Gear for vacation?


Diamond Member
Aug 18, 2002
Hey everyone,

I hope to take a nice vacation in the first part of 2016 to escape the upcoming snowpocalypse in Quebec, but mostly to go experience new things and places and give myself new opportunities for photography that I wouldn't get here.

So I'm thinking ahead of time about what I want to do for gear. What I currently have is a basic sling bag that holds my D5200 with 18-55mm VR kit lens + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 and macro extension tubes. I think there is still room for one more lens in there, and maybe some extra batteries. I'm more or less happy with this sling bag, but I'm not opposed to going for a nice proper backpack either. I'm feeling like I really don't want to miss out on shots for lack of gear. I'll definitely be going out often with the sole purpose of wandering around for pictures.

If you've followed any of pics in the stickied thread, then you know I love landscapes and low-light photography. I wouldn't mind wildlife pictures, but I don't have a big zoom and don't have a lot of experience with that type of photography. I'm kinda slow IMO, I like to take my time and do my thing. An impressive panoramic night sky shot away from light pollution is at the top of my list hehe. Something better than the kit lens to walk around at night that isn't an ultrawide would be great. Though I'm not opposed to tripods, I really want to be able to take good hand held shots in low light. I have taken some decent shots with my kit lens at 1/5 to 1/6 sec ISO 1600, but my hands are not that steady, so it's hard to do it, and I often need more than ISO 1600 depending, and then things aren't so nice. The Tokina is a lot better in this regard, but most of the time the shots I'm taking with that I am setting the camera down somewhere for a long exposure.

So my checklist so far would be something like:

- spare batteries, don't have any yet
- spare SD cards, just have a 32 gig for now
- maybe a backpack
- polarizing filter or other filters?
- if i get a backpack then maybe a gorilla pod or similar portable tripod

but i'm unsure about lenses. i feel like i still need something more than the 18-55 and 11-16, even if I don't go for a big zoom. having played with my friend's 35mm and 50mm f/1.8 primes, it might be worth throwing one of those in, but i'm not sure, open to suggestions. Last I checked, lenses that offered greater performance than the kit lens but with similar or greater reach were fairly expensive, and the 1.8 primes were where the crazy quality/performance/value was at. I'm hoping to get a fresh perspective from people with experience shooting various other lenses that might open my mind to any other great options that I've overlooked.

Thanks for any input, or shared experiences about your travel photography. In case location matters, I am thinking Indonesia and Thailand, but nothing is final yet for that. Have a number of beautiful places on the list.
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Diamond Member
Aug 18, 2002
Example of a fun shot I like that I was able to get with my friend's 50mm prime that I don't think I would have been able to do hand held with my kit lens:


I don't have that many pictures of this type, but I would surely get more if I picked up a prime.

Example of hand held night shot with kit lens that I was barely able to get:


Wandering around at night I often see something that I like but the lack of tripod and/or faster lens is restricting (if I can't find the right spot to set down the camera).

Example of a closer shot at night where I felt a prime would have helped:


example of a type of wide shot i like to take where i was lucky enough to find a decent spot but a tripod would have been perfect to get the angle i wanted..


So that gives an idea of the type of shots I'm interested in, but I would love to get something like this some day:
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Dec 10, 2005
I apologize in advance if I missed some of your post as I'm reading it on my phone. I've been in London the last few days and have been walking around with a T5i, a Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5, and a tamron 28-75 f/2.8. I've barely used the latter lens. Most things I can get close enough to zoom with my feet. The wide angle has been fantastic though, especially when you can't back up more. As far as night shots, I've been able to get s few great ones at dusk handheld. For night shots, I've had a little success too using a wide railing as a tripod. I figure I can crop the photos later for better framing.

I'll have to post some of them when I get back to the US and process them.


Golden Member
May 25, 2010
Last I checked, lenses that offered greater performance than the kit lens but with similar or greater reach were fairly expensive, and the 1.8 primes were where the crazy quality/performance/value was at

might be good to rent lenses for a vacation... especially the expensive ones that you won't ever buy full retail for

(get the full insurance incase something happens to it)


Diamond Member
Feb 22, 2001
Piece of advice on spare battery - just buy the Nikon branded battery. I bought the highest rated knock-off on Amazon for my D5200, and it lasts about 1/2 as long as the OEM battery.

Conversely, I've purchased inexpensive USB battery chargers for both my D5200 and D610 - they take a lot longer to charge the batteries, but they're convenient insofar as I can charge while in my car.

I'd look on Craigslist for a super-zoom, either the Nikon 18-200 or the Tamron 18-270... but I like superzooms for the unknown. Sell it when you get back. Or don't. Or rent one.

I don't know what your budget for travel tripod is, but search Amazon - Manfrotto sells a reasonably reviewed travel tripod for < $60.


Elite Member | Peripherals
Super Moderator
Mar 4, 2000
When I travel, I find a good monopod better than a tripod. It can also double as a walking stick.


Senior member
Mar 20, 2015
Monopods are convenient. They're easier to carry so you're more likely to actually carry it. When I go on a business trip and don't know if I'll even have time for photography I only take a 35mm f/1.8 and an 18-140 VR. Covers a good number of situations. Ditto on Mikes advice about batteries. The knockoffs last fine for about 3-5 charges and then start going downhill... which might be fine for your vacation... but save yourself the headache in the long run! I bought 5 knockoffs and wish I had just gotten the real deal.


Feb 8, 2000
Have you considered a Joby for SLRs?

I got one... Can't say I love using it but it's worked so far. It does worry me considering that it doesn't lock in place and I'm trusting about $2k worth of equipment to it.


Diamond Member
Jan 7, 2005
How are you saving (and backing up) your pictures? I'd make sure once you take them, you upload to at least one other device.

When I went on vacation, I saved them to my laptop HD, and uploaded them every night to my Onedrive folder, so I had a copy saved to the "cloud".


Diamond Member
Aug 18, 2002
Thanks, you've given me a lot to think about. I've never rented lenses before, that's something I'll have to look into!

I was planning on OEM batteries. I don't want to take a chance there.

I like the idea of joby / gorilla pod type thing not only for the size and portability, but also for being able to stick it almost anywhere.

I didn't really think of storing / uploading my pics during the trip. Thanks for bringing that up..I really don't want to lose pics due to whatever circumstances that may happen.


Feb 20, 2001
I travel a lot, and always carry my gear around when I do. I feel like a good camera bag is very helpful to carry everything.

I take a lot of night shots, so a tripod is a must for me. I have a Manfroto aluminum tripod which gets heavy after a while, so I decided to purchase a cheapo, light tripod for when I travel from Amazon for like $20. It broke on my after my 2nd trip to Europe. So for my next trip, I'm definitely getting a compact carbon fiber tripod that I can attach to my camera backpack.

I also carry a remote shutter release cable as I tend to take a lot of landscape shots (specially helpful with HDR photography). Also don't forget extra memory, battery, etc.


Golden Member
May 14, 2011
If wild life isn't your thing than I will not bother with the super tele, here is the check list from my last few SE Asia urban trips.

-Weather seal body
-smaller/older backup(stay in Hotel)
-UWA(likely leave it at home next time and ICE instead but I am not much of landscape guy)
-a Flash or 2
-Good Standard Zoom
-cheapo tiny kit tele as emergency
-3 batteries
-Charger(stay in Hotel)
-3 memory cards
-Small 12" laptop(stay in Hotel)
-Kobo reader

I went to SE Asia(cities) 3 or 4 times the last 5years and I can tell you the weather suck most of the time. Smogy and grey sky.


Diamond Member
Aug 18, 2002
Thanks for all of the input. I'm doing a short last minute trip to the Philippines, leaving Dec 4. I've not had time to get everything, but I'll be traveling very light for this one anyway. Just cramming whatever I can in my backpack within the limits for carry-on and that's it. I got an extra OEM battery for about as cheap as the knockoffs, as I found a gift card lying around for a camera store that I never used, so I put that towards it. So I've a spare battery, and a couple of extra SD cards in case I have any trouble with my main one or run out of space. I think I should be set for the basics unless I lose or trash my stuff.

For the backpack, I ended up getting the 5.11 Rush 24. Not a camera pack at all, but for the purposes of what I want to be doing for now, it seemed to fit the bill.

I'll make some changes to my February plan based on how this mini trip pans out!