I am not a gear head! I know my last two postings have been about equipment choices, but you might have noticed that I have been purposefully vague about the specifics of the gear that I shoot with. If you were to ask me what camera to buy, I’ll be equally vague. I’ll talk about gear in the general sense. There are plenty of resources out there that give very detailed equipment reviews. I’m more interested in the images that you can create with the gear you have. While I do believe that professional photographers should have professional quality gear, it is not the camera that makes the image, but the vision behind the viewfinder that creates compelling images.
We’re approximately 2 weeks from departure to Brazil, so NOW is the time to purchase any gear that you want to bring on the trip.
The minimum requirements for my class are a Digital SLR with lens, tripod, laptop and external hard drive. A few extra things I recommend are: external flash, extra battery, extra memory cards, and if at all possible, at least one fast, prime lens. Then of course, there is the camera bag dilemma.
If you look in my office closet, you’ll see the equivalent of Imelda Marcos’ shoe closet. I have more camera bags than the law should allow. How I transport the gear matters on so many levels. 1st is comfort, 2nd is what can I carry, 3rd is how does it look.
For comfort, I prefer a sling bag or backpack. I use a backpack for the big travel days when I really just need to transport the gear safely and easily, but don’t expect to be doing a lot of shooting. I like one that will hold my laptop, but is small enough to fit under the airplane seat or in the small overhead compartments. I’ve had to pull out my laptop and camera at the runway, when the airline forced me to gate check a large bag.
When walking around and shooting, I prefer a sling bag. The sling bag style makes it easier to get to the gear quickly. I prefer one with a waste strap to help distribute the weight. The other things that are important are a place (on the outside of the bag) for a water bottle, and a pocket large enough to hold a small guidebook, map and a small snack. The bag I use has a hidden pocket for a emergency stash of cash, and a pocket that will hold an emergency poncho and a shower cap for unexpected rain. No, I don’t wear the shower cap, I put it on my camera! I also always keep a few blister band aids tucked away in the inside pocket.
How does it look? Why does that matter? I’m no fashionista. I dress down when shooting because I don’t want to call attention to myself, I want to fade into the background. I also don’t want to call attention to my gear, so the less your camera bag looks like a camera bag, the better. Don’t advertise the camera brand, thieves know which brands are the most expensive. Switch out the strap that came with the camera that has the brand all over it. You can also put a small piece of black tape on the camera to block out the make and model.
If you have some last minute shopping to do, here are a few places to start.
dpreview: The go to source for learning about different camera models. I especially like the feature that allows you to compare camera models side by side. They keep up with the newest equipment, and are always releasing new reviews of gear.
B&H: Source for all things photographic, things you don’t even know you want or need. They also care equipment for video and audio. I’ve always been happy with the service when I’ve purchased from them.
KEH: A very reputable source for buying used equipment. They have a great rating system for letting the buyer know the condition of the equipment before purchasing.
DURY’S: Dury’s is the local pro shop in Nashville. I like to shop there because nothing beats being able to walk into a store, talk to knowledgeable sales people and really get a feel for the equipment. I buy from them, because I want to support the local options to be sure they are always there!