by Sean Setters
While recently planning a trip to Wichita, KS to visit friends, my goal was to pack as light as possible to avoid checked baggage fees. The trip was not planned with photography being a high priority, however, I wanted to take a decently capable kit with me in case photographic opportunities arose.
On that note, Delta allows one personal item and one carry-on bag for free. My work laptop bag filled the "personal item" allotment. As such, my Lowepro Nova Sport 35L AW
became a dual service bag in that it not only carried my camera gear but my clothes as well.
Unfortunately, that led to compromises as I couldn't take as much camera gear as I'm used to having available and I had to be very selective in the clothes that I packed.
Having never been to Wichita, I wasn't quite sure what kinds of photographic opportunities to expect. Therefore, I decided to structure my kit to be as versatile as possible while remaining [relatively] small in footprint.
Clothes aside, here's the gear I packed into the Lowepro Nova Sport 35L AW:
I choose to bring the 7D II instead of my 5D III because the crop sensor camera allowed me to pack a wide range of focal lengths in a smaller amount of space compared to a full-frame compatible set of lenses (not to mention the weight savings over similarly-capable full-frame lenses). As this wasn't a photo-centric trip, I decided not to pack an LC-E6 battery charger
(assuming I wouldn't exhaust two LP-E6s in three days).
Here were my thoughts behind the gear choices:
- The EF-S 10-18 IS STM would fulfill my wide-angle lens needs; the EF-S 55-250 IS STM would cover telephoto needs.
- The EF-S 24 STM and 40 STM pancakes would be perfect for shooting video while adding very little weight/bulk to the kit. The 40mm lens would also fill a gap in my uncovered focal range and could serve as a decent, loosely framed portrait lens with a 64mm full-frame equivalent focal length.
- The Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art would serve as my indoor, low-light lens. I anticipated that we would be spending a decent amount of time in our friends' apartment hanging out and catching up (we don't see them often).
- The 580EX flash would allow me to augment the light in a scene if needed. Bounce flash can produce very flattering light in indoor settings (assuming you have neutral-colored walls/ceilings to work with). And with the 7D II's pop-up flash acting as a master flash, I could even use the flash off-camera if needed. Including flash gels would also allow me to change the color of the flash's light to more closely match the ambient.
- I opted to bring the tiny Feisol Mini Tripod so that I'd have some type of support solution in the kit. I envisioned using it for group photos or possibly lightning shots (when combined with the Miops Camera Trigger).
The Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS STM proved especially useful on a visit to the Sedgwick County Zoo
because of its small size, long focal range and effective IS.
The EF-S 55-250 IS STM also proved useful in another way. Having not anticipated the need for a macro lens, I hadn't packed one. However, as our friends were recently engaged, I was asked to capture a shot of the engagement ring. Being engaged to a railroad rail quality engineer, the happy bride-to-be wanted to incorporate the railroad into the shot.
Luckily, we found an abandoned pile of railroad spikes about 20 feet away from a portion of track at a long-abandoned railway station. Without a macro lens at hand, I used the 55-250mm lens to create the image below.
And here are a few images I captured using other lenses in the kit:
Overall, the gear worked well for the trip and was not a burden to travel with. I used everything except the Miops trigger (no lightning on the trip) and I was able to capture images in a variety of situations. And for what it's worth, my most-used lens on the trip – the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM – is currently on sale
at the Canon Refurbished Store
for a ridiculously low price.