A journey can be an exciting adventure and as photographers we want to prepare the best we can, to capture all the exciting moments. Often times, photographers doubt that the gear that they usually use might not be enough and plan on buying new cameras. In my opinion, buying new gear specifically for a travel does more harm than good.
I traveled recently through Southeast Asia only with a FujiX100F ($1,299 on Amazon), a fixed focal mirrorless camera. A lot of people were asking if I wouldn’t be afraid that I could miss a lot of interesting aspects due to the fixed focal length of 35mm and why I wouldn’t invest in new gear.
In hindsight, using just the camera that I already am familiar with was the best decision, and the money that others would invest in new gear was better spent on the vacation itself.
Here are my reasons why You should just use the same gear for Your travel photography, gear that You already use at home.
The most important aspect of using the same gear for Your travel photography would be that You are already familiar with it. Buying new gear means that You have zero experience with it and might have to learn how to control it again.
Although the fundamentals of photography don’t change when using different equipment, using unfamiliar gear can lead to frustration, especially when doing extreme changes like switching between different systems. There will be a lot to learn in order to achieve the same results again.
Changing focal lengths is also not advisable.
Every focal length has its own characteristics and a wide angle lens is much different than 50mm or even going for a telelens. Not only is the distortion very different, which makes the photograph appear very differently, the process of photographing differs a lot too.
You have to adapt to a totally different frame and adjust the distance to the subject.
When doing travel photography, speed can be crucial. Moments can pass by so quickly when You try to photograph people and unique situations, that it can really be harmful, should You use gear that You aren’t familiar with.
Now You might be afraid, that a single camera and lens combination might not be sufficient in capturing a lot of different situations. Well, from my experience that isn’t true.
With my FujiX100F I was pretty much able to photograph anything I wanted. From landscapes to people, to close-ups of big animals.
Again, it is beneficial that I am already familiar with my equipment and know how to use it. Therefore I don’t feel limited by only using this one particular camera, where I can’t even change lenses.
If You have a similar combination, I sens that You also know how to use it in different situations, so that more lenses, aren’t really necessary.
Having only a single camera means to travel lighter. Weight might not seem like a huge factor, but when You are traveling and photographing for an entire day, every reduction in weight will be noticeable to Your back.
Traveling with one camera, instead of a lot of different lenses is obviously beneficial when it comes to weight.
Another aspect to remember is, that with more gear, You are less likely to take it with You when going out for a photo walk. So while You might have bought all that expensive, shiny gear, how often will You take it realistically with You?
This means, that You end up more often than not with just a camera and a lens anyway.
Now comes the most important aspect, why I prefer to travel only with one camera.
I am more focused on actually taking pictures instead of worrying about which lens to use.
When traveling, I notice that a lot of photographers are more worried about their lenses, or equipment and are spending more time looking at their backpacks full of gear, than absorbing the atmosphere of the new travel destination.
Instead of exploring the new environment, they are changing lenses constantly and trying to test out which combination might give them that little extra.
In all honesty, it isn’t visible which lens has been used in the end anyway. Especially if You are taking the travel photos for Yourself and Your family to show around, it doesn’t really make a difference which lens You use.
So instead of gazing at Your gear, try to intake all the new experiences and memories that a traveler can give You.
Don’t worry too much about gear, the camera that You already have fun with at home will also be good enough when in a foreign place. Focus on photography, rather than gear and You will have the most joy out of that vacation.
All the images in this article have been taken with my FujiX100F and I am quite sure, that I would have got worse results if I had bought a new camera and invested in new lenses, just because I would be too afraid to only travel with one camera and feared that I might miss out on something.