Professional photography equipment is heavy, there's no getting away that fact. Metal cases, mounts and barrels on the larger camera bodies and 'fast' lenses raise durability and quality but they also increase weight. By the time other equipment is factored in for a job (e.g. wide-angle lenses, telephotos, fish-eyes, strobes/flashes, radio triggers, batteries, light stands, modifiers, etc.), you can easily be looking at 10kg+ of equipment needing carried to create images.
Sometimes, I don’t need or want to take a lot of gear (even with an assistant) or I’m physically not able to. On such occasions, here is a list of 5 pieces of equipment I'll use when I need professional-quality images but I also want to travel light, e.g. I'm shooting someone on a hiking / biking expedition or the trekking stage of an adventure race;
- Nikon 24mm f2.8 lens - My eyes keep straying to the awesome 24mm f1.4 lens (and occasionally the new f1.8) but the small size and weight of Nikon's stalwart wide-angled prime lens - and what I find to be the perfect balance on my camera - is the reason I love this lens so much. It's the perfect solution when I want to travel light.
- Westcott 5-in-1 reflector - Not taking any lighting equipment means you're a slave to the ambient light, which isn't always ideal. If you plan to shoot environmental portraits, a 5-in-1 reflector is a lightweight alternative that enables you to, e.g. diffuse the light, fill in shadows or change the warmth of your shots to match the sunset. A Tri-grip reflector would be easier to hold but I find the original, collapsible models easier to pack.
- Joby Ultrafit Sling Strap - A simple camera strap that screws into the bottom of the camera. It's easy to adjust and I find it comfier to use than the default camera straps. I wear it across my chest and it's long enough to cinch the camera down near my hip when I'm moving.
- Zing Pro SLR neoprene case - I used one of these years ago on an expedition to the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap but it appears to have gone to that place things go where you're sure you've not thrown them out or sold them but you can't find them anymore. I recently purchased a new one and it's a really neat solution for protecting your camera against bumps and moisture, being a single piece of thick neoprene that you place your camera in and seal over the lens.
- Exped Packsacks - AKA dry-bags. Professional cameras are fairly weatherproof but they're not invincible, as my frequent repair bills will testify to. Using the Zing camera case means my camera and lens is not as protected from the elements as, say, in the Lowepro Toploader Pro camera bag I usually carry outdoors. Placing the camera inside a dry bag inside my rucksack or camera backpack when I'm not using it gives me a really compact and weatherproof solution I have complete confidence in.
So there you have it. Five pieces of photography equipment I find useful when I want to travel light but still take professional-quality photos. Come back soon for a follow-up post on lightweight outdoor clothing and equipment I've come to trust enough to take with me up into the mountains.