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As I was preparing for an upcoming trip to Peru, I was trying to decide what kit to take. Mainly, that meant making a decision between whether I wanted my Nikon D7200 or my Sony A6000. I wrote a blog about the Sony A6000, which you can read here Mirrorless Cameras, but the short version is there are just so many things I do not like about it. I HAD bought it as a travel companion and one that I hoped to switch over to entirely, but it had not been a smooth romance from the beginning.
For this trip there were a couple of considerations. There would be an 11 km hike from our hotel near Machu Picchu, through a cloudforest, to the last stop on the rail line. There was also a restriction of carry-on luggage on domestic flights, of which we had two, of ten pounds. The hike would necessitate I carry all my camera gear on my back for this trek as I would not leave it on a bus along with my luggage. And the carry on weight for domestic flights was fairly minimal, especially since I’m routinely used to twenty-two pound allowances.
So despite all my reservations and my love-hate relationship with the Sony, it was starting to make sense I switch over to using Sony kit for this trip. This was even before crunching any real figures.
Needs for the trip would be one camera body (I am eternally optimistic and am not afraid to use exclusively my cellphone should I need to,) one wide angle lens for all the beautiful scenery and a carry around lens, which for me is a 24-70mm or some type like this. I did want to have a bit of a telescopic lens, as there would be times we would see wildlife and possibly street events, but it was a secondary consideration for me. I’m not big into these types of photography.
My Nikon kit consisted of my Nikon D7200 (675 grams, weight without battery), a Tamron 11-18 lens (weight 355 grams) for landscape, a Nikon 24-70 mm lens for walk-about (weight 900 grams.) Now as I add my somewhat mediocre, 70-300 lens (weight 400 grams) and this is quickly becoming a very heavy kit for a travel adventure. And not to mention the size of the pack, which would be much larger to hold this larger kit. And a proper carbon fiber tripod to hold this heavier kit, a cheap Cameron 700 (weight 1250 grams.) Now I was looking at 3580 grams, the equivalent of just under eight pounds. This was the minimum weight for this kit, without all the add-ons, such as batteries, L brackets, filter sets and etc. I was tired just thinking about lugging it around!
Now with the Sony, I had three lens, of which two were kit lens. The 16-50 mm which I actually really liked, but found just a little too short for a general all-purpose walk-around lens. The 50mm prime, not really useful or required for this trip, and the 55-210 kit lens, which was notoriously crappy and soft throughout most of it’s range. For such a once-in-a-life-time trip (and I’m now on my fourth such trip, I might add!) I would need some updates in glass (read payout big bucks) in order to take the Sony with me. So after much research, I settled on the Zeiss 16-70 mm (308 grams) as a walk-about and the Sony 10-18mm (225 grams) for the landscapes. I rounded this out with the sub-par Sony kit 55-210 (345 grams) as I was willing to try my best with it, which generally has a sweet spot of F8 between about 120-180mm with lots, and I mean LOTS of light. Round this off with a smaller carbon fiber tripod, the Cameron 600 (980 grams ) and the weight of the Sony A6000 (285 grams.) Now we won’t talk about the fact that this decision, essentially made the trip an extra few thousand dollars more than initially planned, since I had to purchase all this new kit for the trip. But when I looked at the figures, Nikon kit at just shy of eight pounds, or the Sony kit at 4 3/4 pounds, the decision was easy. Facing that 11km walk would be much easier with almost half the weight, and I could take some extra items in my carry on bag and be sure to be way under their domestic ten pound limit.
In the end, our 11km trek was cancelled and others in my group were admitted on the airplane with carry-ons much heavier then the weight restriction. So, was I happy with the decision? Yes, I was very happy with my photos and pleased with the much smaller bag and load. I actually walked around most times with the Sony on a Black Rapid strap and a small belt bag with the wider lens and two batteries. The benefits of this kit, certainly outweighed the negatives on this trip.
Now, next year I am planning a trip to Alaska, which will hopefully include animal and bird photography. This is whole different kettle of fish. I am currently weighing the cons and pros of each kit again, but with different needs. It will be landscape and wildlife. So, now we are talking about needing reach, lots of reach. I do not have that with the Nikon or Sony now, so I will need to make some investment. But which lens for which kit? That will be for a future blog.