It is so nice to be able to say, “I am travelling to Japan next month!” The excitement is starting to build also. I am beginning to realise in the past few weeks that I need a break from my usual routine – just like everyone else I suppose. Love my children more than anything but being a single parent is hard work. A break is good for me to re-centre, recharge, refresh – you get the idea. Aside from that and the residual guilt, I feel at going away without them, this is an excellent opportunity for me to gather content, stories and experiences to share here on my blog. Obviously, the most significant element of that is to capture lots of photos. So today I want to talk about the kit I want to take with me.
In The Past
On my first trip to Tokyo in 2015, I took EVERYTHING I had. I took my Fujifilm X-T1 with a bunch of lenses. Most were larger primes and a couple of larger zooms. Then in 2016, I went to Kyoto and Osaka and thought I had trimmed down my photography kit. But then I walked into Yodobashi Camera store and picked up the beast lens in the XF50-140mmF2.8. And of course, I always keep the boxes of my camera gear. So that was not so trim a kit in the end. Tokyo 2017 saw me really trim the equipment down. I only took the Fujifilm X-T2, the XF14mmF2.8, the XF50mmF2 and the XF23mmF2. Plus the Fujifilm X70 as a backup. Turns out I just used the XF23mmF2 for the thousands of photos I took. Granted they were mostly street shots and this is my preferred focal length for the street. But for me, it is always the best focal distance for a range of styles. Looking back at the years of carrying too much, at times it weighed me down. Especially as I did a lot of walking. So there is a lot to learn from.
The kit that I want to take with me is going to be genuinely minimal this time – I promise. I will be taking the Fujifilm X-T3. This is the latest and greatest in the X-T range of Fujifilm cameras. I have owned the X-T1, and the X-T2 and they are all fantastic cameras. The Fujifilm X-T3 has a dual card slot. I fit a 64GB card into each slot and set the camera to create a back up of every photo onto the second card slot. Learning from the past, the only lens I am taking is the Fujifilm XF23mmF2. This is my favourite lens. It is super lightweight and is weather and dust resistant – as is the Fujifilm X-T3. It is also great in low light and has super fast autofocus. This combination is ideal for me when it comes to travel. Combined they are light to handhold for a considerable duration. They fit into any bag. More on that later. I will be taking along my Fujifilm X70. If you have been reading my photography blogs, you will know how much I love this camera. Especially for street photography. I didn’t use it as much on my Tokyo 2017 trip. But I hope to give it a lot more attention this time around. Worse case, I have a backup camera.
Batteries and SD Cards
With the X-T3 and the XF23mmF2 lens, I can get a decent amount of shots from a single battery. Anywhere from 500 to 1,000. It just depends on the settings I am using. But the great thing about the small XF23mmF2 lens is that its motor-system hardly draws any power. Regardless, I will have one in the camera and another 3 in my bag all recharged overnight. The same goes for the X70. One in the camera and 2 in my bag.
SD cards will follow a similar pattern. The X-T3 will already have two 64GB cards. Keeping in mind that there will be a copy of an image on each as it is set to backup. With the sensor on the X-T3 and the fact that I always shoot in RAW, I can get almost 2,000 images onto a 64GB card. In my camera bag, I will have another pair of 64GB cards and a pair of 32GB cards. On my Fujifilm X70, I will have a single 64GB card. I will also be shooting in RAW on this camera, but this has a less advanced sensor, so the image files are much smaller than the X-T3. Unlikely I will need to exchange the SD card on the X-70.
Charging in Japan
Both the Fujifilm X-T3 and the X-70 can be charged via USB power. Either through a wall socket – as many Japanese hotels have – or via an alternate power source such as PowerBank if you are out and about and your battery dies. I will be taking a power bank but think this will be to mostly keep my iPhone topped up as I will be using Google Maps and other travel apps a lot. I will be bringing both of the chargers for the cameras along with a couple of Australia – Japan power adapter. I have managed this quite well in the past and charge my batteries overnight. I have never run out of the batteries in my bag during the day. And batteries hardly weigh anything.
Keeping It Clean
Last time I was in Tokyo I picked up a Cura cleaning pouch from a Yodobashi camera store. You can read more about the kit in my blog here. In short, it is a small pouch that I can carry lens cleaning tissues, lens cleaning fluid, a lens brush and a microfibre cleaning cloth. Super handy to have on hand when you are out and about.
Which Bag is Best?
I have a love-hate relationship with most camera bags these days. I still love my ONA Prince Street bag. I talked about this one in my mid-2018 blog about what is in my camera bag. You can check that one here. But this is not a good travel bag. It is excellent for a few hours out on a street shoot. Or, for night shooting an event. But for travel, it gets too uncomfortable. As for other camera bags such as a backpack, they are either far too obviously a camera bag – making them a target for harassment or theft. Or, they are designed to hold larger DSLR camera bodies and lenses. As a result, my little lenses and camera roll around. So this year I have decided to go with a home built hybrid.
I am using an old Crumpler brand Private Zoo backpack. It is really soft and light and looks nothing like a camera bag. It has the one main compartment and a zippered front pocket. It is not water repellent, but the next bit is. I am putting my two cameras and one lens inside a Crumpler King Pin Inlay. This is a padded and partitioned rectangular form that comfortably holds my gear. It zips around the top and also has a handle that helps me pull it out of my bag if I choose to. It is a perfect fit into the bag. All of my tech accessories listed above are going into a small Crumpler Squid Pouch. It is just a single pocket compartment that holds my batteries and cards and cables, etc.
That’s my solution for this trip. I was looking at buying another branded bag but feel this way I will save some money and probably feel just as comfortable. Plus, my kit doesn’t weigh much at all. The only other addition will be to carry my passport and documents in a waterproof zippered case that I picked up from an office supply store. This camera kit and set up is going to be very neat and easy to keep track of, carry and access. And using this kind of gear for street photography is fantastic as they are stealthy looking cameras anyway. The XF23mmF2 or even the X70’s built-in 18mmF2.8 also give me a nice wide angle for landscape and architecture shots. The critical element of this plan is simplicity in being able to enjoy my photography, experiences and the outcomes. Not dread lugging gear around. So I am determined NOT to add any more lenses to the kit nor have too many beers and walk into a camera store while in Tokyo. It has happened before. Happy travels.