Hello Steven! (Tubbataha, Philippines, May 2018)
Tubbataha, Philippines, May 2018. (Photo: Steven Weinberg)

Photo and diving equipment: my travel gear

  Between Two Journeys

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text: 

I travel to do underwater photography. So in my luggage, in addition to the clothes, I take all my photo and diving equipment. Namely a reflex camera (Canon Eos 7D) and its waterproof case to take it underwater with two underwater flashes, as well as a complete diving equipment!

Accuracy: I am not sponsored by ANY of the brands I list below when I detail my photo and diving equipment. I equipped myself little by little, over the years, according to my needs and budget.

Camera and lenses

My current camera is an SLR, the Canon Eos 7D, that I bought in 2010. So I've been using it for quite a few years now, both on land and underwater. I'm very happy with it. Its only drawback is that it's a bit heavy.

In Angkor, Cambodia, in February 2011. (Photo credit: Marie Toumit / blog-plus-loin.com)
In Angkor, Cambodia, in February 2011. (Photo: Marie Toumit / blog-plus-loin.com)
Hello Steven! (Tubbataha, Philippines, May 2018)
Tubbataha, Philippines, May 2018. (Photo: Steven Weinberg)

I take this camera underwater, in an adapted waterproof housing, to take my underwater photos and videos. The accessories below allow me a wide angle or more exactly fisheye configuration (10-17 mm) and two macro configurations (60 and 100 mm):

My Ikelite housing, the flash and portholes to take the Canon Eos 7D under water ... Yes, it's a lot of mess to carry!
The Ikelite housing, a flash and the portholes (flat and dome) to take my Canon Eos 7D underwater... Yes, it's a lot of junk to transport!!!!
The little bazaar that I steal on a trip to be able to take photos under water ... Right, my camera with its new lens 100mm macro. Only the most fragile elements, namely the camera and lenses, its box and portholes, remain in my cabin bag. I put everything else in the hold. (Romblon, Philippines, March 2017)
Since 2016, I have a second flash, floats, an extra arm, a carrying strap... It adds a bit of junk and screws. On the right, my camera with its new 100mm macro lens (not all my lenses are visible here and there's no mini-dome either).
There you go ! The device is ready to accompany me under the water! (Romblon, Philippines, March 2017)
There you go! The camera (here in macro configuration) is ready to accompany me underwater! (Romblon, Philippines, March 2017)

On land, when travelling, I mainly use the following objectives:

Yes, I carry all this small stuff with me! Not forgetting, of course, all the chargers, batteries, cords, memory cards, etc. that go with it...


My first underwater camera

My photo equipment before 2010 was much more modest... This compact, the Canon Powershot A95, accompanied me everywhere, for several years, before dying, in 2009... I took it underwater for my underwater pictures, with the waterproof housing designed for this model: the WP-DC50.

I didn't have any additional lighting at the time, I only used the built-in strobe. This limited me to underwater macro photography.

But I was pleasantly surprised from the start by the quality of the underwater images obtained with this minimal equipment. I used it for 4-5 years and learned a lot with it. All the underwater pictures below were taken with this small digital camera...

Photographing with a DSLR AND a smartphone

The advantage of a smartphone for terrestrial photography is that it is much more discreet and less cumbersome than an DSLR. Everyone has this kind of phone in their pocket, now, so you can pull it out at any time without attracting attention...

I invested in an iPhone X a few months after its release and I'm blown away by the quality of the sensor, which is more than sufficient for both souvenir photos and those intended to illustrate this blog. The iPhone allows me to take pictures when I don't have my 7D at hand, for example on the boat, between two dives, because the DSLR is in its housing. Or for all those times when I prefer to walk around lightly, because the 7D weighs a little bit...

I had bought myself a compact digital camera as a back-up device in early 2012: the Canon Powershot S100. It has manual mode, it shoots Raw and makes excellent video. But since I bought the latest smartphone, I don't use that camera at all and I don't take it with me on trips anymore. That's good, that makes one less thing in the bag !

Diving equipment

I passed my camera to my guide, and for once, I'm taking the pose!
I passed my camera to my guide, and for once, I'm the one posing! (Indonesia, 2015)

Regulator: Aqualung Legend LX ACD with INT connector + Legend octopus + basic gauge (super comfort of inspiration and expiration, ACD system which prevents water from entering the first stage), which is a bit heavy (2.1kg). The nice little lightweight Mikron model was not yet out when I invested at the time, and the INT mount was the most common in Asia, but today I would get a DIN.

Diving computer: the Quad of Mares, not too expensive, with large and easy to read numbers, switchable to nitrox mode and you can change the battery yourself. It replaced my Puck, from the same brand, that I involuntarily left somewhere at the bottom of the Red Sea in October 2016... I had it for many years, it worked perfectly. (For the veterans: my very first dive computer was a good old Uwatec Aladdin, with its famous "fridge" look, it started to behave strangely all of a sudden, going to dive by itself in a drawer...)

BCD: a basic Seac Sub (it does not even figure anymore on the BCD page of the brand), found a long time ago, for cheap, in a big chain of sports stores (Decathlon). Very robust, it still works perfectly since years (it's my first one, I never changed it). It weighs 2.8kg so I plan to invest one day in a lighter and less bulky travel BCD, with integrated weight pockets.

Fins: Mares Volo Power. I have two of them, one in the sock version and one in the adjustable version. Their flexibility suits me well (and I make sure I never find myself paddling like a fury against the current). They allow a very fine approach and stabilization when I have to come close to a subject to photograph.

Booties: for a long time, I kept testing new ones... All of them hurt me, there was always a seam or a reinforcement that would create a light bulb in the long run... Except for the Ellie Ergo from Aqualung, I have definitely adopted them since 2015. No seams on the inside and no zippers. The neoprene is super soft, they fit like socks! But they are fragile: after a few dives, the inner lining frays and the reinforcement on the top of the foot comes off. So I replace them regularly.

Mask: Aqualung Micromask Technisub (very small, comfortable, easy to empty, I love it).

Wet-suit: I only dive in warm water these days (rarely below 25-26°C except thermoclines). So I'm always in 5 mm wet-suit (sometimes I even add a shorty on top when the temperature goes down to 20-24°C). I currently have the Focea Comfort by Beuchat for women: I bought it in July 2015, to replace an old Aqualung, and the ever freezing diver that I am was delighted for a long time, it kept me warm and was super-comfortable. But it is well worn, I have to change it...

Accessories : a stick or "pointer" (metal rod which is used for many things, very useful to have a point of support on the sand when you take pictures underwater and which allows you to avoid touching anything), a neoprene top of 2,5mm and a lycra top that I systematically put under the suit (I'm very cold), a hook, a sausage, a small lamp, a whistle, a mirror, a knife, a clip for the octopus, various carabiners, hoods and headbands for the hair...

And to carry all this?

I equipped myself little by little, both for diving and underwater photography. As a result, my luggage has also grown little by little. I am no longer a backpacker diver anymore...

I reviewed my logistics for transporting all my stuff and switched to wheels! I invite you to read the two articles below where I talk about it:

→ Luggage: which dive bag should you choose for travel?
→ No more backpacks, long live the wheelie bag!


  Between Two Journeys