My San Diego Gear Bag: Entering a Whole New (Lighter) World! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

My San Diego Gear Bag: Entering a Whole New (Lighter) World!

What’s Up?

Despite my way early start–I was up at 3:40am eastern time on Tuesday, my flights and my travel day were fine. In a word, the weather in San Diego this afternoon was nasty: torrential rains, high winds, and tornado warnings. I will, however, make it out to La Jolla in the morning to scout, rain or shine.

Big Tech News

Learn about the big CES show in Las Vegas here. And check out the great B&H CES-related stuff here.

My San Diego Gear Bag: Entering a Whole New (Lighter) World!

My main decisions for this trip was whether to ship the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens or bring the Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens on the plane in my Think Tank Airport Security™ V 2.0 Rolling Bag.

It did not take me long to decide to take the 500 II on the plane and leave the 600 II at home. For starters, it is lighter and far less bulky than the 600 II, and thus much easier to travel with. As for reach, it offers plenty albeit in a smaller, lighter package. I love working super-tight on the pelicans and I can get pretty darned close physically without disturbing the birds.

I had previously owned a 500 II and loved it. But then I sold it. So last week I purchased a new one from B&H. Jim outfitted it with a nice LensCoat and added the CRX-5 Low Foot so that the center of gravity of the lens is centered over my Induro GIT 304L tripod with a Mongoose M3.6 on it. The LensCoat is in Realtree Hardwood Snow, my favorite pattern. We carry a huge assortment of LensCoat stuff here.

As each day goes by weight becomes a more important factor when choosing what gear I will travel with. If I were traveling to a place where the birds are even tamer than San Diego like the Southern Ocean or the Galapagos or Namibia, and where traveling light was of huge importance, the 500 II would be replaced by the Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM lens. Don’t forget that with any of the aforementioned f/4 super-telephotos anyone should be able to create sharp images with the 1.4X III TC and folks with good to excellent long lens sharpness techniques should routinely be able to create professionally sharp images with the 2X III TC down to 1/60 sec.

Next up is the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens. This lens absolutely kills on the pelicans in La Jolla and makes a great flight lens for the gulls that we will photograph at Coronado. It is so good that I did not even think of taking the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM lens with Internal 1.4x Extender that I had used with great success on the cliffs on my last two visits. The times they are a-changin’.

My original plan was to save a bit more weight by leaving the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens but I have been receiving all sorts of Armageddon-like weather forecasts for Southern California including San Diego: rain, wind, cold, heavy rain, and more rain. We shall see. In any case, there was plenty of room in my Think Tank Airport Security™ V 2.0 Rolling Bag so in it went. The speed of this fast (f/2.8) lens might just come in handy on dark, cloudy, or even rainy days at the cliffs. And I can use it at f/4 with the 1.4X III TC. In addition it is great for scenics and bird-scapes. As I am taking the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens the 70-200 will give me 30mm of additional focal length coverage (from 70-100) as I opted to leave my Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens at home. Co-leader Denise Ippolito will probably be aghast when she hears that as she is the world’s best with the amazingly versatile 24-105.

I have a few images in mind for the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens, two specific ones at the main pelican spot in La Jolla, the others at La Jolla Shores Beach.

Camera Bodies

EOS-1D X. I will use my rugged pro body mainly with the 100-400 II and possibly a bit in low light with the 500 II as the more powerful 1D X battery makes it better choice when I am working at 1000mm.

I will be using the mega-high megapixel Canon EOS 5DS R DSLR mainly on the 500 II alone and with the 1.4X III TC.

EOS-7D Mark II. I will use the 7D II with both the 500 II and the 1-4 II mainly when it is clear and sunny.

I took the 5D II that was converted to IR by Kolari Vision in one of my checked bags. I am thinking of bright sun and pelican with big white clouds… Learn more about Kolari Vision and IR here or here. (Note: I am working on getting a new discount code for 2016.)


I am making this trip with just two Canon 1.4X III TCs and one 2X III TCs.

Questions Welcome

If you have a question about any of my gear choices here please feel free to leave a comment. Do you disagree with any of my choices? What would you be brining to San Diego. And why?

Think Tank Rolling Bags

I will be using the larger of my two Think Tank rolling bags, the Airport Security™ V 2.0 Rolling Camera Bag. I will use the slightly smaller of the two, the Airport International™ LE Classic for my Southern Ocean trip. Except for the Singh-Ray polarizer, I everything above fit easily into my Airport Security™ V 2.0 Rolling Camera Bag on Thursday afternoon. It tipped the scales at 44 1/4 pounds; the legal limit for US flights is 40 pounds. Nearly all countries in the world give you slack as far as the 40 pounds goes on the way back to the US. As far as the extra 4 1/4 pounds, I have only been hassled for weight once in more than three decades of flying around the world…. I hope that I do not give myself a kine-ahora.

Think Tank Urban Disguise Laptop Shoulder Bag

Both denise and I use and love this amazing bag as it has tons of room and enables us to bring tons of extra stuff.

Please click on my Think Tank affiliate link here to earn a free gift when you purchase a Think Tank Rolling Bag.

Delkin Flash Cards

As always, I will have a 64gb Delkin e-Film Pro Flash Card in each camera body so that I never have to change cards in the field thus reducing the risk of losing a card…. Please note the new lower prices here. I do have a few extra 32 and 64gb cards in a Delkin CF Memory Card Tote, mostly to protect against operator errors….


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In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

11 comments to My San Diego Gear Bag: Entering a Whole New (Lighter) World!

  • avatar Ar

    Has anyone been to Cuba with their camera gear? I’m going for the Birds in Flight Photo Contest next month. The charter airline through Cuba Travel Services allows only 44 lbs. total including the weight of carry-ons. Oi vey! It’s $2 for each extra pound. I guess I’ll have to suck it up and pay…

  • avatar David Peake

    Hi Artie,
    44 lbs ! Seriously? They wouldn’t let me on the flight with that much carry on, at least not from NZ. 7 kg max which is about 18 lbs is all we get and that Big lady with no sense of humour always seems to be policing it.
    I would bring the 5 d lll with the 100-400 mk ll, the 24-70 L ll and the 1.4 TC. Why? That’s all I have if you don’t count the 35 1.4. That would already tip the scales too high and some items would have to go checked in and I can’t bear to do it. I would add my Fuji body xt1 with 10-24 and 55-200 lenses as back body (1.5 crop factor) in place of 7D which I sold a while back. The Fuji gear is light comparatively and easily equals canon in quality if not quite in speed.
    While the weather doesn’t look great here’s hoping you will get some nice moody cloudy shots and have some cloudy bright days as the system moves through.
    Best wishes for the new year

  • avatar Jake Levin

    Can’t wait to get there on Friday! Fingers crossed for no rain

  • avatar Frank Sheets

    Hi Artie. Good morning. Thanks for the equipment suggestions. Considering I’m driving, I’m bringing it all (too much to list (3 bodies, 7 lenses). Rain, rain everywhere, but the forcastes call for clearing, so that is good. Should I stop by the store and buy some trash bags for everyone, just in case. Been over the Salton Sea a couple of times since Laurie and I have been in Borrego. Lots of birds over there but more exploring necessary to figure out the best opportunities. Sorry to hear about the laryngitis, but Laurie suggests Denise should do most of the talking anyway (just joking of coarse) See you this evening!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      They should be all fixed now. Right now, 5:24am Pacific time, the weather has improved to a heavy drizzle 🙂 a

      ps: when I have my 100-400 II I have my macro lens 🙂

      • avatar Bob Allen

        Rain has backed off here too.

        I have the original 100-400 IS, which doesn’t focus very close and isn’t even close to the quality of the recent version.

  • avatar Kevin Watson

    Hi Artie,

    I clicked on your Think Tank affiliate link, since I was mildly curious to see what an Urban Disguise bag looks like, and I get a 404 – page not found. BTW, which model do you guys use?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Kevin, My bad. The HTML code was missing a <. It should work now. When you get to the page, the text is a bit goofy. I requested that they change it to this soon: Welcome Friends of BIRDS AS ART Hurray! You are all set to shop and receive a free gift when you purchase at least $50 worth of gear. You will receive free ground shipping and the best customer service in the industry. Artie’s three favorite Think Tank products are the AIRPORT INTERNATIONAL™ V2.0, the AIRPORT SECURITY™ V2.0, and the URBAN DISGUISE® 60 CLASSIC (V3.0), but we have lots of other great stuff as well. Start shopping and your cart will automatically offer you a choice of a free gift! a

  • As far as the 200-400…have you been thinking about selling it? I can’t remember the last time you mentioned it traveling with you. With the 100-400 and the other combinations of camera bodies, converters, etc,I would think that 200-400 is starting to become a little more obsolete for you with each new day.

    Looking forward to that infrared discount from Kolari since you know I’m preparing to get one of my bodies converted. Every dollar helps 🙂


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Doug, You are somewhat correct on the 2-4 but, but I am likely taking it to Namibia as my big lens. Either way I will likely sell it but don’t tell anybody… In addition I will be selling my mint 300 II and my somewhat beaten up 5D III….

      I should here from Kolari Vision soon. a