State of Photography (Equipment)

So. Faced with a trip to Japan next Feb, and Uni after that, it’s time to take stock of stuff.

My camera equipment is probably the most important/expensive thing I own, after my desktop. The desktop is more about the data, because I’ll be leaving it behind and making my own when I get there (most likely with an AMD proc – cheaper!), but that’s another post altogether.

I’m a proud owner of a 40D, with a 10-22mm, 60mm macro, as well as a 18-55mm kit lens and a cheapo Sigma 55-200. Accessories include my 055XProB tripod with 488RC2 head, ring flash, assorted filters and a cable release.

The Japan trip poses a few problems:

  • My lovely tripod is insanely heavy to hike up mountains with. It’s perfect for situations in which driving’s involved (like in the future, if I get a car), but hiking… it’s a bulky ~3kg in a bag that flops around.

Solution: Get a new tripod that’s for hiking with. I’m looking at the 190CXProB3/4. Carbon fiber for the lightness, 190 series for the height. I am, however, undecided if I want to go with the 3 section or 4 section legs. The 4 section legs are heavier, stability is somewhat compromised (thinner legs = not as stable) and is somewhat more expensive, but it collapses to be 8cm shorter (50cm instead of 58cm).

I’m thinking it should be based on the size of my bag, so I have to figure out what bag I’m going to carry around with me while in Japan.

  • Which brings me to my second problem. My bag, or more appropriately, lack thereof. I have a ‘proper’ photography bag, courtesy of an old friend, but I rarely use it. Mainly because it doesn’t have space for anything but photographic stuff. I find myself using an small camera bag stuffed inside my knapsack, which is… non-optimal. (Small equipment can get lost, unless I get another bag to keep it in, at which point the question becomes where do I keep that bag, below or on top of the small camera bag, and so on.)

Solution: This isn’t easy. The immediately obvious solution is “throw money at it”. But given that I’m already spending big bucks on a new tripod, and not to mention the cost of the trip itself, the simple solution isn’t good, since the range is so large. I liked the over the shoulder bags for the ease of access, but that was when hiking wasn’t involved. But at the same time, this bag shouldn’t solely be for hiking, it should be able to hold my camera & stuff during other events… basic walking around included.

In Taiwan I cut out most of my equipment and took the bare essentials. Given that I’m travelling with other photographers, I might be able to do a similar thing, and share the load. Alternatively, one of my friends swears by a BlackRapid strap (over the shoulder, camera’s always at hand) combined with a waist bag for lens. So I might just be looking at different bags, and seeing if I can rent one. Or something.

  • Existing equipment is failing or non-optimal.
  1. The 18-55 kit lens recently refused to work with my 40D, citing “Err 01”. Cleaned the contacts to no avail.
  2. I’m on my 3rd UV filter. 1st UV filter got shattered (either I knocked it against the pole on the bus in just the right place, or it landed on the filter edge when I managed to drop my bag off my back. I’m betting it’s the second one.), the glass in the 2nd UV filter literally fell out (No clue how that happened. I’m assuming vibrations on the mini bus to the hotel on the mountain in Taiwan was the culprit, since it fell out soon after that.), and the 3rd UV isn’t slim enough despite saying “Slim” on the case (~$40 Hoya filter, putting the filter adaptor on it introduces vignetting, which I could have sworn wasn’t the case with the first 2 UV filters.)
  3. I’ve got no UV filter for the 60mm macro, so stuff on lens is an issue. (I was doing macro when the tripod overbalanced and the camera fell down lens first. For the first few seconds, I was scared out of my mind that something happened to the lens.)
  4. The thin filter holder is broken (one of the retaining clips is broken, so it doesn’t hold on). Not exactly a problem, but if it’s only $10 for a new one, I’d like to get a new one. It already fell off while taking photos of fireworks, and one heart stopping moment as it bounces off the ground towards certain loss is enough.

Solution: Again, throw money at it. Here, there’s not many options. I’ll likely be replacing my kit lens. (~$100 on clubsnap) The 52mm UV filter is also fairly straightforward. Vignetting isn’t a concern, so I don’t have to pay through the nose for a slim filter. (B+W 52mm filters are ~$50 on clubsnap, so other filters should be cheaper.)

Tricky thing is the 77mm UV filter. My original UV I think was a Hoya Pro1 Digital. Which a person has for $64 on clubsnap. But the more common ones are B+W filters. And the B+W filters that I’ve used are awesome in terms of picture quality. So paying $90 for a B+W filter might be worth it. Not too sure, but something to think about.

Then there’s stuff that I’m looking at:

  • 50mm f1.8
  • Intervalometer (only ~USD$20 on ebay! I paid ~$15 for a basic cable release! Doing 3rd party searches on ebay from now on I think, especially for stuff like this where it’s not crucial)
  • 77mm ND110 filter – better than the Tianya filters which gave me a red tone to the photo, because they don’t do well blocking out infrared
  • 77mm CPL – snow + blue skies in Japan. Problem is, it’s about ~$150.

Links of interest and relevancy:*selected-models*?p=7391319#post7391319 – cheap Hoya CPL filters – Intervalometers on ebay

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