Streamline Your Travel Photography (or How to Lose Weight on Your Vacation)

iPad 3, Panasonic Lumix GX1 kit and SD card reader for travel photos.Travel and photography go hand in hand. No matter the level of photographer you are, chances are good you’ll want to document those golden moments when on vacation or visiting new places on the map. Whether you’re sharing them on Instagram, posting to Flickr or just showing your friends and family on the iPad, it all starts with the capture.

I’ve traveled all over this wonderful globe and I can guarantee I’ve had a camera on my side nearly 100% of my waking hours. My last trip to Europe in December found me walking around the Netherlands with no less than 4 cameras (and formats) hanging on my body, my bag pushing 12 pounds. That has changed. I now travel light. And I can also edit light and share more images on the fly.

To shoot exclusively in RAW format used to mean a lengthy editing process: capture, convert, edit, adjust, export, etc. Now I travel with an iPad, my Lumix GX1, a camera adapter kit, and a few crucial editing apps. It has saved me over 10 pounds of gear. Literally. No more MacBook, no more DSLR body and lenses, no more giant camera bags. Here are the details:

  • Micro 4/3 Camera kit: With the popularity and amazing quality of the newer micro 4/3 platform, I don’t know why anyone would not own a version of this. Last year I picked up a Panasonic Lumix GX1 and once I gained the confidence in the quality that this camera delivers, I walked away from traveling with a full sized DSLR. The image quality and low-light ability rivals that of my pro Nikon DSLRs. This is one powerhouse of a compact system. I’ve got 2 lenses with a combined weight of 8.7 ounces. The body comes in just over 11 ounces. Compare that to my Nikon rig with a single 24-70 mm lens weighing in at a tick under 5 pounds.
  • iPad 3: No doubt the iPad 3 has the most incredible resolution to date. It makes viewing and editing images a dream. It has better resolution and detail than my MacBook Pro and at a fraction of the size and weight. My 13″ Laptop with charger: 5.5 pounds. iPad with charger: 1 pound, 14 ounces. No brainer.
  • Camera adapter: There are many versions of this available, mine has a port for an SD card, a mini SD, USB, and 3.5mm jack. That will get me access to the images on about 99% of my devices–including RAW format. It’s smaller than a Compact Flash reader and allows me to tether any camera with a USB cable straight into the Photos app.
  • Editing Apps: There are a lot of photo editing apps out there. I have my favorites and chances are you do too. Once the images are dropped into the Photos app on my iPad, I have a world of options for editing. Are you an Instagram devotee? Go straight there and share the heck of your pics. Lately I’ve been in love with Snapseed. It’s a highly intuitive touch-to-edit app that has some pretty advanced features not found on many others out there. The photo below was shot on the GX1 and edited exclusively with Snapseed.

    Cyclist crossing the San Diego River with bike in hand.

    San Diego River Crossing © 2013 Gary Allard

My travel photo workflow has been revolutionized in the past year. The more I discover the amazing capabilities of my tiny camera and the new apps that keep blowing my socks off, the more I want to go exclusively in this direction. I won’t of course. I can’t. There will always be a place for the full frame DSLR and the boatload of accessories and gadgets that go with shooting on a professional level. But when I’m off the clock, I will pick up the small bag. And my back with thank me for it.

What does your favorite super-light streamlined kit consist of? Drop it in the comments, Tweet me or start a conversation on Facebook.

Cheers, and happy (lightweight) travels!

All photos © 2013 Gary Allard Photography

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