Disney dSLR Travel Kit

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

As I was thinking about my upcoming trip to Walt Disney World (leaving in just 5 days!), I thought you might be interested in what I bring and why. I laid out the equipment in the photo below. Last year, Lisa gave us her list for an upcoming trip.

dSLR Travel Kit

Scottwdw’s Disney Photo Travel Kit

dSLR Camera and Zoom Lens – hard to take photos without the camera! The choice of zoom lens is a personal one for many. Depending on things like what one can afford and the kinds of photos you like to take. In my case, I like the Nikon 18-200mm VR lens so much, it hardly ever comes off the camera. Many people when they first get a dSLR camera buy it with a kit zoom lens. Most are around 18-55mm which is an excellent range for the parks.

Manuals – when traveling, I always pack my camera’s manual. In a crowded park or queue line, your camera might get jousled enough to have a button pressed or a dial moved and, without the manual, it’s hard to find out what happened. If you own a speedlight flash unit, like I do, bring that manual, too.

Speedlight – for those times when you need more light, a small speedlight is a great asset. Most are TTL (Through the Lens) and work with your camera’s light meter to properly give the correct amount of fill light. Please, don’t use it during a ride or show where you are asked NOT to use flash. Let’s be curteous to our fellow guests.

Flash Bouncer – to give more natural looking photos using flash, I recommend bouncing it off ceilings or walls. However, sometimes that can’t be done because the ceilings or walls are too far away (or don’t exist at all if you are outdoors) or the color of the ceiling or wall will be reflected. That’s when I pull out the handy flash bouncer you see attached to the flash in the photo.

Extra Batteries & Charger – the worst feeling in all the world is when you have the perfect photo in your viewfinder and, when you press the shutter button, nothing happens but a flashing message saying the camera’s battery is dead. To stop that from ever happening to you, make sure you have, at least, one spare battery or set of batteries with you. Buy rechargable batteries and have the charger with you. Every night when I come back to my room, I charge all my batteries to full for the next day’s adventures.

Fast Prime Lens – for those times when you can’t use flash and need as much light as you can get to your camera’s sensor, a fast prime lens comes in handy. While you can spend thousands of dollars on getting the fastest lenses made today, surprisingly, you can get the fast Nifty-Fifties I talked about previously for around $100 or less.

Memory Cards – the next worst feeling is running out of memory on your card and not having one to replace it with. I have recently upgraded my cards from 2GB to 4GB thanks to some great Black Friday sales. One 4GB should be more than enough for one day but I will have a spare with me just in case.

Lens Filter – in this day of Photoshop, lens filters are not as necessary as they used to be. I still enjoy using one type of filter which is the Circular Polarized Filter. This filter cuts down glare off water and other shiney surfaces and deepens the blue of the sky. It also cuts down the light reaching through a lens by 1 to 2 stops which can help in the bright Florida sunshine. I’ll be covering all the benefits of this filter in an upcoming blog entry.

Sensor Cleaning Bulb, Brushes and Fluid – remember when Barrie discovered sensor dust on one of her trips to Walt Disney World? Though she found a way around the dust, if she had brought along a Giottos Rocket Blaster and some sensor brushes and fluid for her camera, she would have been able to clean her sensor during the trip. Most of the time, all it takes is a blast from the Giottos to remove the dust.

Microfiber Lens Cloth (not shown) – for safely cleaning lenses and viewfinders. You can find these at any camera shop.

Plastic Bag (not shown) – in case of a Florida downpour, I carry a large Zip Lock plastic bag I can put my camera and lens in to keep it dry.

Camera Bag (not shown) – of course, you need to put all this stuff in something so it can be transported with you. While some of this I leave in the room, most find a way into the belt bag or fanny pack I use. Others like to use backpacks or over-the-shoulder bags.

All the above items, I consider essential for any trip I take to Walt Disney World. The next few items I feel are optional depending on the time you have to devote to photography.

Table Top Tripod – there are all types. Make sure the one you decide on can handle the weight of your camera and lens you intend to use with it. I found the Joby Gorillapods (shown in the photo) to be extremely handy for the restaurant photography I do. They are small, sturdy and, with their bendable legs, can attach to all sorts of things.

Standard Tripod – larger tripods are not easy to carry. Most can fit into the lockers you can rent at the Disney themeparks so that’s an option. If you want to get the best photos of the wonderful firework shows and the beautifully lighted streets and buildings that you can, a tripod will be your best bet. I have not carried one in all my visits to Walt Disney World but will this time. I’ll share my thoughts about it when I get back.

Remote Shutter Release – a remote allows me not to add camera shake vibrations by physically pressing the shutter button when the camera is on a tripod. You can also use your camera’s builtin timer if you don’t have a remote.

Extra Lenses – on my last trip to Walt Disney World, I only brought the Nikon 18-200mm VR super zoom lens and was extremely happy with all the photos I took. Never having to change lenses when you are walking around Walt Disney World was a new experience for me and I really enjoyed it. I did miss having a wider angle lens at times though. Then there’s those times in Disney’s Animal Kingdom I thought if I only had a longer lens. You get the picture. While I will always tell myself that the best lens on my camera is the one ON my camera, one of the reasons for having a dSLR is so you can change lenses. All that to say, I will be bringing along a couple of extra lenses on this trip: an ultra wide angle and a super zoom telephoto. Mainly for the fun of using them at Walt Disney World and to share my experiences with all of you.

Laptop Computer – this is essential for me as I like to load my photos at the end of each day at Walt Disney World and then upload them to an online photo storage service for save keeping. That way, no matter what happens, I can retrieve my photos later.

External Hard Drive – maybe you don’t want to spend $9.95 a day to access the Internet when you are at Walt Disney World. There are many small USB external hard drives available today for less than $100 to back up your photos on.

Did I miss anything? Do you have something you pack for every trip to increase your enjoyment of photographing in a Disney themepark? Let us know by leaving us a Comment.

Scott's "Photographic Innoventions" blog focuses on intermediate to advanced photography concepts and techniques relevant for Point and Shoot and Digital SLR cameras.

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