In this article I’ll show you what photographic equipment I take with me when I visit Egypt. It’s a collection of equipment I’ve evolved over the course of several years, and it works very well indeed for me. Note that the links in the article are affiliate links to Amazon UK, which is where I’ve bought most of my camera equipment. If you use one of these links to buy something yourself, you won’t pay any more, but I’ll get a small commission which will really help me in running this site. Thanks for your support!
First and very important – my camera bag. I’ve tried literally dozens of camera bags over the years, but the one I keep coming back to is the inexpensive AmazonBasics – Large shoulder bag for camera and accessories, Black with grey interior. I find it the ideal compromise between size and capacity. It holds everything I need to take with me, and after three years of hard use is as good as the day I bought it. Here’s mine, complete with EgyptAir cabin bag tag!
and this is what I’ve got in it:
In the main compartment I’ve got my two cameras (more on that below), air blower to keep them clean, and (vital for Egypt!) my sunglasses:
You may be asking yourself why I would take two cameras with me. There are two main reasons:
- Cameras break. Although my cameras are pretty tough, I could drop one onto a rock and break it, or it might just spontaneously die on me – these things can happen with electronic equipment! Hence I always feel happier having a spare, just in case.
- I keep different lenses on them to save the time it would take to change lenses on a single camera, and to protect the cameras from that process. Egypt can be extremely dusty, particularly when it’s windy, and if the air is full of dust it’s difficult to avoid getting dust inside the camera when you change the lens. This not only results in dust spots on the image, but can physically damage the moving parts of the camera (such as the shutter mechanism) in the long term.
I’m going to write another article about my choice of cameras and lenses, and the reason I made that decision, but my primary camera, on the left in the picture above, which gets used 90% of the time, is an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Compact System Camera – Black, which is a “Micro Four Thirds” system professional camera which I’ve used for the last couple of years with superb results. The lens I use on it most of the time (pictured above) is the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100 mm 1:4.0 IS Pro Lens for Camera – Black, an extremely versatile lens which goes from wide area to moderate zoom, and gives excellent image quality. My secondary camera (at the right of the picture) is an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Camera Body – Black which is smaller and lighter than the EM1. The lens I have on it is an ultra wide-angle Olympus 7-14 mm M.ZUIKO Digital ED 1:2.8 Pro Lens – Black, which allows me to take pictures of wall-scenes in confined spaces such as tombs which I just couldn’t get with any other lens.
Another lens I use regularly is the Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-40 mm 1:2.8 PRO Lens – Black:
This is much lighter and more compact than the 12-100, and is excellent for outside use, although not nearly as good as the 12-100 in low-light conditions such as tombs and the dark interiors of temples, for reasons I’ll explain another time. If I know I’m going to be spending a day walking around outside, this is the lens I’ll put on my EM1 in place of the 12-100.
After the cameras, the most essential item of equipment to take to Egypt is a good light. Flash photography isn’t allowed, but other forms of light are. I use an inexpensive Neewer 40004082 Dimmable Ultra High Power Panel Digital Camera / Camcorder Video Light, LED Light for Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Panasonic,SONY, Samsung and Olympus Digital SLR Cameras, which is a 160-LED video light. This uses a Sony camcorder battery, which will power it for at maximum brightness for nearly 2h.
The reason this is necessary is that many sites you’re likely to visit in Egypt are dark and very poorly lit. They generally use ancient florescent light tubes, many of which have either burned out, or are so filthy with accumulated decades of dirt that they give scarcely any light. Trying to take photographs in such conditions is an exercise in frustration, and is almost guaranteed to produce very poor results. The light in the picture above will evenly illuminate quite a large room, and the light is white, resulting in good colour reproduction. The diffuser shown in the picture comes with the light – I always leave it on. Although, as the picture shows, the light does have a standard “hot-shoe” camera mount attachment, I generally get my guide to hold it up for me rather than having it mounted on my camera.
The final item of equipment I take with me (but don’t walk around with) is a field monitor, to allow me to look at my pictures on a decent-size screen, rather than having to rely on the small screen of the camera. I use a Neewer F100 7-inch 1280×800 IPS Screen Camera Field Monitor Kit with 2600mAh NP-F550 Replacement Li-ion Battery; Micro USB Battery Charger and Black Carrying Case for Nikon Canon Sony DSLR Cameras, which is shown in the picture below:
This is a 7″ battery-powered high-definition monitor. Usefully, it’s powered by the same Sony camcorder batteries than the Neewer video light uses, so I can share batteries between the two devices. It connects to the HDMI output of my camera, and I can then look at my pictures on a nice large screen. I generally leave the monitor in my bag in the car, and review my pictures before leaving a site to make sure that they’re reasonable; it’s a lot better to spend 10m reviewing your pictures before leaving than to discover you’ve made some appalling error when you get home from your trip! I use a lot of Neewer kit, by the way. They make excellent products at very reasonable prices. It’s a brand I always look out for when shopping for photographic accessories.
Other odds and ends I have in my camera bag are:
Going clockwise from the top left of the picture we have:
- A retractable cleaning brush. As mentioned above, Egypt can be an extremely dusty place, so after leaving a site I’ll generally use the air-blower to remove the worst of the dust, and then use the brush to get rid of any remaining dust particles that may be sticking to the lens.
- Memory Card Carrying Case – Suitable for SDHC and SD Cards – 8 Pages and 22 Slots – ECO-FUSED Microfiber Cleaning Cloth Included (1 Pack, Grey). Essential for storing spare memory cards, and keeps them nice and safe.
- Neewer Battery Storage Bag Case for Reflex Digitali/AA/LP-E6/E8/E10/E12/EN-EL14/EN-EL15/FW50/F550 Batteries etc. Suitable for Nikon D800/Canon 5DMKIII/Sony A77 Batteries. I keep the spare batteries for my EM5 camera and the camcorder batteries for the light and video monitor in this.
- Two spare batteries for my EM1. Slightly annoyingly, the EM1 and EM5 use different batteries, even though they’re both Olympus cameras and are even in the same range of models!
- Disposable lens wipes. These are useful if you end up with fingerprints or other greasy marks on the lens. Only use them after first cleaning the lens with the air blower, and then removing any remaining dust with the brush.
- PHOLSY Wired Shutter Remote Control Cord O6 Shutter Release Cable for Olympus Cameras, Replaces Olympus RM-UC1 Remote Cable Control. Remote cable release for the EM1. A third-party product a quarter the price of the official Olympus part, and works absolutely fine.
- A USB memory card reader, for transferring pictures from the camera’s memory card to my laptop.
- Kaavie GC-2 Pocket Size 3-in-1 White Balance and Grey Cards (Pack of 3). A simple item, but one which should be in every camera bag. This set of three credit-card size white balance cards loops around your wrist on a handy strap. When I go into any area with artificial lighting, I fan the cards out and take a picture of them against the scene I’ll be photographing, and I can then use the resulting picture to get the correct white balance when I do the image processing for the pictures taken at that location. Simple and effective.
That’s it for now! If you’ve any comments or suggestions for additional items I should be taking on my trips, please do respond in the comments section below.