are no batteries, no lithium-ion batteries in your checked luggage, and that's one thing they want you to carry onboard, is all your batteries. And so they can stop you, and you may not get on your flight if you put them on, I have had them stop, I have been pulled off the plane because of this thing. It was a mix up, I didn't actually have batteries in there, there was a confusion, it wasn't my fault. (audience laughs) And there are a lot of different restrictions in Europe, and smaller countries do have tighter restrictions than these so be aware of that. Should you bring a flash or not? Most of the time that I have traveled, I have decided just to deal with natural light. Lighter weight, it's simple, it's authentic, it's the way it is and that's perfectly fine. There are a few cases where having a little bit of help really will make the difference in a good photograph. And so built in flashes can work, compact flashes if you need just a little kicker. If you know that you're gonna to be using it more frequently for something that's a little bit further away, the intermediate or professional level flashes are generally not necessary for most people, unless you know you're gonna be doing something specific with where you need it, and where I typically like to have this is when I'm doing people photographs and I wanna let in a little bit more light. We're outside dealing with bright sunlight, their face is in the shadows, these flashes can really help out seeing those faces. If you're using a tripod, or you wanna get in the photo yourself, you're gonna need a way to trigger the camera. There are self timers of course, two seconds, 10 seconds and so forth, there are advanced cable releases which can give you some intervalometer options which are nice, and of course a lot of the cameras now have Wi-Fi, although even I, who is supposed to be the expert on working these things, they are very problematic in hooking up and they have limited range. So if it's important, like you're gonna do the big group shot and you're gonna use your new Wi-Fi system, practice that in the room before you get in front of 30 people to try to set that up, 'cause those things can be a little bit complicated. Memory used to be a big deal, like how are you gonna store all this digital memory. And now the card sizes have gotten so big the simplest solution for any trip is just take enough memory cards to cover the entire trip. And if you have two card slots, that's fantastic, you can back up in the camera, makes things very, very simple to use. And this is a great secure option, and it's the lightest, simplest way to go and memory cards are big enough, it's not an arm and a leg to do that now. The next option is to bring a hard drive that you save things to as you're out there. You might need to borrow a computer, or perhaps your hard drive can save things directly. Not a big fan of those, they tend to be very expensive for what they are, I think just going with cards is gonna be better for most people in most cases. What I do most of the time, because I like to be able to really check my images at the end of the day, I like to give little slide shows for people I'm traveling with, or people that've helped me out in some ways. I'll download to the computer, save a copy on the computer and then save another copy on an external hard drive. And that would mean that I actually have four copies, so if anything happens, I'm very well covering my bases. Some people ask about Cloud storage, and I love the theory, upload my photos to the internet and they're totally saved if I lose everything on the trip, my photos are saved, the reality is that, I don't know maybe I'm just traveling in really interesting places but upload speeds are really slow a lotta places, and I do not want to spend four hours at night waiting for a thousand raw images to be uploaded on the internet. And so, maybe some day this will become a more viable option, I'm sure it will, it depends on where you go. You know, you go to Paris, you stay at a five star hotel, yeah, you're probably going to have fantastic Wi-Fi and you can upload your images. You're going to Africa on safari, it's going to be a little bit slower, let me tell you. And so I'm backing up on a hard drive most of the time. So backup system, backing up in camera is a very good option, downloading to a computer, backing up onto a hard drive. And that's gonna give you the most secure options. I tend not to do a lot of work on my computer when I'm traveling, because I like to travel. Not work on my computer. I will use Lightroom, there's a lot of other options out there, it's popular, it's pretty easy to use, and so I will use that for downloading and organizing my data. I have seen so many people not do this I can't believe it. Clear of all the data, it's like, well I didn't know I was gonna be taking this many photos. And then you're spending all this time working on your computer, or going through your memory card deleting last years Christmas photos that you think you can do without, 'cause you didn't do that all ahead of time. So you wanna go out there fully expecting you're just going to shoot up a storm and you've got the space for it to go to. Dealing with batteries has also been a problem because if you do not have a battery charge you will not be taking photos with any of the modern cameras out there. So I've found that you generally wanna have two to three days worth of power when you head out in the morning. Why do you need three days of power going out for a single day? It might be a really good day, be optimistic, and maybe when you get back to the hotel the outlet burns out in your room and it's no longer working, or for some reason you can't get back to your hotel room and something happens and you need two days worth of battery power. So there's a lot of things that can happen. And so you wanna have at least two batteries with a DSLR, three or more for the mirrorless. It just depends on how fast your camera goes through batteries. If you've never left the country that you're in, let me tell you that plug ins are different okay? This is a fun discovery when you travel on your first trip, but there's a lot of different plugs. You can do an internet search for world plugs, and they will show you what are the common plugs in a particular country, and some countries have two or three depending on what type residence you might be in, or hotel. And so you want an adapter that can travel and adapts to all these different places. The one that I have found that has the lightest, smallest, and the most versatile, is this unusual name, I've never heard of this Kikkerland one, but it's able to be pulled apart, used in multiple different ways. I've traveled with it all over and it does a fantastic job, because there hasn't been anything that it has stumped at this point. And as I say, it's lightweight, it's small, and it's pretty darn cheap as well. This is of course gonna be in the PDF notes, so I'm gonna keep moving. Keeping the charge is of course important, most chargers take about two to three hours, just be aware of that. If you're gonna be traveling in a car or a bus, and you wanna be able to charge from that vehicle you'll need an inverter, so that you can plug it in to the cigarette adapter, that'll work. And I've started bringing power strips because there are so many electronics. I've got my computer, my camera, sometimes two cameras with two different chargers, I have my phone, maybe some people have their GPS system, or something else that they're charging. And if you go to a room, ideally it would have this sort of power outlet, oh this is fantastic, it fits multiple types, it's got USB ports, there's enough for me and my roommate in there, everybody can plug in. But sometimes this is what I get, and it's an unusual plug that works for a few hours per evening, and you have one thing to plug into. Hmm, do you want your phone to work, or do you want your camera to work, or do you want your computer to work, choose one. And so that's why I bring a power strip with me, and I've found this really cool one. And this one I like because it's very clean and condensed. I think having a cord is nice, because sometimes it's hard to plug your battery charger in, in the unusual places that some outlets tend to be. So I can charge in two things from the side and it's got two ports. When I have it plugged in with the other adapter, this is what it looks like, in an ideal world where everything's nice and clean. Rarely looks like, this is how I clean things up for photos. But this will fit into just about anything, and give you nice versatility for it. Of course, there are different voltages that are used around the world, depends on what region you're in. Most battery chargers, and devices, are world wide acceptable when it comes to the voltage. But you might want to check if you have an older camera, on the back that it handles the 100 to 240 volt. Keeping the camera clean, I'll take some microfiber cleaning cloths, maybe a soft towel. If I'm going to a dusty environment like a desert, I'll bring a soft brush. And I'm not gonna bring a whole roll of garbage bags, but I might bring one or two that I can stuff my entire pack into. Maybe you're gonna be on a zodiac and water's gonna be coming over the edges, just stuffing it in there for one or two trips, in an emergency case can be handy. Keeping the sensor clean is a constant problem in all types of photography. So if you see a photo like this, you've got a really dusty censor. And so there's a couple different ways of keeping it clean. The rocket blower is a great first step, and that's something that you can just clean off by pressing some air, and getting some air to knock off the dust. The Lenspen SensorKlear II is a new device that I got, started trying a year or so ago. They said they were using it on the International Space Station, so I said, ah, maybe it's good enough for me. And it's kinda nice 'cause it doesn't take any liquids and you can clean the sensor off. So if there's dust on the sensor, in your hotel room, or a nice, safe, clean environment you kinda just sweep everything off into the corners, and it tends to do a very good job, and haven't had any problems damaging the sensor on all the different cameras that I've used it on. Worst comes to worst, you shoot a bunch of photos that have dust on them, you don't have any of these devices what you can do, is you can shoot a photo of a blank white wall or piece of paper and record that in your camera as a dusty image, and then you can use the software from the manufacturers to go in and clone out. Now you do have to use the manufacturers software to go in and do this, and so it's not something that's real easy to do, but it is an emergency case. So you would shoot a photograph of a white sheet of paper, it would show you all the dust and that would be recorded, which is what the software is gonna reference later when you go back and apply that fix to your other images it fixes your other images afterwards in post production. So you might wanna check into those software options for those cameras.