DON'T MISS: Italian conceptual portrait photographer Sara Lando is coming to the US to teach in Atlanta (8/16) and Baltimore (8/23). Highly recommended.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Traveling Light


Having traveled more in the last five years than in all of the previous forty three, I finally feel like I have found a comfort zone as a traveling photographer. Though lugging far less gear, I'm still protected with backups for critical items.

Looking back just four years, there is now a huge difference in the way I approach my gear pack. A walk-thru and my reasoning, below.

__________


Above is the current version of my basic kit, which which I have logged nearly 100k miles and made the vast majority of my on-the-road pictures. I have long since ditched my DSLRs for travel unless there is a specific reason to lug them around.

To this I'll sometimes add a basic one-light kit—SB-800, compact stand/umbrella and sync. But that is a major step and I have to have a good justification that I'll need the lighting. Ironic, I know, from a photographer who has built his career on using light. But the benefits from traveling so light (while still having backups on the critical items) are many.

Compare that to a similar trip of just four years ago, when I actually thought this was traveling light:



Except for the light stand kit, I could fit it—barely—into an overstuffed Domke F2. But that baby was a shoulder-killer. (More on that 2009 gear-dependent paranoia here.)

Fast-forward to 2013, and the biggest millstone I have dropped was my marriage to the DSLR and multiple focal lengths. I now honestly feel for the people I see lugging a body and two street-sweeper f/2.8 zooms in a tourist-filled square. They don't look like people on holiday to me. They look like infantry.

Committing to a 35mm field of view has saved my back and improved my travel photos. Nothing begets creativity so much as a healthy bit of restriction. And marrying to the 35mm throw allows me to go with a Fuji X100 (and more recently the X100s) as my only "real" camera. My backup, if I ever need it, is my iPhone.

The 35 wide-angle forces me to contextualize my portraits, and offers a natural field of view for slice-of-life photos. If I have a super-wide and/or a long tele, more often than not I would just use them to create gimmicky pictures. The more I travel this lightly, the more comfortable I am with it.

Should I need light, the Fuji (with its high sync speed) and a small flash is a dream combo. So if there is any chance I will want to light, I'll add the most spartan one-speedlight kit.

My one heavy luxury is a 13" MacBook Pro, which tends to live in the hotel room safe during the day anyway. It's my main computer platform and I haven't made the jump to an 11" Air yet.

My iPhone, in addition to being a camera backup, it's also my backup for 'net. For image storage redundancy, I use the 64GB SD card in tandem with my computer's hard drive to back up my images.

Each night, I download all of the day's shoot to my HD, and also leave the images on the card. I had a camera stolen earlier this year while on the road—first time ever for me in 30 years. That's an expense. But the sucker punch would have been if I had not backed up my photos each day on the trip.

The card wallet shown in the photo holds two extra batts and two SD cards. There's no practical limit to how many photos I can shoot if things get interesting.

__________


I am headed back home tomorrow after a week in Cuba. This time I decided to bring the speedlight kit because one of my projects while here was to make portraits of some Cuban photographers. I thought having a light with me would be both appropriate to the subjects and give me some options.

But without that project in mind, I would have likely left all of the lighting gear at home. I know—feels weird to me to hear me say that, too. But like they say, every possession is a burden. And never more so than when you are moving or traveling.

Hopefully the light gear pack restrictions will have spawned some visual creativity. But I do know one thing: my back is happy. And not every traveling photographer I know can say that.


__________

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69 Comments:

Blogger Bryan Leighty said...

I got the x100s based on numerous great reviews online and looking forward to my trip in a couple weeks to NYC sans DSLR. Kit will be nearly identical to yours cept w/ mbp 15. I am curious tho -- why the gaff all over your x100s? That due to the theft? A deterrent?

April 17, 2013 8:07 AM  
Blogger DeLa said...

I have an Olympus dslr (e650) that I love to carry around with a 25mm 2.8 pancake lens when traveling. The Olympus dslr's are compact, and the pancake is very, very small. It makes for a reasonable image quality and it is very portable and inobtrusive, plus the 2.8 is ok for when it gets dark. Meanwhile I have the "dive into the view" feeling of looking through a slr viewfinder.

Indeed, restrictions can feel as a liberation.

April 17, 2013 8:17 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

The Flash Bus memory card holder goes with me everywhere. I love it.

April 17, 2013 8:27 AM  
Blogger Silver Image said...

I would guess the gafftape is probably for stealth. Bresson did the same thing

April 17, 2013 9:06 AM  
Blogger Eric Duminil said...

There are a lot of beautiful, colorful but very dim available light sources in everyday scenes. At f/2, 1/30s ISO 6400 they become viable as key, fill or rim light with the X100s. This camera is the first one I used where I sometimes see more details or colors on the LCD than with my eyes.

Strobist theory can be very valuable even without off-camera flashes, and the on-camera flash of the X100(s) works great as fill.

To me, this is the perfect camera to document the growth of my daughter.

April 17, 2013 9:29 AM  
Blogger Seán Cook said...

I'm curious why the Sony rx1 never maDe your list. I'm guessing it's because you can't use flash and the viewfinder at the same time but I'm just curious.

April 17, 2013 9:34 AM  
Blogger JS said...

Minimalism and camouflage is a way of life. There's a lot to be said for not attracting attention (both from thieves and the Tripod Gestapo). But, it also proves to other photogs that you are not a pristine-condition gear-pig.

April 17, 2013 9:44 AM  
Blogger Leon Godwin said...

This is a very compelling post David; I especially love the comparisons between 2009 and now. Many times I have been guilty of bringing way more gear than I ever get around to using, and moving to this smaller approach is attractive.

It's also worth noting that you have crossed a very important mental threshold for that future AT thru-hike as well.

April 17, 2013 10:05 AM  
Blogger Sven said...

Great info! I am still sadly lugging the full DSLR kit most days, but I have the X100s for travel too.

To answer questions on the camera setup, David posted more info on his X100s setup in his full review here:

http://strobist.blogspot.com/2013/03/in-depth-new-fujifilm-x100s.html

Including:
* the gaffer tape (for stealth and anti-theft)
* the hood (EzFoto black metal hood with 49mm ring)
* the filter (B+W 49mm UV filter)
* the strap (Domke Gripper).

April 17, 2013 11:06 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I spent three months in Mexico with the X100. Found MF and AF a drag but also, despite my formative years with 60's Konica, I was not happy with the lens. I'm looking at the Xpro1 or XE-1 for next travel with a single short zoom. The Arias solution of X100s plus Xpro1 does not make sense for light travel IMO. Why not just buy the black version if you are going to gaff it up?

April 17, 2013 11:43 AM  
Blogger jhelms said...

David, did you have a chance to hook up with Syl or Zack's group in Cuba?

April 17, 2013 1:20 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

This echoes my own recent experiences. For even lighter traveling with a very similar kit I've been experimenting with taking the X100 but dropping the MacBook out for an iPad mini instead and adding the (insanely tiny) Fuji EF-X20 flash which can be triggered optically (though it's limited) and most notably is not much bigger than 2 or so X100 batteries stacked on top of each other. With that said though I haven't yet tried shooting an assignment with it (drag the "back breaker" for that) but if you're looking for tiny and portable, check it out.

Also found that sandwich bags fit over the X100 absolutely perfectly for shooting in the rain. Sometimes for the super small kit I'll add in a tiny tripod (like the zipshot mini or) to be used mainly as a makeshift light stand that's pocketable and a super compact umbrella (like the lastolite trifold which fits in a pocket) and the only thing that kit really leaves me wanting is an 85.

April 17, 2013 1:26 PM  
Blogger Tristan Luscombe said...

Great post as always.

One of the best pieces of advice I was given was to empty and repack my camera bag every time I took it out; it's surprising few journeys it takes before you realise just how much completely extraneous gear you're lugging around,and you get a genuine appreciation for what you actually use and need to have with you.

April 17, 2013 1:54 PM  
Blogger Photosip said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 17, 2013 2:09 PM  
Blogger Kevin Preblud said...

I am wondering if you can elaborate on your setup when using the SB-800 remotely with the Fuji X100s. Do you use a wireless setup, corded setup, or are you able to get the X100s to activate the SB-800 in a master/slave setup.

Thanks in advance,

Kevin

April 17, 2013 4:06 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

I had to stop dragging my D300S around after injuring my elbow last year. Even with the plastic 35mm, holding it up for a shot was just too much. I've now pared my kit down to an X100, EF-X20 flash, OC3 cable and Ultrapod II and haven't looked back.

Talking about lugging gear around a tourist-filled square, I came across this somewhat extreme example in Venice's St Mark's last weekend. As a gear buff, I was heading in that direction once.

April 17, 2013 5:26 PM  
Blogger Paul S said...

I use a similar set up now when I am travelling or working away from home although I rarely travel with my Macbook anymore. I tend to use my iPad to edit my images(snapseed and filterstorm pro are my preferred editing tools) even for pro jobs. I have also replaced my speedlights on many jobs, preferring to use a couple of high power led flashlights as they are tiny but very effective.

April 17, 2013 5:39 PM  
Blogger chris said...

Now that small digital cameras are really coming into their own and are able to compete image-quality-wise with larger cameras, everyone I know who has been using big DSLRs for years is going in that direction (everyone I know who's into photography also travels a lot, both for work and for fun).

It's inevitable and unstoppable. Most people - even many professionals - won't ever need anything larger than a Canon A-1 or Nikon F with a 50mm lens, and most will have smaller ones (classic rangefinder style like the Fuji). Just like the old days.

I welcome this shift wholeheartedly, and can't wait until the smaller systems are truly good enough that I can feel safe in selling my Canon L lenses and everything. I bought an Olympus EP-2 and 20mm f/1.7 a couple years ago after being bogged down by my 40D with 24-105L lens on my first trip as a geology grad student to my research location in Thailand, and I've barely touched my Canon stuff since.

But when absolute quality is required, I still reach for the Canon. Considering how good the latest small cameras are now, though, when I'm able to afford an upgrade in a year or two I expect that I will be more than satisfied with whatever the latest small camera is (I will likely stick with micro 4/3).

I won't give up on big cameras altogether - I also have my eyes on a Rollei-type medium format TLR. Larger cameras (film or otherwise) will become the niche that the smaller cameras are now, and I think that's the way it should be.

April 17, 2013 5:55 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

With high ISO competent camera being the norm, we don't actually need flashes with high GN ( big and bulky too ). I have been struggling to find a flash that is smaller and lighter than my sb28.

My new travel-lite light requirements are as follows.

Powered by 2AA perhaps, manual PR (1/1 1/2 1/4 1/8 1/16), tilt and swivel, 250 grams at most.

Couldnt find any.

April 17, 2013 6:44 PM  
Blogger ericsf7 said...

David, I could not agree more about how cumbersome DSLRs are when doing street photography. During Gulf Coast, I went up to the Gold Souk with two bodies with a 70-300 and a 35mm lens. I felt like a member of a SWAT team, or something. Interestingly, though, the large lens intrigued a lot of people -- not sure if it was just strange looking, or if it suggested "serious" or "professional" photographer. In any case, I got to photograph a lot of people because of their curiosity.

I do remember when I returned to the hotel I got in the elevator with all this gear. Then Zack walks in with only the Fuji x100s. I felt like such a freak'n Neanderthal by comparison!

April 17, 2013 6:59 PM  
Blogger nakleh said...

What flash do you use with the x100s, and can it be used ttl?

April 17, 2013 7:35 PM  
Blogger Bill Stamatis said...

I just returned from Peru lugging a Nikon DSLR and four lenses, a tripod a back up portable hard drive and assorted filters. That's the last time I'm doing that.
While hiking in the Colca Canyon area, the combination of a heavy (camera gear) backpack, the altitude and the coca leaves induced a hallucination: I was flying through the air on angel wings and photographing the mountainous landscape with a rangefinder camera!

April 17, 2013 9:22 PM  
Blogger Tampa Photography Classes said...

Yep...sounding a lot like Arias...

April 17, 2013 10:01 PM  
Blogger dave moser said...

IF ONLY there was an x100 with an 85mm :-(((((


DAVID -- wait until you get the MacBook Air --
i have the 13" and it is a delight. Not having it weigh down my backpack in airports is oh-so-welcome.


adios!

April 17, 2013 10:45 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I'm very interested to see what you're traveling with. We did Europe in 2009 and I took my D700 and a couple of lenses. This last October, I went with the X100 and a Sony RX100. Wanted a bit of zoom! It sure is nice to carry so much less. I look at my accretion of DSLR gear and am thinking about thinning the herd. What I really really wish is that Fuji and Nikon would hook up and get the X100S to work with the Nikon CLS flashes. Or Nikon to pull their heads out and make a similar system. I feel myself drifting away after 30 years of using their gear.

April 18, 2013 12:04 AM  
OpenID sharongreenaway said...

Great article as usual...got me re thinking what to take to Tasmania next month, thanks David.

April 18, 2013 2:16 AM  
Blogger Kerry said...

David,
I'm just curious if you have checked out the Fuji flash EF-X20. I have two of them and love them for their amazingly small size, but more importantly because they have an optical trigger built into them. Going manual on them is as dead simple as it get's and they throw a decent amount of light for the tiny size they have. You could carry three of these little suckers around for less footprint and maybe even weight as one SB800. Just sayin...

MuMinded

April 18, 2013 9:01 AM  
Blogger Kerry said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 18, 2013 9:03 AM  
Blogger Nicholas said...

For a small flash with your X100s and to keep your kit minimal, consider the fuji ef-x20. I picked one up with the x100s and its not bad. Manual controls, tiny, and able to overpower the sun a couple stops with the x100 at f2/iso100 with the nd filter on. That is at full power, and the recycle time is horrid, but, it works and looks great. The sensor on it does a great job of syncing with the x100 in 'flash commander' mode, so no additional cords needed. It adds quite a bit of flexibility to a minimal kit.

April 18, 2013 11:21 AM  
Blogger Bruce Lomasky said...

Humm, Seems like people are competing to see how minimalistic they can get. Bottom line, when I get back home, and am done editing the photo(s). they have to look as good as possible. I have downgraded from a D3s, and 4 lens to a d800 and 2 lens in a small Lowpro backpack. One of the lens is the 85 1.4 and the other will be either the 24-70 2.8 or the 35.14. On the "street" I don't always have the time to get as close to the subject(s) as I want, (or its inadvisable to get that close!). So I want / need all the pixels / sharpness available. I am 62, a bad back, but can manage to carry these with few groans and moans!

April 18, 2013 1:06 PM  
Blogger hector sanchez said...

is that lightstand a Matthews MERF?

April 18, 2013 1:40 PM  
Blogger jeremy north said...

I am a film shooter, but your philosophy translates very well to that medium. I have a Contax G2 as my travel camera, with the 35mm lens, or if I can take two lenses, I opt for the 45 & 28 instead.
So many times I've hauled "the kitchen sink" as we say in the UK, only to find I spend more time messing with the gear rather than taking photographs!

Thanks for yet another excellent post.

April 18, 2013 1:51 PM  
Blogger Toby Adamson said...

David - great post. I'm currently shooting with and NGO through 3 African countries and have both X100s and 5dmklll kit with me. Still getting used to the Fuji but just find it so slow for reportage compared to DSLR - and certian things about it are bugging the hell out of me - i.e. lack of useable histogram in manual, settings keep getting changed by accident, the auto review of image in the viewfinder etc etc - it's good but takes getting used to..

April 18, 2013 4:41 PM  
Blogger Kevin Russo Photography said...

David, I have been reading your blog for a long time now, but this is the first I am posting.

I really like what I have been seeing with the X100 and X100s, even the X20.

My concern is doing portraits with a 35mm lens, is there distortion? and what about obtaining shallow Dof, I know the lens is 2.0 but it still concerns me that;s it's 2.0 on a 35mm.

Any feed back appreciated.

Thanks for making the Strobist Blog.

Kevin

April 18, 2013 4:57 PM  
Blogger Mike Howard said...

buy a 13" Macbook Air - 11 is too small. You won't be sorry

April 18, 2013 7:49 PM  
Blogger cinghialino said...

What about your medium format camera system? Already forgot about it?

April 18, 2013 8:11 PM  
Blogger tcruicks said...

No fold up reflector panels with your travel kit?

April 18, 2013 9:51 PM  
Blogger jniz22 said...

cinghialino,

I doubt it would be easy to forget :P But like he said... He had a camera stolen this year. I think the MF is one to leave at home for the time being until you can fork out the $$$$ for one another to take on the road :P


On another note, I have just started shooting medium format film for the first time in my young 26 year life. The i play with fllm, the more im convinced about medium format quality and the richness of color film. I really would like to get a x100s to carry around and get comfortable using with off camera lighting to eventually be able to transfer the knowledge to film without wasting rolls :)

April 19, 2013 5:46 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

David, Any thoughts on adding an LED lighting setup to your travel kit? If not, just curious why not?

April 19, 2013 4:16 PM  
Blogger Vincent said...

I like the Google sticker on your laptop. ;)

April 20, 2013 10:39 PM  
Blogger Ben Simon said...

David - Love the post, love the kit. Inspiring stuff.

I do wonder how the single focal length limits you.

Consider this hypothetical: suppose you're on travel and someone invites you to a baseball game or some other exciting event where a telephoto lens would be handy. What do you do?

a) Take some wide shots and put away the camera (perhaps kicking yourself for not having the right lens)

b) Improvise. Understand you can't get the close up shots of the action, but still try to capture the moment best you can (say, get photos of that rabid fan next to you).

c) You're a professional photographer not on assignment, so you don't bother with the camera. You leave it at the hotel and just enjoy the event.

d) None of the above. Instead I _____________________________.

Thanks for sharing.

-Ben

April 21, 2013 8:22 AM  
Blogger Graham Martin said...

Similar to my current travel set-up, which is truly liberating: 13" white Macbook, Fuji X100, SB-800, cables and chargers, spare battery kept in the X100 bag that came with the Black Edition box-set.
I take these in a Tink Tank Retrospective 30 which has so much room left over as I bought this bag for use with my Nikon D700, battery grip, lenses and fliters, so I am currently on the lookout for a smaller Fuji friendly bag.

Any ideas anyone?

April 21, 2013 9:47 AM  
Blogger sfigato said...

Bravo for this post
I've killed my arm dragging a D800 and 2.8 70-200 around locally. I love to travel light.
someone asked about the black tape - it's because the X100S doesn't yet come in black (and silver will be cheaper I assume).
I had the X100 , now the X100S, it's a great little kit.
I try to avoid taking a laptop when I travel - I went with an iPhone and iPad - you can store the images nightly on the iPad, and have them uploaded to the cloud, although if you take 1000's of images a laptop or backup drive makes sense. if you need photoshop w/you, then use the laptop.

April 21, 2013 11:28 AM  
Blogger sfigato said...

Bravo
traveling light is so much more enjoyable
black tape I assume because black X100S is not available?

April 21, 2013 11:32 AM  
Blogger Radsgeek said...

I know Dave Hobby has posted on this at some point but don't forget about phones and tablets for off camera lighting in a pinch. I also keep a small gorillapod and really bright LED flashlight in my small-camera bag. The combination of iPad and flashlight is better than any of the small LED panels I've seen since I can get focused light with the flashlight (e.g. for lightpainting) or relatively diffuse light with the iPad. The flashlight is also great for helping these small cameras focus like a D800 in the dark.

April 21, 2013 11:38 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

@Bob, Great shot of the Very Serious Photo Enthusiast!! Thanks for posting ... it made my day!!

Me, I've always tried to look like a tourist -- small body, NO Holy Trinity Zooms, pop-up flash for fill, no camera bag or back-pack. NO Computer either, I learned to shoot "Chromes back in the day so my JPEGs look just fine.

April 21, 2013 12:57 PM  
Blogger dave moser said...

Mr Strobist ! :-)))

I (and maybe WE) would love to see what magic you have wrought with your x100s. Could you possibly point us to any of those pictures? Pleaaaaassseeee???

April 21, 2013 2:16 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Sean-

RX1 - Great chip. Awesome lens. Clunky (to me) ergonomics. I colleague on our trip had one. I decided if I bought one I'd just grab a 35mm optical shoe-mount viewfinder.

@JHelms-

We saw him arrive, but he could not see us (tinted glass in departures hall). Pic here:

https://twitter.com/strobist/status/324724939888422912


@Kevin-

Corded for one flash, corded/slaved for two. Post to follow soon.


@Nakleh-

SB-800, and "no." But it can be used on "auto" mode, where the power is adjusted automatically at the flash level.


@Nicholas and Kerry-

Thanks, I have not tried it yet but I am thinking about it.


@Bruce-

That's fine for you. But I do not want to be light infantry. I have now logged 10k photos on my X100s and have not missed the "walking photo gear room" thing one iota.


@Kevin Russo-

The 35mm FOV is not great for tight portraits. So that forces me to back up ad bit contextualize people, which for me is a good thing:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidhobby/8663285473/in/set-72157633292871001


@Eric-

Not at all interested in LED lights as part of a bare-bones location kit. I'd rather carry a much more powerful SB-800 if I carry light.


@Ben-

By that reasoning I should have brought my D3, the 200-400, a 1.4 converter, a monopod, a second body for home plate, a 70-200 for that, and a magic arm and PW remote or foot switch.

Dude, I was in Cuba as part of a cultural people to people exchange. In APRIL. If a spontaneous baseball invite is gonna happen, that was pretty ideal circumstances. Didn't happen.

But the odds of having to lug all that shit around: 100%.

Nope.

:)

April 21, 2013 3:43 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Dave Moser-

Coming soon.

April 21, 2013 3:43 PM  
Blogger Daniel Gonsalves said...

First post, but big fan of yours David.
My question: Batteries - OEM or Aftermarket? I THINK that's an aftermarket in the pic, but not sure.
I want to buy some for this amazing camera, but don't want to spend $89 (cad) for them!

Thanks!
-Daniel

April 22, 2013 12:41 AM  
Blogger Nikolay Mirchev said...

Nice reading which makes me rethink my approach to what I'll be taking with me when going for a photo shoot.

April 22, 2013 6:15 AM  
Blogger Nikolay Mirchev said...

Very nice reading which makes me rethink my approach to selecting the gear I'm about to take with me on a photo shoot.

April 22, 2013 6:16 AM  
Blogger KeithR said...

There is much to be said in favor of traveling light. Sometimes you just want to take the damn picture w/o having to be a beast of burden to do so. I have multiple cameras and lights, but I take more pics than I ever thought I would with my little Android phone... and it is not even a high end phone, but is has a very clean 3MP sensor that is more than adequate for the web. I do basic image processing on the phone as well. I use Photo Editor app. It is small, effective and free. I use MicroSD cards in my "real" cameras (by way of adapters)so that I can readily transfer images to my 8" Android tablet. Some of these images get blue-toothed to my phone for basic post-processing. I could do the post-processing in the tablet, using the same app as on the phone but for now the phone has a better display. The display on my tablet is not bad, and it is certainly much bigger, but the display on the phone is much better for what I do.

April 22, 2013 8:06 AM  
Blogger KeithR said...

Sometimes you just want to take the damn picture w/o having to be a beast of burden. It is more fun that way. Even tho' I have multiple cameras and lights, I find that I shoot more pics (than I ever thought I would!) with my lowly Android phone. I even use it for basic image processing, using Photo Editor app. This app is small, effective and free. I say basic image processing, as my fumble fingers are not the ideal input device for doing fine editing on the small screen if my phone.
My "real cameras" are still more versatile and have better image quality than the phone, but this phone (the Samsung Admire a/k/a SCH-R720) has a very clean 3MP sensor that is more than adequate for the web... and that is where my fun stuff goes, anyway.

April 22, 2013 8:34 AM  
Blogger Ben Simon said...

""By that reasoning I should have brought my D3, the 200-400, a 1.4 converter, a monopod, a second body for home plate, a 70-200 for that, and a magic arm and PW remote or foot switch.""

Uh, I wasn't trying to trick you into an answer -- I was genuinely curious.

The answer seems to be, you don't sweat it. You travel for a specific purpose, and if something comes up outside of that, you'll deal. Which is cool.

April 22, 2013 9:06 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Ben-

Okay, so let me put it differently. The idea that carrying around a huge amount of gear, just to be prepared for an Nth-degree contingency, comes at zero cost is a fallacy.

Every possession is also a burden, and that is never more true than when traveling.

April 22, 2013 9:59 AM  
Blogger Ben Simon said...

""The idea that carrying around a huge amount of gear, just to be prepared for an Nth-degree contingency, comes at zero cost is a fallacy.""

Absolutely agree.

Of course, there's the other side of the equation where you can be so minimalist that you're no longer functional (like say, ditching the laptop and expecting your phone to take the place).

For me, I'm always looking for the biggest bang for my minimalist buck.

Seems like you've found that in your setup, which is awesome.

And I'm slowly getting there with mine...

April 22, 2013 10:08 AM  
Blogger J Bailey said...

I hope you're going to perform a rap song about your time in Cuba.

April 22, 2013 1:55 PM  
Blogger Lisa Wiseman said...

Great article David!

I found this just as I'm about to depart for some travels and you convinced me to leave the big stuff at home - whew! Can't wait to walk through an airport *without* a 70lb camera bag.

Regarding the computer, just thought I'd put in my 2 cents for what it's worth. I went from a Macbook Pro to an 11in Air about 2 years ago. I could not have been happier... until I had to use Photoshop, Bridge, LR, etc. The 11in Air was fast enough to run the programs, but not all that well - previewing focus on files was particularly frustratingly slow. About 6mos ago I sold the 11in Air and got the upgraded 13in Air and it's truly the perfect solution for traveling. I was stuck in NYC during Sandy and the 13in Air was a dream with Photoshop, Bridge, LR and all my day-to-day work (when the computer was charged, of course). I'd been planning to upgrade after traveling but it was really a happy accident that I didn't get stuck with the 11in Air! When home, I went back to my MacPro (now iMac) so I'm using the Air mainly when traveling or on location.

Lastly, would you kindly share what the blue cord is in the photo and why it's attached to the iPhone charger? Also, please share the memory card holder that fits Fuji batteries. Much appreciated!

April 22, 2013 7:02 PM  
Blogger arnau COSTA BEAL said...

For travelling light, I'll test on a 3 day trip to London:

- Olympus XZ-1
- eyeFi card (wifi enabled SD memory card)
- tiny flex tripod
- spare battery + charger

I'll backup instantly my pictures to my phone via direct-mode wifi link, with eyeFi card and android app.

Have to test how this affects battery life, and how long it takes to transfer pictures on the fly.

April 24, 2013 3:12 AM  
Blogger rellimnitsuj said...

You echoed my sentiments exactly! I travel with a black X100 and a 13" MacBook Air (wanted the card reader), and I pack it all (camera, extra battery, cybersync trigger) in a mini messenger bag from Zara so I don't look like "infantry" when I'm trudging across Bosnia or the other weird places I travel to.

One difference though. I also bring a mini tripod from Slik along, and my Triopo TR980 flash (which has a built in diffuser and bounce card). I paid $2 for a little hot shoe mount so I can mount the flash on top of the mini tripod.

This setup is very easy to pack. I have the tripod available in case I want to shoot in bulb mode at night, and if I want off camera flash I just mount my speed light on the tripod and set it wherever I need it (or have someone hold onto it). You could achieve the same thing with a mini light stand, but my setup is TINY and kills two birds with one stone.

Thanks for the blog and happy travels!

April 24, 2013 4:11 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

David: That reminds me of my 1970s shooting .... Leica M2 w/35 Summicron.Light and unobtrusive. I made pix for ME, that pleased ME, not an editor.
Don Davis

April 25, 2013 3:25 PM  
Blogger Dave S. said...

I like it Sir, like it a lot. I've traveling light w/DSLR & small primes, but now I'm thinking even lighter. Thanks.

April 27, 2013 9:48 PM  
Blogger Steven Ellingson said...

I decided last time to leave the laptop at home. I use my phone for the computer stuff, and don't need it for anything photo related, as I can wait to edit, and 64 GB SD cards are cheap!

May 29, 2013 5:50 PM  
Blogger Jolyon Gray said...

Looks very similar to my travel kit bag, however being an OM-D user I carry a few more lenses :

7-14mm PAnasonic f4.0 (replaced my 12mm Oly)
25mm Nokton f0.95
75mm Olympus f1.8
(sometimes) 45mm f1.8
(sometimes) Olympus Grip

& that's it! Considered going even lighter before, just buying Panasonic 20mm f1.7, however in reality those lenses above are only 1kg combined, hardly back breaking :).

June 14, 2013 4:46 AM  
Blogger aizatk said...

David, great post. I'm about to spend my hard earned money onto the 5DMKiii and its kit lense 24-105L until I stumbled upon this post. I'm planning to do a lot of travelling in 2014 and was using Lumix LX-5 for most of my travels and truly I'm not satisfied with it's low-light performance (too much noise in high ISO).

Hopefully getting the X100S would be the correct thing to do.

and like Zack Arias mentioned, the DSLR is dead! (at least for travellers).

Is the image quality from X100S is good enough for large printing and stock photography? How does it fares for landscaping photograpy?

p/s: I want to gaffer taped my X100S once I get it from the stores :)

July 17, 2013 11:32 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

Aizatk-

I cannot answer those image quality Q's for you, because I am neither you nor your stock agency editor. But I did include some full-res SOOC images on the full review page.

All I can tell you is that I am not going back.

July 18, 2013 12:25 AM  
Blogger mcjamison said...

Another great post, David - this Christmas, I left a whole backpack of DSLR gear at home and just brought my new x100s. Oh, and a big Yongnuo in my checked bag...

One suggestion on your kit: ditch the thick Apple power cord, and bring a simple hardware-store extension cord instead - the kind with two prongs, and 3 outlets on the other end. You can plug in other devices like phone chargers at the same time, even share a precious power outlet at the airport. Very handy when you're in a hotel room and the only plug near the bedside is behind the middle of the bed.

January 10, 2014 2:19 AM  
Blogger Shawn Moreton said...

I've ditched my laptop, and use my Android phone to backup images to an external HD... Much lighter! I posted the technique here on my blog: http://shawnmoreton.com/blog/travel-photography-how-to-backup-files-on-the-road-travel-light/

January 13, 2014 12:10 AM  

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