Going On Vacation

At long last, summer vacations are here! You haven't even gotten the first hint of a tan and already you're planning to take roll upon roll (or memory card upon memory card) of some of the most fantastic and unforgettable pictures of that little corner of paradise you are going to visit.

But before you go, you should ask yourself what equipment should you bring, which film you should use and what precautions you should take?


1. Camera

If you are a bit of a risk taker or somewhat absent-minded, you are probably better off leaving your expensive camera equipment at home.

A compact camera would be ideal, or you could simply buy disposal cameras, either with or without a flash, during your trip.

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The country you will visit is another important factor. Ask about the incidence of theft, as tourists often fall victim to pickpockets on the beach or in major tourist centres. It would be a shame for you to have your $1200 camera (or even $120, for that matter) be stolen.

Hey Hey! No Need to Worry!

2. Lenses

Consult our previous issue for more information on this topic.

Always keep in mind what you will be taking pictures of. For strolls in the city, light and compact short variable focus lenses will make your life much easier. Also bring along a variable wide angle to normal lens (28-70mm for film cameras and 17-35m for digital models) and another from (70-200mm). The integrated variable focal length of compact cameras should cover a range from middle wide angle to standard telephoto (28-105mm for film cameras).

And get yourself a good backpack to carry all your specialized equipment and accessories!

3. Camera Bag

What is the perfect bag? Unfortunately, there is no perfect answer! After thirty years in the photography field, camera bags are undoubtedly the accessory I purchased the most often. Bandolier-type bags, backpacks, solid aluminium suitcases and waterproof suitcases.

My advice to you is “a camera bag for each occasion”. And the occasion we are talking about now is you going on holiday, right? There are two types of bags I recommend for tourists.

The first is a fanny pack in which you can store your compact camera, batteries and extra film or memory cards without loading yourself down. Very handy when you are on a long walk through the bustling streets of the city you are visiting.

However, if you are an experienced amateur photographer and want to bring your high-tech camera and set of lenses with you, a rugged, light and comfortable backpack would be best. Some backpacks even have a compartment for laptop computers if you want to transfer your pictures from your memory cards to free them up. Nature lovers will appreciate the versatility of a backpack, especially during long hikes in the forest.

These two models are illustrated below:

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One more thing. Be sure to get a little lock to secure the main zippers on your backpack. When moving through a tight crowd or at a show, a moment's distraction on your part would be enough for someone to make off with a piece of your camera equipment.

Sample lock below:

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4. Tripod

I covered tripods in an earlier issue of this newsletter.

You should always keep one thing in mind where tripods are concerned: Long walk = Travel light!

Which Film To Use?

Before you leave, be sure to bring two types of film with you: 100 to 200 iso film, which has average sensitivity and gives the best results for pictures taken in the sun, and 400 to 800 iso film, which is much more sensitive and is recommended for pictures taken during shows, strolls down quaint, little streets and on overcast days.

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ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

CAUTION! Beware of airport x-ray machines!

Fewer and fewer airports have old x-ray equipment, but the increased power of the technology installed over the past five years or a poorly adjusted system may affect film with iso of 800 or more. To prevent this from happening, you can either have your more sensitive film searched manually or use a specially designed pouch that will protect your film from x-ray radiation.

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Memory Cards

Which ones to choose? I suggest a 1 G card or four 250 M cards.

I also recommend you do not put all of your eggs in one basket, so use more than one card. Storing all your vacation pictures on the same card is begging for trouble!

If you lose the card or the card memory suffers permanent “amnesia”, you can kiss your vacation pictures goodbye!

If you are bringing your laptop with you on vacation and it has a CD burner, you should transfer your day's pictures on a CD. Not only will this free up space on your memory card, you will also be able to take even more pictures during your trip!

Things to Do Before Leaving On Vacation.

1. Go Over Your Camera Equipment

Batteries! Batteries! Batteries! Some camera models or manufacturers may require specific batteries, so it would be a good idea to go to your local photography store to have your batteries tested and replaced, if necessary! Better safe than sorry!

First, be sure to get some new alkaline batteries for your portable flash. Do you use rechargeable batteries? Don't skimp on the quality, especially for those in your digital camera. Good batteries last 3 to 6 times longer!

Second, getting your camera cleaned and adjusted will prevent any unpleasant surprises associated with poorly maintained equipment.

Watch out for SAND, your camera's #1 enemy! NEVER put your camera down on a fine, sandy beach!

2. Insurance and Inventory

Some companies will request you present them with a detailed list of serial numbers and proofs of purchase for your camera equipment should it be stolen. You should always keep all proofs of purchase.

In addition, customs regulations may require a list of the photography equipment you are carrying with you. You can obtain an official inventory list from your local Canada Customs office. Have your list officially approved before you leave to avoid any problems upon your return. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Please Note : This inventory list usually only applies to experienced amateur or professional photographers travelling with a lot of camera equipment.

3.  Need More Information?

Read the previous issues of our newsletter on this site for tips on arranging shots, lighting, the perfect time to take a picture, choice of lenses, etc. Yet one more thing you can do to ensure you take the best possible pictures during your vacation.

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Getting Your Pictures Printed Upon Your Return

Once back home, I'm sure you are eager to show your wonderful vacation pictures to your family and friends. You have two choices: print them yourself with an ink jet printer or have a photo development store do it for you.

Printing 100 , 200 or even 300 4x6 pictures may take longer than you anticipated! Not to mention the cost of ink jet cartridges... Personally, I like to see my pictures before I go on my next vacation and not spend a fortune printing them up.


Have you managed to convince your loved ones that the success of your vacation depends on your photography equipment? Is the weight of the images you plan on taking equal to the weight of your camera bag?

Have a great vacation!

Jacques Bourdages, pfe