Friday, July 23, 2010

One Camera, One Lens

I don’t talk much about equipment here, but as I get ready to leave for my next trip I have been thinking about it a lot. I am taking a road trip up the Oregon coast to Seattle to see my daughter. After that I will go to Victoria BC for a few days where I am taking a workshop with Lauren Henkin. From this point I also plan to visit the San Juan Islands and Vancouver.

I am not an equipment junkie (at least not anymore). When I traveled during my film days I would usually bring 3 cameras and maybe 4 or 5 lenses. I needed one 35mm for slow black and white film, another one for infrared film and my Mamiya 645 just because I loved that camera. This worked out ok, but it made for a very heavy backpack.

I always laugh a little under my breath when the first thing someone asks me is “what camera do you use?”. Equipment is overrated and this is proven everyday with some of the amazing images I have seen coming out of iPhones and other “point and shoot” cameras.

My first digital camera was the Nikon D80 which I had converted to shoot infrared only. A year later (after accepting and then embracing digital photography) I bought a Nikon D300. I only own two lenses. One is my Nikkor 105mm 2.8 Macro lens. I use this primarily on my D300 for flowers. It is a beautiful but very heavy lens. My other lens is a Nikkor 18-200mm 3.5 lens. Sure it would be nice to have a longer lens, but for most of what I shoot, this is just fine. This brings me to why I am writing about this.

I have a tendency to over pack when I travel. I don’t want to do that on this trip and that includes my camera equipment. At one point I thought about renting another lens to put on the D80 but I changed my mind and decided to bring the D300 with the 18-200 lens. Not having to make any decision about which camera, or which lens to use frees me up to simply concentrate on the image I want to make. I considered leaving my D80 at home to really lighten up my camera bag, but I think it would be a good idea to have a backup camera “just in case”.

In some ways I am finding it difficult to put my “flower project” on hold, but I know once I get out to the coast and allow myself to slow down, I will be inspired, relaxed and eager to shoot.

Of course I will still have to bring my laptop, external hard drive, card reader, cable release, tripod……………………….


  1. I love the idea of one camera and one lens. That said a back up camera seems wise too. To me part of the appeal of a road trip is not having to worry - too much - about overpacking. Sounds like a fun journey!

  2. Thanks Katherine! It is true that having a car allows you to bring more than if you were flying, but it is still freeing to pack lightly. I will keep you posted!

  3. Have fun Dianne. I seem to always overpack on my trips. Never use half of it, but there is always that moment I say...Oh, glad I brought this. I carry 1 camera and a point and shoot, 4 lenses, filters, chargers, extra batteries, tripod, unipod, strobe, walkie talkies, Diane insists now since I almost drowned that one time. OK, OK, I'm a photo junkie. I seem to always drive. Be safe and have a great time!

  4. You're very brave to throw caution to the wind and take "one camera, one lens". I use my 18-200 as a "walk about" or scouting lens and love it.

    But your 105 is a beautiful piece of glass. I used to dive with a fellow in the Solomon Islands who made magnificent underwater images, both macro and wide angle, using only that lens! If I could own but one lens it would be my 105.

    So I'll tell you what I would do if I were making your trip: I'd leave the D80 home but pack the 105 and 18-200, and I'd only use the latter if/when I really needed the extra reach or wider angle (or, heaven forbid, something awful happened to my 105).

    I know you'll choose wisely. I should add, though, that, like you, I usually pack too heavy :)

  5. Hi: I recently began following yourblog. I live on San Juan Island and Iknow you will love our lire bit of heaven! If you have ny questions- feel free toast! Travel well and be happy!

  6. Oh dear, now I am confused...what should I bring? No - I am sticking with my original plan. There is a reason for it.

    Zquilts - thanks for following my blog! I am really looking forward to being up in your part of the world! I may be in touch.

  7. Dear Dianne,

    I have a D70 a friend gave me when he brought himself a D200. With the D70 I have three lenses and when ever I leave the house, I take camera, three lenses and a tripod with me. However I can understand the desire to keep it to one lens and one camera, still I feel not taking the macro with you is a mistake, I mean your only taking one body. So how much is just one extra lens?

    In the days of film I would travel with a 4x5, my Hasselblad case with three lenses, two bodies and a Mamiya 645 with two lenses and some other photographic accessories. Of course I was much younger and in no way I could do this today. So when we take the past into consideration, one camer and two lenses, a light meter and tripod is very little.

    Enjoy your trip,

  8. Ok - you guys convinced me. I think I reached a compromise - two camera bags. Everything goes in the big bag and then I will have my small camera bag for outings where I want to keep it simple. I will let you know how that works! Thanks for the comment Egmont!

  9. I have to admit, when I take all the equipment I do, I break it down to a small backpack I bought from Kata. It allows me to carry one camera, three lenses and a few accessories. I carry the tripod over my shoulder and I have to admit, it's still fairly light. I have walked many miles with it. The camera hooks right to the straps at the ready. I only take it off when I need a lens change. Anything else stays in the car and I am able to adjust equipment and accessories as needed. Sort of a base station.