A Six-Pound Camera Kit That's All You Need To Travel the World
Planning which cameras and gear to take on my next cruise or vacation has been a lifelong obsession. I have to admit that the inhabitants of my camera bag seldom stay the same for more than a year. I invariably buy at least one item of new gear in advance of my next vacation and dispose one of my former “best choices” on eBay or through one of my favorite camera stores.
Five years ago, the gear I felt I needed to shoot anything – anywhere – weighed about 15 pounds and fitted into 15” Tenba messenger bag that weighed about 12-pounds when I took it on an airplane. Now I fit my needed gear into an 8" Lowepro Format 160 Bag weighing less than 5 pounds that fits under any airline seat. Whereas I used to take 3 cameras with about 5 lenses, I now take one pocket camera and a full-frame format body with only 2 lenses.
What’s made this possible are the astounding improvements in camera sensors. My Sony a7 III mirrorless camera body with a full-frame 25MB sensor weighs about 1.5 pounds. When I mount my Tamron f2.8 28-75mm lens on it, which weighs about the same, I have an under 3-pound camera that can produce gallery-quality images all-day long. Or, I mount my half-pound Sony FE 28mm f2.0 lens on it, giving me a two-pound street shooting rig.
Then, if I use the 1.4X APS-C/Super 35mm feature on the Sony a7 III, I can produce full-frame 105mm or 40mm images with the two lens with, according to Sony, no loss in quality. Manually cropping the Tamron's image by 50%, I can have the equivalent of a 200mm image that can easily be enlarged to a 20x30” print.
This is a long way of saying that with the superb Tamron f2.8 28-75 lens and the Sony 28mm f2.0 lens, I can handle all situations with the a7 III except for those requiring an extreme telephoto lens. As soon as one of the reputable camera companies produce a high-quality auto zoom full-frame lens that weigh less than two pound and extends to at least 400mm, I will add it to my bag in a second.
Meanwhile, I rely on the 9-ounce 28-200mm Sony RX100-M6, that I reviewed last month as the 2018 Cameras of the Year, for easily going out to 200mm. If you read this earlier review, you’ll see why I use it as my primary camera when I’m traveling and reserve the larger Sony and its two lenses for situations that a 1" sensor and small EVF can't handle. It too has a1.4X APS-C/Super 35mm feature and if I use it at 200mm, I can shoot at 280mm with little loss in resolution.
All told, this works out to less than 5-pounds of gear. The Lowepro 8" bag and a four extra batteries, two chargers and two spare SD cards, and a few filters account for the other pound and brings the total weight to 6 pounds. The Lowepro 8" bag is so sleek with no protruding pockets that it easily fits into even under-the-seat wheeled carry-on bags.
Finally, I always have my iPhone X on my person. It's mediocre for enlargements over 8x10" but does pretty well for photos I post on the web. Photo of my photo kit was shot by iPhone X and posted to this article within 5 minutes. While it doesn't have the dynamic range of the other cameras without post-processing, it serves you very well when you do your postings around midnight