I started a blog post about my packing list for the Antarctica expedition in November this year and quickly realised that it was going to be a very long list indeed. So, rather than try and squeeze it into a single post I am breaking up the list into different components to make it a bit more manageable. These lists are as much for my own reference as potential advise on what other polar travellers might consider taking. They are not completely exhaustive and I will continue to add to them as things occur to me or are otherwise suggested.

I am choosing to take both a Canon 1DS MKIII and a Canon 1D MKIV as my primary cameras for this trip. This gives me both a full frame 21.1 mega-pixel camera and 1.3 crop 16.1 mega-pixel camera capable of a blazing ten frames a second (for wildlife). Both of these cameras utilise the same battery system; which means I only need to take multiple of the same batteries; rather than multiples of different types. It also means I only need to take the one charger. Worst case scenario if my charger packs up I can always share with my room mate who also shoots a 1DS MKIII. Both these cameras are also all but waterproof and virtually indestructable. They should be right at home in Antarctica.

At first blush this is going to seem like quite a lot of gear (and indeed it is); but I don’t want to travel all the way to Antarctica and not have the lens I want to hand. So, I am taking pretty much everything except the proverbial kitchen sink. After much pondering I have decided not to take my High Definition Canon video camera. The mind and skill set required to shoot video is very different to still photography and experience has shown me that I struggle to shift gears into video mode when working in the field and I prefer to focus my efforts on my still photography first and foremost. The Canon S90 I am taking does have limited video capability and of course the 1D MKIV has amazing video capabilities should I change my mind or find myself in a situation where video is just a ‘must’.

I may not take the 35mm F1.4L even though it is included below as I can attain almost this focal length by putting the 24mm on the 1D MKIV with its 1.3 crop factor. If space and weight is becoming too much of an issue this will probably be the first lens I choose to leave behind. Likewise the 85mm F1.2L MKII’s focal range is already well covered in the 70-200mm F2.8L IS lens. The 85mm however has a creamy bokeh that I dearly love and it will be struggle not to take this lens with me. I have a few penguin portraits in mind and I think this lens would fit the bill nicely.

Amazingly all of this camera gear (except the tripod, laptop and accessories) fits into just my Gura Gear Kiboko Camera Bag and all of it will be taken as carry on luggage (except the tripod). If by chance you are not familiar with the Gura Gear line of camera bags then be sure to check them out – they are the best camera bags I have ever used and there are several previous posts on my Blog about them.

  • Gura Gear Kiboko 30L Camera Bag
  • Canon EOS 1DS MKIII 21.1 Mega-Pixel Full Frame Camera Body
  • Canon EOS 1D MKIV 16.1 Mega-Pixel 1.3 Crop Camera Body
  • Canon Back-Up Batteries for 1DS MKIII and a 1D MKIV x 3 (5 Batteries in total including those in the cameras)
  • Really Right Stuff L Bracket for Canon 1DS MKIII
  • Canon S90 Point and Shoot (For Happy Snaps)
  • Canon 14mm F2.8L MKII Wide Angle Lens
  • Canon 17mm F4L Tilt Shift Lens
  • Canon 24mm F1.4L MKII Wide Angle
  • Canon 35mm F1.4L Wide Angle Lens (From Borrow Lenses
  • Canon 50mm F1.2L
  • Canon 85mm F1.2L MKII
  • Canon 70-200mm F2.8L IS
  • Canon 300mm F2.8L IS
  • Canon 1.4X MKII Tele-Converter
  • Canon Macro Extension Tube
  • Canon Cable Release
  • Bubble Levels x 2
  • Waterproof Camera Covers x 2
  • LEE Grad Filter Holder and Step-Up / Step-Down Rings
  • LEE Grad Filter Pack with 1 / 2 /3 Stop Hard and Soft ND Grads
  • Sing Ray 3 Stop Reverse ND Grad Filter
  • Polarisers x 2
  • Rocket Blower / Lens Tissue and Lens Cleaning Fluid / Sterile Wipes / Micro Fibre Cloth
  • Zip Lock Bags (To protect cameras from rapid changes in temperature when coming in out of the cold)
  • Gigabyes of Sandisk CF and SD cards *
Amazingly all of this gear fits into the standard Gura Gear Kiboko Camera Bag.
  • Gura Gear Chobe 24L Laptop / Camera Bag **
  • MacBook Pro 17″ Laptop with Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop CS5
  • Sandisk High Speed Card Reader
  • 1 Terrabyte External FireWire 800  LACIE rugged Hard Drives x 2 for dual back-up
  • 500 Gigabyte External FireWire 800 LACIE rugged Hard Drive for Time Machine
  • Battery Charger for Canon 1DS MKIII and a 1D MKIV
  • Battery Charger for Canon S90
  • Laptop Power Power Plug Pack
  • Iphone and Headset
  • Arctic Butterfly and Sensor Loupe [EDIT ADDITION]
  • Gitzo Tripod Bag
  • Gitzo GT3530LSV 6 x Carbon Fibre Tripod
  • Really Right Stuff BH-55 Full Size Ball Head with Quick Release Lever
* Both the Canon 1DS MKIII and a 1D MKIV have the capability to shoot simultaneously to both CF and SD cards. This is my preferred method for recording my RAW files in the field as it provides an inbuilt redundancy should a card go bad or fail.  Both cameras will therefore be dual loaded with either 16 or 32 gigabyte CF and SD cards for storage and redundancy. The 1DS MKIII will store around 1200 frames on a 32 gig card. I could double this to 2400 by setting the cards to record sequentially; but as above I prefer to have more cards and record simultaneously to the second SD card. Its inbuilt RAID protection and another level of redundancy. Once I dump the files down to the two hard drives at the end of each shoot I will erase them and re-use the cards.
** This is Gura Gears brand new Laptop / Camera bag which I am ordering this month
The gear heads amongst you will probably notice that there is no flash amongst my gear list. Although I own a Canon 580 Flash I rarely if ever use it (I actually cant remember the last time I even got it out of the cupboard). I prefer to shoot with available light wherever possible. I do envisage some low light shooting during this trip from the deck of the ship; but the low light performance of the 1D MKIV is so amazing I have no concerns about bumping up the ISO as required. You also probably noticed that there is only one zoom lens amongst my whole line up (excluding the S90 of course). I just prefer prime lenses for the better image quality they offer and am prepared to shoulder the extra weight. Part of the reason I am taking a second camera body (as well as back-up) is so that I can shoot with two cameras with different lenses side by side.
Well thats about it for the camera gear list – Part two of this article will focus on clothing and miscellaneous accessories.


  1. Just curious, I also live in Melbourne Australia and how do you manage to carry all that as hand luggage on aircraft with a 7 kg limit.

    Like your site, read it often and i had a look at your exhibition in Brighton….nice…


    1. Hi Dale,

      Thank you for checking out my work at Brighton. Carry on luggage is almost never weighed in my experience. And, as long as you carry a bag that does not look to big or look overtly heavy (carry it with a smile 🙂 you can usually get it on board ok as carry on. Plus you are allowed a 2nd carry on bag if its a laptop. So I use a really big laptop bag and put a few lenses in there as well.


  2. I’m not entirely clear on this: are you taking two Gura Gear packs, or replacing the bigger one with the smaller one? If you’re taking two, are you checking one (brave soul)?


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