Namibia Gear Bag with some fast wide angle lenses for stars… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Namibia Gear Bag with some fast wide angle lenses for stars...

What’s Up?

I hope that I am doing well somewhere in Namibia. If all goes well and I stay out of trouble, I will be back in the office late on the afternoon of Friday, April 29.

Don’t Look Now!

Today’s blog post marks 161 days in a row with a new educational blog post… As always-–and folks have been doing a really great job recently–-please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. Please remember that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would appreciate your business.

Namibia Gear Bag with some fast wide angle lenses for stars…

I am renting a Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens for this trip, mainly for birds and wildlife.

I almost opted to leave the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens at home as I am taking the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens but decided that it would be too valuable to leave home on the game drives and would serve me well as a quasi-macro lens. (I did decide to leave the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens at home and just might regret that decision…

I am taking the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens even though there is a lot of overlap with the 100-400 II. Why? Two reasons: we will be doing some nighttime photography at the Etosha waterholes; the f/2.8 speed of this fast lens will help even when using flash as many of the animals are large. I will appreciate the extra 30mm of reach at the short end and the extra two stops of speed (both as compared to the 100-400 II) for the pre-dawn dead tree photography at Sossusvlei.

I am also taking the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens instead of the Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM lens (I am privileged to own both) again to take advantage of the extra stop of speed for the nighttime photography at the Etosha waterholes.

I am leaving the all-purpose B-roll lens, the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L, on the shelf in the garage. This will leave me with a focal length hole between 30 and 70mm that I will just have to live with.

I am taking the Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM lens and the Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD lens (for Canon EF) for nighttime scenic and star photography. Here is a great nighttime tip from Darrell Gulin: best for fixed point start photography is 15 seconds at f/2.8 at ISO 3200. He states that the standard advice of 30 seconds at f/2.8 at ISO 1600 will render some movement in the stars at all but the very widest focal lengths.

I am taking one of my favorite Palouse lenses, the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens specifically to do some desert Urbex photography on a pre-trip. As and f/4 lens, this one is less than ideal for star photography.

Camera Bodies

I am taking my two mega-high megapixel Canon EOS 5DS R DSLR bodies and will be using them often with all of the lenses above including on the 600 II either alone or with either TC. If I have a few extra pounds in my checked bag, I might throw in my remaining 1D X as a back-up even though doing so would require the extra battery charger. I do not feel completely comfortable making a big trip with just two bodies. What happens if one fails or gets smashed on Day 1? Note: my 1D X is in my checked bag with the charger. Good luck on that.


As usual, I am making this trip with the usual complement of TCs: three Canon 1.4X III TCs and two 2X III TCs. With my style of bird photography–tight, clean, and graphic–I cannot afford to be without both TCs in the event of an accident or malfunction–or loss. 🙂 Most common in the malfunction category would be that the locking pin sticks; when that happens, there is a risk of having your camera body hit the ground.

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. Everything above fit easily into my Airport Security™ V 2.0 Rolling Camera Bag on Saturday afternoon. It tipped the scales at 44 1/4 pounds for this trip; 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 1/2 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.

Please click on my Think Tank affiliate link here or on the Think Tank logo-link in the right column of each blog post page to earn a free gift when you purchase any Think Tank product.

Think Tank Urban Disguise Laptop Shoulder Bag

Both Denise Ippolito and I use and love this amazing bag as it has tons of room and enables us to take tons of extra stuff. If you are forced to gate check your roller you can get more than a few items in this bag, especially if you are not a diabetic.

Please click on my Think Tank affiliate link here or on the Think Tank logo-link in the right column of each blog post page to earn a free gift when you purchase any Think Tank product.

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 error.

Vested Interest Xtrahand Vest

I will be getting on the plane wearing my custom-designed Vested Interest Xtrahand Magnum vest that John Storrie knows as the BIRDS AS ART Big Lens Vest. It is based on their Magnum vest and then customized to best fit my needs. In addition to carrying a ton of stuff comfortably in the field, it gives you a measure of protection should your roll aboard be gate-checked on puddle jumper or other flights. We are expecting carry-on problems on our flight from Johannesburg to Upington…

If you do a search for “vest’ or “vested interest” on the blog it will take you to many mentions in both the blog and the Bulletins with lots of additional information. See especially here and here.

Click here to learn more about Xtrahand Vests. You can always call John at 940 484 2222 to discuss customizing your vest. If you think that you might order, be sure to have a tape measure in hand. Please let him know that we sent you.

Additional Stuff & Accessories

I am taking two Canon 600EX-RT Speedlites as flash will be an integral part of our nighttime and waterhole photography.

I will also have along the Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT, the Integrated Flash Arm for my Mongoose M3.6, and a Better Beamer so that I can use the flash on the big lens at night (or during the day if need be).

For some of the more difficult night scenics & flash work I have aPocketWizard Plus III Transceiver (Black), the PocketWizard CM-N3-ACC Canon 3′ Remote Camera Cable B, and the Canon Timer Remote Controller TC-80N3 for the night time flash and star trail work. If I figure out how to use it I will let y’all know when I get back!

I will of course have my Induro GIT 304L tripod and the Induro BHM1 ballhead in my checked bags. I need a ballhead for the short lens/wide angle zoom night scenics and star work so that I can mount the camera body on the ballhead via a Wimberley P-5 camera body plate. Right now there is an instant $50 rebate on the tripods and crazy low prices on the two lightweight, efficient ballheads. Click here to order.

I am taking an empty BLUBB along as I have found it useful in a variety of safari vans. I will also have the Skimmer II along for the night star and scenic photography and for off-camera mounting of the flash for the night waterhole sessions. An Enlight Photo Frio Universal Locking Cold Shoe V2 will be used to mount the flash.

Please Remember to use our Affiliate Links 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod heads, Gitzo tripods, Wimberley heads and plates, LensCoats and accessories, and the like. We sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. I just learned that my account was suspended during my absence; it should be up and running by Monday at the latest.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and visiting the BAA Online store as well.


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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 🙂

12 comments to Namibia Gear Bag with some fast wide angle lenses for stars…

  • avatar Cheri

    Artie .. I’m interested to see your night star photography … I find it quite interesting and have dabbled a bit. Star trails always seem to be an issue – tried the “rule of 500” as a general guideline. Anxious to see what you find …

  • avatar Dave McShaffrey

    Artie, I often leave my 100mm macro behind on a long hike; it’s heavy, and even though macro is my thing I just don’t want to haul it sometimes. I’ve found the 60mm macro is almost as good, but requires a closer working distance (every time I see a venomous snake it seems I have the short macro along…). Of course the 60 works fine on my 7D MkII, but won’t fit on your pro bodies.


  • avatar Chuck Carlsonk

    Checked bag weight limit for domestic airlines is 50lbs. Or 70 if you have frequent flyer perks or are first or business class.

  • avatar Scott Borowy

    Artie, thanks for this super informational post.

    I am currently researching what to replace my kit lens (18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM) with; something a little nicer for handheld travel photography, potentially more landscapes, and potentially some events with my 7D II. A full frame body is somewhere in my future, just not yet.

    I’m leaning towards the 16-35mm f/4L IS as I’ve found I need some stabilization and don’t want to chance it with an f/2.8 non-stabilized version. While I know IS goes off when shooting from a tripod, what are your experiences using a non-IS lens handheld? I see you have a Tamron 15-30mm with VC packed as well, so I might already know the answer.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I use IS on the tripod even with short lenses. Most of the times. Your choice is between the 16-35 f/4 and the 24-105mm, the all time versatility champion. a

      ps: please remember to use my B&H link whatever you decide.

  • avatar Graham hedrick

    Art, you pick gear from an extensive collection, like a kid picks clothes for summer camp.

  • You mentioned using the 1-4 as sort of a macro replacement for the 100. Would using tubes have had any benefit on the 100-400 as far as the macro part of your photography goes? Doug