Friday, April 20, 2007

Travelling Light

I'm trying to decide what to do - I get to go on an Alaska Cruise in May and needless I plan to photograph every opportunity I get - no idea what to expect but that's ok. I can't take my usual camera bag - so far I have been able to stuff it in the overhead bins - with a bit of work and adjustment - but it won't go through those airport test rigs and one of these days they are going to turn it down. I'm not sure I want that much very expensive equipment lying around either.

I'm tempted to pick up a Panasonic FZ-50 and just have fun, and plan to shoot 4 image stitches of anything I think I might want to save. I know the sensor is noisy but in raw, I won't lose detail and the lens is damn sharp - better than the kit lens with the Canon Rebel XTI (400).

Problem is, I have a horrible feeling I'll regret not taking my real camera (the 1Ds2) with me. Ideally I'd use it with a 100-400 IS zoom for handheld shots of glaciers and icebergs from ship, but I don't have one and am not about to drop $2000 to buy one.

I have a 300 f4 - damn sharp lens, but it's not IS. I do have a 70-200 which in a pinch could be used with a 2X extender but that is marginal at best and only if stopped down two stops which rather spoils the handholdability. My 1Ds2 is quite noisy at higher ISO's so cranking the speed up to 800 is not an option (400 is mostly ok).

In some ways it would make the most sense to pack a pocketable consumer digital and take the 1Ds2, a couple of lenses (my 24-70 and my 70-200 and perhaps the 1.4 ex I already own) and a tripod.

Of course I could flaunt the norms and go with my lovely wooden 4X5 Shen Hao but no, that isn't going to happen.

In the Fall, I was at a medical conference in Victoria and had a chance to visit Butchart Gardens. The Japanese Maples were incredible and I was able to take a lovely picture with my Canon S3IS which my daughter now has (long story, soft head). One image was great and I have posted it before, but it barely makes a decent 8X10 print - of course why I didn't decide to shoot multiple images for subsequent stitching is beyond me now - sigh! I was so taken with the picture I actually briefly thought of flying back out to the coast with my good equipment to reshoot that one picture. I didn't - I couldnt guarantee the leaves were still as good or that I'd find the right light or no wind again.

So now you know my dilema. I'll let you know how it plays out.


KeithAlanK said...

George, can't you rent or borrow that 100-400 IS Zoom somewhere?

Anonymous said...

Hi George. You need image stabilization, specially if you’re shooting from a ship, and the best camera you have.

I have been to Alaska in 2004 and I had my brand new Canon Rebel at that time. I was in a group and had the opportunity to use the 100-400 IS lens. I had some great shots of eagles, whales, Grizzlies. This was amazing.

In fact, I’ve put my grizzly picture on Wikipedia here:
We were in Denali in a bus. The bear was around 200 feet away. I made a nice 16x20 print on my wall with it. I had a normal 300mm lens without stabilization, but the picture came out very nice. I would suggest if you have the chance to go to Alaska to bring your best gear.

Jean-Pierre Lavoie,

Anonymous said...

Sorry, the link for my pic missed the .jpg at the end:


George Barr said...

Good idea on the rental - booked one this morning, thanks for the suggestion.


KeithAlanK said...

Cool. I look forward to your photos. Have a safe trip.

Billie said...

What gear to take is always a dilemna. Just took a short trip to Mexico City and decided to keep a low profile with the 5D and a 24 2.8 lens. Wish I would have had the 24-105 IS instead.

You know you are going to love the 100-400 IS and you will end up buying it down the road. Hahahaha

Jeremy said...

I'm travelling to the Philippines in May. I originally thought about taking my 1D, a 1DS, 24-70L, 70-200L, 550EX flash, tripod, etc. etc. I will be over there working on a photo-documentary. Anyway, I started thinking about all the gear I was going to be taking and then I saw this gallery from a friend of mine: who went to the Philippines and Vietnam. He took a Nikon D200 with a 17-55 and a tilt shift. This gallery and a few other things completely changed my mind and I'll be taking a 30D instead.

Basically, I was planning for the worst and was going to take everything. My experience from a recent Mexico trip is that I'll use one camera and one lens 90% of the time.

George Barr said...


for such a big trip, I'd want a second body as backup, though I suppose in a pinch you might be able to pick up a rebel xti (400) there if your 30D failed. Which of course reminds me that so far I don't have a backup - hmmn...