Is the holy grail in a photographic travel kit out there somewhere?
I have done; and do travel a lot. I have driven, trekked, rode motorbikes, cycled, bussed and trained my way around 30+ countries in the world, and in all cases, I have had some type of photographic set up hanging from my back / neck.
In all my travels I have not been able to find the perfect combination of body and lens. I realise the perfect travel kit may also depend on the mode and type of travel. I am a very independent traveller. I like to catch public transport (bus and train), walk and normally carry minimum luggage (mostly back pack or one small case). I tend to stay in better quality hotels (3+ rating). In a lot of cases I will add on an adventure to a work trip (ie fly somewhere to work, and then take a week vacation to travel). I do not travel with the prime purpose to take photographs. I am a tourist who likes to capture the memories of my adventure. I never leave home without my camera in one form or another when travelling.
The situation was not as complex years ago. I had a trusty Canon A1 (50mm lens) and two rolls of film and that was all I took (could buy more film if I run out). Photography was expensive then – both buying film and processing the images. In the end you got what you took – no colour correction, no cropping and in most cases not sure of the result until after you got home. I bought my Canon A1 in 1980, and it lasted me with my travels until 2004 (and then I still sold it in perfect condition).
I started life in the digital era with a Canon 10D and the standard kit lens (28 – 135), but as my skills improved I thought I needed more advanced equipment. Hence over the years I have had combinations of 30D, 40D, 7D, 5D, 1DMKII, 1DMKIIn, 1DsMII, 1DMIII, and now a 1DMIV. I have used compacts (Canon S110) and various combinations of smart phones (Nokia, Iphone, Samsung).
With all that in mind I am still struggling to find the perfect travel kit. I have always used the attitude I may never have the chance to visit again, so that shot you take has to be a keeper. I have made errors over the years, and nothing is more disappointing than being in the right place with the wrong equipment.
You can see by the above list I am 1D spoilt. These bodies were built to take to war. Rain, hail, snow or water they just keep on keeping on. I have always been happy with them as a travel companion, except for the weight (both around my neck and in my back pack). Add an “L” lens or two, plus a 580EX flash to the package, and you can see the bulkiness and weight are starting to slow me down in my later years.
I am thinking about biting the bullet and investing in a small Canon SL1. I am doing this for the weight factor only – but I will still use the same “L” lens kit I normally travel with. I have reduced that to the 16-35 and the 24-70. I made a mistake by selling the 135L as this could extend to 190mm with the 1.4x extender.
In the end I think my perfect (general purpose) travel kit will look like this:
Samyang 14mm f2.8,
Canon 24-70 f2.8,
Canon 135mm f2 + Canon 1.4 extender,
Canon 270EX II flash,
small light weight monopod,
Canon s110, + smartphone.
What are your thoughts on my choices? Do you have the perfect travel kit you would recommend based on your own experiences?