Travel photography in a digital age
you probably need 2 types of digital camera:
an indestructible, super-compact, take anywhere point and shoot with 3x optical zoom:
check out the Olympus 770SW
a relatively light weight digital SLR (see below) or prosumer camera
sometimes the little things become a nuisance - check out the size of the Canon 1DMIII charger compared with the Olympus one
what's even better, Olympus uses the SAME battery for all E series dSLRs (except E400/410) and the C8080WZ.
if the charger didn't put you off, the Canon 24-105mm EF IS lens, although much smaller & lighter than its sibling, the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L lens, dwarfs the nice little Olympus ED kit lenses - the 14-42 and 40-150mm - those two lenses combined would give 28-300mm range in a much smaller and lighter package than the 24-105mm, and at f/5.6 you probably couldn't tell much difference in image quality at low ISO levels. Of course the Olympus ZD 7-14mm ultra-wide zoom is as big and heavy as the Canon 24-105 but it is performing a unique function giving a pro-quality image stabilised 14-28mm equivalent zoom when used with the E510. Also pictured is the older 14-45mm kit lens (2nd from right) and the beautiful Olympus ZD 50mm f/2.0 macro lens (far left).
Which camera & lenses to buy:
more details on kits here
my general requirements for a good travel outfit are:
camera with inbuilt flash - you don't really want to carry around a separate flash & you never know when it comes in handy.
relatively light & compact
focal length coverage:
a main lens with at least 24-120mm focal length in 35mm terms
an optional telephoto zoom to extend this to 200 or 300mm eq.
for bushwalking, when ability to capture an image quickly may be more important than image quality, consider a 10x optical zoom.
an optional super wide angle lens, preferably one which will take filters but if main lens is 24mm then not so necessary.
an optional portrait lens
an optional 30-40mm eq. prime lens for street photography - only Pentax have a good pancake lens offering.
image stabiliser - either CCD-sensor IS or optical in the main lens and the telephoto - most people will not carry a tripod.
preferably Live Preview for those times AF doesn't work or you need to move the camera away from your eye to compose (such as outside a fence as with the Eiffel Tower or for street photography)
ideally it would be weatherproofed and dust-proofed
long battery life
uses either CF or SD memory cards
my travel preference is the Olympus E520 or Olympus E3 with:
Olympus ZD 12-60mm f/2.8-3.5 lens (equates to 24-120mm)
better quality than the kit lenses and a bit wider giving 24mm at the wide end - just what I would like.
if you can't afford this then get the twin lens kit - these are great quality ED kit lenses covering 28-300mm
optional lens kit 1:
Olympus ZD 50mm f/2.0 macro for portraits, macro; weatherproofed;
Olympus ZD 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 ED
for 600mm super telephoto reach in a cheap, compact, light package
optional lens kit 2 (instead of optional kit 1):
Olympus ZD 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 (100-400mm eq.)
weatherproofed; better image quality than the 70-300mm, its a bit heavy at 1.07kg but worth it
makes a nice portrait lens and even a macro (at 1.2m) so could leave the 50mm f/2 macro home.
PLUS a 1.4x TC and you get high quality 140-520mm f/3.9-4.9 telephoto reach for not much extra weight
and if you can afford it:
Olympus ZD 7-14mm f/4.0 (14-28mm eq.)
weatherproofed; great for indoors, streets.
or, if you want discrete, the 25mm Olympus ZD pancake lens.
light, CCD-sensor IS, live preview
don't need to pay for individual IS in each lens.
most lenses are high quality & weatherproofed (except the 18-180mm)
dual kit lens could be used instead as they are of reasonable quality unlike the Canon kit lenses.
the best option for shooting wide angle dim church interiors hand held (see at bottom) - if the Pentax processed jpegs better and was smaller, then I might give this title to the K10D with DA 12-24mm lens
the best option for street photography - if the Pentax processed jpegs better, had live preview and was smaller, then I might give this title to the K10D with DA 12-24mm lens or 21mm pancake lens.
the best option for hand held macrophotography in low light when used with the 50mm f/2 macro (a Fuji S5 Pro with VR macro lens is the only camera that could better it for this purpose)
more noise at higher ISO, so lose 1-2 stops there for action photography
fantastic super wide zoom but can't use filters - ideally Olympus should make a less wide zoom which takes filters, but more wide than their 11-22mm zoom (22-44mm eq.)
alternative options are:
a prosumer non-SLR:
see prosumer cameras
no need to worry about sensor dust or changing lenses
but image noise higher and AF tends to be slower
paintings in art galleries:
these typically have a light value of 0 (+/- 2EV) which means you need 1/30th sec and either 1600ISO, f/4 or 400ISO, f/2
on an Olympus dSLR with image stabiliser, a 50mm f/2 lens at ISO400 would work very well
on a Canon or Nikon dSLR, a lens with optical stabiliser and 35mm effective focal length of 70-135mm would be ideal, and you can get away with a f/4 and even f/5.6 aperture but you may need to use ISO 1600
these typically have a light value of -1 which means you need 1/15th sec and either 1600ISO, f/4 or 400ISO, f/2
in most you cannot use a tripod or even a monopod, nor a flash even if it would be of any use in those wide open spaces.
apart from being dimmer than paintings in art galleries, you often need a wide angle lens of 21-24mm in 35mm terms which can pose some difficulties:
Olympus dSLR with IS and either:
7-14mm f/4 lens at 400ISO and 1/4th sec, or maybe 800ISO at 1/8th sec - just manageable with IS but you get a 14mm effective lens and the IS gives an effective 1/60th-1/90th sec stopping speed which easily beats the Canon APS-C for similar noise.
11-22mm f/2.8-3.5 at f/2.8 allows 400ISO and 1/8th sec - just manageable with IS
Canon APS-C dSLR with Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 at f/3.5 allows 1600ISO, f/3.5 at 1/20th sec but now we are really pushing it as there is no IS to help us out. Given some churches are even dimmer, this solution is not really going to cut it.
Canon 5D, 1Ds or 1D Mark III dSLR with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM at f/2.8 allows 1600ISO, at 1/30th sec, which is just manageable without IS
although with the 1D Mark III, the ISO could be increased to 3200 without too much noise being an issue, but unfortunately the 1.3x crop means widest angle is 21mm effective and to get wider you have to resort to the Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L USM which gives 18mm but is very expensive.
Camera/laptop bag for air travel:
check your airline limits for carry-on cabin baggage:
Qantas international flights max. baggage:
as at 2007, max. circumference 115cm and up to 7kg:
eg. 1x 56cm long x 36cm high x 23cm deep bag (can carry 2 such bags if 1st class or business class)
similar to Qantas above, ie. 115cm circumference, 7kg
you will thus almost certainly need to put the following in checked baggage and not in cabin luggage:
cables, battery chargers, extra batteries, tripod, etc.
assuming you can get a bag which is small enough to carry on board and fit your gear, let's look first at the weight issue:
1.5kg if 12", ~2kg if 14", could be 2.5-3.5kg for larger laptops
Olympus E510 = 470g
twin kit lens (28-300mm range in total) = 410g
ZD 11-22mm lens = 485g (you may decide on the expensive ZD 7-14mm instead as it is better for interiors = 780g)
ZD 50mm macro for portraits = 300g
total kit = 1665g
Canon 5D = 810g
24-105mm f/4L IS = 670g
16-35mm f/2.8L II = 635g
135mm f/2L = 750g
70-200mm f/4 IS = 760g
total kit = 3625g
Canon 1D Mark III = 1.3kg
24-105mm f/4L IS = 670g
16-35mm f/2.8L II = 635g
135mm f/2L = 750g
70-200mm f/4 IS = 760g
total kit = 4115g
weight of bag itself:
THUS if you get the usual bag at 3.5kg, and you take the smallest laptop at 1.5kg, you are already up to 5kg leaving only 2kg for your photo kit:
easily fit the Olympus kit with room for another lens or camera body
fit the Canon 5D with 2 lenses
fit the Canon 1D Mark III with 1 lens
general requirements of a bag to consider:
let's have a look at a few bags which will take your 12" laptop and photo gear:
see also backpacks, bags for more details
Crumpler "The Keystone":
20cm deep, 12" laptop
Crumpler "Whickey & Cox":
25cm deep; 15" laptop; dSLR
Crumpler "Sinking Barge":
its 26cm depth may be an issue on planes
Crumpler "Customary Barge":
Crumpler "The Karachi Outpost":
1kg, small bag up to 12" laptop + 1 dSLR with 200mm lens and 2 wide angle lenses (ie. smaller lenses)
1.05kg, small bag up to 12" laptop + 1 dSLR with 200mm lens and 2 wide angle lenses (ie. smaller lenses)
draws attention with its sleek styling
1.5kg, medium bag up to 12" laptop + 1 dSLR and several lenses
1.8kg, dSLR + 80-200mm lens attached + other lenses but no laptop?
2.1kg, medium-large bag up to 15" laptop + dSLR with 300mm lens & extra lenses
consider the optional all weather cover for these bags in rain (see http://www.tamrac.com/g_modularaccessory.htm)
rain covers at B&H Photo
1.9kg, 33x28x51cm (a bit deep for planes) = 112cm, Canon 1D with 5" lens, 2 other lenses, 17" laptop, jacket, lunch, etc.
photo gear on front, bottom; laptop in rear via side zip;
a 70-200mm f4 fits nicely with hood but not attached to camera - a f/2.8 may fit snugly but perhaps without the hood.
if you are not carrying too much camera gear this looks like a great compromise bag for travel and hiking with its versatility of section for jackets, etc.
BUT it still worries me a little regarding security of camera equipment in the front section - maybe you need to attach padlocks to the zippers (if you can) when walking in crowded tourist parts.
possible problem: the velcro which is attached to the inside top which the cameras LCD is stored against while in the bag - could it scratch the LCD screen? You could attach a padded velcro to cover this I guess.
No rain cover available as this bag is not compatible with Tamrac's M.A.S. modular system.
It is possible to carry a tripod underneath the bottom as straps can be threaded through some holes in the plastic.
Two lash tabs on the bottom allow a tripod to be carried (requires accessory straps, Model S-113, sold separately).
also consider LowePro's CompuRover AW bag which has a bigger jacket/lunch compartment.
2.6kg, 34x26x43cm, 2xSLRs, 700200mm f/2.8, other lenses, 15" laptop, front accessory pocket.
laptop in rear via top zip; no facility for lunch, jacket.
2.4kg, 33x24x41cm, similar to 5256.
2.4kg; 36x30x48cm = 114cm;