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Monday, May 1, 2006

Bare Essentials

Four professional photographers share how they travel light in the field

[ Linde Waidhofer ]

Linde Waidhofer's work has her frequently traveling to various parts of the world. Her recent trips to Patagonia offer a good example of situations where she has had to reduce the amount of gear she takes with her out in the field. When she has to depend on two feet to get to her destination rather than four wheels, cutting down on camera gear becomes paramount. This has been much easier since she has switched from film to digital capture, however. "I've pared down my working camera to one body and three basic lenses," says Waidhofer. "For that reason, I bought a Canon EOS 5D body as soon as it came out because it's both smaller and lighter than my Canon EOS-1D Mark II."

Waidhofer's Light Gear >>
• Canon EOS 5D
• Sigma 12-24mm ƒ/4.5-5.6
• Canon EF 28-135mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 IS USM
• Canon EF 100-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6L IS USM
• Canon EF 2x II extender
• Lowepro Orion AW bag
Her lenses includes a 12-24mm, 28-135mm and 100-400mm; she also takes along a 2x teleconverter. "This gives me a working range of 12mm to 80mm," Waidhofer says. For her macro work, she uses an extension tube and a close-up filter rather than take a separate macro lens.

Waidhofer uses variable-aperture zoom lenses rather than fast-aperture zooms to help keep weight down. Although they have better light-gathering capabilities, fast-aperture zooms are larger and heavier. When she's working under conditions that demand that she keep what she carries to a minimum, variable-aperture zooms meet the demand while still delivering excellent image quality. "When I shot almost exclusively with Fujichrome Velvia, I always carried ƒ/2.8 lenses; now with Canon's Image Stabilizer, I choose not to. I have the ability to boost the camera's ISO considerably without running into noise problems, and I find that super-fast lenses with their 'heavy glass' are no longer a necessity. Digital capture has allowed me to lighten my kit."


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