Packing Guide to Photography at Fashion Week

It’s hard to know just what to bring on a big trip. Last year I shared my packing list for our trip to Asia, so I thought it would be fun to update the list for our tour of fashion weeks. We were gone for 3 weeks: New York, Toronto, London and Paris. I was faced with the problem of packing just enough gear to cover all the events, but also dressing presentably enough to attend fashion events, which is harder than it sounds.

Canon 5D mkIII, 70-200mm f/2.8 IS,  Canon Elan 7n, 40mm f/2.8 pancake, Hamilton King Khaki II

If I haven't said it before, the Canon 5D III is the best camera I've ever worked with. It is the backbone of everything we shoot and is the gold standard I compare all new cameras too. When we shoot style photos, the 70-200mm is still the lens I trust. Because of it's length it creates beautiful focus separation with the subject and it has the range to shoot a variety of images.

To make up for the massive weight of the zoom, the 40mm pancake is a perfect complimentary wide lens.  Super sharp, light, and cheap. It never feels like a burden to carry and always amazes me with it's image quality. 

If you are a Canon shooter and have any interest in film, you really owe it to yourself to pick up an Elan 7. They are fantastically designed prosumer cameras that you can pick up for peanuts on eBay. I've had mine for over a decade and it's still going strong.

As I fall further in love with watches I can't leave out my current favourite, the Hamilton King Khaki II. Automatic ETA movement, Swiss made, with day and date complications.

Canon G7X, Contax T2, iPhone 6

Most of the travel photos from our trips end up being taken on small cameras. After carrying the giant 70-200mm for a while, it's a relief to play tourist with something light and easy. The G7x is great for it’s beautiful video quality (and vlogs!) and wifi ability. So when a photo needs a little more quality than the iPhone can provide we can transfer photos between them and post them on the go. 

Even though the quality looks similar between the iPhone and Canon on social networks, the huge advantage of the Canon is being able to crop into it's 20MP images, and shoot raw in case you capture something really amazing. 

Sadly, my beautiful Contax didn't see much action on this trip. Social media and Ania's blog were the priorities so I just couldn't wait for film. Still, I took a few and am excited to see how they turned out. 

As a photographer no one is paying attention to you and that is the way it should be. A monochrome outfit is as much about being practical as it is about style. I heard about a photographer who was new to fashion week and wore a bright orange jacket. He drove every other photographer crazy because when he was in the background of a shot, all you see it a bright orange coat. Stick to simple colors, which for my is black, white and blue.

Photographers don't need a three piece suit to to fit in at fashion events. Just keep it clean and minimal.

Frame denim jeans, COS shirt, Kenzo sweater, Bread & Boxers t-shirt

Here are my favorite basics I picked up along the way. Frame Denim provided some extremely soft and comfortable jeans at the presentation in NY. COS opened their first store in Toronto and I love their aesthetic. I picked up this shirt and long jacket that I wore almost every day of the trip. There is a limited selection of Kenzo items in Calgary, but in Paris they were everywhere, Ania talked me into their awesome eye print sweatshirt. I've been on the hunt for a perfect every day tee and I may have found it at Birchbox with Bread & Boxers. Finally, it rained in every city we went to you and life would have been a lot more miserable without them. This handsome little Hunter umbrella saved us again and again.


Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, wearing COS coat, Kenzo sweatshirt, Frame Denim, and Ecco shoes


I'm still far from a perfect packer but I think I did pretty well on this trip. Notes for next time: bring a flash and leave one of the film bodies at home. 

Camera Hunting in Tokyo & Seoul

Film photography has undergone a renaissance lately, after fading to the brink of obscurity, many photographers are discovering or rediscovering it. Two places where the comeback is especially big are Tokyo and Seoul, where is feels like film never left.

Tokyo is a Mecca for photography. Many of the worlds best camera brands were founded there and the whole city is a candy shop for camera lovers. There are dozens of beautiful used camera stores with incredible selection and very well cared for products. In Canada it can be tough to find much used gear outside of pawn shops, so it's a real treat to see so many classic cameras in person. 

I'm a big fan of Japan Camera Hunter, who has a great guide to camera shopping in Tokyo. Armed with his map, Ania and I went all over the city searching for every store we could find. Two shops really stood out from the rest. Map camera, with it's massive selection and a basement full of some of the most beautiful Leica's I've ever seen, and Katsumido Camera that is so elegant inside that it makes these old cameras feel more like precious jewels than technology. 

After Tokyo, we did some exploring of the camera district in Seoul. Most of these film cameras I could usually only find on eBay, so being able to play with them in real life was a treat. Many of these cameras are decades old but look as if they came straight off the factory floor. If you are shopping for used gear it is definitely a good sign if it is coming from Japan or Korea, they take excellent care of their equipment.

Some of the highlights were the Contax G2 and T2 which are at the top of my wish list, the Fuji T1i which is a tempting replacement for our X-E1, and of course exquisite Leicas everywhere. If you want a camera as an investment piece a film Leica camera can hold it's value for decades, so even shopping for used is quite expensive.

If you're planning a camera shopping trip to Asia, I recommend you do your research before you go and budget for something nice. The selection can be overwhelming if you don't know what you're looking for, so come up with a checklist of cameras you'd like to look at, and try them all out. 

Essential Camera Gear for Two Weeks in Asia

This was a big trip to Korea and Japan. We knew it would involve a lot of shooting and a ton of walking, so the goal was to stay as portable and light weight as possible, but still be prepared to shoot street style, stock and cityscape photos. This is the kit I was hauling around most days:

1. Langly card wallet & a lot of cards

Always better to pack more cards than you'll need. For the most part we used the same 64GB cards and would download, back up, and clear them each day. Not pictured here are two external hard drives, plus online backups of the best pics to Google Drive.

2. Canon 85mm f/1.8 lens

We knew we would be shooting a lot of street style on this trip so we almost brought our go to lens, the 70-200mm. With the amount of walking around we did I'm really glad we brought the much smaller and lighter 85mm. Having the 1.8 f-stop also came on very handy when shooting in the streets at night. 

3. Canon 5DmkIII (x2)

One for Ania and one for me. 

4. Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 lens

The range of this lens makes it very verisitile for travel photography. Ultra-wide for cityscapes and a traditional stree photography focal length of 35mm. Very adaptable.

5. Mophie powerstation battery

A dead phone in a foreign city is no fun. I prefer this style of battery that is device agnostic, over that can only charge my iPhone. This way we can charge other things too, like our Egg (see below). 

6. Belkin 3 outlet charger

This is a great bit of travel gear, especially in country with different power outlets than you have at home. Charge all your devices at once!

7. Film

Moslty Kodak Portra, a roll of Ektar, a few Fuji Superia. In two weeks we ended up shooting 6 rolls.

8. Canon Elan 7E

I got this camera in college and still love it. Even next to a new DSLR it feels modern and well designed. Not pictured here is the 50mm 1.8, which was attached to it for most of the trip.

9. Canon 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens

For a lens this small and affordable, it has no busiess being as high quality as it is. Very sharp, fast auto focus and great build quality. 

10. Olleh Egg mobile wifi thingy

In a country where you don't speak the language, the internet is your most powerful resource. This device kept us connected in Korea, without paying outrageous roaming fees.

11. iPhone running GeoTagr

GeoTagr is an app that tracks everywhere you go in a day and saves it as a map. You can then import this map into Lightroom and have it automatically geotag all your photos from the day.

12. Disposable cameras

Because they're fun! 

13. Canon G16

I often prefer a high quality point and shoot to using my cell phone. It has a wider zoom range, shoots raw and has a real flash.  AND it can transmit to my phone over wifi, making for easy Instagraming.

14. Langly Alpha Pro backpack

 I have bought and sold a lot of camera bags over the years. It's hard to find soemthing that is just the right balance for you. This new one from Langly feels like the bag I've been looking for. Comfortable, has all the right compartments, rain proof and very handsome, I love this bag. I should mention though that buttoning up the snaps drives Ania crazy, and I agree they can be a little tough. Maybe not recommended for delicate hands, but everything else about it has been great.

To see what we shot on the trip you can see Tokyo Street Style at Fashion Magazinerainy Korea postmy disposable cameras post, or follow us Instagram @AniaB and @Stalman.

Preview of the Sigma f/1.4 Art Series Lens

The Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art lens

Selecting a 50mm lens can be a tricky business. It is my favourite fixed focal length but up until now all of the Canon options have left me disappointed.

The Canon 50mm f/1.8 takes great images for it's low price, but the build quality is only a step above a disposable camera.

The mid-range 50mm f/1.4 somewhat improves on the build but still has a very cheap plastic feel. You gain some speed in the f-stop, but the sharpness at f/1.4 is pretty iffy. It will miss focus quite often and when it is accurate, it's still pretty soft.

The top of the line f/1.2 improves sharpness at f/1.4 but will miss focus about as often. Shooting at f/1.2, very little of . It's bokeh is creamy and beautiful but so few of your images are in focus I would usually stay above 1.4. And don't forget the chromatic aberration, which can be so bad it might leave you wondering "Canon, is this the best you can do?".

After owning and selling all three of these lenses, I have been waiting for a magic bullet to come along, and (hopefully) that will be the new Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art Series lens.

While exploring Tokyo we wandered in to the massive Yodobashi Camera and found the new Sigma on display. We only had time to snap a few quick sample photos in store but so far I am impressed. Focus was very fast and responsive, The weight was less than I had worried about, and image quality was superb.

It was very tempting to buy it at that moment but I know it will be cheaper waiting to get back to Calgary, where we are already on the waiting list at The Camera Store.

I'm going to withhold judgment until I have really put it through it's paces, but so far my impression is that this lens may live up to its hype. The real test will be having confidence that I can shoot with the aperture wide open.

Canon 5DmkIII, Sigma f/1.4 Art Series Lens: 1/3200 sec at f/1.4, ISO 1250