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What’s In The Bag (Today)

Tokyo Dawn Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Tokyo Dawn
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

There should be little doubt to the reader here that I have hit a bit of a dry spell when it comes to both topics and photography.  🙂  We have had a very mild winter here (so far) and the part of Michigan I live in is pretty flat, and pretty brown this time of year.  It is also cold.   That creates an atmosphere in which it is difficult to get motivated to go out and shoot.

Sunrise; Ft. Myers Beach, FL Copyright Andy Richards 2017

Sunrise; Ft. Myers Beach, FL
Copyright Andy Richards 2017

Usually when this happens, I start going through old images, and come up with something.  I think I have kind of beaten that to death, so I started going through old blog topics, from the early day forward.  A couple of patterns come up.  I have addressed the IP issues of photography a fair amount.  I have talked about digital processing.  I have talked about my travels, and I have talked about “gear.” 🙂

New York, New York Casino at night Copyright Andy Richards 2016

New York, New York Casino at night
Copyright Andy Richards 2016

Gear is a funny thing.  It is a part of every photographer’s evolution from a beginning shooter forward.  At some point we fall in love with gear and begin to think it is going to make us a better photographer.  Eventually we learn that it doesn’t really do that at all.  We buy cheap gear because we cannot afford the real high quality stuff in many instances.  Then we look back and realize that we spent at least as much on the different iterations of cheap gear as we would have spent on the quality gear in the first place (this is especially true of lenses and tripods).

Wooden Boats Awaiting Restoration Newport, RI Copyright Andy Richards 2016

Wooden Boats Awaiting Restoration
Newport, RI
Copyright Andy Richards 2016

And then there is the evolution of gear.  My starting point was a 35mm SLR film camera with a turn-hand winder, and without a built in light meter.  Today I carry the physical equivalent of a P&S for 90% of my shooting.  But in between ……. 🙂 wow.  Reviewing a couple old posts, I had to laugh.  In 2011, I waxed philosophical about “less is more” [“In the Bag” (getting ready for Spring)].  At the end of that blog, I listed the gear in my “bag” in 2011.  LOL.  All in, that was about 15 lbs of gear (not to mention the bulk of schlepping that stuff around).

Flag Detail The Acropolis Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Flag Detail
The Acropolis
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Today I travel mostly with my Sony RX100iv weighing about 1/2 lb and pocketable.  When I do need a tripod, my Sirui T-025X carbon fiber tripod weighs about 1/5 lbs, and its (just under) 12 inch folded length fits in my carry on bag.  It is plenty rigid enough for a light P&S camera.  But I have used it with my bigger cameras, too.  You may need to brace it, but it will still be better than no tripod in those instances when you are simply unable to pack one.  I would say “less is more” fits my today’s mode better than it did in 2011. 🙂

Temple Rokuon-Ji Kyoto Japan Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Temple Rokuon-Ji
Kyoto Japan
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

My point, though, is that photograpers and technology both evolve.  The RX100iv was not in existence in 2011 and there was simply no equivalent (the RX100 debutted in June 2012, but it was not even close to the camera the later iterations — especially the III, IV and V — were).  At the same time, the more I traveled the less pleasure I found in lugging all that gear around.  It is a lot of trouble in most cases.  I have to confess that I still keep my Sony a7 DSLR-like body, a couple of lenses, and a larger carbon fiber tripod, which I use for “dedicated” photography outings.  I am still able to fit the body and lenses in a carryon bag, and the Sirui 3204x tripod, with a folded length of 20 inches, fits rather easily in a checked bag (I have also carried it on in a carry-on size suiter suitcase).  Even that gear weighs about 1/2 of the 2011 bag.

Clontarf, Ireland Copyright 2014  Andy Richards

Clontarf, Ireland
Copyright 2014 Andy Richards

Every image except the last one (a7) here was taken with the small cam.  For purposes of my photography and vision, I do not think it has suffered by shedding weight and numbers of equipment 🙂

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7 Responses

  1. I’ll tell you what I keep in my bag. Some fried chicken. A tomato. French bread. A couple of packets of mayo. And, some water. With that rig I have the patience to photograph anything. Oh, handi-wipes. Fried chicken is greasy. ⚜📷🐓

  2. LOL Ray. I forgot an essential in my bag – cigars 🙂

  3. It’s funny how things work. I haven’t changed anything major in terms of what I travel with, photography-wise, since I bought the D800E (that will be five years ago in a few months). I’m using the same lens set that I was using nine years ago, other than swapping an updated lens for its predecessor (the Nikkor 80-400) four years ago.(I sold the older model to help finance the updated version).

    You’re right; hauling around this kind of equipment can be a major pain and if I was doing the kind of international travel you do with some regularity, I’d have to make some significant changes to my modus operandi. I would not, for instance, take any part of my kit on anything other than a dedicated photo trip. But on a trip dedicated to photography, I’d be hard pressed to give up any of my current equipment.

  4. Yeah. I understand the thinking, Kerry. I still carry the bigger cam and lenses on dedicated trips. I would venture, however, that the a7II can probably go head to head with the D800 at 1/2 its weight. Sony now has a 70-200 f2.8 for that body, which is also lighter than the Nikkor. Not sure how it would match up in quality. Purported to be modeled after older Minolta design and would guess it is pretty good. And I think their Zeiss designed lenses are as good as it gets. It is significantly lighter and somewhat smaller — but not enough to make me switch if I already had the gear you have.

  5. Andy, you never broke the 15 pound barrier? Well then, you most certainly need more lenses! Let me know when you get to 25 pounds. 🙂

  6. LOL, Stewart. That was my “less is more” 2011 bag :-). Prior to that time, I had all sorts of heavy artillery. At one time I carried 2 Nikon SLR bodies, 5 lenses (including an all metal f2.8 300 – seemed like 15 lbs all by itself 🙂 ), a heavy aluminum tripod and a massive ball head (think small boat anchor). I am sure I was well north of 25lbs back i those days.

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