Friday, November 7, 2014

Photo packing list for a trip to Antarctica

For an upcoming trip to the Antarctic peninsula, I plan to take:

Nikon D4 (main)
Nikon D700 incl MB-D10 (backup)

Lenses and converters:
AF-S Nikkor 14-24/2.8
AF-S Nikkor 85/1.4 or AF-S or Micro-Nikkor 105/2.8 (but probably both)
AF-S Nikkor 70-200/2.8
AF-S Nikkor 200-400/4
AF-S Nikkor TC-14EIII
AF-S Nikkor TC-20EIII

Lens accessories:
Nikon drop-in polarisation filter for 200-400/4
Hoya polarisation filter (77mm)
Hoya 8 stop neutral density filter (77mm)

Flash and flash gear:
1 SB-900
1 SC-29 TTL cable
1 home made flash extender - Better Beamer style but better ; )
1 Lastolite EzyBox TTL

1 Gitzo GT3541XLS tripod
1 Acratech GP ballhead
1 Novoflex Pistock-C shoulder pod with Sunway DDC60i QR (for handheld work from ship or rubber boat)
1 Kirk nodal rail for panoramas

1 F-stop Satori EXP photo backpack with Monster insert
1 rain cover for the backpack 
3 Lowepro lens cases - to carry 2 of the smaller lenses and 1 teleconverter in the belt of the backpack
1 Ortlieb Rackpack XL 89liter (drybag to transport the backpack to shore in rubber boats)

1 Lastolite trigrip 8-in-1 small difuser/reflector
1 Thinktank Hydrophobia 300-600 raincover
CF Lexar and Sandisk memory cards (96GBin total)
2*4 rechargeable camera batteries
12 rechargeable eneloop AA batteries
2 Nikon camera battery chargers
1 Ansmann AA and AAA battery charger
Sony PCM-M10 audio recorder - for recordings of notes, ambient sound and perhaps a little reportage
Sensor swab swabs and liquid
Lexar USB card reader
Dust blower and microfleece lens lens cloths
Hama single use lens tissues
1 laptop
2 external hard disks each 500 GB (one for storage one for backup)

I have not used the Satori EXP backpack very much during summer in Greenland, but it should come handy for this upcoming trip. I surely like the concept of having the opening facing towards the carriers back keeping this side free up mud and bird guano when you put the bag down on the ground. Most of the above will fit except either the 85mm or 105mm. The bag is really on the small side although it will weigh approximately 20 kg fully loaded. I plan to bring the Lowepro lens cases to minimize the times I have to actually take off the backpack while on shore. I have previously used a similar system on Galapagos Island with great success. I will probably have both cameras in use with the 200-400 on the D4 and 70-200 or 14-24 on the D700 most of the time. I may decide to keep the D700 totally as a backup as the D4 is arguably better and they are sufficiently different in handling to cause some irritation or at least confusion. The lens cases I take are relatively large and will easily take any of the lenses besides the 200-400. This way the one or two "smaller" lenses not in use can always sit in these. 

I do have the Wemberley Sidekick but have never used it much and will  also not bring it this time. The Acratech GP head makes for a very good gimbal ball head and with no modification needed it can be used as a normal ball head with the smaller lenses. It can also quickly be turned into a panoramic head for simple 360° one row panoramas. I used to have L plates mounted either on the "naked" D700 or the MB-D10, but I never got one for the D4 and I have not really missed it. I have a little Wimberley P-5 Camera Body Plate more or less permanently mounted though. To keep everything Arca Swiss style, I also have a low profile Wimberley replacement foot on the 200-400 and one from Kirk on the 70-200. 

I am still undecided on whether to bring the 105mm macro lens. The focal length is duplicated in the 70-200 but so is the 85mm! Both 85 and 105 are specialty lenses. I recently got the 85 for extreme shallow depth of field images of groups of animals but with the sense of the place that longer lenses will not give the same way. It is rare to see advice on bringing a macro lens to Antarctica but I think it would be nice to document some of the mosses and lichens with it. The 85 has a rather poor (long) minimum focus distance. I will probably end up bringing both. Some say a 2x extender is a waste of time and that upsized shots from a 1.4x extender gives just as good (or bad) results. Others say that the TC-20EIII is actually not that bad on the 200-400. It does slow down AF to the almost non usable, that is for certain. I will consider leaving the TC-20 at home, but it will not save much on the weight budget!