Photographing on the road: conclusion; and a happy announcement

Photographing on the road: conclusion; and a happy announcement

It’s time to wrap-up the series that begun a couple of weeks ago, with my conclusion and thoughts about travel gear and methodology.

I returned home with a huge number of keeper photos, many of which will be featured in ongoing projects or dedicated essays. I was also able to upload a lot of them either in previous installments in this blog, and/or social media. In general, everything worked fine and no real issues presented themselves. That said there are always ways to improve things and lessons learned.

I’ll go through the individual categories I laid out in the first two posts in this series. Starting with:

Powering cameras and other devices

Although we are all regularly bitching about Fuji cameras battery performance, I’ll have to say that, although I commonly used a second battery in either camera during a shooting day, I rarely had to use a third one. This was only in those days where I was away from my base from early morning until the end of the day. Of course this may be the way I usually work; I seldom browse through photos and I’m used in turning off the camera when I know I won’t be shooting for a while. I did use WiFi a lot though, sending photos to the smartphone for Instagram and other social media uploads. I still think two extra batteries for the primary camera and one for the secondary one, are the absolute safe minimum.

My choices for chargers seemed to hold out just right. If I’d wish for something, it would be for future Fuji cameras to have the ability to charge batteries in camera, through the USB port. This is an option with other brands and would give yet another useful on the road capability.

Storage and computing

Modern SD cards are very dependable (as long as they are from a reputable manufacturer). In fact, I didn’t have an SD card failure for some years now. Still, being able to backup to a hard disk was indispensable, both for always having enough SD space and for peace of mind. I’d strongly advise everyone to plan for at least one backup everyday while traveling.

As far as computing goes, I have mixed feelings and have reconsidered my choices a bit. This is what I’ve come to:

If you absolutely have to be able to post process photos on the road, by any means, get a “proper” computer. In this case, there is always one of two compromises you’ll have to make. You will either go with a lightweight + highly capable machine; which will necessarily be expensive, and one more valuable piece of gear to worry about. Or you could go for a “regular”, but properly equipped laptop, which will be considerably heavier (but probably less than half the price).

In the first category, you have higher end Macbooks and Windows machines such as the MS Surface or equivalent offerings from Dell, Acer, Lenovo and others. In the second category there are literally scores of choices. If the computer doesn’t feature a pen option, on the road processing means also carrying a pen tablet or other such device.

Now, if you are totally certain you won’t be doing any involved editing on the road, I’d still opt to bring along something more than only your smartphone. A tablet, preferably same ecosystem as your smartphone, plus perhaps an add-on keyboard will do just fine for emails and low volume writing or other work. Processing isn’t totally compromised, since there are several excellent apps for mobile devices.

For Android users, there will be, in the next few months, an extremely interesting option: Andromium started a Kickstarter campaign for what they call the Superbook. They were initially asking for $50K and are currently pushing $1.6M (as of this writing) with 14 more days to go; so this is definitely coming. This is a very clever idea which will most certainly find imitators. Since smartphones are getting more and more powerful each year, this type of solution may be what most people need.

These are the two diametrically opposed options I think of as the best. Anything in between, I believe, will be disappointing in the end. 

Photo gear

I had the slightest problem with my photo gear and I was especially happy with my decision to take the X70 as a second camera. A full evaluation of the camera will follow very soon; what is the conclusion in general though, is that you don’t necessarily need full compatibility among the cameras you bring with you. It does help if they are the same brand (same menus, general type of operation, etc), except if you are totally sure you know both inside-out.

Except for cases where you have distinct shooting needs to cover, a third camera body is overkill in my opinion. At this point we are starting to talk about commissioned work, which is no different than driving a few kilometers to a shooting location back home. This is a totally different discussion.

I personally used all the lenses I brought for the X-Pro2, some more than others, true, but total weight and bulk was so manageable that I don’t regret bringing them all along. One word of possible advise would be this: if you start thinking if you are going to use some piece of photographic gear when you pack (lens, accessory, etc) leave it behind. Chances are more than 95% that you won’t use it eventually. This was the case with a couple of accessories for me (e.g. the Raynox macro converter). These things, and even lenses and bodies for us mirrorless users, don’t take a huge amount of space, but they do add up. 

One final note about camera bags: while the “large carry bag”/”smaller shooting bag” scenario works like a charm, it’s not a bad idea to take along a second shooting bag. This could be a different style and size than the first; e.g. small shoulder bag plus small messenger or sling bag. Just choose bags that can be folded and are flexible enough to be able being stuffed along with clothes in your luggage(s). Having two different options can is great for different shooting scenario; the object being, never having to carry more than needed. And in any case, always choose bags that are weather protected (either by themselves or via an add-on sleeve). A sudden rain shower can easily ruin your whole trip; even if your cameras/lenses are weather sealed, your bags need to be too.

This concludes this series, which I hope you found interesting and entertaining. Below are all the previous posts, from most current to older:

Copenhagen and an initial X70 assessment

Some photos from and around Malmo

On the road: Streets of Amsterdam, a flying sofa and thoughts so far

On the road: Amsterdam's genius loci

On the road, part 2: the serious stuff

Photographing on the road, a case study (Part 1)

 

 

And now for the announcement: Something exciting happened while I was travelling: I was informed that I was officially admitted into Fujifilm’s X-Photographers family. This is a great honor for me and I actually feel humbled being in a circle of very talented photographers, many of whom I admire and follow their work closely.

As readers of this blog know, I currently use Fuji cameras exclusively and have been a Fuji user for more than 2.5 years now. It seems that this will be a long term relationship, and, to be honest, from what I’m in a position to know, I’m going to remain quite excited with Fuji’s future stuff too.

On the other hand, as I’ve emphasized many times in the past, I’m not planning on restraining myself on any remarks or criticism I consider important and useful. As always, whatever review or gear test I do in this blog, are from the everyday-user standpoint, and shall remain as objective and honest as humanly possible, X-Photographer or not. Even more, as such, I feel I have the responsibility to be even more dependable and precise, through this blog, in the future.


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More on the Cinematic Street Frames project

More on the Cinematic Street Frames project

Copenhagen and an initial X70 assessment

Copenhagen and an initial X70 assessment

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