Trip Alert #6: Packing for Canada 2012

After Rain on Paradise Valley Trail - Banff National Park, Canada
Canon 5D mark II + Canon 24 f3.5L TSE
A few readers/bloggers have asked me about the gear we brought during our 18-day road trip to the Canadian Rockies. Since we planned to camp with a pop-up for the entire excursion, we weren’t limited by the equipment we could take. In April 2011, Tamy reserved electric sites at Banff, Jasper and Radium. In the film era, lack of electricity was no big deal, but today’s digital gear is different and requires access to the “grid.” While I was certain that we wouldn’t encounter any power issues, I decided to pack redundant equipment to ensure our images would be protected against a catastrophic memory failure. 

The picture, below. illustrates the sum of photo gear that Tamy and I brought on the trip.
Bruce's Kit to the Left & Tamy's Kit to the Right
Both Think-Tank StreetWalkier Series bags 
photo: iPhone 4

The bag to the left held a Canon 7D mounted to a 300mm f2.8IS L, Canon 5D mark II, Canon 100mm f2.8IS L macro, Canon 50mm f1.4, Canon 24mm f3.5L TSE and Canon 1.4x converter. In addition, I carried a pixel rocket with about 64 GB of memory distributed on 14 cards (more about this strategy in a later post), a small 320EX flash, cable release, rocket blower and 11” macbook air. As always, my Gitzo 1325CF legs and 3780 ball head were an essential part of my kit.

The bag to the right contained a Canon 40D, Canon 100-400 f4.5-5.6IS L, 24-105 f4IS L, and Canon G9 point and shoot camera. Tamy also packed about 32 GB of memory, two pocket hard drives, cable release and rocket blower. Smaller gear allowed for a smaller and lighter tripod, so she used our Gitzo 1932basalt leg-set and 2780 ball head. In spite of the redundant kit, we did experience some gear failure. The smaller 2780 head would not lock down and, while the tension control made it useable for horizontal compositions and telephoto work, it was useless when it came to making vertical landscapes. In addition, we believe that it is finally time to update the Canon 40D. Although the sensor continues to produce beautiful files, the autofocus is a bit doggy when compared to the Canon 7D. The inability for the AF to accurately focus on a low-contrast subjects (like black bear eyes) led to some unnecessary frustration. While I would love to exchange my 5D mark II for the current mark III, I think I will continue to use my dual body system... 7D + 300 f2.8IS for wildlife and 5D mark II for landscape and macro work. While the 5D mark II shares the same arcane AF system as the 40D, I rarely use AF for landscape and macro work. Here the primitive center focus point is good enough, and live-view allows me to accurately focus for detail.
Bruce's Bag Packed and Ready for Use
photo: iPhone 4
Future posts will continue to offer photo tips as well as reflections about our international travels.
Cheers and good shooting, 
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