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This is the shot that every photographer has to do eventually--the big "What's In My Bag" shot. Only mine has a distinct purpose... to ask you, my photog friends, a question. And that question is:
What's Missing From My Bag?
The relevant background details: I've been shooting a high-end point-and-shoot for the past four years, and finally joined the ranks of the digital SLR crowd last week. Very soon, the family and I are off on a western adventure--mountains and forests, lakes and streams, waterfalls, and (I hope) plentiful wildlife. In addition to the usual family vacation snaps for the grandparents, I really want to come back with some great outdoor/landscape/nature shots. I'm no Moose Peterson and I know I won't become one overnight, and I know that having better gear will not really get me that much closer to "Moose" territory. However, I don't get out to the wild west very often, and I want to make this trip count.
So, the game for today is... pretend Scott has $100 to spend on photo gear before heading west. Give me your best idea of what I should add to my current kit. I have lots of ideas; some fairly conventional, and maybe a few off-the-wall ones. I probably cannot buy a useful lens under my $100 limit, but I could rent one. Believe it or not, there is one place that rents Pentax-compatible gear: CameraLensRentals.com
Here's my ideas. Don't feel limited to this list though -- shoot me any idea you come up with that works with and adds to my current setup, with an emphasis on outdoor/landscape/wildlife shooting.
My current 80-200mm, while being a 300mm equivalent on a 1.5 crop sensor, is still not super-long for wildlife shooting, and it's not an especially "fast" lens.
The two possibilities here would be: rent a longer/faster zoom, or buy one of those multiplier attachments. I know a 2x teleconverter will eat 2 stops of light, but hopefully at least in daylight situations it would still be workable.
While my 18-55mm zoom is fairly wide, it might be fun/useful in these settings to have something really wide like the Pentax 12-24mm zoom. Again, we'd be talking about a rental at this point, not a purchase. There are also those wide-angle adapters that fasten on to the front of your lens like a filter. I don't know what the quality of those is like.
Another thing I'd love to play with under the "wide" category is a fisheye. Here again there are several options. I could rent a true fisheye lens, I could purchase a fisheye adapter that screws on to my existing lens. The off-the-wall idea here would be to pick up a Lomo Fisheye film camera. I'm not opposed to shooting film, and a Lomo is an order of magnitude cheaper than buying a real DSLR fisheye lens.
I have a CPL (circular polarizing filter) that will fit both my 18-55mm zoom and my nifty-fifty manual lens. I know a standard part of the landscape photog kit is a graduated ND filter for sky/ground light balancing, or just a straight ND filter for making longer exposures of clouds, moving water, etc. Anything else I should consider in the filter area?
In addition to the bargain gorillapod-clone shown above, I do have a regular tripod that didn't get included in the shot above (it was in my car at the time). Not sure whether it'll be coming along on any long hikes though. I don't have a monopod yet, and that is another good possibility to eat my theoretical $100.
So, now it's your turn... what did I miss? Or how do I prioritize the ideas above? Leave me a comment here, tweet to me @scottdcoulter, look me up on Facebook... etc. I'll collect all your feedback for a follow-on blog post, and will gladly link back to your blog, flickr, or wherever you like. Please pass this link around and get me some exposure. I'm trying once again to get a regular blog posting schedule going, so I'd love to get more folks dropping by.
And for the three of you that have lasted through all the verbiage above,