I’m normally a sucker for researching possible photographic opportunities and conditions before a trip, so naturally when I found out I would be heading away on a dream trip I wanted to make sure I was well prepared. For advice on camera gear to take I asked a friend that had been to the Subantarctics with Heritage Expeditions before. Her advice was “just take everything”. Well, that made it easy!
My usual photographic targets are landscapes while hiking or wildlife, so I was already well set up for a trip like this. Before COVID-19 began spreading around the world my partner and I were booked on a three month trip from Kenya to South Africa, which would have been a photographer’s dream with plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting. Unfortunately we had to cancel the trip, but I had done a lot of research on what camera gear to take and things to keep in mind. This all translated well to my trip to the Subantarctics as the key principles were the same; be prepared for different situations, have two camera bodies to avoid switching lenses in the field or missing a shot because the wrong lens is on, and have redundancies in case some gear fails.
For me, “take everything” meant a Nikon Z6 (full frame sensor) with 24-70mm f4, Nikon D500 (APS-C/crop sensor) and Tamron 100-400mm, with a 300mm f4 as backup. My Z6 and 24-70mm gave me a small but highly capable setup for scenery and my D500 and 100-400mm (150-600mm full frame equivalent) covered wildlife big and small, near and far. An added bonus was that I already owned the gear and was familiar with it. If I had to recommend camera gear for someone doing the same or similar trip, that would be a key consideration. Many of the wildlife encounters are so fast paced and unpredictable, so the last thing you want to be doing is trying to change settings of a camera you haven’t fully learnt how to use. Flexibility and redundancy are also very useful factors to take into consideration. Encountering different sized wildlife at different ranges made the zoom lens a useful change from the prime that I’m used to using, though the 300mm still came in handy when my 100-400mm was put to sleep by sideways Campbell Island rain.