Dialing in the Gear
I’ve become fascinated with backpacking. I’ve vicariously backpacked the Appalachian Trail through hundreds of hours of video on YouTube. I love the themes of making dehydrated food interesting, appreciating the simplest of comforts, and the balance of solitude and community. My favorite topic is minimalism. When you’re carrying everything on your back for weeks at a time, you need it or you get rid of it.
Dropping from a 20 liter backpack to the Ona Prince Street (less than 10 liters by my calculations) was difficult. After a critical evaluation of my equipment, I’ve been able to include a water bottle and snacks or a travel tripod inside the small shoulder bag with my other camera gear.
Two Lens Philosophy-
The first realization that will allow you to travel more comfortably is that you’re not going to try to capture everything while you travel. It feels good to just leave the camera in the bag so that you can touch and smell a new location. To choose your lenses, visualize the sort of image that you want to frame. That could be a portrait, a macro shot, landscapes, or a wildlife photo. Take one prime to attain what you want to hang on your wall. The second lens should be a “walk around lens.” It is nice to walk around with a normal focal length prime. There isn’t a wrong choice as long as your lenses align with your goals. You have to balance missed opportunities with the freedom that a light bag gives you to enjoy a trip.
On my last trip, I took the 25mm and 18mm Batis lenses. They are light, weather-proof, and have great image quality. For my next trip, I’m going to shift over to the Loxia line. The Loxias are noticeably smaller (but a bit heavier) and have an unbeatable feel. They are fun to use. I like manual focus for landscapes and the focus-by-wire of the Batis line is not fun to use. I do give a slight edge to the Batis in both image quality and weather-proofing. I’m going with the character and compactness of the Loxia to reduce the bulk in my camera bag.
Dialing in the Accessories-
It’s hard to understand the value of various filters until you’ve played with them. At one point, I was traveling with five or more filters. I enjoy long-exposure and the six-stop neutral density filter is the one filter that I can’t live without. On my trip with Batis lenses, I carried two filters with large diameters because the lenses had different filter sizes. The Loxia lenses share the same filter size and it is much smaller than either of the Batis lenses. I will enjoy that space savings.
I’ve also realized that the chargers and other accessories in my camera bag can be moved to my luggage. It is important to have these things on a trip but all I need on a hike or excursion is one extra battery and one extra memory card.
What I do with the saved space will depend on the situation. On a plane ride, I’ll take my external battery. On a hike, I’ll take a water bottle and hang my tripod outside of the bag. In a city, I will want to hide my travel tripod inside the bag. It is a luxury to travel and a luxury to be able to refine my gear choices over time. I’m always looking for ways to improve both the photos and the experience.