How One Photographer Cut The Weight of His Gear in Half

If you work in a studio, it is not a big deal to have a lot of heavy gear, but if you are someone like a landscape photographer who is often hiking miles and miles with a bag of gear, every little ounce makes a big difference. This great video shows how one photographer majorly trimmed his bag while still carrying everything he needs to create. 

Coming to you from Gordon Laing, this awesome video will show you how he cut back on the gear he has to carry with him without sacrificing any of his creative capabilities. As you will see, one of the centerpieces of Laing's setup is the Sony RX100 VII, a compact camera with a 1-inch sensor. I had the original version of this camera for several years, and it was absolutely fantastic, offering an impressively capable sensor and lens, all packed in a very small body that easily fit into my jeans pocket. Sony has only improved on the camera in subsequent iterations, and the latest model is particularly useful, offering a ton of reach, making it especially suitable for landscape photographers. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Laing. 

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Kelly McKeon's picture

My comment is related to cutting the weight and amount of gear.

For large event coverage, I have stopped carrying two bodies with separate lenses. Not only because of the weight, but for how awkward it is to run with those cameras clanking into one another. I’ve experimented with it all, one harness, two straps, etc.

So, a decade ago I acquired the Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM Lens. At the time, this was extremely expensive and hard to justify with the given apertures. It quickly became my workhorse for all events allowing me to work with just one body (Canon 1dx) paired with one lens.

Many photographers I encountered felt this was crazy, they voiced the need for 1.2 or 2.8 aperture.
I tell you what, that one camera one lens combo has been the best change I ever made. Only a few times did I wish or need something wider or faster f stop. One stop difference between lenses became mute due to the lens stabilization and 28mm is pretty wide. That lens only suffered when space was tight and I could not back up enough to focus. But the ability to go to 300mm from 28mm, crazy cool and useful at concerts.

I continue with this set up and if Canon ever releases a new version of that lens, I would purchase it in a heartbeat, it has paid for itself time after time. It’s creative use, barrel in/out for motion blur is phenomenal.

I’m a huge fan of testing to get the minimal amount of equipment to do the most amount of quality work.

Gerry O'Brien's picture

Kelly, the Canon 28-300 was the first pro lens I bought in 2006. I've used it for street and event photography everywhere. It sadly died on me last week on Day 2 at the Grand Canyon.

Kelly McKeon's picture

Gerry, I love that lens so much that it’s crushing to hear it died on you. One of the most underrated lenses in my opinion. Perhaps Canon CPS can bring it back to life for you.

Dan Jefferies's picture

Canon EF-S 55-250 did me just fine at many daylight events. Even modified the mount to go full frame. Worked a charm.

dale clark's picture

Outside of the Bokeh needs, larger apertures, I find, are fine on modern bodies since noise is so much less of a factor (along with better noise reduction software).

Fristen Lasten's picture

At 1:25 Sting pops into the video.

chris bryant's picture

Great to see the Wye valley, Snowdon and Helvellyn. Nice vid Gordon.

Kevin Harding's picture

Sorry Gordon mate but honestly I just don't get this, unless it's just targeting tourists/bloggers and not serious togs.

As you said yourself the Sony RX100 VII makes a great 'pocket camera' (I have the VI for just that use) and if you are into videography then your setup could work well for blogging etc ... but no respectable travel/landscape tog would ditch your Fuji setup (never mind their own) for that kit. You have taken all that effort to get wherever you are going and yet you dropped just over a mere 1 kg to switch to a 1" sensor? Not even close to worth it.

Backpack : I've hiked Nepal 4 times, Kyrgyzstan for a month, Iceland for a month and so on ... a high quality but heavier backpack (Osprey, Gregory, I use the heavy, 2 kgs, but fantastic Lowe-Alpine Cerro-Torre, many others) will not only feel lighter because it carries so much better, but could save your back from serious damage. For day tripping the Shimoda Explore 40L (or many of its ilk) does the job, but none of these dedicated camera bags carry like a real trekking backpack. The only imperative for me is it must have a C or L zip to the main compartment to open up easily to access gear.

Finally where was your tripod, ballhead, filters etc.? If hiking is more important than the photography I get it ... but this is a photography forum and on that basis the only tip I'd seriously consider is the switch to an iPad Pro. I won't even start on the pro side of switching to a 1" sensor, in terms of selling your work.

I'm always looking for weight saving for my expeditions and by far the best came with the switch from DSLR to mirrorless. I saved not just on the camera weight, but on lenses, tripod, ballhead, filters, backpack, L plate etc. etc. Many kgs saved right there. If a serious photographer wants to save weight (and at 62 I'm always looking to do just that) then they should start with their waistline (a constant battle for some - including me)! Then on to their lenses/tripod/accessories etc.

Good luck!

pocus focus's picture

"they should start with their waistline". Easier said than done...

Kevin Harding's picture

I know !

chris bryant's picture

Not everyone is as blessed as you and is able to be fit to do the trips you do at any age let alone 62. This is a photography forum that meets a very diverse range of interests and not just your own narrow definition. What on Earth is a “serious tog” anyway?

Kevin Harding's picture

If you don't know what a serious tog is I'm surprised you are even on this forum and although the people here may focus on different genres I doubt many at all fall into the category of wanting to ditch their cameras for point and shoots (and to be clear - I have an RX100VI so know the camera well - that is what is being suggested).
In fact I'd postulate that the vast majority of people on this website are serious about their photography, to a lesser or greater degree, and would like to improve it. That article better suits a more diverse audience to be found on more generic sites (FB etc.).

pocus focus's picture

Thanks, Gordon for the useful video and advice. It came just on time. I'm considering the same issue as I'll be heading on a trip, when we have to carry all luggage in the mountains and not been able to leave it anywhere. As I don't have GoPro (which I'm considering buying) I compared the videos from a Canon M6 mark II, the compact G5X mark II, (which I love) and a smartphone. The latter won the competition in terms of brightness and clarity, but there is something attractive in the videos from the M6, probably softer and more natural (depends on the picture style I used). I found it tiring to take a video for a longer time, especially with the M6 and 18-150mm lens, but it wasn't much easier with a smartphone. Tomorrow I'll try shooting video with the M6 hanging by the strap on my neck to avoid extending the arms.