The Need to Loose Weight

The older I get and the more I travel the more I realise that I need to slim down. It has become increasingly obvious to me that humping around a full fat DSLR and everything that goes with it is a young mans game, a game that I can no longer play. Furthermore it’s a game that many airlines are no longer supportive of, more of that later.

As a landscape and wildlife photographer I regularly use focal lengths ranging from 16mm through to an equivalent 800mm. At the wide end this is achieved with a 16-35 on a full frame body and at the long end a 500mm on a 1.6 crop body. In between these focal lengths 24-70, 70-200 and 100-400 complete the full 16-800 coverage. The problem is the weight, bulk and support needed particularly for the 500mm which only Popeye can hand hold for any period of time.

Thus my “essential” travel kit has looked like this (all Canon):

16-35 f2.8 = 640g

24-70 f2.8 = 805g

70-200 f4 = 760g

100-400 f4-5.6 = 1,380g

500 f4 = 3,190g

5D mk 3 = 950g

7D mk 2 = 910g

All of this giving a total weight of 8,635g.

For best landscape results (think long exposures) and for the 500mm a study tripod, gimbal and ball head are required, all of which add substantially to the burden.

Gitzo GT3543LS Tripod = 2,260g

Markins Ball Head = 900g

Wimberely Gimbal = 1,400g

Added to bodies and lenses this brings my core equipment up to a far from insubstantial 13.2kg.

If this were not bad enough and believe me it is, there is then a maras of other “stuff” that tags along – batteries, filters, filter holders, remote release, memory cards etc etc. All of which is squeezed into the biggest bag that airlines will allow as carry on and it’s easy to see how a total weight well in excess of 15kg is arrived at.

The consequences of this burden has for me been an increasing reluctance to get out and actually take any photographs, for me it rather ridiculously has become a rather “all or nothing” attitude and of late “nothing” has been winning out.

A word about travelling with a full fat DSLR set-up. Airlines are increasingly reducing the limit on carry-on (hand) baggage, 10 years ago limits of 15kg or unlimited weight we’re common but today many have a 10kg limit, some a 7.5kg limit and some low cost carriers allow just 5kg. I have found these limits increasingly problematic and at times stressful as despite best efforts the airlines are waking up to the devious tactics employed by many photographers to sneak onto the plane with excess weight. Increasingly I see photographers being stopped at the gate and forced to check-in to the hold their precious gear – a nightmare scenario as far as I am concerned. Looking to the future I only see this issue getting worse and for me a major factor in my decision to slim down.

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