In a few days I leave for a month long trip to Antarctica as a staff member of Cheesman’s Ecology Safaris. Based on a 300 ft. Russian Ice Breaker, 100 passengers will voyage to the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia, the Orkney’s and the Antarctic Peninsula. I’ll be giving photo instruction and operating an inflatable boat used for shore access. It will be a great journey and an excellent adventure. A huge plus will be traveling and working with my friend, fellow photographer and co-guide on many previous ventures, Hugh Rose. If you have been reading this blog, you have heard him mentioned many times. He is a veteran of the Southern Hemisphere and has been to Antarctica multiple times over the last decade. While I’m excited about the trip, I’m not looking forward to the multi-day flight. Without going around the world, I’m about as far away from Antarctica as one can possibly be!
I’ve been drilling down the camera and lens selections and it is not an easy task. My oft quoted “ism” by Mark Twain rings clear in principle whether one is writing or packing: “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter”. While less can be more in some cases, it takes more time to travel with less. The looming reality that Canon’s new 1D Mark IV will not ship in time for my travels, has caused me to regroup on my gear. I prefer to travel with 2 cameras but I’m taking three for a few reasons. My standby pair of 1Ds Mark III camera bodies are going, in particular for their ruggedness and durability, not to mention the great files they generate. I also want video capability, and this, along with the lightweight option of the 5D II, puts it in the lineup. So, weighing in at 33.3lbs, here is what is in my Gura Gear Kiboko camera bag:
- 2 – Canon 1Ds Mark III Bodies with RSS Angle brackets
- 5 D Mark II – because the 1D Mark IV won’t ship in time 🙁
- 400 f/4 DO IS
- 16-35 II f/2.8
- 24-105 f/4L IS
- 100-400 L IS
- 24 TS
- 1.4x and 2x converters
- Battery chargers for 1Ds and 5D + 1 extra battery each
- 3 – 500 GB external hard drives
- Flash media (32GB San Disk UDMA Type 2 flash cards)
- Arctic butterfly sensor cleaning brush
- Cable release
The above is going in my camera bag, which will be hand carried all the way. If I loose all my check in luggage, I can at least be operable with the essential camera gear–and a few bummed clothes.
What I’m leaving home is the Canon 7D. I do this with some hesitation. I like the camera body, how it feels, the button configuration, the auto focus, the burst rate, but I’m not that impressed with the files. I’m too spoiled by the images from my full sensor cameras. What I like about the 7D, I pretty much dislike about the 5D II, except the files on that camera are beautiful. (I really wish the 7D had a full frame sensor, but I guess that would be the 5D Mark III–I hope it comes soon) So, the 5D II wins. I’m sure I will often wish for a faster burst rate, but I’ll have to live with that.
Here is a list of other camera related stuff that will be in my checked baggage.
- EWA Marine underwater housing
- 14mm Sigma lens
- External mic and LCD Hood for shooting video with the 5D
- Gizo carbon fiber tripod
- Kirk BH 3 ballhead
- Kinesis shoulder harness
- Kineses waist belt and hip camera cases
I’m still packing, but have most of the details down. I hope to keep posting to the blog at least a few times a week, but it will be text only unfortunately.