What Photography Gear To Take for a Year Long Trip Around the World - Digital Photography School

What Photography Gear To Take for a Year Long Trip Around the World

A Guest Post by Adam Brill.

It was around two years ago, shortly after we were married, that my wife and I seriously started wondering: “What would our lives be like if we quit our jobs and set out to travel the world for a year?”.

1_Adam and Mandy Top Gear Style.jpg

Once the idea was in our heads, we couldn’t get it out, so we started started socking away as much money as possible. Then, on the same day we both reluctantly walked away from our successful Silicon Valley careers with one-way tickets to the Philippines and backpacks full of photography gear. I had put an inordinate amount of time into deciding what gear to bring and now that we are five months into the trip, I thought it might be helpful to share my initial decisions and lessons learned with those that might be considering a long-term photographic adventure.

The Most Important Decision

There turned out to be one decision on which everything else hinged: “What type of luggage should we bring?” From wheelie bags and hard shell cases, to duffel bags, backpacks, hybrid packs, and day backs, there is a huge amount of choices when it comes to travel luggage and we couldn’t’ started choosing the rest of our gear until we knew how much room we would have. I had read and heard a lot of advice to pack as light as possible, but I decided to ignore that advice for the sake of versatility.

Packing light means making compromises, and while compromises are great in a lot of situations, I didn’t want to have to make them when confronted with once-in-a-lifetime photographic opportunities. After all, who knows when I would be back to a sulfuric acid volcano on Java?

2_Toxic photography.jpg

I wanted a packing system that would allow me to have the appropriate gear for any given situation. So in the end, I decided to bring one large (80L) backpack , and one smallish daypack. The large backpack would serve as the mothership and then I could choose the appropriate gear to carry in my daypack for a given situation. I wanted to bring a normal outdoor backpack (as opposed to a photography specific pack) so that I could remain as discreet as possible. I didn’t want people to know that I was carrying around all of this expensive gear, especially in regions where burglary was rampant. And although the overall load was heavy, I was very rarely carrying both backpacks. When we would arrive at an airport, I could throw the big bag on a trolley, take it to the bus or taxi, then leave it in the hotel or guesthouse for the majority of the time.

The Gear and The Packing

When choosing the photographic gear for this trip I followed one philosophy: “Don’t be average.” Sure I could have taken a lot of nice shots with a compact camera or even an iPhone, but because these devices are so common, the field of view and overall aesthetic would have been very similar to a lot of other shots. I wanted to be able to take the shots that nobody else was taking. In an ideal world, somebody would invent an affordable 10-1000mm f/1.0, but until that happens, I tried to select a few lenses that would cover as many situations as possible. With my two bag setup, I would put the fragile gear in my daypack for flights or buses, then transfer everything to the big bag for storage when we arrived at our guesthouse or hotel. Then I could pick and choose the gear to load into the daypack for that day’s adventure.

Photography Specifics

  • Manfrotto 4 section Carbon Fiber Tripod: The carbon fiber was a bit more expensive than aluminum but was shaved a few pounds off the weight and was invaluable in cold weather situations.
  • Canon 5D Mark II: Before this trip, I shot with a 40D (which I loved). But the increased weather proofing and ability to get clean shots at 3200 ISO made the upgrade worth it.
  • 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM: This is my go to lens for architecture and the 2.8 speed makes it great for hand-holding in dimly lit interiors.

3_Punakha Dzong Jump.jpg

  • 50mm f/1.4 USM: This lens takes beautiful environmental portraits and food shots, and the light weight and fast speed make it a good lens to take if we are walking around at night.

4_Furukawa Matsuri.jpg

  • 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM: This was probably the hardest choice. I knew that I wanted a telephoto for wildlife, architecture details, and landscapes but there was no clear winner on which lens to choose. In the end I choose this over the 70-200 f/2.8 because of the lighter weight and additional reach. And I choose it over the 100-400mm, because of the IS and lighter weight. I think any of those lenses would have been good though.

5_Tsminda Sameba.jpg

  • 580 EXII Speedlight: I was tempted to bring two lights, but I guessed that I would rarely be in situations where I would have time to set them both up and this turned out to be true. The speedlight has come in handy for some food shots at night and some environmental portraits. I’m actually using it a lot less than I expected (less than 1% of my “keepers”), but I find that it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
  • Stofen Omnibounce: This lightweight piece of plastic pretty much stays on my flash to help diffuse the light.
  • Lumiquest LtP Softbox: This turned out to be a bit of overkill. I have only used it once (but I did take some great portraits for anAirBnB.com host with it). Still, since it takes up almost no space and can make a big difference in the quality of light coming out of the speedlight, I just leave it folded up under my clothes for those rare occasions when I need it.
  • Remote Flash Triggers: Essential for getting the speedlight off of the camera. Again, I’m using these less than I expected to, but for those occasions that call for them, they make a distinct difference.
  • SLR-Zoom Gorillapod: These miniature flexible tripods come in a lot of different sizes and this size is sturdy enough to hold my setup. I generally prefer to bring the full tripod so that I have more control about where to position the lens. For example because the gorilla pod is so short, it is pretty much useless when it doesn’t reach over the tall grass in a field and there are no trees to attach it to. However, I do bring it along to places where a full tripod just isn’t practical.
  • Canon S95: This compact camera provides full manual control and takes some great images. Generally my wife carries it around to get additional detail shots that I may miss, and to restaurants and places where in SLR is impractical. But it really shines when it is placed inside of a waterproof housing (see below).
  • Canon WP-DC38 Waterproof Housing: The combo of the S95 and the underwater housing gives us a lot of flexibility. This case has been fantastic for getting shots while we are snorkeling and scuba diving. It also useful for situations like kayaking or hiking near waterfalls.

6_Whale Shark Diving in Oslob.jpg

  • Remote Shutter Release: Helps make sure that those tripod shots are as sharp as they can be. Also essential for using the camera’s bulb function when an exposure needs to be longer than 30s. This occurs most frequently for the underexposed shot in an HDR sequence or when using an ND filter.
  • 82mm Hoya Pro1 NDx32 filter: Great for giving waterfalls, rivers and clouds that “cotton candy” look. This can also be used to remove the tourists from a shot by taking a really long exposure.
  • 58mm Hoya Circular Polarizer
  • 67mm B+W Circular Polarizer
  • Mountainsmith Kit Cube lens insert: This is actually one of my favorite pieces of gear. It is a padded compartment that can be inserted into any bag to turn it into a camera bag. This way, my normal dingy daypack doesn’t scream “photography gear.” It can fit both lenses that aren’t on my camera, the flash and most of the accessories; then it just slides into the bottom of my daypack. The interior of the Kit Cube is bright yellow which makes it easy to find what you are looking for in a dark bag.
  • Think Tank Digital Holster 20: I keep my camera in here and leave it unzipped. Then I slide it into the top of my daypack above the Kit Cube. That way, the camera is protected but I can easily grab it by just unzipping the daypack.
  • Giotto Rocket Air Blaster: Good removing dirt from lenses and blowing any straw dust off of the sensor.
  • Lens Pen: After the Rocketblower, I use this to give a more thorough cleaning to the lenses.
  • Assorted microfiber cleaning cloths.
  • Spare batteries and memory cards.

Helpful Gadgets

  • Eneloop batteries and charger: These batteries are amazing. My flash and the remote triggers use AA’s so I keep of few of these on hand and they have maintained capacity for years. It’s nice to know I won’t be stranded without batteries in remote locations.
  • Universal AC adapter and transformer: One thing that I was surprised to see was that nearly all of my electronics can accept a voltage between 100V and 240V. This makes the transformer part an unnecessary bulk, but always check your devices before plugging them in without a transformer!
  • Macbook Air 13″: Pretty much the perfect computer for editing and uploading photos on the road. A lot of people like the 11″, but the 13″ fit perfectly in my daypack and the increased resolution, longer battery life, and faster processor made the extra two inches worthwhile for me. The only downside is that there is no ethernet port which leads to…
  • Logitec (not to be confused with Logitech) USB powered router: This little device is about the size of a large book of matches and let’s you use any any ethernet cable to create a wifi hotspot. Great for uploading photos in countries where wifi isn’t big (like Japan).
  • Backup hard drive(s). I’m not really picky about specific brands but the USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt port on the Air make backups really speedy.

Postprocessing and Burnout Prevention

7_Cow Near Kazbegi.jpg

When you are traveling constantly, you tend to accumulate an enormous amount of images. In the five months that I have been on the road, I have taken more than ten thousand images. If I waited until I returned home to do the editing, I knew that the task would seem insurmountable so I wanted to make the editing a continuous process.

27_Lone Monk in Paro.jpg

At first, every night, I tried to go through all of the day’s images, and tweak the settings of each one in Lightroom. I soon found that I was spending several hours per night on the computer and not spending enough time enjoying the trip. I quickly realized that my process would need to change before burnout set in.

22_Banh Mi.jpg

So now, I wait until a memory card is full before importing to Lightoom (about once per week). Then I make one pass through all of the images and mark the obviously bad ones for removal, and mark the potential keepers for review. Then I just go through the 5-10 best images and give them the full treatment in Photoshop and Lightroom. After switching to this process, I was only spending a few hours per week on the computer, I was continually inspired by the images that I had decided to keep.

8_Yudunaka Snow Monkey.jpg

Final Thoughts

I can’t say that all of my decisions have been perfect, but when I look the stats in Lightroom, I see that my best shots are pretty evenly distributed among the different lenses:

  • 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM — 34.8 %
  • 50mm f/1.4 USM — 9.6%
  • 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM — 22.2%
  • S95 — 32.4%

So far this trip has exceeded all of our expectations, and I love that photography gives me the ability to share the sense of adventure and wonder that travel provides. I hope that I will continue to learn and grow on this trip, and I look forward to reading any tips and suggestions in the comments.

11_So happy in Nikko.jpg

Adam Brill is a software engineer and professional travel photographer. He used to be based in San Francisco but is currently living a nomadic lifestyle with his wife while they pursue their dream to see the world.

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  • http://philippecabot.com Philippe

    Wow ! Nice article !
    I also did a trip like this with my wife in Asia 2 years ago. It was absolutely amazing !

    I can share a bit of my experience with the readers.
    As Adam mentions, the packing was the most difficult part of the preparation. We finally decided to use a 55L backpack for me and a 45L backpack for my wife.
    Of course, that backpack excluded any camera equipment, which was in a separate bag.

    For my camera equipement, I used the amazing Crumpler 4 Million dollar bag to store my Sony a700 with only two lenses (it was a perfect tight fit):
    - SAL 16-105mm : amazing landscape and adequate zoom for all my needs.
    - SAL 50mm 1.4 : abosulutely required for any kind of travel. This is the champion of indoor/night photography, and makes amazing portrait.
    - Carl Zeris Circular polarizer 62mm for the SAL16105 : a MUST ! The colors are so amazing with that filter on, and everything is so crisp !

    My wife carried the Panasonic DMC-ZS7, which is a very good camera for shooting HD videos and stills. We also used the Ikelite underwater housing (quite big to carry along, but so solid and well built, worth the price!)

    Here are some pictures from the trip:
    Nepal:
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/pcabot/5125116279/' title='Vers Letdar' url='http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4033/5125116279_c97328d4be.jpg']
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/pcabot/5203615535/' title='Enfants Tamang vers Gotlang' url='http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4091/5203615535_52db3c083d.jpg']

    India:
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/pcabot/4840007627/' title='La nuit au plein milieu de l'Himalaya à 4600m d'altitude (Pang)' url='http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4110/4840007627_b63495d104.jpg']

    Philippines (where we did some volunteering work with “Volunteer for the Visayans”, our favorite place BY FAR!)
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/pcabot/5420439034/' title='Étudiants de la classe 5' url='http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5054/5420439034_1decb0fb38.jpg']
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/pcabot/sets/72157625860028989/

    Scuba diving in Indonesia: (with Ikelite ZS7 housing)
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/pcabot/5879949613/' title='Isa en plongée' url='http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5279/5879949613_7f2f12d3af.jpg']
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/pcabot/sets/72157627066996874/

    It is really a trip of a lifetime. Travelling for a year is not travelling: it is living abroad for one year. You switch your mindset and everything becomes different after that.

    Cheers
    Philippe

  • Yathi

    Loved the article. One day I also hope I’ll be able to do something like that. Thanks for the suggestions :)

  • Ben chapman

    Brilliant article

  • Luis

    The first picture is an excellent example of an awful processing. What a mess.

  • http://Www.gregmulvaney.com Greg

    32% from the s95, this to me is where cameras like the Olympus omd e5, fuji xpro 1 etc would be extremely useful for carry anywhere and lightweight.

  • http://www.kennethrivera.com Kenneth Rivera

    Uhh amazing post… I’m jelouse for a 1 year trip, I wish I can do it too.

    I agree, in fact thinking in my own gear – I would take my 5d mk2, my 24-105 f/4 IS, my 50mm f/1.4 and a lightweight tripod. That’s pretty much it to same room for the rest of the stuff.

    Thanks for article :)
    Kenneth
    http://www.kennethrivera.com

  • Justin

    I am envious of the opportunity to travel the world for a year, but think Adam made the wrong decisions on photo gear. Why didnt he just take an omd em5 and some m43 lenses and save all that size and weight? Seems a better solution to me when you are lugging your gear for ays on end. And the photographic quality would be just as good.

  • ccting

    Wow… an excellent article…. I’m so “jelouse” with him too… ;_(

  • Mei Teng

    I like the photo of the curious looking cow :) Thanks for sharing your travel story.

  • lindsay

    I am in love with this story…sounds so much like my husband and I!! Gosh, I would give anything to travel the world. Awesome!! :-)

  • http://projectmagellan.net Miguel

    One of the best photography articles I’ve read! Thanks for sharing. :)

  • Barbara

    wow constructive comment ‘luis’. Why don’t you link to some of your images to show us how it should be done?

    Great article – very inspiring.

  • Eric Wery

    Great, loved to read that, but what use is it to us, who cannot shell out 5,000+ on gear? I bet my D7000 and Sigma 17-70 2.8-4.0, a 50 mm1.8 and maybe a tele 70-300, along with a decent Manfrotto tripod would be enough. Travelling is about the journey, being obsessive about recording everything would make you lose the spirit of wandering around the planet. Enjoy the trip anyway…

  • kathleen

    Sounds like you had a great experience and thanks for sharing gear information. I so loved the first image.

  • http://dswarthout.blogspot.com Dave

    Nice article and the photos are lovely. I want to point out something about your Canon S95 that came to haunt me last year in Thailand. My S95 stopped working while under warranty. Google S95 “lens error” to see more on that issue. My comment has to do with Canon’s warranty policy.

    When my camera quit I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where there is a full Canon Service Center. However, when I took my S95 in they said they could not fix it under warranty. After several emails with Canon I learned that a) the warranty is only good in the country in which the camera was purchased, b) you cannot send it to them from overseas, and c) even if you were willing to foot the bill to send it to them, they would not accept it.

    The S95 is a powerful little camera and I like it fine. But be warned that if it screws up while you’re traveling, you’re SOL until you return home. I managed to get mine fixed because the existing warranty was good for a couple of months after my return but I was lucky. My camera failed after only three months of service. ^_^

  • Liv

    That seems like a LOT of stuff to be lugging around for a year.

    Maybe it’s my age but I’m not the type to carry a huge back and use a trolley and take taxis to hotels. When I travel I use a small carry on backpack and everything has to fit in that, including camera gear! And, I’m a girl who likes to look good so that also includes make up and a hair brush and a little ziplock bag of jewellery. I roll up a handbag for everyday while I’m out and about.

    Which is why I LOVE my omd em5! I just got back from Japan and while I only have the kit lenses at the moment I never found myself wishing for another focal length. All wrapped up in a little Lowepro bag I cut the straps off and popped all snug inside my handbag.

    The only other thing I had to comment on was wifi in Japan. It’s totally available. My last trip was only 15 days and only 1 night was I without wifi in some way or another. Sometimes you have to sit in the lobby rather than in your room, but it’s there if you want it.

  • Simon

    You guys are carrying *way* too much stuff, by my standards. If I’m traveling, everything I have needs to fit into the pack I’m carrying on my back, including clothing, laptop, toiletries, etc.

    As such, the photography gear I take with me consists of a camera, and a mini tripod (one of the smaller gorillapod models). That’s it. Forget about filters and external flash, and extra lenses – my pack is heavy enough without that stuff.

  • Frode

    For those suggesting the E-M5, you guys are forgetting that the planning for this trip took place two years ago – there was no E-M5 then. The lens selection for M4/3 was also still in its infancy at that point. There’s also the issue of actually buying the necessary gear – the poster in this case already had a complete kit with 5D, so I don’t see him investing into something else. With that said, I’m considering a similar trip and will probably bring almost the same stuff, but for Panasonic GH2 with the following lenses:

    7-14mm F4
    20mm F1.7
    12-35mm F2.8
    35-100mm F2.8 (once it comes out)
    Total lens weight, about 1 kg.

    The 25mm F1.4 would be a very nice alternative to the 20mm, but it’s a lot bigger and I don’t own the lens yet, so the 20mm goes. I like how the shorter focal length of the 20mm makes it easier to use in social shooting, food etc – no need to bring a compact camera. It’s also a lot easier to bring with you to events and concerts where bigger lenses are frowned upon.

    The other piece of kit I would bring is a lenskirt:
    http://www.lenskirt.com/
    This thing is amazing, weighs nothing, takes up practically no space, and is perfect for removing reflections while on a moving train, bus, etc. It’s also great for taking pictures of cityscapes from high rise buildings or towers – just remember to bring something to wipe the glass first of fingerprints other people may have left.

  • Sorin

    Brilliant!!!
    Thanks! It comes out at the right time for me as I am preparing for Cruise Around the World. It will take only 100 days, but any how… it’s no difference for the gear to use. I have been through the list and I’am close to it. I use a Nikon D90, and as lenses (1) 60mm, (2) 24-100mm and (3) 70-300mm. I have a Slick tripod, and for the time being I do not work with alternate lights and filters. Cleaning stuff all in order. I still have to chose the right backpack. As backup I’ll take the older compact Fuji S5800. Good idea to have the day-pack as well.
    I am a beginner and if you would have time and some other advice I’ll be happy to hear… Currently I am a member of FanArtReview and you could see my portfolio using the following link:

    http://www.fanartreview.com/sorin_fota

  • Mark

    I agree with others that it seems like way too much gear especially seeing as nearly 1/3 of the keepers were taken with an S95. I understand the desire to take the 5d on a once in a lifetime trip but think I’d have probably ditched the long lens and the wide angle and gone with a 24-105 f4 or 28-70 f2.8 and the 50mm. Every time you change those lenses you potentially introduce grime to the sensor. The long lens doesn’t really seem like it got the use to justify its inclusion. If I had to take a flash I’d probably use one of the small units for fill or close range.

    I do understand why he didn’t choose a m4/3 though, guessing mainly the low light performance.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/crazydude/ Arun Ravi

    Great article, loved the detail!

    To all those who’re saying it’s too much luggage, I wouldn’t mind the luggage for it takes the right equipment for the perfect picture!
    Some don’t want the filters/flashes and some others comment on the lenses needed – from the little experience that I’ve had, even a short road trip of 10 days has had me wanting!!! And you’ll know the difference that that one piece of extra glass can make!

    I do agree that every piece of extra weight is a BIG burden, but you can never rule out anything as too much, NEVER!

  • Frode

    Low light performance of current m4/3 lenses is not exactly an issue anymore – see above for the kit I would have used. There’s also plenty of fast primes if that’s what you’re after. Back when he first left however I will agree that it could have been a factor.

    I too question his bringing the long lens, as I very rarely use the longer focal lengths on the zooms I have myself, but I would have to see the pictures and actual focal lengths used to see if he really gained anything from bringing the 70-300 vs a 70-200. The m4/3 35-100 is equivalent to 70-200, so I figure it should be adequate for covering most cases where a longer reach is warranted. I expect we’ll see it officially launched and for sale by Photokina, as it seems to make sense to announce it along with a weather sealed GH3 body.

    The system is now mature enough that I don’t really have much of a wishlist anymore. The only thing that comes to mind is more weather sealed lenses and a fast and weather sealed version of the 7-14 ultra wide angle zoom.

  • http://raghavendra-mobilephotography.blogspot.com/ raghavendra

    Traveling the world need a couple of lenses and spare batteries.
    Nowadays in point and shoot camera’s have less battery life

  • Sandeep

    That’s amazing!! 1 year of travel around the world…i wish i could do it someday…thanks for planting the dream in my head…

  • Chet

    I’M JEALOUS!!!!
    Do have a coupla questions:
    1) your first shot (you two on cycles) looks like an HDR shot. Is it? If so, how did you shoot the multiple exposures from afar?

    2) Can I follow your travels on a blog?

    Continue your great adventure , be safe, and have a ball.

    Chet

  • Simon

    @Arun – you say you don’t mind the extra luggage if it gets you the perfect picture, but unless it’s a dedicated photography trip, that kind of misses the point for me.

    My goal when traveling is to have a fun and memorable holiday, and the photos I take are mementos, something to show other people and to look back on in future. I want them to be good photos, but not if it compromises the actual holiday part…

  • Fredrik

    Sound like an awesome trip..!

    I just came back from a longer o/s trip and had except for my usual Canon digital SLR, with the usual bells and whistles, my iPhone. I know you counted it out from the beginning but I’m very satisfied with the convenience of the device. It was always in my pocket and once the photo had been snapped i could instantly share it with my wife who stayed home (this time). I managed to take several shots in places and situation when I didn’t bother taking the whole backpack and lugging the camera around.
    I wouldn’t be so quick to count out the convenience of a simple pocket camera (not just an iPhone but any decent pocket camera).
    Sometimes its not so much about the quality and artistic point of view for every photo but just a matter of capturing the moment / memory.

    Here’s my set on Flickr – >>> http://flic.kr/s/aHsjB4D2nb

    /Fred

  • Eeps

    @frode: That lenskirt looks like an awesome idea. I’ve been in several situations where this would have been useful (aquariums, car rides, airplanes, buildings. Thanks for the tip. Looking forward to making one or getting one.

  • Eeps

    p.s. Sometimes, a CPL just isn’t good enough to cut out reflections.

  • Michael

    Awesome! I wish i could do a trip like that …. again. I have done a 1 year trip before and made the same “mistake” of packing too much photo gear.

    What would i do different? Get a Olympus OM10 (or something similar) with a fast 50mm prime. That’s it! It lets you enjoy the trip much more since you never have to think about what gear to use. It would be a light setup that can stay always with you. If you miss your zoom at times, simply get closer. If you can’t capture it with your 50mm just enjoy the moment and save the image in your memory. Not everything has to be captured on memory cards or film.

    I understand that film has it’s disadvantages too. (caring around those undeveloped rolls, where to get new film, x-rays on airports and so on) But in my opinion these are minor problems to overcome. Get film as you go and develop your film at local labs. Every bigger city has at least one decent lab. You can then send all the developed film home and not be concerned about x-rays.

    Enjoy your trip

  • Michael

    p.s. btw. great choice on the s95. I would probably pack something similar as a digital / backup camera

  • http://blog.mortalcoil.com/ Luke Robinson

    I have an excellent, but ageing and obsolete photo daypack from Crumpler, bought in 1999 for a two-month trip around South America, and used for many trips (Vietnam, South Africa etc) since then. It is small, secure (the main camera compartment is only accessible through the padding that normally sits against your back when wearing it) and has enough room to carry all of this kit:

    In the main camera compartment:
    - Canon 7D (with 24-105mm F4L IS attached)
    - 17-40mm F4L
    - 50mm F1.8
    - Set of 3 Lee ND Grad filters + holder
    - Black Rapid bandolier strap

    In the top “daypack” compartment:
    - Canon 70-200mm F2.8L (if going somewhere reasonably “secure”, left this behind for South America!)
    - Circular polarising filter
    - Speedlite if I can be bothered, OR Gorillapod
    - iPad
    - Guidebook (if necessary)
    - Water bottle

    This fits into an incredibly small, inconspicuous pack that does not scream “expensive”. It can be heavy with all of the above kit, but it has the flexibility that if I take the camera out (to use it) and maybe leave behind some of the kit in the top daypack compartment, it can seem light as a feather.

    FYI this is the bag that I am taking to the London Olympics, so far I have taken most of the above-named kit and haven’t had any complaints.

  • http://flickr.com/photos/danhunnisett Dan

    I´m currently travelling South America with a Canon Powershot D10, a spare portable hard drive, and … thats it! The kit list above sounds great for a photography trip, but sound limiting to me in terms of freedom and immediacy for open ended travel, as others have said. It is certainly possible to get great pics with a compact, although I do miss the creative options at times. Also nice not to travel with the fear of having thousands of dollars worth of kit stolen! And battery wise, no problems, even with only one battery for four days trekking. away from electricity.

    Some of my shots so far:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/danhunnisett/sets/72157630809808668/with/7674016078/

  • http://pic-trip.com Soizpic

    The more I read about it and the more I’m confused. I totally understand Adam: if you like photos and you’re doing a one-year travel you don’t want to miss the opportunity to take great photos.

    I’m going to travel in South America for 6 months and I have a big dilemna. I have a 5DMII but I don’t want to get stolen. I explain the difference with Adam: first I’m a girl, 2nd I’ll be travelling alone, 3rd I will be travelling in hostels and buses. So, what gear should I take with me knowing that I don’t want to loose the opportunity to take great photos (don’t tell me about iPhone or compact please!!). I was thinking about buying a 550d+ 16-35 2.8 and 70-200 f4. What do you think about it?

  • Adrian

    When I travel i get my Nikon D5000 and 16-85 VR, two or three batteries, some filters and memory cards. That all I take for photography. When I’ll go in a place I have been before i usually take a telephoto objective like 55-300 or 70-300. I use to carry a Tokina 12-24 for landscape but i use it only sometimes.

  • Julia

    Not sure if anyone will scroll down this far, but I’ve just got home after 6 weeks in Southern Africa. I debated for a long time over whether to take my tripod. In the end I took a sandbag with tripod mount and a Leki walking stick with tripod mount, which although a BIT of a compromise still allowed me to get good, stable images.

  • Peter

    WOW!!! All I can say is wow! Enjoy the rest of the trip andi hope to see some updates!

  • http://abrill.net/worldtour/ Adam Brill

    Thank you all for the great comments and emails! To everyone that mentioned that they are considering a similar trip, I would say: “set a date and never look back!”. There are ways to do it on pretty much any budget.

    Regarding my decision to bring a full frame camera over a micro four thirds system: I heavily evaluated all of the available mirrorless systems when I was getting ready to flesh out my kit , but at the time, there just weren’t any bodies or lenses available that met my criteria. For example there were no weather sealed bodies with low shutter lag, high resolution, and good high ISO performance, no fast ultra wide angles and no long telephotos. It looks like the systems have come a long way recently though and if they work well for you, awesome!

    I also read a few comments saying that I brought too much stuff. At first, I was frightened by the same thought, but I have been amazed at how infrequently I actually have to carry the full load. Even in the most remote locations on Earth, it is never a far walk before we can bus, hitchhike, cab, boat, zipline, or ride a donkey to a hotel, campsite, or guesthouse where can drop off the big bags. Then we have the freedom and flexibility to load up the daypacks with any (or no) gear that we may want.

    @Philippe — Thanks for sharing your shots and story. I love what you said about traveling for a year being the same as living abroad for a year.

    @Eric — Expensive is always relative. For example, I met one guy on the road with a $50,000+ Leica kit! It took me several years to accumulate the gear that would allow me to make the creative decisions that I wanted. I also try to not worry too much about “obsessively recording everything”. Photography is something that I enjoy very much and it can be almost like meditative exercise when I’m out in the field. Still, sometimes I have a tendency to get carried away with the time I want to spend out in the field and my wife helps reign me in :)

    @Dave — Thanks for the info about the S95 warranty. We’ve been lucky so far but it’s good to know how the service center works in case something goes wrong!

    @liv — I’m sure there are places in Japan that have wifi but most of the cheap hotels and guesthouses and that we stayed in only had an ethernet cable in the room. They would offer to rent out this same device to us for around $5 per night. After we had done it a few times, we saw one for sale in an 8-story electronics shop for about $40 and decided to pick it up to use for the rest of the trip.

    @frode — Good points. The kit you are suggesting looks awesome! And that lenskirt definitely would have come in handy a few times. Regarding your question about the relative usefulness of the 300mm lens, close to 20% of my best shots were at either extreme of my kit’s range (16mm or 300mm).

    @sorin — Congrats on the Cruise Around the World. That sounds great! I’m always happy to talk about cameras and gear. Just shoot me an email (can be found in the links below).

    @chet —
    1)The motorcycle shot was is a single RAW shot that I processed using Nik’s Color Efex. Learning to ride bikes in the mountains of Vietnam was so surreal and adrenaline-filled that I wanted to process it in a slightly surreal comic book-style manner to match the mood.

    2)Sure! Our blog can be found at http://abrill.net/worldtour/ Thanks for the good wishes!

    @fredrik — those are good points about the iPhone. It all depends on what your goals are. We actually do use my wife’s iPhone for situations where we are just out having fun and want to record a memory.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/bgphillipsphotography/sets/ Brian Phillips

    Great article with lots of specific info. Looks like you made some good choices on what to bring.

  • kathryn sandoval

    The information is appreciated! For those of us that are learning “on our own”, it’s wonderful to get this info. It’s all so techie, and I’m plodding along at turtle speed, but enjoying it all immensely. I’ll be following in your footsteps one day, but you’ll see the impressions of a turtle sliding thru the sand.

  • MarcosV

    Thanks for the article. It’s always great to read what people decide to take and how well the gear worked out for them.

    For those who suggest taking micro four-thirds gear on a prolonged trip through Asia: how well does the gear hold up under less than ideal conditions? Aside from the 50/1.4, the author is taking stuff with a bit of weather sealing which helps in sudden light rain and dust.

    As it is, I’m looking to invest into a mirror less system myself. m43 looks very tempting due to the current lens line up. I bought a refurb E-PL1 kit and a Panasonic 45-200 to get started in learning pros/cons. I figure in six months I can decide to go for the OM-D.

  • Frode

    I can’t speak for other people, but I take just some basic precautions. I keep my gear in plastic bags when it’s in my backpack and keep around a towel to wipe it off in case it gets wet. I pretty much don’t use the gear when there’s rain, unless I have an umbrella protecting it. If I’m on a windy beach, I use protective filters on the lenses – and that’s it. I have gotten my gear slightly wet without it suffering adverse effects but I try to avoid it – proper weather sealing would mean I can use it in more extreme weather conditions without worrying, and I eventually plan on upgrading my gear to that fully. Sudden weather changes shouldn’t kill your equipment though as long as you’re prepared for it and can wrap it in a towel or something to protect it.

    Incidentally there are now rumors of a new super wide angle being announced at Photokina to replace the 7-14mm. It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s weather sealed.

  • Mark

    You are living a dream – good for you guys. I recently traveled to Alaska with my family – a combination ground / cruise trip. I grew up with photography (my Dad was a working pro). I have always used Nikon cause that is what I grew up with and have a serious collection of Nikon equipment (D3, 700, and many lenses). But I wanted a change for this trip – wanted true quality but compactness – so I bought a Leica M-9 and two lenses, a big investment admittedly, but one that I had been thinking about for some time.

    Must admit that I did miss many of the benefits of a full slr system, but it was fun – took my camera everywhere, learned how to use it, and had fun.

    End result, photos were great – sure I could have done some different things if I would have had my full Nikon set, but I am satisfied.

    Re lating to processing, I did not even take a laptop with me. Had an iPad which worked fine til I got home.

    Enjoy the rest of your trip – I am jealous and committed to more travel!

  • Narrative

    A wonderful idea but I have to agree with a previous emailer that a pocket camera and smartphone work fairly well as you have to be pretty well-heeled to afford a lot of that equipment they took with them, but it sounds like a wonderful adventure.

  • John FLANO Flanagan

    Adam, thanks so much for sharing this article. I have 3 years to go before I begin my dream. I love the tips and will put them to play when the dream happens. I currently use some of the heavier lenses (i.e. 100-400m) but it is my favorite lense for everywhere I go. I don’t even notice the weight anymore :) I can’t wait to begin the journey. Enjoy and stay safe !

  • http://vagamoto.com David

    I did a four year motorcycle trip from Alaska to Patagonia, to Antarctica, then from Cape Town to Cairo. I used a Canon G 10 for the entire ride, no problems, and some memorable keepers. Living rough, camping and hosteling, I didn’t want to risk my 5D mk Ii and lenses.
    I guess the defining decision was that I wanted to make the journey, not take the images. Nowadays I go on trips to specific locations to take photographs, so carry the 5D, tripod and lenses (17 -40, 85mm and 70 -200). I never use flash, preferring the camera’s low light capabilities. My new compact is the Canon G1X, and it s low light ability is awesome.

  • http://www.timstelzer.com/ Tim

    Congratulations on the life choice and wonderful photos. I’m late to the discussion, but like many other comments, I personally favor a lighter weight arsenal. After living, working and traveling throughout Asia for 5 of the last 7 years, my equipment list is pared down to what I can carry in the little LowePro Nova Mini. This means no tripod (I know, I know, but I can almost always find something to prop the camera on or rely on a steady hand), no flash; basically just my Canon 30d body and 3 favorite lens + filters and pocketable S95. I’ve found portability and convenience trump having the ideal gear every time, especially when your adventures involve mountain biking across Tibet and cramming into every possible form of local transport. Blog link here: http://www.timstelzer.com/blog/

  • Bonnie

    I am a advanced photo amatear hobbiest traveling next week to Australia and NZ. I am an active older adult and will be “schlepping” my own gear for which I bought a vest to take the strain off of my shoulders and back. That being said, I have not made up my mind about a tripod because I would need a lighter weight top (head) for the tripod. Any suggestions? I will only be traveling for three weeks as a “tourist”. Some of your suggestions for gear are great. My concern is nature photog at night which I will be doing to see the penguins and don’t know how I could do this without tripod. Any suggestions there? I loved your article and just came across it today. HOpe you had a great time!

  • http://www.instagram.com/nageshkr Nagesh Ramamurthy

    Great article, Adam! Thanks for writing lucidly about all the gear; wish you had mentioned rough prices. I admire the courage, daring and devil-may-care attitude you and your wife have shown! To leave secure jobs and to travel around the world for an year! Daunting and exciting equally!

Some older comments

  • Bonnie

    January 4, 2013 06:40 am

    I am a advanced photo amatear hobbiest traveling next week to Australia and NZ. I am an active older adult and will be "schlepping" my own gear for which I bought a vest to take the strain off of my shoulders and back. That being said, I have not made up my mind about a tripod because I would need a lighter weight top (head) for the tripod. Any suggestions? I will only be traveling for three weeks as a "tourist". Some of your suggestions for gear are great. My concern is nature photog at night which I will be doing to see the penguins and don't know how I could do this without tripod. Any suggestions there? I loved your article and just came across it today. HOpe you had a great time!

  • Tim

    August 12, 2012 01:30 pm

    Congratulations on the life choice and wonderful photos. I'm late to the discussion, but like many other comments, I personally favor a lighter weight arsenal. After living, working and traveling throughout Asia for 5 of the last 7 years, my equipment list is pared down to what I can carry in the little LowePro Nova Mini. This means no tripod (I know, I know, but I can almost always find something to prop the camera on or rely on a steady hand), no flash; basically just my Canon 30d body and 3 favorite lens + filters and pocketable S95. I've found portability and convenience trump having the ideal gear every time, especially when your adventures involve mountain biking across Tibet and cramming into every possible form of local transport. Blog link here: http://www.timstelzer.com/blog/

  • David

    August 12, 2012 02:56 am

    I did a four year motorcycle trip from Alaska to Patagonia, to Antarctica, then from Cape Town to Cairo. I used a Canon G 10 for the entire ride, no problems, and some memorable keepers. Living rough, camping and hosteling, I didn't want to risk my 5D mk Ii and lenses.
    I guess the defining decision was that I wanted to make the journey, not take the images. Nowadays I go on trips to specific locations to take photographs, so carry the 5D, tripod and lenses (17 -40, 85mm and 70 -200). I never use flash, preferring the camera's low light capabilities. My new compact is the Canon G1X, and it s low light ability is awesome.

  • John FLANO Flanagan

    August 10, 2012 05:38 am

    Adam, thanks so much for sharing this article. I have 3 years to go before I begin my dream. I love the tips and will put them to play when the dream happens. I currently use some of the heavier lenses (i.e. 100-400m) but it is my favorite lense for everywhere I go. I don't even notice the weight anymore :) I can't wait to begin the journey. Enjoy and stay safe !

  • Narrative

    August 9, 2012 01:07 pm

    A wonderful idea but I have to agree with a previous emailer that a pocket camera and smartphone work fairly well as you have to be pretty well-heeled to afford a lot of that equipment they took with them, but it sounds like a wonderful adventure.

  • Mark

    August 5, 2012 04:37 am

    You are living a dream - good for you guys. I recently traveled to Alaska with my family - a combination ground / cruise trip. I grew up with photography (my Dad was a working pro). I have always used Nikon cause that is what I grew up with and have a serious collection of Nikon equipment (D3, 700, and many lenses). But I wanted a change for this trip - wanted true quality but compactness - so I bought a Leica M-9 and two lenses, a big investment admittedly, but one that I had been thinking about for some time.

    Must admit that I did miss many of the benefits of a full slr system, but it was fun - took my camera everywhere, learned how to use it, and had fun.

    End result, photos were great - sure I could have done some different things if I would have had my full Nikon set, but I am satisfied.

    Re lating to processing, I did not even take a laptop with me. Had an iPad which worked fine til I got home.

    Enjoy the rest of your trip - I am jealous and committed to more travel!

  • Frode

    August 5, 2012 12:31 am

    I can't speak for other people, but I take just some basic precautions. I keep my gear in plastic bags when it's in my backpack and keep around a towel to wipe it off in case it gets wet. I pretty much don't use the gear when there's rain, unless I have an umbrella protecting it. If I'm on a windy beach, I use protective filters on the lenses - and that's it. I have gotten my gear slightly wet without it suffering adverse effects but I try to avoid it - proper weather sealing would mean I can use it in more extreme weather conditions without worrying, and I eventually plan on upgrading my gear to that fully. Sudden weather changes shouldn't kill your equipment though as long as you're prepared for it and can wrap it in a towel or something to protect it.

    Incidentally there are now rumors of a new super wide angle being announced at Photokina to replace the 7-14mm. It wouldn't surprise me if that's weather sealed.

  • MarcosV

    August 4, 2012 11:32 pm

    Thanks for the article. It's always great to read what people decide to take and how well the gear worked out for them.

    For those who suggest taking micro four-thirds gear on a prolonged trip through Asia: how well does the gear hold up under less than ideal conditions? Aside from the 50/1.4, the author is taking stuff with a bit of weather sealing which helps in sudden light rain and dust.

    As it is, I'm looking to invest into a mirror less system myself. m43 looks very tempting due to the current lens line up. I bought a refurb E-PL1 kit and a Panasonic 45-200 to get started in learning pros/cons. I figure in six months I can decide to go for the OM-D.

  • kathryn sandoval

    August 4, 2012 02:47 am

    The information is appreciated! For those of us that are learning "on our own", it's wonderful to get this info. It's all so techie, and I'm plodding along at turtle speed, but enjoying it all immensely. I'll be following in your footsteps one day, but you'll see the impressions of a turtle sliding thru the sand.

  • Brian Phillips

    August 3, 2012 10:46 am

    Great article with lots of specific info. Looks like you made some good choices on what to bring.

  • Adam Brill

    August 3, 2012 08:27 am

    Thank you all for the great comments and emails! To everyone that mentioned that they are considering a similar trip, I would say: "set a date and never look back!". There are ways to do it on pretty much any budget.

    Regarding my decision to bring a full frame camera over a micro four thirds system: I heavily evaluated all of the available mirrorless systems when I was getting ready to flesh out my kit , but at the time, there just weren't any bodies or lenses available that met my criteria. For example there were no weather sealed bodies with low shutter lag, high resolution, and good high ISO performance, no fast ultra wide angles and no long telephotos. It looks like the systems have come a long way recently though and if they work well for you, awesome!

    I also read a few comments saying that I brought too much stuff. At first, I was frightened by the same thought, but I have been amazed at how infrequently I actually have to carry the full load. Even in the most remote locations on Earth, it is never a far walk before we can bus, hitchhike, cab, boat, zipline, or ride a donkey to a hotel, campsite, or guesthouse where can drop off the big bags. Then we have the freedom and flexibility to load up the daypacks with any (or no) gear that we may want.

    @Philippe -- Thanks for sharing your shots and story. I love what you said about traveling for a year being the same as living abroad for a year.

    @Eric -- Expensive is always relative. For example, I met one guy on the road with a $50,000+ Leica kit! It took me several years to accumulate the gear that would allow me to make the creative decisions that I wanted. I also try to not worry too much about "obsessively recording everything". Photography is something that I enjoy very much and it can be almost like meditative exercise when I'm out in the field. Still, sometimes I have a tendency to get carried away with the time I want to spend out in the field and my wife helps reign me in :)

    @Dave -- Thanks for the info about the S95 warranty. We've been lucky so far but it's good to know how the service center works in case something goes wrong!

    @liv -- I'm sure there are places in Japan that have wifi but most of the cheap hotels and guesthouses and that we stayed in only had an ethernet cable in the room. They would offer to rent out this same device to us for around $5 per night. After we had done it a few times, we saw one for sale in an 8-story electronics shop for about $40 and decided to pick it up to use for the rest of the trip.

    @frode -- Good points. The kit you are suggesting looks awesome! And that lenskirt definitely would have come in handy a few times. Regarding your question about the relative usefulness of the 300mm lens, close to 20% of my best shots were at either extreme of my kit's range (16mm or 300mm).

    @sorin -- Congrats on the Cruise Around the World. That sounds great! I'm always happy to talk about cameras and gear. Just shoot me an email (can be found in the links below).

    @chet --
    1)The motorcycle shot was is a single RAW shot that I processed using Nik's Color Efex. Learning to ride bikes in the mountains of Vietnam was so surreal and adrenaline-filled that I wanted to process it in a slightly surreal comic book-style manner to match the mood.

    2)Sure! Our blog can be found at http://abrill.net/worldtour/ Thanks for the good wishes!

    @fredrik -- those are good points about the iPhone. It all depends on what your goals are. We actually do use my wife's iPhone for situations where we are just out having fun and want to record a memory.

  • Peter

    August 3, 2012 05:44 am

    WOW!!! All I can say is wow! Enjoy the rest of the trip andi hope to see some updates!

  • Julia

    August 3, 2012 02:09 am

    Not sure if anyone will scroll down this far, but I've just got home after 6 weeks in Southern Africa. I debated for a long time over whether to take my tripod. In the end I took a sandbag with tripod mount and a Leki walking stick with tripod mount, which although a BIT of a compromise still allowed me to get good, stable images.

  • Adrian

    August 3, 2012 01:54 am

    When I travel i get my Nikon D5000 and 16-85 VR, two or three batteries, some filters and memory cards. That all I take for photography. When I'll go in a place I have been before i usually take a telephoto objective like 55-300 or 70-300. I use to carry a Tokina 12-24 for landscape but i use it only sometimes.

  • Soizpic

    August 2, 2012 05:56 pm

    The more I read about it and the more I'm confused. I totally understand Adam: if you like photos and you're doing a one-year travel you don't want to miss the opportunity to take great photos.

    I'm going to travel in South America for 6 months and I have a big dilemna. I have a 5DMII but I don't want to get stolen. I explain the difference with Adam: first I'm a girl, 2nd I'll be travelling alone, 3rd I will be travelling in hostels and buses. So, what gear should I take with me knowing that I don't want to loose the opportunity to take great photos (don't tell me about iPhone or compact please!!). I was thinking about buying a 550d+ 16-35 2.8 and 70-200 f4. What do you think about it?

  • Dan

    August 2, 2012 12:26 am

    I´m currently travelling South America with a Canon Powershot D10, a spare portable hard drive, and ... thats it! The kit list above sounds great for a photography trip, but sound limiting to me in terms of freedom and immediacy for open ended travel, as others have said. It is certainly possible to get great pics with a compact, although I do miss the creative options at times. Also nice not to travel with the fear of having thousands of dollars worth of kit stolen! And battery wise, no problems, even with only one battery for four days trekking. away from electricity.

    Some of my shots so far:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/danhunnisett/sets/72157630809808668/with/7674016078/

  • Luke Robinson

    August 2, 2012 12:20 am

    I have an excellent, but ageing and obsolete photo daypack from Crumpler, bought in 1999 for a two-month trip around South America, and used for many trips (Vietnam, South Africa etc) since then. It is small, secure (the main camera compartment is only accessible through the padding that normally sits against your back when wearing it) and has enough room to carry all of this kit:

    In the main camera compartment:
    - Canon 7D (with 24-105mm F4L IS attached)
    - 17-40mm F4L
    - 50mm F1.8
    - Set of 3 Lee ND Grad filters + holder
    - Black Rapid bandolier strap

    In the top "daypack" compartment:
    - Canon 70-200mm F2.8L (if going somewhere reasonably "secure", left this behind for South America!)
    - Circular polarising filter
    - Speedlite if I can be bothered, OR Gorillapod
    - iPad
    - Guidebook (if necessary)
    - Water bottle

    This fits into an incredibly small, inconspicuous pack that does not scream "expensive". It can be heavy with all of the above kit, but it has the flexibility that if I take the camera out (to use it) and maybe leave behind some of the kit in the top daypack compartment, it can seem light as a feather.

    FYI this is the bag that I am taking to the London Olympics, so far I have taken most of the above-named kit and haven't had any complaints.

  • Michael

    August 2, 2012 12:15 am

    p.s. btw. great choice on the s95. I would probably pack something similar as a digital / backup camera

  • Michael

    August 1, 2012 11:57 pm

    Awesome! I wish i could do a trip like that .... again. I have done a 1 year trip before and made the same "mistake" of packing too much photo gear.

    What would i do different? Get a Olympus OM10 (or something similar) with a fast 50mm prime. That's it! It lets you enjoy the trip much more since you never have to think about what gear to use. It would be a light setup that can stay always with you. If you miss your zoom at times, simply get closer. If you can't capture it with your 50mm just enjoy the moment and save the image in your memory. Not everything has to be captured on memory cards or film.

    I understand that film has it's disadvantages too. (caring around those undeveloped rolls, where to get new film, x-rays on airports and so on) But in my opinion these are minor problems to overcome. Get film as you go and develop your film at local labs. Every bigger city has at least one decent lab. You can then send all the developed film home and not be concerned about x-rays.

    Enjoy your trip

  • Eeps

    August 1, 2012 05:38 pm

    p.s. Sometimes, a CPL just isn't good enough to cut out reflections.

  • Eeps

    August 1, 2012 05:36 pm

    @frode: That lenskirt looks like an awesome idea. I've been in several situations where this would have been useful (aquariums, car rides, airplanes, buildings. Thanks for the tip. Looking forward to making one or getting one.

  • Fredrik

    August 1, 2012 09:58 am

    Sound like an awesome trip..!

    I just came back from a longer o/s trip and had except for my usual Canon digital SLR, with the usual bells and whistles, my iPhone. I know you counted it out from the beginning but I'm very satisfied with the convenience of the device. It was always in my pocket and once the photo had been snapped i could instantly share it with my wife who stayed home (this time). I managed to take several shots in places and situation when I didn't bother taking the whole backpack and lugging the camera around.
    I wouldn't be so quick to count out the convenience of a simple pocket camera (not just an iPhone but any decent pocket camera).
    Sometimes its not so much about the quality and artistic point of view for every photo but just a matter of capturing the moment / memory.

    Here's my set on Flickr - >>> http://flic.kr/s/aHsjB4D2nb

    /Fred

  • Simon

    August 1, 2012 09:02 am

    @Arun - you say you don't mind the extra luggage if it gets you the perfect picture, but unless it's a dedicated photography trip, that kind of misses the point for me.

    My goal when traveling is to have a fun and memorable holiday, and the photos I take are mementos, something to show other people and to look back on in future. I want them to be good photos, but not if it compromises the actual holiday part...

  • Chet

    August 1, 2012 02:56 am

    I'M JEALOUS!!!!
    Do have a coupla questions:
    1) your first shot (you two on cycles) looks like an HDR shot. Is it? If so, how did you shoot the multiple exposures from afar?

    2) Can I follow your travels on a blog?

    Continue your great adventure , be safe, and have a ball.

    Chet

  • Sandeep

    August 1, 2012 02:36 am

    That's amazing!! 1 year of travel around the world...i wish i could do it someday...thanks for planting the dream in my head...

  • raghavendra

    August 1, 2012 01:46 am

    Traveling the world need a couple of lenses and spare batteries.
    Nowadays in point and shoot camera's have less battery life

  • Frode

    August 1, 2012 01:11 am

    Low light performance of current m4/3 lenses is not exactly an issue anymore - see above for the kit I would have used. There's also plenty of fast primes if that's what you're after. Back when he first left however I will agree that it could have been a factor.

    I too question his bringing the long lens, as I very rarely use the longer focal lengths on the zooms I have myself, but I would have to see the pictures and actual focal lengths used to see if he really gained anything from bringing the 70-300 vs a 70-200. The m4/3 35-100 is equivalent to 70-200, so I figure it should be adequate for covering most cases where a longer reach is warranted. I expect we'll see it officially launched and for sale by Photokina, as it seems to make sense to announce it along with a weather sealed GH3 body.

    The system is now mature enough that I don't really have much of a wishlist anymore. The only thing that comes to mind is more weather sealed lenses and a fast and weather sealed version of the 7-14 ultra wide angle zoom.

  • Arun Ravi

    August 1, 2012 01:07 am

    Great article, loved the detail!

    To all those who're saying it's too much luggage, I wouldn't mind the luggage for it takes the right equipment for the perfect picture!
    Some don't want the filters/flashes and some others comment on the lenses needed - from the little experience that I've had, even a short road trip of 10 days has had me wanting!!! And you'll know the difference that that one piece of extra glass can make!

    I do agree that every piece of extra weight is a BIG burden, but you can never rule out anything as too much, NEVER!

  • Mark

    August 1, 2012 12:38 am

    I agree with others that it seems like way too much gear especially seeing as nearly 1/3 of the keepers were taken with an S95. I understand the desire to take the 5d on a once in a lifetime trip but think I'd have probably ditched the long lens and the wide angle and gone with a 24-105 f4 or 28-70 f2.8 and the 50mm. Every time you change those lenses you potentially introduce grime to the sensor. The long lens doesn't really seem like it got the use to justify its inclusion. If I had to take a flash I'd probably use one of the small units for fill or close range.

    I do understand why he didn't choose a m4/3 though, guessing mainly the low light performance.

  • Sorin

    July 31, 2012 10:27 pm

    Brilliant!!!
    Thanks! It comes out at the right time for me as I am preparing for Cruise Around the World. It will take only 100 days, but any how... it's no difference for the gear to use. I have been through the list and I'am close to it. I use a Nikon D90, and as lenses (1) 60mm, (2) 24-100mm and (3) 70-300mm. I have a Slick tripod, and for the time being I do not work with alternate lights and filters. Cleaning stuff all in order. I still have to chose the right backpack. As backup I'll take the older compact Fuji S5800. Good idea to have the day-pack as well.
    I am a beginner and if you would have time and some other advice I'll be happy to hear... Currently I am a member of FanArtReview and you could see my portfolio using the following link:

    http://www.fanartreview.com/sorin_fota

  • Frode

    July 31, 2012 04:47 pm

    For those suggesting the E-M5, you guys are forgetting that the planning for this trip took place two years ago - there was no E-M5 then. The lens selection for M4/3 was also still in its infancy at that point. There's also the issue of actually buying the necessary gear - the poster in this case already had a complete kit with 5D, so I don't see him investing into something else. With that said, I'm considering a similar trip and will probably bring almost the same stuff, but for Panasonic GH2 with the following lenses:

    7-14mm F4
    20mm F1.7
    12-35mm F2.8
    35-100mm F2.8 (once it comes out)
    Total lens weight, about 1 kg.

    The 25mm F1.4 would be a very nice alternative to the 20mm, but it's a lot bigger and I don't own the lens yet, so the 20mm goes. I like how the shorter focal length of the 20mm makes it easier to use in social shooting, food etc - no need to bring a compact camera. It's also a lot easier to bring with you to events and concerts where bigger lenses are frowned upon.

    The other piece of kit I would bring is a lenskirt:
    http://www.lenskirt.com/
    This thing is amazing, weighs nothing, takes up practically no space, and is perfect for removing reflections while on a moving train, bus, etc. It's also great for taking pictures of cityscapes from high rise buildings or towers – just remember to bring something to wipe the glass first of fingerprints other people may have left.

  • Simon

    July 31, 2012 03:23 pm

    You guys are carrying *way* too much stuff, by my standards. If I'm traveling, everything I have needs to fit into the pack I'm carrying on my back, including clothing, laptop, toiletries, etc.

    As such, the photography gear I take with me consists of a camera, and a mini tripod (one of the smaller gorillapod models). That's it. Forget about filters and external flash, and extra lenses - my pack is heavy enough without that stuff.

  • Liv

    July 31, 2012 01:47 pm

    That seems like a LOT of stuff to be lugging around for a year.

    Maybe it's my age but I'm not the type to carry a huge back and use a trolley and take taxis to hotels. When I travel I use a small carry on backpack and everything has to fit in that, including camera gear! And, I'm a girl who likes to look good so that also includes make up and a hair brush and a little ziplock bag of jewellery. I roll up a handbag for everyday while I'm out and about.

    Which is why I LOVE my omd em5! I just got back from Japan and while I only have the kit lenses at the moment I never found myself wishing for another focal length. All wrapped up in a little Lowepro bag I cut the straps off and popped all snug inside my handbag.

    The only other thing I had to comment on was wifi in Japan. It's totally available. My last trip was only 15 days and only 1 night was I without wifi in some way or another. Sometimes you have to sit in the lobby rather than in your room, but it's there if you want it.

  • Dave

    July 31, 2012 12:20 pm

    Nice article and the photos are lovely. I want to point out something about your Canon S95 that came to haunt me last year in Thailand. My S95 stopped working while under warranty. Google S95 "lens error" to see more on that issue. My comment has to do with Canon's warranty policy.

    When my camera quit I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where there is a full Canon Service Center. However, when I took my S95 in they said they could not fix it under warranty. After several emails with Canon I learned that a) the warranty is only good in the country in which the camera was purchased, b) you cannot send it to them from overseas, and c) even if you were willing to foot the bill to send it to them, they would not accept it.

    The S95 is a powerful little camera and I like it fine. But be warned that if it screws up while you're traveling, you're SOL until you return home. I managed to get mine fixed because the existing warranty was good for a couple of months after my return but I was lucky. My camera failed after only three months of service. ^_^

  • kathleen

    July 31, 2012 11:51 am

    Sounds like you had a great experience and thanks for sharing gear information. I so loved the first image.

  • Eric Wery

    July 31, 2012 11:49 am

    Great, loved to read that, but what use is it to us, who cannot shell out 5,000+ on gear? I bet my D7000 and Sigma 17-70 2.8-4.0, a 50 mm1.8 and maybe a tele 70-300, along with a decent Manfrotto tripod would be enough. Travelling is about the journey, being obsessive about recording everything would make you lose the spirit of wandering around the planet. Enjoy the trip anyway...

  • Barbara

    July 31, 2012 11:32 am

    wow constructive comment 'luis'. Why don't you link to some of your images to show us how it should be done?

    Great article - very inspiring.

  • Miguel

    July 31, 2012 11:13 am

    One of the best photography articles I've read! Thanks for sharing. :)

  • lindsay

    July 31, 2012 11:02 am

    I am in love with this story...sounds so much like my husband and I!! Gosh, I would give anything to travel the world. Awesome!! :-)

  • Mei Teng

    July 31, 2012 11:01 am

    I like the photo of the curious looking cow :) Thanks for sharing your travel story.

  • ccting

    July 31, 2012 10:54 am

    Wow... an excellent article.... I’m so "jelouse" with him too... ;_(

  • Justin

    July 31, 2012 09:27 am

    I am envious of the opportunity to travel the world for a year, but think Adam made the wrong decisions on photo gear. Why didnt he just take an omd em5 and some m43 lenses and save all that size and weight? Seems a better solution to me when you are lugging your gear for ays on end. And the photographic quality would be just as good.

  • Kenneth Rivera

    July 31, 2012 06:55 am

    Uhh amazing post... I'm jelouse for a 1 year trip, I wish I can do it too.

    I agree, in fact thinking in my own gear - I would take my 5d mk2, my 24-105 f/4 IS, my 50mm f/1.4 and a lightweight tripod. That's pretty much it to same room for the rest of the stuff.

    Thanks for article :)
    Kenneth
    www.kennethrivera.com

  • Greg

    July 31, 2012 06:51 am

    32% from the s95, this to me is where cameras like the Olympus omd e5, fuji xpro 1 etc would be extremely useful for carry anywhere and lightweight.

  • Luis

    July 31, 2012 06:06 am

    The first picture is an excellent example of an awful processing. What a mess.

  • Ben chapman

    July 31, 2012 03:48 am

    Brilliant article

  • Yathi

    July 31, 2012 02:57 am

    Loved the article. One day I also hope I'll be able to do something like that. Thanks for the suggestions :)

  • Philippe

    July 31, 2012 02:51 am

    Wow ! Nice article !
    I also did a trip like this with my wife in Asia 2 years ago. It was absolutely amazing !

    I can share a bit of my experience with the readers.
    As Adam mentions, the packing was the most difficult part of the preparation. We finally decided to use a 55L backpack for me and a 45L backpack for my wife.
    Of course, that backpack excluded any camera equipment, which was in a separate bag.

    For my camera equipement, I used the amazing Crumpler 4 Million dollar bag to store my Sony a700 with only two lenses (it was a perfect tight fit):
    - SAL 16-105mm : amazing landscape and adequate zoom for all my needs.
    - SAL 50mm 1.4 : abosulutely required for any kind of travel. This is the champion of indoor/night photography, and makes amazing portrait.
    - Carl Zeris Circular polarizer 62mm for the SAL16105 : a MUST ! The colors are so amazing with that filter on, and everything is so crisp !

    My wife carried the Panasonic DMC-ZS7, which is a very good camera for shooting HD videos and stills. We also used the Ikelite underwater housing (quite big to carry along, but so solid and well built, worth the price!)

    Here are some pictures from the trip:
    Nepal:
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/pcabot/5125116279/' title='Vers Letdar' url='http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4033/5125116279_c97328d4be.jpg']
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/pcabot/5203615535/' title='Enfants Tamang vers Gotlang' url='http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4091/5203615535_52db3c083d.jpg']

    India:
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/pcabot/4840007627/' title='La nuit au plein milieu de l'Himalaya à 4600m d'altitude (Pang)' url='http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4110/4840007627_b63495d104.jpg']

    Philippines (where we did some volunteering work with "Volunteer for the Visayans", our favorite place BY FAR!)
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/pcabot/5420439034/' title='Étudiants de la classe 5' url='http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5054/5420439034_1decb0fb38.jpg']
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/pcabot/sets/72157625860028989/

    Scuba diving in Indonesia: (with Ikelite ZS7 housing)
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/pcabot/5879949613/' title='Isa en plongée' url='http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5279/5879949613_7f2f12d3af.jpg']
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/pcabot/sets/72157627066996874/

    It is really a trip of a lifetime. Travelling for a year is not travelling: it is living abroad for one year. You switch your mindset and everything becomes different after that.

    Cheers
    Philippe

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