Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My dream Fuji X-series travel gadget bag

Like many of you, I have been speculating on what my travel gadget bag would look like if I decided to take only a Fuji X-series with me. Makes sense to speculate as the Fuji X system continues to expand to a point where it can be as compete as many pro DSLR systems that have been around for a long time. Nice thing about the Fuji X is how small it is in comparison. By the end of this year the super-wide angle zoom should be available along with the 23mm f/1.4 and a Zeiss macro so we will have a lot of equipment options available to us.

Up until now, I have often taken a Fuji X-Pro1 along with me on trips, but only as a backup camera to a complete Nikon system. I would use the Fuji on those occasions where I wanted to walk around casually and not be encumbered with too much stuff.  A few of my friends along with many readers of this blog have mentioned looking forward to travelling with just a light weight Fuji system instead of a heavy DSLR. That is what started me thinking about what such a system would look like for me.

And here it is.

When spread out like this the system appears larger than it really is. Truth is, while out shooting, I could carry everything I need in just the photographers vest.
First thing to note is that I have two camera bodies in there, an X-Pro1 and a smaller, lighter X-E1 as an auxiliary camera.  I never travel without at least two camera bodies, just in case something happens to one of them. I am a professional photographer, and while I enjoy travel photography as much as anyone, I often say that the difference between a pro and an amateur is that a pro must come back with the shot principally because his or her livelihood depends upon it. So, yes, two bodies, sometimes even a redundant system.

The camera bag shown here is, unfortunately, no longer manufactured. I think it is the best travel bag ever made and, thankfully, I have four different sizes of the same model to accommodate whatever size system I am packing. The bag is made by Tamrac. It is a thin, messenger type with a large flap that attaches either with velcro and/or with a clip on the bottom of the bag. The flap on the larger models of the bag also have a zippered top as an alternate means of access to the equipment while the bag is hanging from your shoulder. One of my favorite features of this bag is its strap. The padded part doesn't slip and slide all over the place, and it holds onto your shoulder like glue. It is the best gadget bag strap ever made. I have no idea why Tamrac stopped making this model. Maybe they'll read this post and take the hint.

My lenses for travel will include the three zooms, the 10-24mm, 18-55mm, and 55-200mm. (Yes, I most likely will pick up a 10-24mm when it comes out.) In addition I would carry one very fast aperture lens. Shown here is the 35mm f/1.4, but I might replace that with the 23mm f/1.4 when it comes out next month.  Notice that I am not carrying a macro, even though I often take some close-ups when traveling. Instead, I am packing one +2 close-up filter. I find the +2 to be the most versatile and its small size saves me from carrying a macro lens just for the few close-ups I might take. Keep in mind that I am thinking of this as a travel kit for covering something like a city, not for photographing nature. For that I would definitely have a dedicated macro lens.

I don't know if you can see it, but I substitute all of the original Fuji front lens caps with cheaper knock-offs. Rather lose one of these than the original Fuji cap, whose clip I also find hard to grip..

Instead of the 10-24mm zoom I might prefer to pack either the Fuji 14mm or Zeiss Touit 12mm. This is one of my favorite focal lengths for this type of photography, and I would probably opt for one of the primes over a zoom if I thought I needed the better quality, or might find myself in situations where I needed an aperture that is one stop faster. Of course this is being said before I have even seen the new 10-24mm Fuji zoom. Maybe I'll change my mind after trying it out.

The background for the photo above is my favorite photography travel vest with plenty of pockets for lenses, filters, and most of the other gear I would need. In fact, I could probably just use the vest for such a small travel outfit.

I always travel with a laptop computer and external drive to download the files each day. I also need the computer to do blog posts while travelling.

For such a light weight outfit, I would use a Gitzo GT0541 tripod with a small, auxiliary head. On my larger DSLR cameras I use a tripod plate system. On my rangefinders I do not. No need to make the smaller system any heavier than it is by adding extraneous plates.

I would pack several spare batteries, a charger, several SD cards, a notebook and pen for taking caption notes, polarizing filters, my favorite Nikon AR-3 threaded cable release, and several Qpcard 101's to include in every scene so I can have a reference for color balance when I am processing the images upon my return. I would also take a sensor cleaning kit with me, along with some lens cleaning supplies.

That's it. Now all I need is a place to go and I'm off.


  1. Tom,
    I use an Olympus OM-D with mostly prime lenses, but occasionally use the long 100-300mm lens which weighs half a kilo. I see that you would be using the GT0541 for your Fuji system. I am in the process of choosing a tripod and have decided to stump for a Gitzo. I need to be able (and willing) to carry it on hiking trips, and understand that weight is a two edged sword - too light and it can cause stability problems, too heavy and it stays at home! My question: Is the GT0541 enough tripod for general use, or is it only enough for when weight is the most important factor? The other option is the GT1542 Traveller. Thanks for considering my query.

  2. I only use the GT0541 for light weight rangefinder cameras such as the Fuji X series, or Leica M. For anything heavier I switch to a Gitzo GT1541T, and with heavier lenses move up even steadier to the GT2541. These are all Gitzo travelers and fold up very compactly for packing. I carry the smaller ones in a backpack. I like Gitzo tripods because I find them very durable and reliable. I still have the first one I ever bought, and that was a long, long time ago. It still works perfectly, although it is too heavy to use anymore. Back then they weren't making carbon legs.

  3. I travel (mostly by car) with two kits:
    My retrospective 20 with my dslr gear :d800, d700, 24-70, 70-200, and 18-35, myriad of singh-ray filters. My other bag, a small light messenger type bag made by Lowepro contains my X-e1, 18-55, 35 1.4, and I have ONE more slot open for the upcoming 10-24 F4. On my last two week stock shooting road trip I came home with over 13,000 images (jpeg+raw). I'm happy to report that ONLY about 1200 were shot with the D800, Zero with the D700 and all the rest with the X-E1.
    If I'm traveling by air, then it's only the X-e1 kit AND I will usually throw in the D800 with the 18-35...
    That it. And I can say I have yet to miss a shot I really wanted. But I am waiting on the 10-24...

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. It was great to see the old printshop and everyone who works there again. I am excited to see a printing business still operating and growing, great job guys Jamaica villas

  6. Many thanks for this brilliant post! Many point s have extremely useful. Hopefully you'll continue sharing your knowledge around. Helikopter und rundflug

  7. Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained! visit here

  8. Thanks for the review. The photographs were very useful, this has helped give a realistic idea of what the bag can hold.

    Best Camera and Laptop Bag

  9. Funny, last year i travelled Vietnam with a similar equipement. 2 XPro1, same 3 zooms and the 35, macbook, cards, cables, headphone, backup device. all in a Kata Rucksack-7,5kg. Sometimes i missed the 60 macro that i left at home. Anyway, i was happy and comfortable with the travel kit instead of the "Nikon beast". i just tried out the Fujis with the Nikon SB 910 and cable, it works perfect with manual settings-so when i go back that i add. 2 aspects was very important on the long trip-you have no problem to be very close to people with these cameras. it is ok when you take photos. Rucksack i chose bc you must carry water too ;)