Last post I promised you a rundown of what camera gear I brought on the Grand Canyon River Trip. and how it worked out. I mentioned too the importance of planned redundancy so your trip isn’t ruined with an unplanned accident with a critical piece of your camera gear. What I took on the Grand Canyon 21 day wilderness river trip was pretty all inclusive, or so I thought.
Here’s that Pelican Case again with my camera gear packed snugly within the provided foam.
That foam is customizable to exactly the configuration of your particular gear needs. For my all purpose use, I brought my Sony A7RII body, attached to the Sony 24-240mm Zeiss lens. I am in LOVE with this camera with its 42 megapixels and 5 axis stabilization feature. I can use it in lower light than before without a tripod AND if there’s an animal posing beyond the reasonable reach of my lens, I can crop way in in post-processing and retain image quality. Pair that with a Sony Zeiss lens (or just about any legacy glass with adaptor) and you’re in heaven. The 24-240 is a bit heavy & slow in its longer focal lengths, but it has a wide enough range to be the only lens I really need if I’m hiking and don’t want to mess with multiple lenses. I’m not in the business of testing the technical (but important) details, so here is the DP exhaustive review of the A7RII, and this is the more personal experiential review from A.D. Wheeler.
For the 24-240 and all the lenses I brought the standard UV filter and a circular polarizing filter. Knowing that I’d be hiking to waterfalls, I also added the Firecrest 10 stop ND filter. This was for the Long Exposure work I expected to be doing. The Firecrest ND had excellent reviews for minimal color casting that I experienced with others. It doesn’t disappoint and is worth the extra money. You can read a review of that filter here.
Here’s the camera though,The Olympus TG4 Waterproof Camera, that took the pictures no one else on the trip could take:
This one I bought especially for this river trip, and because I knew more trips like it were coming up. The waterproof, tough cameras aren’t known for their image quality, but this one was at the top of the pile. The coolest part about it is you can shoot in RAW, giving you more post processing options. And besides, being the trip historian, it was my duty to record our time in the boats on the river! Here’s an image that really shows what it can do:
Now for the planned redundancy. I brought a back-up camera body, the impressive in itself Sony A7, and Sony Zeiss lenses 24-70 & 70-200mm‘s, both noteworthy lenses. This would cover most of anything I would need should my 24-240 or A7RII meet with disaster.
At the start of this post I mentioned I thought I’d been all-inclusive of what I’d brought. I certainly used the A7RII and 24-240, almost exclusively. There were no gear catastrophes, thank goodness. What I missed was my Sony 90 f2.8 macro lens for the crazy rock details and unexpected blooms happening everywhere (this was supposed to be a Winter Trip!). Shoot. I made do of course, but here’s what I learned:
- Redundancy is great if you can afford the weight and space for it, but don’t bring it just because it’s your favorite. See below…
- Think carefully about the type of wilderness you’ll be shooting and the type of lenses you’ll need to get what you want. As grand as that canyon is, 24mm was plenty wide enough because you’re deep in a gorge as opposed to on top looking out and over a huge expanse. When I was in Alaska I had the big wide lens for the landscapes I would surely be shooting, but completely missed out on the abundant wildlife because my lenses were too short. Same is true in a place like Yellowstone.
- Even if you don’t have just the right camera gear, the point is to be playful and enjoy the amazing place you’re in. That’s the creative part, right? It’s not the camera gear that brings out the spirit of the place, it’s your experience and translation of it with whatever gear you happen to have.