My new Nikon DX/CX travel kit:

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by studio460, May 27, 2015.

  1. New travel kit!
    It's that time of year again, and I'm already planning my photo kit for my next trip to Kauai this coming summer (I always think, this too, is part of the "fun" of the trip!). Since it's the tropics, I'll be shooting virtually 100% daylight exteriors, so I won't need fast lenses. On my previous trips, I was like, "Why leave your best camera at home?" But after lugging a heavy Nikon D800E/MB-D12, expensive glass, plus an UW housing all around the island, I've been thinking of downsizing. Also, since there's a lot of rugged terrain, whatever camera I bring tends to get bounced around quite a bit. So, this time, I'm like, "I'll take two low-cost bodies so I don't have to worry as much." So, last year, I bought a refurbished Nikon D3200, and shortly after the new year, a refurbished Nikon D3300. At only one-pound each, they're very lightweight. Here's my new DX travel kit:
    • Nikon D3300 + Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM
    • Nikon D3200 + AF-S VR Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED
    So, obviously, the thinking here is to shoot just the two extremes: Ultra-wides and long-lens, compression shots. Selfies and snapshots will be taken on a Nikon 1 J4 CX compact. After my first "waterproof" Nikon compact got completely water-logged, literally within the first ten seconds on the beach, I knew then that only a real UW housing could offer reliable protection. Since then, I've been wanting a new UW camera, but only one with a real housing. Thanks to a certain Nikon-centric rumor site, I found out about a great deal on a complete underwater compact set-up last week:
    • Nikon 1 J4 (new, not refurbished w/US warranty).
    • Sony 32GB microSDHC memory card.
    • Nikon WP-N3 UW housing for J4.
    • Vivitar microfiber cloth.
    • Adobe Photoshop Elements 12.
    [​IMG]
    Although I like the look of the new J5, this deal was too good to pass up. Plus, there's a few things that I like better about last year's model over the new J5. I bought this from the same online retailer that I got my Nikon D3300 bundle, and they didn't disappoint. Now, I'm a new CX system owner! The only thing I think I need now is some spare batteries.
    Regarding the housing, the Nikon WP-N3 is far more substantial than I thought (it's also huge!). It's every bit as good (actually, better) than an Ikelite housing, with custom, mechanical controls, including a knob-operated, zoom-barrel control. It has a securely designed closure system that's not too tough to open or close, though I wish they had included a spare gasket (the kit does include a small tube of silicone grease). I can see how these housings originally sold for over $500. If this deal ever shows up again, go for it!
     
  2. In an attempt to travel lighter/smarter, here's the bodies and lenses I'm planning to take:
    Bodies/lenses:
    • Nikon D3300 + Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM.
    • Nikon D3200 + AF-S VR Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED.
    • Nikon EN-EL14A batteries x4.
    • Nikon MH-24 chargers x2.
    • Nikon 1 J4 + 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 VR kit lens/Nikon WP-N3 UW housing.
    • Nikon EL-E22 batteries x4.
    • Nikon MH-29 chargers x2.
    • Nikon SB-400 (takes x2 'AA' batteries).
    After vetting various sets of accessories through prior trips, this is my new "short" list:
    Photo accessories:
    • 67mm Nikon circular polarizer.
    • 82mm Tiffen circular polarizer.
    • Oben BA-2 single-lever ball-head (1.1 lbs.).
    • Oben CC-2300 three-section, flip-lock, carbon-fiber tripod (2.5 lbs.) + Op-Tech strap.
    • WhiBal 2" x 3.5" graycard with retractable clip (attached to CamelBak hydration pack).
    • Vfinder 3x loupe.
    • Rosco lens tissue/lens fluid/microfiber lens cloths.
    • 8-pack of 'AA' batteries.
    • Silica gel packs.
     
  3. Sounds like an good travel kit. I'm a big fan of Nikon's tiny SLRs. They're light, well-built, give excellent results and if something happens to it you're not out a lot of money. I've had the D3000, D3200 and plan to get a refurbished D3300 later this year.
     
  4. Since it's the tropics, I'll be shooting virtually 100% daylight exteriors, so I won't need fast lenses
    Unless you want to loose the background with wide aperture maybe? Guess you could pop an 18.5mm 1.8 CX on the list.
    I saw the same 'deal' in the same place and thought it was almost too good to miss...except I'm in the UK!
     
  5. Since it's the tropics, I'll be shooting virtually 100% daylight exteriors, so I won't need fast lenses
    Unless you want to loose the background with wide aperture maybe? Guess you could pop an 18.5mm 1.8 CX on the list.
    I saw the same 'deal' in the same place and thought it was almost too good to miss...except I'm in the UK!
     
  6. Jon said:
    I'm a big fan of Nikon's tiny SLRs. They're light, well-built, give excellent results and if something happens to it you're not out a lot of money . . .
    I agree! These cameras are fun, capable, small, light, and have the latest DX sensors (no OLPF either!). I love 'em. If you're keen on also getting the new 18-55mm VR II kit lens ($250, if purchased separately), look for refurbished Nikon D3300 bundles from certain online resellers. I got my D3300 + 18-55mm VR II lens + a shrink-wrapped copy of Lightroom 5 for $399 (they were selling the two-lens kit for only $499). I really like the D3300's tough, new, carbon-fiber monocoque design as well. Also, the increased frame-rate to 5-FPS is pretty cool!
     
  7. Well, Mike, for me, "vacation" shooting has far different aesthetic goals, different from any other kind of shooting I do, so shallow depth-of-field won't be too high on the list anyway. The 70-300mm pushed all the way in with a distant background, however, does elicit some nice OOF images, even on DX.
    Last time, I did also bring an AF-S 50mm f/1.4G, but only took a few pictures with it at the hotel bar at night. This time, I'll probably just do some tripod-ed, slow-shutter + flash shots for night stuff. The first time I brought my D800E, I really only used an AF Nikkor 14mm f/2.8D and the 70-300mm for most of the trip. Don't feel too bad about the deal--it was gone within a few hours.
     
  8. • Vivitar microfiber cloth.
    • Adobe Photoshop Elements 12.
    Now THAT makes it a good deal!! ;-)
    Seriously, enjoy the new toys!
     
  9. My back up on long trips is a D5100 with 18-55mm VR. It works very well. I used my tiny Leica IIIc and three lenses a lot last summer in Vancouver. I've already learned the lesson that less is more on trips. Heavy camera bags are a fun killer.
    Kent in SD
     
  10. If it would be me taking this trip, I'll take one camera, one lens and save money and attention for food and booze.
     
  11. Wouter said:
    Now THAT makes it a good deal . . . Seriously, enjoy the new toys!
    Ha! Thanks! The micro-sized cloth did come in a nice Vivitar clear wrapper. But if it's free, I'll take it--I like microfiber cloths! I don't have any valid CS licenses anymore (I use Pixelmater for OS X), so I may actually use Elements on another computer. These cameras are pretty fun.
     
  12. an UWA and a long tele is all that's probably needed, although my selfie cam probably would be a large sensor fix-focal compact. curious as to how the J4+housing will perform underwater.
     
  13. I'd add a 35mm f1.8 DX to that travel kit. a low light standard lens can save your butt in a lot of instances.
     
  14. Eric said:
    an UWA and a long tele is all that's probably needed . . .
    I think that's true, as I'm taking fewer and fewer lenses on each trip. During our last trip, I only took a 16-35mm VR and the 70-300mm VR with us on our daily outings. On a previous trip, I brought several lenses, but ended up shooting primarily with the AF Nikkor 14mm f/2.8 (I left a 50mm f/1.4 and a 60mm macro in the hotel room). I took only a couple shots with the 50mm at the hotel, and never even mounted the macro. Since then, I've been shooting UWA and long-lens shots almost exclusively while on vacation:
    Nikon D800E + AF Nikkor 14mm f/2.8D:
    [​IMG]
    Nikon D800E + AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4.0G ED VR:
    [​IMG]
    Nikon D800E + AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR:
    [​IMG]
     
  15. Peter said:
    I'd add a 35mm f1.8 DX to that travel kit.
    Certainly not a bad idea, since I happen to own one. It's small enough not to really matter (though, I'd really love that new AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G for use on a DX body as a 30mm-equivalent "everything" lens.).
     
  16. I'd add a 35mm f1.8 DX to that travel kit.
    Certainly not a bad idea, since I happen to own one.​
    I guess the CX 18.5mm f1.8 gives a similar FOV as a DX 35mm 1.8 (and a 50mm on FX)....and it's even smaller. But as of yet, you don't have one!
    Ah, the 20mm 1.8G. Still an expensive lens here in the UK. ~$1000
     
  17. Nice travel kit but too much gear for my taste to be carrying around.
    I think m43 cameras are a better compromise when looking for low weight and small. Since they are mirrorless the lenses can be designed are a lot smaller. The sensor is 2x crop compared to DX 1.5x crop so you don't lose as much image quality as CX.
    Some of the m43 cameras also have very high video quality and if you wait a while you can find great bargains. I picked up a new GH3 last year for $470 ($1299 at introduction). Another "dSLR like" m43 camera is the G6 that I picked up new two years ago, $270.
    I used to shoot 35mm film on vacation just to avoid having to charge cameras, copy memory cards, having a laptop with me, spending time going through all images and worry about the gear being stolen. I downsized my kit until I finally had just one camera with a 35mm lens that I would sling over my shoulder. Like a classic photojournalist back in the day :)
    I'd like to add some video capability though, but have no idea how to do it in downsized way. I mean GH3 does awesome video but I'd probably need to bring a tripod with a suitable head and also some way to do decent handheld shots and probably a shotgun mic. If anyone has any suggestions on equipment I'd like to hear them :)
     
  18. my personal travel kit is 2xFujiXE1 with 14mm, 18-55, 35/1.4, 27/2.8, 60/2.4 macro. i can fit all of that in a fanny pack. no real telephoto option. so i would think about adding the fuji 90/2 when it's released. on the last trip i took a J1 and used the 30-110 zoom as my tele but carrying two different systems is a headache in terms of cords, batteries, and chargers.
    in practice, the Fuji system worked pretty well, although i could have just taken my old d90, 17-50 or 18-70, 70-300 VC, and 35/1.8, and had everything except WA covered for not too much more room. i like to shoot WA though ;)
     
  19. Pete said:
    I think m43 cameras are a better compromise when looking for low weight and small . . .
    Certainly, there's some really nice micro-4/3rds systems out there, but when I priced out what I wanted a while back, it was a fortune. In my past attempts to downsize, I've since gone through two different APS-C mirrorless-ILC systems, a Nikon Coolpix 'A', and, now my new Nikon 1 J4 (which is really just for its underwater housing).
    But I finally realized that the low-end Nikon DX bodies are a perfect solution, at least for me. I actually enjoy shooting with my Nikon D3200 more than my Df! It's got the quietest shutter of any body I own, and feels like it weighs nothing! Plus, I get a real OVF (albeit, just a pentamirror), but most importantly, a "standard" DSLR is made to accept available after-market Hoodman eyecups, which don't fall off. These eyecups are awesome--they just won't come off like the Nikon slide-on kind: Hoodman H-EYEN22S
    [​IMG]
    Hoodman H-EYEN22S rubber eyecup for Nikon DSLRs with 22mm-square viewfinders: $19.99
     
  20. Pete said:
    . . . I'd like to add some video capability though, but have no idea how to do it in downsized way. I mean GH3 does awesome video but I'd probably need to bring a tripod with a suitable head and also some way to do decent handheld shots and probably a shotgun mic. If anyone has any suggestions on equipment I'd like to hear them.
    Interesting that you say that, because for video, I initially thought about getting a new GoPro. But, duh, I'm just going to use my Nikon D3300 DSLR which shoots excellent video. On our last trip, I shot some video on my D800E. I thought it would be boring, so I only shot for a few seconds at a time, but it was so much fun to watch when we got back that on this next trip, I plan on shooting a lot more video during our hikes together.
    Since I only have D3200/D3300 bodies, I can't tilt the rear screen, so I just shoot "blind" (with an UWA mounted). Using slight tension on the neck strap provides a good lens-height as well as isolates shock from walking. But I think a D5300/D5500 would make a really great vacation video camera with its tilting rear LCD. As for a good shotgun mic, anything I can suggest would likely be overkill (e.g., AudioTechica AT8035, $279). But try looking for any powered (e.g., 'AA') short-shotgun condenser mic (e.g., from Sony, AudioTechnica, Rode, etc.), and it should perform significantly better than the camera's built-in mic.
     
  21. Since I only have D3200/D3300 bodies, I can't tilt the rear screen, so I just shoot "blind" (with an UWA mounted). Using slight tension on the neck strap provides a good lens-height as well as isolates shock from walking. But I think a D5300/D5500 would make a really great vacation video camera with its tilting rear LCD. As for a good shotgun mic, anything I can suggest would likely be overkill (e.g., AudioTechica AT8035, $279). But try looking for any powered (e.g., 'AA') short-shotgun condenser mic (e.g., from Sony, AudioTechnica, Rode, etc.), and it should perform significantly better than the camera's built-in mic.​

    Thanks Ralph. The D3300 look like it's pretty good for video. The screen is a bummer though. I shoot video at work and the D800 and D600 had horrible antialiasing and moire effects. The Panasonics GH3 & G6 are so much better and have more resolution as well @1080p and have fully articulated LCDs so that's what I use now.
    For a travel kit I'd like something for handheld shots. I know pros use steadicams but is not really possible for vacation :) At home we watch images and movies on a 120" projector screen so what looks fine on a small computer screen causes visually induced motion sickness on the big screen :)
    BTW, with a shotgun mic like the AudioTechica AT8035 how close do you have to be with the mic to the subject? I mean would it be possible to have it on the camera? And how sensitive is it to the direction of the sound?
     
  22. For traveling light I use an old D5000 with 1 or 2 lenses. It just feels so much lighter than carrying the D7000, especially if its for all day long. Its not the most current at 12mp, but it gives me what I need.
     
  23. Bob said:
    For traveling light I use an old D5000 with 1 or 2 lenses. It just feels so much lighter than carrying the D7000, especially if its for all day long . . .
    I know! My D7000 now feels like a brick compared to my D3200/3300 bodies. I haven't even touched my D7000 for months, if not more than a year. Luckily, I have my D7000 as a working rental right now doing a multi-week time-lapse.
     
  24. Pete said:
    BTW, with a shotgun mic like the AudioTechica AT8035 how close do you have to be with the mic to the subject? I mean would it be possible to have it on the camera? And how sensitive is it to the direction of the sound?
    It's a fairly directional mic. As I recall, it's good for several feet, perhaps 6-7 feet. But it's a fairly large (long) mic. The common application for DSLR use is to attach short-shotgun mics using a shock-mount (sold separately) to an accessory bracket. BEC and RedRockMicro make brackets just for this purpose, but are fairly expensive. Short-shotgun mics are also typically held by a boom operator on a carbon-fiber "fishpole," using a wireless transmitter on a belt-pack. Add all this stuff up and it tends to get pretty expensive. A decent consumer-grade shotgun (try to find one which includes a shock-mount) should probably do the trick for hundreds less.
     
  25. Thanks Ralph.
    After researching some alternatives it seems like Røde's VideoMic Pro seems to be a popular consumer-grade on-camera solution. I think I will try it out for my travel kit. But I'll keep your suggestions in mind for more serious situations.
     
  26. For a travel kit I'd like something for handheld shots.​
    for handheld travel video i would look into something with 5-axis stabilization. that's a game-changer for run n gun type stuff.
     

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