Holiday packing – what camera kit to pack

The struggle is real. My struggle of figuring out which camera kit to take on holiday. Before every single holiday. And I’ve learnt that don’t need a lot of kit to feel the struggle.

Camera kit
From left to right – Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, Nikon 35mm f/1.8, Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, Nikon D7200 with Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6 attached. Joby GorillaPod at the back. Camera on phone (LG G4) not included.

This is the entirety of my camera kit. It’s not a lot. Camera body, a few lenses and an “it’ll do” tripod. But, before heading to Vietnam I struggled to figure out what I wanted to take with me.

What I couldn’t figure out was

  1. Weight – I didn’t want to be carrying around dead weight with me as I knew we’d be on foot most days.
  2. I had very little idea of what I’d be taking photos of. Sure I knew roughly that there might be some landscapes, scenery, monuments, city stuff, but nothing specific.
  3. Fear. Fear of leaving one piece of kit behind that might have been perfect for one occasion.

I did what any intelligent person brought up in the Internet age would do. Found some knowledgeable people and asked them my question. Well I asked the question on a photography subreddit. People answered – yay! And people didn’t laugh off my question – double yay!

One problem with asking the masses – you’ll get a bunch of different answers, which you will have to sift through. The great was that all the answers did opened up some great questions for me, that I hadn’t thought of logically before.

  1. Do I need a zoom lens?
  2. When was the last time I used my 18-55mm kit lens?
  3. Have I ever used the Gorilla Pod on holiday before?

A few people even told me to take everything with me, just in case. I can swap out what kit I walk around with daily. Which is more or less what I did.

After taking in the answers from the subreddit I decided on…

  1. Nikon 35mm f/1.8 prime lens
  2. Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 ultra-wide angle lens
  3. Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6 telephoto lens
  4. Gorilla Pod

My 35mm is my go-to lens. I wasn’t leaving home without that one. It’s great in low-light, fast, and the photos I get from it are so crisp with wonderful colours.

The Tokina 11-16mm was also a no-brainer. I’ve been having loads of fun with this lens lately and love capturing wide vistas, whether it’s the city or countryside. I knew this one would come in handy. Though it’s a heavy one, comes in at just over 600g, and when attached to my D7200, that’s just over 1kg. But, I knew the weight would be worth it.

Then there’s the 55-300mm. It’s not a lens I use often, but I do love a good zoom. And again, like the 35mm, I’m always really happy with the quality of photos I get with this lens. Neither the 35mm nor the Tokina are very zoom-y, so I would definitely need something with a bit of zoom to it.

So how much of the kit that I took with me did I actually use? Happy to say, all of it! … Except the Gorilla Pod. That thing is turning into one of those things you buy and use once and keep trying to use, but to no avail. You know those things, right?

What were my most used lenses? The Tokina and 35mm. No surprises there. The Tokina is great for taking photos of the narrow streets, vast landscapes and huge temples and pagodas. While the 35mm once again was my go-to lens for when I simply didn’t want to take much kit out, but I wanted to take photos using my camera rather than my phone. And it’s the lens I’m most comfortable using.

And that’s the thing

When you’re on holiday you don’t want to be messing around with lenses, trying to get that perfect shot and failing because you’re using a lens/kit you hardly ever use. Take kit with you that you’re used to using. That you understand without having to re-learn using it. Thinking about it, I probably could have done the entire holiday with just the 35mm and my phone’s camera. But I can’t resist the wide angle Tokina… I really can’t.

(PS. This post contains affiliate links. Any purchases made from the links will net me a few coins. Thanks!)