The Gear in New York / by Dario Branco

When I first started to travel, I always had a hard time figuring out what gear to take with me. I would take everything besides the tripod and the 70-200mm.

Meanwhile, I understood that I don't need most of the gear I was taking with me. I learned that I would use some gear while some not at all.

For New York, it was no different with a few exceptions.

First here is a photo of all the gear I took and I will talk about the gear I used the most and try to explain why I took it with me.

Add the Backpack, Headphones and the Electrical/USB cables to the list.

Add the Backpack, Headphones and the Electrical/USB cables to the list.

Let me start with the backpack.

I was looking for a new backpack since my trip to Barcelona in 2015 because the zippers got messed up after that trip. I was able to fix them for a while but after my last trip to Poland by the end of that year, there was no more fixing it. After some research, i found one that was a good quality, big enough for clothes, travel tripod, some lens and the 5D Mark III. I ended up buying the Venturesafe 25L GII Anti-theft travel pack from Pacsafe. I use it for my everyday commute, photography personal projects and for traveling. I don't like to look like a professional photographer when abroad unless I am doing a photo for a specific purpose. Photography backpacks always look like Photography backpacks, big or small. Even if I take some gear on my small photography bag, most of the time I leave it at home and put everything in the backpack. I have been using the Pacsafe since mid-October mostly when I go to do street photography and Landscapes photography. Is big enough to carry all the gear i need, waterproof and resistant. One of my favorite features of the backpack is that has a few security measures. I can lock the zippers and is RFID-safe. I am yet to travel only with this backpack. I would like to see if i am able to take all the clothes i need plus the tripod on a smaller trip while i carry the Camera, Lens, and Filters on a separate, smaller bag.

I took with me for the first time ever the Canon 70-200mm F2.8 L. The reason being I wanted to do two specific photos that I knew it would not work if did not have this lens with me. I ended up failing at one of those photos. I don't like to travel with this lens. Is big, heavy and calls too much attention. It does its job and is one of my most used lenses for work. Will I take it on my next trip? It all depends on what kind of photos I want to do. Even in New York most of the time I left at home.


As I mention many times before, the Fuji X100T, is my go to camera for street photography. I take this camera with me everywhere. Although I tried to buy this camera when it first came out and in 2015, I made an effort to have it in New York. I don't thing I would have taken as many photos and enjoyed New York as much as I did if I only had the 5D Mark III. With that said, I wish the camera had a better batterie life. I got to find out how tough the camera is because if fell down a few times. Glad it didn't fell from the Top of the Rock.

While i am writing this, Fuji Released the new model of this Camera: Fuji X100F.

I used the Fuji X100T for the most part of the trip but there were instances that i need a more versatile camera and more options. I am talking about the Canon 5D Mark III. As I mention before I took the 70-200mm for the first time so I could do specific photos. If i had to take only one lens with me i would take the 24-105mm. It has a wide range of focal lengths. This time i did not use the 24-105mm that much. I only took it out once because the Fuji X100T was out of batterie and used it for a few minutes before going home. When walking on the streets I found myself looking up and trying to take photos of buildings. The X100t sometimes was not wide enough. I ended up using the 17-40mm the most. Not only for when I needed it but as well as the 70-200mm I wanted to do specific photos. I know i am doing mostly landscapes with the 24-105mm and 17-40mm so I will use a smaller aperture than F4. The problem is when I am in low light situations and to get a proper exposure I have to use higher ISOs. Not that i mind the noise but if i can get it without it, better for me. 


I mentioned at the beginning that I would not take my tripod on travels. That was true until I bought the Benro Velocity FVY28AIH1. I bought it in 2015 when I traveled to Poland. I wanted a tripod strong enough that would fit in my carry-on backpack. What i like about this tripod is the built quality. Because i focus more on seascapes i know that having a tripod that can handle those conditions (as long as i take care of it), if it falls it won't break and it can take some abuse. If i had to say something bad about this tripod is that it could be a little higher. It only goes up to 1,50m. Besides that, is one of the best buys i ever did for traveling.


Still talking about tripods, I wanted to get a small tripod to have it with me all the time just in case. I bought the Manfrotto PIXI Mini Table Top Tripod one day before going to New York. I used it more to do small time-lapses and a few long exposures inside Grand Central Station but it was always reassuring knowing i had an option to do something more complex when i left the Benro at home. My problem with this tripod is that it can't do vertical photos.

I knew if I wanted to take landscape photography seriously I need a few filters. The newest one I have is the XCsource 10 Stop ND Filter. Before I decided to buy this one I always used the Cokin ND filters stack together for long exposures. The problem I had doing this was that the photos would get very magenta. After a lot of researching, I decided to try the XCsource. It was the least expensive option with the best results. The photos get a bit blueish which I like. 

One more filter that I take with me all the time and everyone should have is a Hoya 77mm Polarizer Filter Pro. Not only I use it for landscapes but also for work. I won't go into detail about what a polarizer filter can do. Check Heaton Thomas video to know what it does. For now, i prefer circular filters because all the lenses I use the most for landscapes photography are 77mm which means I don't need to buy several sizes to fit different lenses. 

I also took with me the Cokin ND Graduated filters but ended up not using them. For the last few months, i have been using blending techniques in photoshop to achieve a similar effect. And to be honest, the final result is better. As the the mini tripod, it was reassuring knowing it was there in case i need it.

For the last few years i wanted to upgrade my filter system. I have learned that a good filter system such as Lee or Formatt Hightech are expensive. As of right now what i have works prefectly and i am achieving the results i want.

On the long exposure topic, I have to have some kind of trigger that allows me to take photos in Bulb Mode. I have been using Trigger Trap app and dongle for a few years now. I had a third party cables release before but for some reason, they always failed after using them a couple of times. Granted I don't use it every day but every time I do, it makes my life easier. All I need to do is to set how long I want the exposure to be on my phone and then wait. Not to mention the gazillion other modes the app provides. 


For post processing the photos I was hoping that my Samsung Tablet with the Lightroom Mobile would be enough. I soon learned that it wouldn't. Although Lightroom Mobile worked perfectly when I was importing a few photos, when I had close to one hundred the app kept crashing. I know the main problem is the tablet because it is old and not powerful enough for such tasks. I ended up using my friend's laptop to edit, post processing and publish photos. Meanwhile, i was able to get the new Mac Book Pro 15". So far is working perfectly but I want to try it on a trip to experience how I feel about using it not for work.

Last but not least, most of this gear has to be charged. Thankfully almost everything I have uses Micro USB. Instead of having several electric cables and hope that there are enough plugs where I am staying, I got the Aukey PA-U37 to charge everything at once. All I need is one available electrical plug, a few Micro or Normal USB cables and I can charge all my gear except the 5D without using five or six electrical plugs. 


To have extra power I carried with me a Belkin 4000 mAh. Not only I am able to charge my phone but also my Fuji X100T. It has enough power to fully charge two phones.


If I was going on a trip and had to chose thye minimum amount of gear to take my list would be:

Pacsafe Venturesafe 25L GII Anti-theft
Canon 5D Mark III with Canon 24-105mm F4
Fuji X100T
Benro Tripod
77mm Hoya Polarizer Filter
77mm XCsource 10 Stop ND Filter
Trigger Trap Dongle
Aukey PA-U37
Belkin Power Bank
And probably the Mac Book Pro 15"

Since it took me a long time to write this post I will be posting all the photos as soon as possible.