gvallee

How to travel light?

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I know it’s been discussed before and I don’t expect there is an answer to it but I’ll post my recent experience for the hell of it, as what happened was a new one on me.

 

Last week, I had to catch 3 successive flights to get back home from Borneo. 3 different airlines, one common rule: 7kg carryon luggage. A non-starter for me.

 

So as usual, I was wearing a ‘roo jacket’ with multiple pockets stuffed with lenses and even with my laptop, in addition to my big photo bag. No problems with the first two flights, I was beginning to relax. Then, Jetstar. Weighing of the carryon luggage at the gate or no boarding. Still not worried, my bag was 7kg. But then, the staff’s eagle-eyes spotted my bulging pockets. They counted each pocket as a bag!! You can’t have 4 bags they said. Followed a palaver.

 

My question is, how do specialist photographers do? By specialist, I mean photographers intending to take more than general travel shots (landscapes, street scenes, etc). In my case, when I travel, I have to choose between bird photography and take my 500mm or macro with the whole kit of wireless flashes.

 

In any case, either bird or macro photography for 3 weeks will necessitate some form of backup, it cannot merely be stored on a memory card. So my set up is as follows:

 

Main camera + charger (a double brick for Nikon D4) + spare battery

Back-up camera + charger (another single brick) + spare battery

Wide-angle lens

Zoom lens

500mm or macro lens + kit

Laptop + charger (another brick)

Small external drive for second back-up

Tripod in suitcase

 

Once again, if I was limiting myself to landscapes, I could switch to mirrorless as I’m quite sick of these travel problems but I don’t believe (correct me if I’m wrong I haven’t done any research yet) that mirrorless technology is quite there yet for serious macro or wildlife.

 

Meanwhile, there’s an article in the press today about someone who’s been prevented to board a flight wearing 7 trousers and 10 shirts…

 

Gen

Edited by gvallee

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You could maybe lose the laptop and get a WD My Passport Wireless Pro. This is a 2TB hard drive with an SD card slot for direct backup without a computer. It needs a charger as well. I've not weighed it but I'd guess about 300 grams or so. So far I've not taken it on a trip but it does work for backup. It takes a bit of a read of the manual to set it up in the first place.

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Very interesting, thank you for the suggestion, I will look into it. Can it feed another drive as well or would I need to buy two of those for second backup?

 

The Nikon D4 has a double slot. My main card is XQD but it wouldn't be a problem using only the SD slot.

 

Pro: losing the laptop would be a huge weight saving exercise (I went for high end specs, big screen, to run PS on the road)

Con: I use PS on my laptop to keyword at least the location and arrange downloads in geographical folders. I guess I would lose this ability.

 

 

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Last summer I went on a business trip to Valencia, Spain flying EasyJet with only carry-on luggage. I really wanted to take my camera (Nikon D7000) but couldn't fit in into my carry-on. And I missed so many good photo opportunities as a result.

 

For Christmas, I was lucky enough to get a Sony RX100M3... so if I have any more trips like the one to Valencia, I can at least simply fit the RX100 in a pocket. While maybe not good for wildlife photography as Gen mentions, for my needs it solves the problem!

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6 hours ago, gvallee said:

Con: I use PS on my laptop to keyword at least the location and arrange downloads in geographical folders. I guess I would lose this ability.

 

 

 

Is a tablet not an option for you?

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Just now, Colblimp said:

 

Is a tablet not an option for you?

 

Now that's an idea. My tablet is full and has an old iOS, so I can't download any new App. Good excuse to buy a new tablet.

What app should I use for keywording? 

 

Ah but wait. It assumes an Internet connection. It would work in most cases but I now have my eyes on Papua New Guinea. There isn't even electricity where I'd like to stay. Mind you, I wouldn't need to enter the location in a hurry, no danger of forgetting.

Edited by gvallee

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9 hours ago, gvallee said:

 

Once again, if I was limiting myself to landscapes, I could switch to mirrorless as I’m quite sick of these travel problems but I don’t believe (correct me if I’m wrong I haven’t done any research yet) that mirrorless technology is quite there yet for serious macro or wildlife.

 

 

Gen

 

Mirrorless is truly there for both wildlife, sport and macro. 

 

Take a look at the Olympus OMD EM1 Mark 2 and particularly the frame rate being up to 60 fps! Highly reliable focus tracking, in camera focus stacking for macro. Complete range of small lightweight fast lenses. 

 

I don't use one myself but a colleague is a specialist wildlife and macro shooter and looking at his stuff it's quite spectacular. 

 

Did I say his kit weighs next to nothing! 

 

http://www.pattayadays.com/2017/01/thoughts-on-the-olympus-e-m1-ii-after-one-month/

 

Edited by ReeRay
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16 minutes ago, gvallee said:

 

Now that's an idea. My tablet is full and has an old iOS, so I can't download any new App. Good excuse to buy a new tablet.

What app should I use for keywording? 

 

Ah but wait. It assumes an Internet connection. It would work in most cases but I now have my eyes on Papua New Guinea. There isn't even electricity where I'd like to stay. Mind you, I wouldn't need to enter the location in a hurry, no danger of forgetting.

 

I always keyword in AIM, it's good enough and easy enough. I need a new tablet as well - the battery lasts 5 minutes and is also full. 

 

In terms of an internet connection, wouldn't your laptop need the same?!

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Just now, ReeRay said:

 

Gen

 

Mirrorless is truly there for both wildlife, sport and macro. 

 

Take a look at the Olympus OMD EM1 Mark 2 and particularly the frame rate being up to 60 fps! Highly reliable focus tracking, in camera focus stacking for macro. Complete range of small lightweight fast lenses. 

 

I don't use one myself but a colleague is a specialist wildlife and macro shooter and looking at his stuff it's quite spectacular. 

 

Did I say his kit weighs next to nothing! 

 

ReeRay, I can only dream of such a set up.

 

It would be quite a big step for me to move away from Nikon as I have a complete series of Nikkor lenses, from macro to 500mm plus a lot of other little expensive gadgets, but I am quite tired of the whole flying issue. In addition, my Nikon backup camera broke down during the trip. So... another little push in the mirrorless direction.

 

Thank you for the suggestion, I will take a look.

Edited by gvallee

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Just now, Colblimp said:

 

I always keyword in AIM, it's good enough and easy enough. I need a new tablet as well - the battery lasts 5 minutes and is also full. 

 

In terms of an internet connection, wouldn't your laptop need the same?!

 

When I travel, I usually cover quite a few destinations. So what I do, I download pix from my memory card to my laptop and keyword the location straight away. I don't trust my memory.

If I have some down time, I also start keywording using the hierarchy I built in Bridge.

I then also take a backup from my laptop to a small HD. So no Internet connection needed.

 

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6 minutes ago, gvallee said:

 

When I travel, I usually cover quite a few destinations. So what I do, I download pix from my memory card to my laptop and keyword the location straight away. I don't trust my memory.

If I have some down time, I also start keywording using the hierarchy I built in Bridge.

I then also take a backup from my laptop to a small HD. So no Internet connection needed.

 

 

Why not just keyword in Lightroom then?

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Just now, Colblimp said:

 

Why not just keyword in Lightroom then?

 

I have been using PS 3, 5, 6 and CC. It's doing all I need and have never felt the need for anything else.

I only use Lightroom to correct purple fringing in tricky situation (thank you Richard for the suggestion!).

 

Anyway, I'm following up on MDM's idea of doing without a laptop and am trying to figure out how it would work. Keywording is not essential on the road. I guess I could make a manual note of the location. Tedious but not impossible.

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Just now, Southpole said:

Wear a coat with big pockets

 

Err... as I explained in my OP, I was wearing a multiple pocket jacket. As I said, Jetstar counted me one bag per pocket...

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1 hour ago, gvallee said:

 

I download pix from my memory card to my laptop and keyword the location straight away. I don't trust my memory.

 

 

I take a quick snap of any plaques, information boards, town signs etc.

 

Alan

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1 hour ago, gvallee said:

 

I have been using PS 3, 5, 6 and CC. It's doing all I need and have never felt the need for anything else.

I only use Lightroom to correct purple fringing in tricky situation (thank you Richard for the suggestion!).

 

Anyway, I'm following up on MDM's idea of doing without a laptop and am trying to figure out how it would work. Keywording is not essential on the road. I guess I could make a manual note of the location. Tedious but not impossible.

 

Location and names are easily covered by taking a pic of same from any signage or jot it down on a piece of paper and shoot that.

Where I live I often resort to this method as many of the places have difficult to pronounce names and often in the local language which I can't read. 

 

P.s. Alan beat me to it

Edited by ReeRay

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Another suggestion that would require a bit of investment would be to get a D850 (especially seeing as you need a new camera anyway) and say a 70-200 f2.8 Nikkor (you don't say what zoom you are using). This could allow you to leave the 500mm at home. The reasoning here is that a 200mm on a D850 would give you very similar reach with a 50% crop or so as a ful frame shot with 500mm on a D4 but it would be much lighter. You would not see the reach you are getting through the viewfinder, only the LED screen, either using live view or simply viewing after you shoot. The point is the quality of the image on the D850 (and other high MP Nikons such as the D810) is so good when used with a quality lens and the size (45.7 MP) allows so much crop room.

 

The D850 has a very similar AF system to the D5 and is capable of very high frame rates and has a large buffer so would be more than usable for bird photography. It also has amazing low light abilities so you could maybe get away without some or all of your macro accessories. Performance at ISO 6400 even is truly astounding. It has smaller raw file size options as well and these are excellent in terms of quality. And it has one XQD and ond SD slot so the disk I suggested above would work.

Edited by MDM

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9 hours ago, gvallee said:

Con: I use PS on my laptop to keyword at least the location and arrange downloads in geographical folders. I guess I would lose this ability.

 

You can use a Nikon GPS unit on your D4... 

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1 hour ago, gvallee said:

 

Err... as I explained in my OP, I was wearing a multiple pocket jacket. As I said, Jetstar counted me one bag per pocket...

Sorry I was half asleep when I read your post

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I've travelled frequently and can get by just with the camera body plus a 17 to 70mm lens plus 70-300mm.

 

I've ended up on some trips taking 4 lenses but found I never used them.

 

A net book for downloading images and emails then just process when I got home.

 

It all fits in a standard carry on bag together with a wash bag and a change of clothes.

 

Tripods go in the hold in the main suitcase

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Out of the box possibilities which dont require investing in equipment. One, rent the big lens locally at the destination if possible. Have a word with NPS, maybe they can point you in the right direction. Two, pay a few bob extra for a decent airline which doesn;t give you this sort of nonsense.

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3 hours ago, gvallee said:

 

Now that's an idea. My tablet is full and has an old iOS, so I can't download any new App. Good excuse to buy a new tablet.

What app should I use for keywording? 

 

Ah but wait. It assumes an Internet connection. It would work in most cases but I now have my eyes on Papua New Guinea. There isn't even electricity where I'd like to stay. Mind you, I wouldn't need to enter the location in a hurry, no danger of forgetting.

 

You could use something like Shuttersnitch to update IPTC info (including location) and it has the added bonus that you could then use it to send images to live news. :D

 

Doesn't a laptop require electricity and Internet connection in the same way as a tablet would?

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4 hours ago, Colblimp said:

 

Is a tablet not an option for you?

How do you transfer images from the camera to the tablet and then to the external HD?

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It's getting late in Oz and I'm going to sleep over your suggestions guys.

 

In a nutshell:

Alan and Reeray: you're thinking in terms of town photography! I'm a wilderness person. Not many signs in the rainforest. You might think that a tree is a tree is a tree but in Borneo, I went to 3 rainforest lodges in succession. One was in primary rainforest, one in sub-primary, one in secondary. So even there location is important. I could photograph a piece of paper with the location at the beginning of a series yes.

 

MDM: My zoom is a 80-400mm. So yes your idea is a possibility.

 

Michael Jacobs: yes I could. An Alamy contributor greatly missed on this forum suggested to me I could also use the Comment field on my D4. However, location was only one example, I also use PS on my desktop to tag wildlife ID and Latin name which I endeavour to get in sitiu from my guide. It gets a little complicated.

 

David Pimborough: I take it you're not shooting wildlife or going on long off the beaten track trips. 

 

Funkyworm: Nice idea but I think I'll pass on renting. I rarely go to destinations where it would be possible. Last thing I would have wanted is to have to go into Kuala Lumpur on my way to Borneo.  But that's me. Not a town person. Re airline, I travelled frequently with Jetstar before using the roo jacket trick. It's the first time they picked on it. I guess all other airlines are the same. 

 

Matt: yes my laptop requires electricity of course but no Internet connection. I just download my memory card onto it using a card reader, I don't do anything else. I reckon my trip to Papua New Guinea will be a short one (about 10 days) so if I start with a fully charged laptop and not use it for anything else, I could just about manage. That destination is even worse though luggage-wise. Checked-in luggage is limited to 14kg.

 

Thank you all for your ideas and suggestions. Lots of avenues to explore. I'm very grateful.

 

Gen

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, gvallee said:

 

I have been using PS 3, 5, 6 and CC. It's doing all I need and have never felt the need for anything else.

I only use Lightroom to correct purple fringing in tricky situation (thank you Richard for the suggestion!).

 

Anyway, I'm following up on MDM's idea of doing without a laptop and am trying to figure out how it would work. Keywording is not essential on the road. I guess I could make a manual note of the location. Tedious but not impossible.

I don't keyword on the road as I'm normally too tired for that but I do take images of signs and builtin GPS helps a lot and I take notes.  I do not need internet connection, but I can't do without laptop.  I always transfer my images to two external HDs and carry those in different bags using the smallest and lightest MacBook (MacBook Pro is too big so stays at home, I do't need anything powerful on the road, I don't edit while traveling).  I would also be reluctant to transfer directly to a drive (like that WD My Passport Wireless Pro) without being able to see if I can actually see and open the images on the computer.  There are plenty devices that di that such as this: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?A=details&O=&Q=&ap=y&c3api=1876%2C{creative}%2C{keyword}&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI9PzvqbLh2AIVx7bACh3FIgygEAQYASABEgKOsvD_BwE&is=REG&m=Y&sku=1191265

I've used these in the past but I don't trust any of them.  They have their own OS and again I have to see my image open on a computer to feel that my images are fine.

Edited by tarsierspectral

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