Travelling with camera gear

Stefan Haworth photographing Ha long Bay in Vietnam with Sony a7rII and FE 16-35mm f/4
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Stefan Haworth walking along Balangan Beach with Sony a7rII and FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS

Packing light is key

It can be pretty hard figuring what camera gear to take while travelling, if its backpacking or just a simple holiday. I find the key to ease of travelling is packing light. Nobody wants to lug every bit of camera with them, but no one wants to miss a shot not having the right lens. It’s a pretty common problem and never easy to give a specific answer to. A lot of people are happy with a 24-70mm to cover all bases, some will go with a wide and a long lens, some want primes only. Then there comes the question of a back up camera…
Stefan Haworth Photographing surfing on Lombok, Indonesia
Stefan Haworth photographing balloons flying over Bagan in Myanmar with Sony a7rII and FE 16-35mm f/4
Stefan Haworth filming Roy Peak on the Sony Action Cam in Wanaka.
Here’s the quick answers, if you’re restricted or only want to take one lens but want range, simplest answer, take a 24-105mm f/4. Cant go wrong with that to cover most of your needs. ISO capabilities now allows f/4 to be fine in low light. I challenge you to only take a prime though. My bare bone lightweight kit is a wide, telephoto and a prime.
I can’t say this works for everyone but my general all round light weight kit consists of 2 main cameras, (sometimes one) and 2 lenses. The small Sony Rx1rII is always in hand and doesn’t compromise in quality. Easily my favourite camera. The Sony a7RIII is the main workhorse used with a wide or telephoto lens.
Stefan Haworth sitting on army truck and reviewing images in Mongolia with Sony a7rII and FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS
Camera & lenses:
-Sony a7rIII, the workhorse
-Sony Rx1RII, Can be treated as a back up camera. I would carry a 35mm 1.4 but this substituted also saving a larger back up camera. The 35mm is great around coverage and my fav lens length. The f/2 is perfect for tavel, the 35mm f/1.4 is my favourite, little bit more dreamy in the bokeh but its heavier so not included for this.
-Sony FE 24mm, this the wide. Gives amazing shallow DOF which I’m a huge fan on. Cheaper equivalent is the 20mm f/1.8.
-Sony FE 70-200mm f/4. This is the telephoto. Much lighter and smaller than the f/2.8 and gives a great flare.
-Sony RX0II, this little camera has taken over from the Action camera. large 1” sensor, slog2, raw. literally a RX100 in a indestructible waterproof body with a fold out lens. Worth taking a look if you want something ultra small that you don’t have to be delicate with.
That is my lightest lens choice but other lenses I consider:
-Sony FE 35mm f/1.4, sometimes I need a 35mm on the workhorse, if so I would sometimes take out the RX1rII to save weight
-Sony FE 16-35mm f/4. It’s another option that I change out for the 24mm f/1.4. Not as shallow depth of Field but wider angle.
-Sony 55mm f/1.8, this is ridiculously sharp and tiny. Don’t be shy to take this with you. I sometime take this if I have extra space
-Sony FE 85mm f/1.8, this isn’t often in my lightweight kit but worth a mention. It’s light and small which is why I downsized from the 85mm f/1.4. That and my underwater housing port fits the f/1.8.
Do note: I mainly work on the full frame a7 range. If you’re rocking a crop sensor mirrorless say the a6000 range remember, do remember the lenses will be slightly magnified. A 35mm on a crop body will equal the same as a 50mm, a 50mm will be a 85mm. Times the mm length by 1.5x.

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Solo horse trekking trip through Mongolia, Stefan Haworth looking through images at the campsite at sunset
Other gear:
-Macbook Pro, super light for travel. The air is a dream for travel but se
-1x SSD hard drive, USB C, super quick for downloads, 3mins vs 45mins for 64GB cards.
-2x 2TB portable HDD, I carry these around in a small padded lens case.
-4x 64GB SD cards + 2x 64GB micro SD cards in a small zip pouch
-f-stop tilopa bag + small pro ICU + raincover. On my third bag now. By far the best bag I’ve owned and haven’t found anything comparable in structure and versatility. I use it hiking, climbing, in the snow, everywhere. Can slip out the ICU and sling over the shoulder for smaller walk arounds.
-15L dry bag, handy to have incase things get really wet and crossing a river in a sketchy boat or it’s flood season. Safe to have if you’re going rough and risking it. can slip down the side of the pack.
Stefan Haworth reviewing footage on the Sony Action Cam
Stefan Haworth photographing reflection of temples in Sri Lanka with Sony a7rII and FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS
Climbing Mitre Peak filming the Sony Action Camera video
-cords/chargers + extras in shoe bag
-2x 10,000hz portable chargers. I live on them travelling. Can charge the iPhone 5 times. Charging batteries. Don’t go too big or else you can’t take them on the plane. Also make sure the size is on the device so they don’t get confiscated.
-USB charger for the a7 batteries. Third Party off Ebay works well. Unsure on how long it takes vs the wall charger but fast enough.
-Manfrotto Modo tripod, super compact and lightweight with features to get low and hard angles. Sadly they aren’t produced anymore and those features can only be found on high end heavier tripods.
-Sony Action Cam telecopic Monopod, The a7 Mirrorless system is super light so I can use the monopod to extend height or hang it out over walls to get a different angle, then use the live view remote from the Action Cam to see the framing.
Photographer Stefan Haworth riding a Royal Enfield Motorbike through the Indian Himalayas
Most of the time I’m travelling I pack as light as possible. It’s not just about the ease of travel with carrying the gear around but many other aspects too. It’s no fun loosing check in luggage, you might not get it back for a few days or maybe weeks, or even completely lost. Don’t rely on insurance but more on that later. By having as much gear in carry on, it can limit your lose.
There’s a good chance your carry on baggage will be over or close to the limit. Here’s some tips:
-remove your lens hoods to save weight, most of the time you wont use them, I love flare but if I dont like it i shade it with my hand. Mirrorless is much easier to see the exact image unlike DSLR.
-carry your laptop or in the trolley, most airlines is one laptop and one carry on.
-wear your heaviest lens and camera over your shoulder hidden behind the laptop.
-carry extra lenses in your jacket pocket.
-When waiting in line for checking, have you bag on the trolley or ground. Pick it up when you’re close to the front, it will feel lighter than waiting half an hour on your shoulder. You will look fresher and less likely to be weighed.
-wear your bag on one shoulder and loose the straps so it hangs like its much lighter than it is.
-Talk to the check out person, ask how they are, what time they started. Travel can be very stressful and people forget to be kind. If you’re kind to them, they will be kind to you. 
-Some budget airlines weigh as your board so have that in mind if you need to do the same
Hopefully those simple and easy tips help, as its saved me multiple times if it’s maxed out 25kg carry on for bigger jobs or only 8kg. Ideally less is best.
Insurance is a big problem, if you look in your terms and conditions, it’s very hard to find a company that doesn’t say max $1500 for lens and camera combo or max total. Specifying items also have a common limit of $3000. Also if its delayed on your return leg of your trip, most insurance companies wont copy the delays of your trip. If it’s vitally needed gear, beware.

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Stefan Haworth filming Roy Peak on the Sony Action Cam in Wanaka.

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