A lot of readers have asked us to share our photo gear and what we carry in our camera bags. So we decided to throw open our camera bag to our readers and explain why we own, what we own.
Warning! This article may contain a lot of photography jargon, you have been warned.
Editor’s Note: We own every piece of gear mentioned and photographed in this article. inditramp does not recommend gear that we have not bought or tested extensively.
Still photography — Foveon Sensor – Sigma DP2M
Introduced in 2012, the Sigma DP2M is a fixed lens compact camera that blows away full frame cameras when it comes to image quality. It can hold its own amongst most medium format backs. If the highest image quality in a diminutive package is your only criteria, and you print your photographs big (more than 18 x 24 inches) then this is the camera for you.
Extremely Rugged – Analog – Nikon F3
I never had a single problem with a Nikon F3. I have dropped it from waist height on a concrete slab and it still works. It functioned flawlessly in the Arctic circle where the temperature often dipped below -35 C. Built in 1980 and guaranteed for 150,000 shutter actuation. It was Nikon’s swan song in the pre-autofocus era. Full frame, rugged, reliable and with a battery that goes on for years, it’s perfect! It also has the enviable reputation of being one of the few cameras that have been to space and back.
- Macro – Micro Nikkor 55mm F 3.5 circa 1975.
- Prime – Nikon Series E 50mm F 1.8 pancake circa 1980
- Ultra Wide – Tokina 20-35 F 3.5-4.5
Interchangeable lens system – Micro 4/3 – Panasonic GF1
The problem with APS-C format cameras is that their lenses are not much smaller than a full frame camera. On the other hand, a compact usually comes with a diminutive sensor and therefore, mediocre image quality. Micro 4/3 occupies a middle ground between compacts and a full frame camera. Its sensor is huge compared to most compacts while its lenses are small and pocketable. Olympus and Panasonic are committed to this format and between them, you can get any camera body or lens you desire.
- Prime – Panasonic 20mm F1.7
- Mild telephoto – Olympus 45mm F1.8
- Super wide – Olympus 9-18mm F4-5.6
- Micro 4/3 to Nikon adapter, that allows us to use all our Nikon lenses on the Panasonic camera
Camera Support System – Manfrotto 190 DB
Built like a tank and stable under the most extreme conditions, Manfrotto tripods are renowned for their build quality and the 10-year old tripod is no exception. From the arctic circle to the Sahara, this tripod has never let us down. Buy on Amazon India. Weighing in at 3 kilograms, it is not an ideal companion for long or arduous treks. For most treks, we choose to carry a mini Hama tripod that weighs under 300 grams.
Filters – B+W
We have experimented with Hoya, Tiffen and Polaroid filters but we always come back to B+W. Made in Germany, these filters are expensive. Nevertheless, in all eventuality they will outlast your camera/s and therefore, it is a worthwhile long term investment. The quality of glass the B+W uses is much better than any of the filters mentioned above and the filter rings are composed of brass. We have used our B+W filters for the past 3 years on treks and they show negligible wear and tear. Buy on Amazon India.
Flash – Godox TT520
A flash that is half the price of proprietary Nikon speed-lights and features a manual mode and a built-in optical slave system. This means that if you have more than one flash, you can sync the extra flashes to your original camera flash with optical slaves. Which is why, from this day forward, you should not buy a flash that does not possess a built-in optical slave. It’s that simple — just don’t do it. You are shooting yourself in the foot if you do. Buy on Amazon India.
- Lens cleaner – Vanguard. An expensive professional lens is only good if it’s spot free. Unless you have a sadomasochism urge to remove dust spots from photographs in post process, keep your lenses dust free with this trifling do-hickey. Buy on Amazon India.
- Timer Remote Trigger – JJC. A remote trigger allows you to fire the camera shutter without touching the shutter button, and a timer enables you to remotely trigger the camera shutter at a time interval of your choosing. Seen those lovely time-lapses on Vimeo? Well, none of them could be achieved without a timer to automatically fire the camera shutter at a specified regular interval. Timer Remote Trigger is camera specific, so double check its camera compatibility before you purchase one. Most new cameras come with built-in intervalometer which does the same job as a Timer. This is one feature to look for if you are investing in a new camera. Buy on Amazon India.
- Extra batteries. A lot of trekkers propound investing in a solar or some exotic charger. Nevertheless, before you click that “add to cart” button, consider this – with a solar charger you will need to carry 1. Solar Panel 2. Power Bank 3. Camera charger 4. Charger Cable. What we recommend instead, is that you ditch this convoluted setup and buy an extra battery or batteries for your camera. A normal DSLR battery is rated for about 700 shots. Thus, two batteries give you approximately 1400 images that are more than enough for any multi day trek. The advantages? A no hassle solution that weighs a fraction of a solar charging setup.
- Camera Bag – Lowepro SlingShot 202 AW. A padded camera bag that will take a DSLR body with four to five lenses and other accessories. It also comes with a built-in rain cover. Although we seldom require a camera bag on treks, yet it is wonderful to have one for those dedicated photo walks. The advantage with a slingshot v.s. a regular backpack is that you don’t need to take the slingshot off your shoulders to access your gear. Taking a bag off to remove photo gear gets extremely tiresome and irritating on a long walk. We completed all Dalhousie – Chamba treks with our slingshot stuffed with an emergency kit and a bottle of water along with our photography gear. Buy on Amazon India.
- Mobile phone camera – iPhone 5. Need a photo in a jiffy? Want to mark a waypoint, record a landmark for your way back or just want to share an enchanting landscape moment with your friends? There is nothing more convenient than a smartphone for sharing photographs and the iPhone has a well-deserved stellar reputation for usability and image quality.
Let us know your choice of photo gear on a trek in the comments section below. Remember comments that we find interesting get a chance to win a free inditramp t-shirt.