Camera where Weight a Problem

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  tfandrew 2 years, 7 months ago.

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    Can anyone recommend what to do when travelling by air to a place where there are severe weight restrictions on carry on baggage? My wife and I have done a lot of travelling around Europe and the USA but use airlines and tickets that allow us to take a reasonable weight of camera and lenses into the cabin. Next March, my wife will be spending a week in Vietnam and this will mean a 5kg limit for everything in the carry-on. I know many airlines have published weight limits they don’t usually enforce, but this isn’t a risk we want to take.

    Do you, Hywel, or other members have this problem and if so, how do you deal with it? Putting the regular camera in the hold does not appeal. Among many reasons, it would not be covered by insurance.

    One suggestion has been wearing a coat or similar with large pockets for camera body and lenses and argue they are not part of the baggage. Does anyone do this? Does it work?

    The alternative is to get a suitable small camera. Some people have claimed phones are as good as small cameras these days, but my wife doesn’t believe them – and her Samsung phone has one of the best cameras around! She’s looking at something of the “bridge camera” type. She’s been looking at the Sony RX10iv or RX100vi Following other advice, she’s been looking at pictures on Flickr said to be taken with these cameras and likes the RX10. She thinks she can still get its weight into her allowance and she fears the RX100 is so small she couldn’t hold it comfortably after being used to a DSLR.

    So I wonder if there are other regular travellers who have encountered this problem and what your solutions are. My wife would also appreciate any advice from people who have actually used the RX10iv or RX100vi

    For information, I will not be going on this trip for reasons related to health but would also appreciate help you can offer my wife.




    Just an update on this story. With the trip in March and me thinking our best buying opportunity would be at a show we go to in January, I thought I had plenty of time to seek ideas and opinions. I had not realised by wife might engage “determined mode”. With a couple of hours unexpected free time in London on Monday, we were in one of the better known camera shops. This meant that your naïve writer discovered the price of the RX10 iv!

    The main update is that the Panasonic FZ 2000 has been added to the list of contenders. It scores on price and the salesman alleged it has the same sensor as the RX10 (1inch and made by Sony) but the lens may not be as good. This gave me the chance to throw a spanner into the works by reminding my wife that in circumstances like she will be facing I still use the camera I used before going to exchangeable lenses and Sony a7. The FZ 1000 is still available to her – free! 🙂 So thoughts from anyone on the FZ2000 would also be helpful, thank you.

    A second – and somewhat unrelated – question is where to buy. A number of photographer colleagues/social media “friends” of my wife recommended buying on the “grey market” – allegedly saving up to £500 on the RX10 iv. This was another term your naïve writer was unfamiliar with, but which seemed to justify the warning, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. I invite discussion on this too, but after hearing more details from other enthusiasts and working out what we think is happening, we decided to keep well away.

    Thank you.


    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by  tfandrew.


    To be honest I’ve always just shoved everything in my cabin bag and hoped they don’t check the weight. I do tend to offload everything else into my pockets (phone, kindle, headphones, etc.) so that the cabin baggage is clearly just a camera case

    What I will say is that I’ve tried various bridge or small camera combos over the years and none of them have ever really lived up to the promises. The image quality always takes too much of a knock for me. They always end up getting left at home after one or two unsatisfactory outings.

    Nowadays I always just go with my primary A7 R II or III and economise on the lens choice according to what weight limits you have. I find even the relatively cheap and cheerful Sony 24-240 mm superzoom, paired with the high resolution of the A7RII, gives significantly better results over a wide focal length range without being over-heavy.

    This is the combination I ended up using a lot of the time for mountain photography, where weight is also at a premium especially when lugging a tent up a mountain as well as camera and tripod.

    780 g lens + 625 g camera (probably plus battery) = pretty much OK for a 5 kg weight limit.

    Or the 24-105mm f/4 which is a shade lighter, and probably better optically. (I very much wanted the longer focal lengths for mountains myself).

    If you need to get even lighter and don’t need the extreme focal lengths (eg for more street photography) most mount systems will do you a pancake lens; the Sony/Samyang 35mm f/2.8 options come in around 120g (Sony) or 85g (Samyang). I’ve got the Samyang and it works just fine- cheap and cheerful and about the lightest option there is. The Sony 28mm f/2 which is my choice for really lightweight situations is only 200g and is a really cracking lens, especially for the price.

    If A doesn’t like Sony, there are similar options for Canon/Nikon/etc of course.

    So my advice is use your regular camera body and get a lightweight lens for the occasion. Or take the opportunity to get a lightweight spare body if your main camera is a hulking great pro dSLR- a 6D Mark II is only 765 g. A 80D or second-hand 70D is even lighter, and the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 is a great option for regular shooting at only 645g for a 28-90ish equivalent.

    An RX10 IV is 1095 g and honestly I don’t think the weight saving on these sorts of cameras is worth taking the hit on smaller sensor.

    The only reason I’d maybe change my mind is if I were primarily going to be shooting wildlife, in which case the reach of a 600mm equivalent lens is hard to beat.

    But even in that case I’d be very tempted by a Sony 100-400mm lens plus the 35mm Samyang or 28mm Sony f/2 for everything else out and about. Total weight 2.3 kg including battery, which again should be doable in a 5 kg allowance.

    There are just so many more ways to make a flexible shooting kit. I often take the 24-240mm plus one specialist lens- say a 12mm fisheye or 14mm f/2.8 for astrophotography as on a trip to Norway last year.

    So I’d say standard SLR/CSC body, one lens for general use, one lens for whatever specialist subject you think you are most likely to be shooting.

    Cheers, Hywel

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by  Hywel.


    Thank you everyone who looked at this and, of course, thank you Hywel for such a detailed and helpful reply. Apologies for not thanking and updating you sooner but I have been distracted by an operation on my arm (all going well so far, thank you).

    The thought of hoping they don’t check the weight doesn’t appeal, although I realise lots of people do this without problem. It may be just the extra nervousness my wife and I live with, although it looks like the airline in this case has specified that their weight limit includes the – usually extra – camera bag or handbag. But the real problem is that if things do go wrong, they are likely to do so in Hong Kong rather than at a UK airport where I might think I had some chance of sorting things out.

    Your idea of (if I may so describe it), “keeping the kit simple” appeals to me but my wife’s basic camera body is the DSLR Canon EOS 5D mk iv and she wants to have the ability to shoot everything from landscapes to nature as well as the main purpose of the trip – shooting Natalia Forrest and Keira Lavelle. She didn’t feel she could cut down the lenses she wanted to take adequately. I did offer to let her borrow my A7 riii. Perhaps I could have pressed harder, but am glad she declined and I suspect I could not have deflected her. She was still in “determined mode”. So, she continued to research bridge cameras and study reviews and pictures allegedly taken with different ones. She bought the RX10. She now has it at the annual meeting of a group of photographers she belongs to and no doubt will find colleagues to offer further advice and comments.

    Meanwhile, the world moves on. I had an operation on my arm last week. It was the UK NHS at its best: less than 2 weeks after I first saw the surgeon for an opinion and nicely timed to fit with our other commitments. 🙂 Things seem to be progressing well and I feel confident I will be allowed to fly next Monday to what will be our biggest photography project so far – a 10 day trip with a total of 4 models joining us at different times. But I do foresee difficulty bending my left elbow enough to hold a camera with both hands – at least for an extended period. My wife is keen for me to try her new RX10. I am more inclined to stick with my A7 riii and its lightest lenses, including the f1.8 55ml prime. At least this time we can take all the alternatives and test them if and when the situation arises. I may get some comparisons pictures. Perhaps I will be able to post some on the forum for comment.

    Thank you again.




    Thank you again for ideas. I hope it is OK to report the results of my recent trip.

    Following the operation on my arm, I could not hold a camera with two hands. I tried one day. It didn’t really work photographically or medically. 🙁 I also tried using a tripod but lugging the weight around with one hand had problems too. So I shot one handed using the Sony A7 riii with the 55mm f1.8 prime lens. I am generally happy with the results in all the circumstances.

    My wife shot with both her Canon 5D mk iv and the Sony RX10. She did notice a difference in quality (and she is the one who can see!). We suspect it is still the RX10 that will travel with her in March because of the weight worries.

    Thank you, everyone. Merry Christmas and happy shooting.

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