Do you bring a backup camera?

My 5D Mk II, 5D Mk I and 20D cameras I am preparing for the next 3 month photo odyssey, take off 7th of April for Namibia. I am having a debate with my schizophrenic self whether to bring a second DSLR body. Last year in Australia I brought my Canon 20D as backup camera for my 5D. Not too bad weight wise as I only needed the extra body, the 20D and 5D share batteries and chargers.

Now I am using the 5D mk II so I could bring my old 5D as backup. But 5D Mk II has a new battery system so bringing the old 5D now means extra batteries and an extra charger. I am probably also bringing a Panasonic LX3 for snapshots, street photography etc. And I actually really want to try and cut down on the amount of gear compared to the last few trips – but this will add quite a bit. On the other hand I don’t want to be in the Namib desert with a broken down 5D MkII and no camera (although I would have the Panasonic LX3). Would die of disappointment if I couldn’t shoot, that’s what it’s all about.

Fellow photographers, do you bring a backup camera body on photo trips, if so is it a compact or extra SLR body, or perhaps a film camera?

29 Comments on “Do you bring a backup camera?”

  1. Of course you always hope that you wouldn't need the back up. On a one or two day trip I some times will take just one body. But on a trip like this I would take the full frame back up. You are too good a shooter to risk not getting the shots because of camera failure.

    1. Thanks very much Rick. It’s a gamble, do I bet on no Murphy’s Law and no breakdown in my 5D Mk II or do I bring a backup body incl. batteries and charger and carry that around for 3 months. I wish landscape photography didn’t include dragging 15 kilos of gear half way around the world but I guess I may need to play it safe and bring a backup.

  2. I am taking delivery of my 5D II this week after drooling over the images by Christian and yourself. I think I would be taking my original 5D as a backup in this situation for the reason already mentioned by ricksmoak. If you are going to invest that sort of time and money you will want the best images a full frame camera can offer you so the trip is not marred in the event of an equipment malfunction.

    1. Thanks very much Graeme. I guess you're right, carrying about a kilo and a half extra is probably a small price to pay for security and not worrying as I'll know I have a backup. You're gonna love the 5D Mk II, it's a masterpiece of camera engineering!

  3. I notice Canon have been very clever with the 5D II and their batteries. The compatible batteries that are available cannot be charged by the Canon charger nor will the camera show you their charge status. Canon have obviously developed some technology to persuade people to buy their batteries!

  4. For a trip like this, I think it's important to take a spare body, as places where you could get your 5D mark II repaired or replaced are likely to be few and far between in Namibia.

    There was a rather high failure rate of 5D Mark II cameras on a recent photographic trip to Antarctica, with 6 out of 26 bodies suffering some sort of failure! (see here for more info)

  5. If I had a backup body, I would definitely take it. I would be devastated to be traveling around seeing all the amazing things you will be seeing and not being able to record them! Only a month away, you must be getting excited now! 😀

  6. Definitely take a back up Flemming ! 3months of travelling and any sort of accident could occur…at least then the heartbreak would only be limited to equipment and not 'no images' etc…

    1. Guess you're right Tony, would kill myself if I couldn't shoot. Just hate carrying all that gear, sometimes I really think about just going out with my tripod, a Hasselblad X-pan and that's it!

  7. hey mate just saw a post on Aussie music you like. We have similar tastes, I love Silverchair, Evermore, The Butterfly Effect etc, have you listened to much of COG. They are brilliant. I'm into music with a nice crunchy guitar tone ! cheers Rocker!

    1. Yeah seems we love the same stuff Rocker! I love guitar driven rock that has big grand sound with a twist of indie. I will check out COG for sure. Lately I have been really into all things Something for Kate.

  8. I have the same problem Flem, im leaving for about 6months and i have just bought a D700 so im debating weather to take my D300 aswell…. hmmmm might have to flip a coin i think

    1. I'm fairly careful with my camera as well and I'm not worried about dropping it. The camera is a computer however and I'm worrying about software errors or electronic errors! Have seen Canon cameras die with "error 99" before, it's the Canon "blue screen of death"!

  9. if i had a second body i would deffinatly take it on a trip like this other wise i just hope for the best

  10. If I had a second body, I would always take it!
    Having said that there ups and downs to taking either the 20d or 5d.
    If it was me I would take the 5D just cause you can! 😉

  11. Just take the lot…hang the expence.

    I'd just take the mk2 and the compact. Travel light and hope for the best, she'll be right mate,never happen!!!.

  12. Hey Flemming …I'd take a back-up for sure not sure what though? I've never been rich enough to have two 'good' working cameras at the same time 🙂 but when I travel interstate I always take my medium format camera and a digital snapshot camera as well as my dslr. I always carry too much gear for fear of missing that 'one shot'. Love your NT images by the way:) Cheers Jules

    1. Thanks heaps Jules ! I am already bringing a compact Panasonic LX3 as well but this isn't really what I consider a backup. I may need to carry the extra weight and bring the old 5D as well (+batteries + charger arrgh!)

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