Camera Pr0n OR Packing It In For Our Mediterranean Trip

First, a confession:  I am an unrepentant certified, chronic over-packer.  I want to make sure that I have “stuff” to cover all of the myriad possibilities of what might happen.  I can’t count how many times I have returned home from vacation with a suitcase half full of clean clothes that I never needed.

I’m no different when packing the photography gear.  So why should this trip be any different? The only thing that kept me from taking EVERYTHING is that I had to fit all the critical bits into my carry-ons.  (All the breakables into a backpack but some of the little stuff like cables, extra batteries, and such– those could go into my other rolly bag along with my extra shoes and undies!)

So here is the “stuff” that needs to go into the pack: 

  • PinkPC – Too small for major post-processing work but OK for minor LR adjustments and for backing up the cards. 
  • CameraNikon D700 (Considered taking a backup but didn’t think I would have the room.  Did pack my little Canon Point & Shoot as a “just in case”.)
  • Lenses – Nikon 14-24mm; 70-200mm; 24-70mm; 50mm.  That should pretty much cover it.
  • Flash – The pop-up on the D700 is pretty useless other than as a Commander.  Figured I would take the SB-400 for “snapshots” and then pack the SB-800 in case I wanted something a bit more powerful.  Oh yeah, will try to fit in a LumiQuest softbox as well  – another “just in case”. Hmm… what about remote triggers or a flash cord? Probably overkill.
  • Misc “Stuff” – Lens cleaner. Card reader and cables. Wireless mouse. Battery charger. Power supplies. PacSafe55L to secure the backpack. SunSniper camera strap. Regular camera strap. Quick Release plates.  Lots of CF Cards. Extra batteries.  Monopod?  That one can go into the checked luggage.


So let the creative packing begin!  The backpack is a basic Targus – a big main compartment with a laptop sleeve and some smaller zippered sections front and side.

Laptop slides into the back. Slip in LumiQuest.  Then 70-200mm and the 14-24mm lenses share a neoprene laptop sleeve (a freebee from BestBuy!).  Shove the longer lens into the bottom, fold, add the 14-24mm and we save space and offer a bit of bump protection.  SB-800 in its case sidles up next to that. 50mm in a little pouch goes in next then the camera with 24-70 attached slips in with a bit of padding around that.  Shove PacSafe into a side pocket for easy access, stuff all the little stuff in the other outer pockets and throw a couple of ball bungees in the top so that I can secure the backpack to my small roll-on luggage bag. The pack is now stuffed with no room to spare and I have a 22 lb weight attached to my back.  UGH! 

The Verdict

So after packing all of this gear, I suppose you might wonder what actually got used.

Well, the laptop was a definite must so glad that I had it.  Even if I didn’t do any post processing work, it was nice to be able to look at the pics on something larger than the LCD of the camera. Not to mention, that I felt much better knowing that I had file backups of everything.

As you might have already guessed, the 24-70mm lens was the most used.  It is certainly the work horse of the bunch.  This was followed closely by the 70-200mm.  On the tours, it was “Spray, pray and move on to the next place!” That didn’t leave much time for exchanging lenses.

The least used lens was the 14-24mm. I had just gotten this before the trip and had not had much of a chance to work with it yet.  I did do some shooting around the ship with it though.  Here’s one just for fun:

@ 14 mm - Tone Mapped in Photomatix

Had a bit of fun with the 50mm too (f1.4 @ 1/50th sec).  Here’s a shot from the midnight dessert buffet.  (I was tempted but took the picture not the brownie!)

Dessert Anyone?

Completely forgot that I had the Canon P&S. Wish I had thought to take it to Sorrento in the rain but oh well , guess we’ll have to go back!

Minnie and UsFlashes were overkill. I popped the SB-400 on for our character breakfast pics but that was about it.

The SunSniper strap got used about half of the trip.  I made the ultimate mistake of using an un-modified quick release plate as the connector instead of the swivel screw from SunSniper.  Walking through Topsiders Buffet, the ring came off.  (GASP!) But I had rigged a “safety strap” so all was not a disaster.  Of course, without pliers, I couldn’t unscrew the QR plate and had to fall back on my Optech strap.

NEVER touched the monopod.

I have to say that for my first foray in Europe, I learned a lot!

  • I will NEVER again tote all of my camera gear in a backpack. It was heavy, hard to stuff under the seat and didn’t really have enough padding for protection. (Before we even got home, Steve had ordered the Pelican 1510 for me.  It was waiting by the front door when we arrived! )
  • Tours and shore excursions are a great way to get a flavor for a place especially if you are not a seasoned traveller.  BUT,  the pacing is fast and it can be difficult to get unique shots.   Now I have a good idea of where to go next and how to plan more shooting time.
  • I WILL carry the P&S camera with me at all times – even if I never use it. “Just in case”.

And most important….We WILL go back!

Check out Steve’s trip blog for more of our fun in Europe – Where in the World

And for more pictures – Mediterranean Cruise Gallery


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