Equipment Suggestions for a Year Backpacking around the World

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by John Ortt, Nov 30, 2006.

  1. John Ortt

    John Ortt Guest

    Hi Everyone,

    My wife and I are taking a year out from work to go travelling round the
    world and one of my
    main ambitions during the year is to indulge my interest in photography.

    My problem is what to take!

    I currently have a Canon EOS 300D (Original Rebel) and have replaced the kit
    lens with the EFS 17-85 IS.
    I also have a EF 50 1.8 for portraits and low light shooting, in addition to
    a 430EX Flash and the
    usual array of flash cards, cable trigger, mini-tripod, cleaning cloth etc.

    All of this I will be taking with me (theres no point having it unless I use

    But there are two areas which then cause me trouble.

    1) The first issue is how to store my photos.

    I know my 3GB of Compact Flash storage won't last too long so I will
    need to archive them somehow.
    The big question is do I take the technology to burn/archive them or do
    I spend more money on
    extra flash cards and archive them in the big cities onto CD/DVD
    I currently have a three year old laptop which is suprisingly small and
    compact and this would
    offer the added advantage of allowing me to write my blog on the
    computer rather than hand
    writing it or typing it in Internet cafes. The downsides are that the
    internal Hard Disk is only
    about 20Gb and it has no DVD/CD burning capability which might limit
    it's usefulness. Possible
    options might be to buy a USB hard drive or CD/DVD burner or to try to
    get a dedicated burner
    for the laptop. The only other minor niggle is that it has no wireless
    capability which would be

    The only other option would be to use an Archos or similar archiving
    tool (ipod Photo?).
    The drawback with this option is that I doubt it would hold a whole
    years worth of Photos and it
    would be a bit of a one-trick-pony as I couldn't type e-mails or blogs
    on it.

    Any other options?...............

    2) My other problem is a choice of telephoto lens for wildlife photography.

    We are planning to travel to lots of wonderful natural areas and I am
    sure there will be ample
    opportunity for great wildlife shots but in order to make the most of
    them I will need a telephoto

    I would like to stick to Canon for their reputation and the ease of
    resale in the future (if
    necessary), but I am prepared to considder other manufacturers if they
    merit it. The ideal lens
    would go from 85mm to at-least 300mm and have Image stabilisation, be
    totally sealed,
    lightweight, small, built like a tank and inexpensive! Easy task.
    I think the best lens for my needs would be the EF 100 - 400 f4 IS L
    with the EF 70 - 200 IS L
    (either f2.8 or f4) combined with the 1.4x teleconverter coming a close
    The problem with any of these lenses is the huge initial expense and the
    worry that they
    would be damaged or stolen.

    The alternative is to go for a much cheaper lens at the expense of build
    quality and ultimately
    picture quality. The other lenses I am considdering are:

    Canon EF 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 III (IS USM) - approx £155
    Canon EF 90-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM - approx £219
    Canon EF 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM - approx £252
    Canon EF 70-300mm F4-5.6 IS USM - approx £470
    Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Macro DG - approx £115
    Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 APO Macro DG - approx £180

    Any advice on any aspect would be greatly appreciated,


    John Ortt
    John Ortt, Nov 30, 2006
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  2. 1) The first issue is how to store my photos.

    You seem to know all the the options. I don't know of any others. I went
    for the burn-it-on-the-road device. You really don't want to be carrying
    a laptop unless you have to, and if all your photos are on it, it leaves
    you totally exposed to damage or theft. You could burn disks in the
    cities, but it gets expensive quickly, and if you happen to spend 2
    weeks in photographic country between cities you might run out of
    storage. My strategy is to burn 2 disks before wiping the card, then
    post one home and keep the other with me. Even then, you can amass
    silver disks quickly. On a long trip I once had 20 disks in my backpack,
    so I Fed-ex'ed them to a relative.
    You need to filter the list on what compromises you want to make. Start
    by eliminating what you can't afford. Next eliminate what you don't want
    to carry. Then assess the risk you'll be taking and decide what you can
    insure/afford to lose. What does that leave?

    On the basis of quality, weight, bulk, value, flexibility and, should it
    be necessary, replaceability, I'd go for something like a 70-200 f/4 L
    and a teleconvertor. In fact, that's exactly what I did go for when in a
    similar situation to yours.
    Derek Fountain, Nov 30, 2006
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  3. John Ortt

    rafe b Guest

    You can get these things with 40 and even 80 gig drives, AFAIK.

    If that won't hold a years' worth of photos, you need to edit them
    down a bit. Seriously... Let's say you shoot a 12 MPix camera in
    RAW, so your images are 12 MBytes each.

    80 Gig / 12 Meg gives >6600 images, if my calculations are

    Alternatively, burn the CF cards to CD or DVD as they fill,
    and mail home the burned discs.

    Either way there's some risk involved... no way around that
    as far as I can see. Similar risks would obtain with film --
    eg., hazards with lost mail, mis-processing, etc.

    rafe b
    rafe b, Nov 30, 2006
  4. John Ortt

    John Ortt Guest

    Thanks for the reply Tom,

    Some good points to think on. I am inclined to agree with you that the
    laptop is a no-go unless I can either get a CD/DVD RW for it (and/or) a
    larger hard drive.

    As to the lens I would dearly love the IS version to make things easier but
    I can live without and it saves loads of money.

    I just might have found my lens :)

    Time to go and play with one in a shop.

    1st thing is to get some insurance on your equipment. A rider on
    renters insurance would be fine, otherwise find some other insurer.
    I agree with the previus poster that the 70-200 f4 with a 1.4 converter
    would be a good combination, since you have the tripod I'd think hard
    about getting the IS model. I traveled the Virgin Islands (just for a
    couple of weeks not a year!) I had a 70-210 f4 Nikor and the size was
    Most travelers I know like the small laptop as storage as opposed to
    the photo drives. But as you said the 20gb is not enough. Is there
    anyway for you to put a 100gb drive into the laptop. Then burn CDs and
    ship them to a friend at home, to back up whats on your hard drive.
    Enjoy your trip.

    John Ortt, Nov 30, 2006
  5. John Ortt

    John Ortt Guest

    I shot 400 images last weekend so I could soon kill 80Gb but having said
    that I am not very disciplined at getting rid of the junk.

    It's easier not to bother with the price of storage these days but it's a
    very different proposition when you have to carry and nurse the equipment in
    a rucksack.

    As you say 80Gb would be fine if I paid some attention to it
    This does sound a great idea but the only problem is that I currently have
    no burner.

    I would have to try to get one for my Laptop of find a generic one which
    would work.
    Agreed. It's just coming to a decision and having confidence in that
    decision I want.
    Thanks again for the feedback Rafe.
    John Ortt, Nov 30, 2006
  6. John Ortt

    AZ Nomad Guest

    36MB actually; 24 bit color equals 3 bytes per pixel.
    AZ Nomad, Nov 30, 2006
  7. Whatever you take, it will be obsolete before you return home. :)
    Allodoxaphobia, Nov 30, 2006

  8. 36 MB would be true for TIF, but not if you're shooting RAW.

    For a "12 Mpixel" camera the RAW file size might range from
    10 MB up to 14 MB (roughly.)

    rafe b
    Raphael Bustin, Dec 1, 2006
  9. That assumes you have enough space on your ISP account. Last year 5-10
    gigabytes was about the maximum I saw for normal accounts. Even if it is now
    20 gigabytes, that may not be enough.

    Secondly, even if you had enough storage space on your ISP, you probably won't
    have the bandwidth at your local internet cafe to do serious amounts of
    Michael Meissner, Dec 1, 2006
  10. John Ortt

    John Ortt Guest

    Wow, Sounds like a great piece of kit!

    I'll look into that, thanks Donald.
    John Ortt, Dec 1, 2006
  11. John Ortt

    John Ortt Guest

    I disagree. I am taking my 300D (which is already obsolete) but if I buy a
    decent lens it should last me for years.

    My choice of media backup is a different story : )
    John Ortt, Dec 1, 2006
  12. John Ortt

    John Ortt Guest

    More Great suggestions,

    Thanks Phil

    John Ortt, Dec 1, 2006
  13. John Ortt

    Paul Mitchum Guest

    Olympus XA, Fuji Velvia, mailers.

    If you need super-spiff SLR stuff, rent cameras and lenses in the
    various places you visit.
    Paul Mitchum, Dec 1, 2006
  14. John Ortt

    John Ortt Guest

    I'm not a good enough photographer to use film. I rely heavilly on the
    feedback from the histograms and viewing the pictures onscreen to itterate
    my settings for the conditions.

    I have nothing but admiration for people who can use film cameras properly,
    unfortunately I am not one of them :(
    That was my original intention. Most of my wildlife photography would be in
    Kruger Park (South Africa) so I would have liked to simply hire an
    additionnal SLR (1.6 crop) with a 400mm prime and the amazing 70-200 f2.8
    for the 300D which I already own. That would cover all the ranges and
    provide amazing photos.

    I just cant find anyone hiring the equipment in South Africa.

    If I could do that I could probrably make do with an S3 IS as suggested
    earlier in the thread for the rest of the trip.

    (I also like the idea of the S3 as it could function as a backup camera if
    the 300D packed in.)
    John Ortt, Dec 1, 2006
  15. John Ortt

    snapper Guest

    I've gotta move countries!

    In Australia one is very lucky to have just 50 meg of space. Most ISPs offer only 5 or 10 meg.
    snapper, Dec 1, 2006
  16. I should have been more clear. I was refering to hosted web servers and not
    the space that the ISP 'generously' gives you for a personal web account. I
    pay $119.40/year ($9.95/month) for my two web servers. My old web server
    ( is now up to 10 gigabytes (originally it was 1 gigabyte), and
    I just noticed my new webserver ( is 200 gigabytes (originally it
    was 10 or 20 gigabytes). So if you were using dreamhost, you could use it to
    upload a lot of photos. But my point about the bandwidth available at the
    average internet cafe is still probably true.
    Michael Meissner, Dec 2, 2006
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