Hey ladies,

One of the biggest problems I encounter when packing for trips is not how many pairs of shoes I need or what shades of nail polish to leave home. No, I struggle the most with exactly what combination of cameras and gear to bring along. We Travelettes are very passionate about our photography and while we recognize that it’s ultimately up the photographer to make a good shot, equipment certainly helps.

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When I went on a 20 day backpacking trip in Mexico in 2008, I decided to bring only disposable cameras. My dad had just given me a fancy Nikon digital slr for Christmas and I dreaded more than anything to lose my precious new toy. While my low quality snap shots still captured much of the spirit and fun memories of our trips, I regretted not bringing my nicer camera. I had huge misconceptions about the risk involved and it turned out all of our hostels offered security lockers, we kept our carry-ons safely by our sides on buses, and I had not a thing lost or stolen. While I realize this could have been a totally different and potentially traumatic story, I let my fear stop me from using this great gift for exactly what it was meant for!

Usually now when I travel I bring two cameras. One is my Nikon Coolpix 5700. It’s a digital model with more perks than average, but of a pretty modest size and appearance. The other is my Olympus OM-4 that my dad gave me. I have a wide angle and adjustable zoom lens for this baby. On days when I’m lazier and want to spent less time worried about keeping my precious Olympus from breaking, getting stolen, or getting too much dust under its mirrors, I take out the Nikon. When I really want to photograph, I break out the film. It’s probably pretty silly for me to use film but at this point I can’t afford a digital slr that has results close enough (sure, the money I don’t spend on developing film could help me save up for it, but who would be that logical?) and I’m so in love with my Olympus and the process of film photography that I can’t give it up. This team of two cameras really suits me well. In her interview with Travelettes, Carolin Weinkopf mentions that she uses a Pentax digital body which can accept old analog lenses, something that got me very excited and anxious to try!

I think we have to be honest with ourselves about our picture taking intentions when we travel. A professional photographer or even a passionate shutterbug does need and want a full kit. Others may find they really do just live better in the moments and prefer a small digi or even a camera phone that just slips in their pocket for a night out. We have to consider where we’ll going and what sort of impression we’ll give off if we trek around all day with a several thousand dollar goliath tied to our necks. What if we want to photograph our new friends at the hostel bar or get a great time exposure over the ocean? I usually don’t bring an external flash for the Olympus because I prefer night photography with existing light, but an event or club photographer might find it necessary. It’s a good idea while packing to really consider what sort of photos you want and plan accordingly. Don’t forget rechargeable batteries or the proper adapter for a charging port, or else film (though if you’re like me, you’ll find that you always need more)!

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What cameras do you bring on your trips? Do you like to capture every detail or remember trips without photos?

post by Jackie Clark