Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ready To Roam

Bags, gear and accessories to travel light without sacrificing photo capability
By Wes Pitts Published in Accessories
HoldFast Roamographer
HoldFast Roamographer
Travel light and be prepared. These are the keys to enjoying photography away from home. Whether your destination is across the country or around the globe, having the right mix of photo gear helps ensure you'll return with awesome images. Here are some ideas for equipment and accessories to get you thinking about your next photo adventure.

Along with your interchangeable-lens camera, consider bringing a capable compact camera as a backup, or for circumstances when your full kit is too cumbersome or possibly unwelcome (some locations and events consider interchangeable-lens cameras to be "professional" gear and restrict their use).

If you're staying domestic, the Android-powered Samsung Galaxy Camera can connect to Verizon or AT&T (depending on the model) for a mobile Internet connection, letting you upload photos to a backup service or share on social networks. It offers a 21x, 23-483mm zoom, which will cover just about any subject. It can even respond to voice commands like, "Zoom in" or "Record video." Estimated Street Price: $549. www.samsung.com

Another smart option is a tough and rugged, all-conditions compact like the Olympus Stylus TG-3. It has a fast 25-100mm (equivalent) ƒ/2 zoom and a unique, optional LED Light Guide ringlight for macro photography. But its best travel qualification is its ready-for-anything attitude: It's waterproof to 50 feet, crushproof up to a 220-pound force, can handle drop impacts from up to seven feet and is freezeproof to 14º F. List Price: $349. www.getolympus.com

When choosing lenses for your interchangeable-lens camera, consider the benefits of a superzoom like the Tamron 16-300mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD. The "all-in-one" zoom covers an extraordinary range, from wide-angle to powerful telephoto, making it possible to carry just one lens—definitely convenient when trying to keep the weight down. It has Vibration Compensation (VC) built in to help keep shots steady without a tripod. Estimated Street Price: $629. www.tamron-usa.com

While we're talking about optics, there's one filter you must bring with you, and that's a polarizer. The polarizer is indispensable for its ability to block surface glare, render rich, intense blue skies and cut unwanted reflections. The Hoya PRO1D Circular Polarizer has an ultra-thin, low-profile frame, especially helpful with wide-angle lenses, and is multicoated to reduce lens flare and ghosting. Estimated Street Price: $159 (77mm; price varies by size). www.kenkotokinausa.com

You'll also want to have a lens cleaning tool on hand. The LensPen is one of our favorite solutions, as it requires no liquid or cloths. The retractable dust brush and Invisible Carbon cleaning tip safely remove fingerprints and dust from optics quickly and easily. List price: $15. www.lenspen.com

Having a tripod on hand is always preferable, but may not be practical when trying to keep your gear to a minimum. A travel monopod like the Manfrotto 680B is a lightweight alternative for extra stabilization. The four-section aluminum design collapses to just 20 inches in length, extends to a maximum height of just over five feet, and while it weighs only 1.8 pounds, it can support a load of up to 22 pounds. Estimated Street Price: $69. www.manfrotto.us

You may not want to carry a lot of lighting accessories, but some basic tools to control your flash output are important. The LumiQuest Mini Kit includes a Soft Screen diffuser to soften your flash and a Mini SoftBox for greater diffusion that also enlarges your light source approximately four to five times the size of the flash head. The kit works with both built-in and off-camera flash units. List Price: $41. www.lumiquest.com

If you plan to shoot video along with stills, you might opt to leave your flash at home and carry a single LED light source like the Flashpoint 144 LED. This dimmable continuous light source has twin arrays of tungsten and daylight-balanced LEDs, so you can dial in its output to match the ambient light. Estimated Street Price: $49. www.adorama.com

Another handy lighting accessory is a collapsible reflector. Reflectors are great, as they require no power, and are agile and easy to use, helping you fill shadows or add a little highlight to a scene. The Photoflex LiteDisc 12-inch Gold/Silver reflector collapses down to about one-third its size and offers both warm and neutral reflective surfaces. Estimated Street Price: $20. www.photoflex.com

In addition to an extra battery for your camera, consider bringing along multiple memory cards. Memory prices are so affordable now, you might opt to simply shoot until the card is full, then break out another. For example, a Lexar Professional SDHC 16 GB can be had for under $20. You'll still want to back up images to your laptop or an online service, if possible, but keeping your original images intact on your cards affords an extra level of security. www.lexar.com

For safety and creative uses like light painting, it's smart to keep a flashlight with your gear. A compact, sturdy LED model like the Maglite XL50 tucks away in even the most diminutive camera bags, is made of durable aluminum and has an adjustable "spot-to-flood" beam. The convenient push-button tailcap-switch design is powered by three AAA batteries. Estimated Street Price: $29. www.maglite.com

Another safety item that's wise to have with you is a basic first-aid kit. Adventure Medical Kits' Ultralight & Watertight .5 includes multiple bandages, pain relievers, antiseptic wipes and blister-stopping moleskin in a small, waterproof pouch, ideal for handling minor aches and scrapes when away from the hotel. List Price: $17. www.adventuremedicalkits.com

Sad to say, but photographers are often targets for pickpockets and thieves. The lightweight Eagle Creek Undercover Neck Wallet DLX is concealed under your clothing and features two zippered pockets to protect cash, identifying documents, memory cards and more. The back is breathable and moisture-wicking for all-day comfort. List Price: $20. www.eaglecreek.com

Weather can be tough to predict in unfamiliar climes, so it won't hurt to have some basic protection from a sudden shower for you and your gear. Besting the basic black trash bag, the AquaTech Oil Cape is a one-size-fits-most solution that compresses down to a fraction of its size, but is big enough to easily cover you and your camera bag in a pinch. Estimated Street Price: $39. www.aquatech.com

Camera bags are typically pretty conspicuous, which can tempt thieves. As a more fashionable solution for the ladies, consider the Shootsac Tote & Shoot, which looks like an everyday tote, but with ample room for camera gear and a quick-access front panel. It's available in several colors, too. List Price: $229. www.shootsac.com

A classic bag with more masculine style, the Billingham L2 is an ideal bag for day trips, with space for a DSLR and a couple of lenses. There's no zipper on this bag—the Quick Release System straps give you fast access to your gear. If you need more space for additional accessories, side fittings let you attach optional accessory pockets. Estimated Street Price: $249. www.rtsphoto.com

For carrying a lot of gear in style, consider the generously sized HoldFast Roamographer. This handsome bag is made in America with tons of room in the removable padded compartments for cameras, lenses and accessories. A matching Luggage Tag Wallet is included with pockets for identification and cash. There are even integrated Carrier Straps to secure a tripod beneath the bag. List Price: $535. www.hold-fast.myshopify.com
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