Travel photography – can we travel light with gear that withstands the elements and still get great pictures?
I did travel all over Europe and North America with my gear weighing in at 20+ pounds. It’s not fun, and after 5 or 6 hours, my back is crying ‘enough.’ So I tried some super-zooms to cut down the fat. Well, the weight came down, but the quality suffered as well.
A couple years later, I did try one of the Micro Four Thirds, which actually worked very well (light enough, even with three lenses and a tripod) until a sudden sandstorm hit in the Canary Islands, Spain. The housing gave up immediately; the lenses continue to make this grinding noise when they try to focus, hours and hours of cleaning notwithstanding.
After dozens of tours and expeditions, hundreds (may be even thousands) of hours in the great outdoors (anything from the Arctic cold to the tropical forest) I’m still searching. I don’t like the price tag of a Leica, and I cannot bear the weight of a Hasselblad (well, I never tired the medium format while on an expedition). However, I went through several Nikon and Canon housings, both sealed and not sealed. It’s always just a matter of matter of time until the heat, cold, humidity, water or sand gets to them, regardless of how careful you are!
What is your experience? Did you find the right gear that can survive the wild - rain or shine?
Years ago I had a Nikon SLR underwater camera. Took it down 60-100 feet in salt water on many occasions, it knocked about on the dive boats, it bumped into rocks and got sand on it. It was still working great when I sold it a couple years later. Don't they still make those?
a good (expensive) pro slr will be good for the weather, but is heavy. sometimes you have to suffer for the art. after a 3 day trip i'm ready to go home. though i would probably go with a vest to distribute weight better distribution. to hold water and stuff like that. it really depends what you shoot, and customize it to that on that trip. i found carrying every lens was pointless since i only use 1. if you don't use something for more than 6 hours, leave it at home. so macro, and super tele (unless your shooting monkey's or birds), leave it at home.
if you have a back pack that might be good. i have a sling, because i like rapid access. and even though i have one body and one lens, and water, supplies, etc, the strap cuts into me.
i have a canon 5dmk2. i think it's rated for a spritz. the 1d is sealed. but you need a lens to match and i don't have one of those.
If you can't afford weather sealed cameras and lenses there are alternatives. Lens coats and rain sleeves are available. I haven't tried lens coats, I think they would work better for cold weather, but I got a pack of rain sleeves for $5.99 and they work pretty well, even in pretty steady rain. They are kind of a pain in the neck but if it gets the job done it is worth it. They have more professional rain sleeves that I am sure work better but they aren't cheap.