Too Much Weight?
Photographers are a finicky bunch. We want the highest quality images but in the smallest package possible. We know that DSLR cameras and mirrorless cameras provide the best images, so we bring a “big” camera on our trip, but we don’t want to take along a second camera body because of the additional weight.
Since traveling with a lot of gear is a major drag, some travel photographers opt to bring along just one camera and one lens. To be fair, there are some good reasons to bring only one camera on a trip:
– Keeps gear kit simple
– Keeps weight down to a minimum
– Makes air travel easier
– Fewer issues at customs and border crossings
Even though these points might provide a compelling argument, I highly recommend ignoring these thoughts and always traveling with at least two cameras in the same system. When I say, “in the same system,” I mean that use the same lenses, batteries, and cards. Here are my six reasons why it makes sense to always have at least two cameras with you while traveling.
Six Reasons to Travel with Two Cameras
The most obvious reason to bring two cameras on your next trip is redundancy. If one camera fails, you’ll have another camera that you can keep shooting with. On just about every group trip I lead, someone’s camera dies for one reason or another. The last thing you want to happen is to be in the middle of the most beautiful place in the world without a camera.
2. You look like a pro
I know there are a number of schools of thought on how you should dress and what you should look like when traveling. Some travelers want to try to blend in to their surroundings so they don’t stick out like a sore thumb. Other’s go the full tourist route and wear the gaudy tropical shirt with knee-high socks. Since I’ve already decided that I’m going to have multiple cameras with me, I dress in such a way that people assume I’m a professional photographer. People on the street see me coming and already know what I’m doing because of my gear. I’m often able to use that to my advantage as I explain my project and the purpose of my photography. This frequently gets me preferential treatment as business owners allow me to photograph on their premises or property owners allow me onto their roof-tops.
3. Multiple lenses available instantaneously
I usually travel with two cameras out at all times. One will have a medium lens like a 24-70mm and the other will have a telephoto lens like a 70-200mm. I keep the cameras slung over both shoulders so I can quickly pull up either body to get the shot. Having two cameras means I can shoot very quickly and don’t have to spend a lot of time fumbling around with lens swaps.
4. Perspective changes
Having two lenses always mounted on two active cameras means I can quickly get two perspectives on the same scene. Over the years, I’ve discovered that I tell better photo stories when I photograph the same scene from multiple perspectives. Having the two cameras out, “prods” me to move around more. It is easy to get lazy in our photography and shoot all of our images from the same spot. Having two cameras out helps to break that lazy habit.
5. One for video, one for stills
Having two cameras also means you can dedicate one for video work and the other for still photos. On some trips, I like to pre-configure one of my DSLRs to that it is optimized for HD video capture. For the camera shooting video, I set everything up in full manual mode including ISO, shutter, aperture, and focus. I also mount an accessory microphone on this body so I can capture great ambient sound. For the other body shooting still photos, I generally configure it for aperture priority, auto-ISO, and autofocus.
6. One for timelapse, the other for singles
I love creating timelapse photo sequences when I travel and do this quite often. However, the problem with shooting timelapses is that it takes one camera out of commission for the total duration of each location. For example, when shooting a sunrise, creating a timelapse requires one camera to be continuously shooting pictures for about 45 minutes to an hour. If I bring along a second camera, then I can use it to create different images in the area. I use my second camera to shoot macro, landscapes, telephoto shots of birds, and whatever strikes my fancy.
1. If you do shoot with two cameras, make sure you synchronize their clocks. This will make sorting your photos on your computer much easier later on.
2. You’ll need a way to simultaneously carry both cameras over your shoulders. I highly recommend the camera straps and mounts from Peak Design as these are what I personally use. There are also quite a few other options from companies like Black Rapid, Op/Tech, and SpiderHolster.
I hope I’ve convinced you to make the weight sacrifice and bring along a second camera body on your next trip. Having two cameras gives you lots of options, and most importantly, you’ll come home with better photographs.
Keep on shooting!
I make a habit of carrying a camera with me just about everywhere I go, especially when heading out on short errands. I love finding new photographic gems in my hometown of Gig Harbor, Washington.
Last week, I headed down to the Post Office to ship some books and took a quick side trip to photograph the Gig Harbor waterfront with my Nikon D750 and 14-24mm f/2.8 lens. A couple days prior to that, I took a one-hour break from writing to walk across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge with my D750 and 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. In both cases, I decided to create panoramas of the scenes before me.
I’ve been shooting more panoramas lately because I really enjoy the entire process from capture to print. I also love being able to capture the atmosphere of the scene in a way most people don’t normally see. On the technical side, I thoroughly enjoy the discipline it takes to create a good-looking pano. There are a lot of settings and techniques that have to be executed well in order to produce an image that works.
– Exposure control for the darkest and brightest areas of the scene
– Depth of field
– White balance
– Panning technique
– Dealing with subjects that are moving
– Overlap percentage for individual frames
– Lens choice
– Distortion control
– Developing the images in software (Lightroom CC) so all images work together in the final panorama
– Stitching the images together in Lightroom CC or Photoshop CC
– Post-processing the panorama to fix problem areas
– Final presentation and printing
Some panoramas work really well and others are just, well, boring. Sometimes, you don’t know until you’ve gone through all the work and have the final image on your computer screen. In the case of the two images I’ve shown here, I like the image of the boats from downtown Gig Harbor, but don’t really care for the Narrows Bridge image. I think the reason why the Narrows Bridge shot falls flat for me is the clouds lack texture and form. I’ll need to go back on another day when the sky is more dramatic.
Because of my love of panoramas, I have decided to teach a panorama workshop on when I travel to The Woodlands, Texas in April. My partner in crime, Rick Hulbert (http://www.rickhulbertphotography.com), and I are running a series of four different workshops from April 4th – 9th, including one on panorama photography. These workshops are open for all camera users (Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Olympus, etc.) and all skill levels.
While in The Woodlands, we are joining The Woodlands Camera Club to celebrate their 10-year anniversary. After their party, we’ll run workshops and photo walks on a variety of topics like autofocus for action, urban and street photography, studio lighting, HDR photography, and more.
You should join us! More information here:
Peak Design is on a roll. Fresh off of their previous camera clip successes, they’ve just produced a brand-new camera accessory called the Capture Camera Clip V2. They are offering it exclusively through their new Kickstarter campaign (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/97103764/capture-camera-clip-v2) for the time being, but will eventually sell the product through their website and retailers. I just finished testing out one of their prototypes and can honestly say it is much improved over their previous 1st generation clip.
The Capture Camera Clip is a simple metal clip that lets you carry your camera on any backpack strap, belt or bag. It uses a quick-release plate that mounts on your camera for easy and secure mounting. The beauty of the Capture Clip is that it allows you to keep your camera out and ready to go while securely mounted on your belt or backpack. Genius.
Peak Design, Ltd. has created two new models of the Capture Clip V2. The first is the Standard unit, which has a back plate made out of lightweight glass-filled nylon. This model is designed to be used when you need to travel as light as possible. The second model is the Capture Clip Pro, which is made entirely from machined aluminum. The Pro model is designed for extreme durability and is very tough. I tested the Pro model and found it to be the right tool for my needs since the overall weight penalty is minor compared to the increase in strength.
The new Capture Pro is an evolutionary jump forward in Peak Design’s clip design. They accomplished this evolution by paying close attention to how customers are using their cameras in the real world. For example, the new Capture Pro has a curved back plate that fits much more comfortably against your body than the 1st generation Capture. Another example is how the red quick release button now has a twist-lock that prevents you from accidentally releasing the camera. There are numerous other small but significant refinements that make the V2 unit far better than the V1.
I’ve used the V1 Capture Clip for about two years now in environments all around the world. I’ve taken the Capture Clip up mountains, on safaris to Africa, to the Galapagos Islands, Yellowstone National Park, and even to the local ice cream shop with my kids. I’ve loved the system for how simple it is, how durable it is, and how well it works. The new Capture V2 is icing on the cake.
Just yesterday I took the Capture Clip Pro V2 on a hike in Olympic Mountains National Park. I mounted the Capture ARCAplate on my Nikon D800 and used it with my small Gitzo 1127 Carbon Fiber tripod and Markins Q3 Emille ball head. Here’s a B&W panorama of Mount Olympus I took while using the Capture Clip system. It worked flawlessly on this short hiking trip and I’ll be bringing it to Iceland next week for an even bigger workout.
Here are some interesting notes about the Capture Clip that I’ve taken over the last week:
1. The back side of the plate for the Capture Clip V2 Pro model has a tripod mount so you can easily screw the plate onto any 1/4” x 20 threaded screw or 3/8” threaded screw. For example, you can mount the Capture Clip on a monopod while using the Capture plates on your camera for quick mount/dismount to a monopod. Cool!
2. The new Peak Design camera plates are designed to fit perfectly in the Arca Swiss standard which makes it very easy to seamlessly move between a high-end ball head and the capture clip your belt. This makes shooting on the run fast and efficient.
3. The Capture system plates aren’t as tight of a fit as a Really Right Stuff, Kirk, or Markins plates. Because the Capture plates use a high-density plastic, they tend to move ever so slightly when mounted between the camera and the tripod ball head. Camera-specific plates by Really Right Stuff or Kirk have absolutely no movement when mounted on a ball-head. I’m not too worried about the small movement I get from the Capture system since I use different plates for different reasons. I use the Capture system when I’m trying to go light and fast in the mountains or when traveling with my family. In these situations, I’m usually handholding or I’m using a very small tripod like a Joby Gorilla Pod or a Gitzo Mountaineer carbon fiber travel tripod. When I want full support and rock solid tripod mounts, then I switch out my Peak Design gear for my standard Arca Swiss plates and heavy-duty tripods. I utilize different solutions for different needs.
Over the last year, Peak Design has also introduced two camera strap products called the Leash and Cuff. I’ve been using both of these for about four months and have really grown to like them for my daily camera strap. In fact, I took the Leash system to Tanzania with me last week and found it to be perfect for photographing on safari.
I really liked the super-light-weight design of the Leash straps and found that they fit much better in my Gura Gear Kiboko camera bag than my traditional neoprene or Black Rapid straps. In the photos here, you’ll see how I used the Leash straps in Tanzania. I found that it was very easy to walk around a Masai village with two cameras and f/2.8 lenses using one Peak Design Leash for each camera. I set up the Leash to work as an over-the-shoulder sling strap for each camera.
Another cool use for the leash on safari was using it to prevent my camera from falling off the seats in the Toyota Landcruiser safari vehicles. Most of the time while on safari, you keep your camera out and ready to go so you can quickly photograph the wildlife. The downside of doing this is that the roads are bumpy and it is common for the camera to roll off the seat and onto the floor with a heart-wrenching thud. To solve this problem, I draped the leash strap over the headrest in the vehicle so that it held the camera in place while bouncing down the roads in the Serengeti. Perfect solution!
The best thing about the Leash and Cuff straps is that they work seamlessly with the Capture Clip plates. What this means is that you never need to remove the camera strap to connect it to your Capture Clip on your belt or to your tripod’s ball head. This is one of the more ingenious aspects of the Peak Design Capture system and has been the Achilles heel for many of the other brands of sling straps out there. I love being able to go from shoulder sling strap to hanging the camera on my belt to mounting it on my tripod in seconds flat. Peak Design makes my life as a working professional photographer easier, and that’s why I love their products.
Here are all the links you need to learn more about Peak Design and order your own Capture Clip V2, Leash, Cuff, Plates, or V1 clips.
Every once in a while a new product comes along that perfectly fills a niche. Everyone who sees the new product immediately slaps their forehead and says, “why didn’t I think of that?” The new Capture Camera Clip System by Peak Design is one of these products and I’m here to tell you that the clip is the perfect integration of inspiration, engineering, design and true functionality.
The Capture Camera Clip represents a new way to keep your camera accessible while participating in life’s adventures. The clip lets you mount a camera to your belt, backpack, brief case or just about anything else you can imagine. Peter Dering, the owner of Peak Design, came up with the idea while hiking and climbing in Northern California. He was frustrated by not having an easy way to securely mount his camera to his backpack and was tired of using a standard camera strap around his neck, since it would continuously bang against his chest during his hikes. He wanted a way for the camera to be easily accessible, yet very secure. So, he boldly quit his day job as an engineer and set about to design the perfect clip system to solve the problem.
After a number of prototypes and a big fundraising campaign on Kick Starter (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/97103764/capture-camera-clip-system), he debuted the Capture Camera Clip System. I saw a link on the internet and immediately purchased one for myself. The same day, I sent Peter an email asking if I could beta test his product. He responded with an enthusiastic yes and sent me a prototype unit right away.
I’ve been testing the unit for about two months now and all I can say is … Awesome. The Capture Clip is seriously awesome. I’ve tested it all across the USA in places such as Disneyland, climbing Mt. Rainier, walking on the beach in Southern California, trail running with my son through the forest, biking, walking, exercising, traveling through Yellowstone National Park, and at events like weddings and birthdays. In every case, the clip performed flawlessly and perfectly.
Everywhere I go, people come up to me and ask, “What is that? Where can I get one?” I’ve decided that I should carry a handful of units with me as I travel, since I could probably sell every one to people who see me on the street.
A few days ago I was in Yellowstone National Park taking photographs in West Thumb and I spotted another guy using the Capture Clip System. I ran over to him and asked him how much he liked the clip and he said, “This is awesome. It is one of the best products I’ve ever used. Peter is going to sell a million of them!” Below is a photo of Rich Larson using his Capture Clip by Yellowstone Lake. Cool!
The clip design is very simple to use. The base unit of the system is a cleverly designed clamp that you secure to a belt, backpack or other strap. I like mounting the clip to my belt by my hip when I’m walking on the street. I simply place the clip on my right side, just in front of my hip so that while I’m walking, the camera moves comfortably with my body (below). When hiking or trail running, I put the clip on my backpack shoulder strap. This works much better for these higher output physical activities. It also allows full range of motion from my legs and arms for climbing, scrambling or skiing.
After the clip is mounted, the next step is to mount the quick release plate to the bottom of your camera. The cool thing is that the quick release plate uses the same geometry as Arca Swiss plates, so you can quickly transition your camera from the backpack strap (or belt) to your tripod ball head. This plate works with Really Right Stuff, Kirk and Markins ball heads. Again, all I can say is awesome. Peter really thought this one through and made the product so it works for us professionals.
I have used the clip with the following setups:
– Nikon D700
– Nikon D7000
– Canon G9 (point and shoot)
– Nikon P7000 (point and shoot)
– Nikon D300s and MB-D10
– 70-200mm f2.8
– 24-70mm f2.8
– 50mm f1.8
– 18-105mm kit lens
– Nikon 14-24mm f2.8
In each case, the clip performed as I grew to expected it to … perfectly.
The bottom of the plate has an extra female 1/4″ x 20 thread, so you can mount it onto other photo-specific equipment like light stands, clamps, car mounts, etc. In fact, Peter is designing a number of other products to go with the Capture Clip system that will allow you to mount cameras to things like bike handlebars, car roof racks and other unique vantage points.
The quick release is smooth and secure. In the two months I’ve been testing the clip, I’ve never once had a malfunction caused by the clip. Remember, this includes climbing, glissading, cycling and trail running. The camera isn’t going anywhere as long as you have clip/plate secured and in place. I did have an issue last week where I didn’t insert the plate into the clamp and my camera fell to the ground. However, this was user error. I’ve done this same thing before with my Arca Swiss tripod plates where I was in a hurry and didn’t double check to make sure the plate was properly inserted into my ball head clamp. As long as you snap the Capture Clip into place, you’ll never have an issue with the camera coming out or falling off.
Once the camera plate is inserted into the clip, there is a secondary screw-lock (safety lock) designed for for people who are nervous about the setup. However, the truth is you don’t need it. I didn’t use it one time during my testing and never had reason to use the redundant lock.
The Capture Clip is a simple, elegant design. I know that I’m gushing accolades here, but the truth is that the system is excellent. I’m not selling these or getting any commission from Peter. In fact, I donated to his Kickstarter.com campaign just like everyone else did.
All I’m saying is that you have to buy one. You won’t regret it.
For more information on Peter’s products, head over to his website: www.peakdesignltd.com.