Packing has got to be the worst part of going on trips. For the record, I hate — no, detest — packing. As a result, I always procrastinate until the last possible moment, then try to pack as quickly as possible to minimise time spent undergoing this unavoidable nightmare.


What makes it so unbearable is all the gear — tonnes and tonnes of it: Camera bodies, lenses, ports, housings, gears, diopters, handles, memory cards, batteries, chargers, tools, o-ring grease, extra hard disks...aiyah someone help.

The normal process goes something like this: open the various camera cases and bags, empty out all the gear I could possibly need for the trip, sort through the mountains of stuff and start to assemble things until they start to resemble something useful, test everything, check for leaks, fix the inevitably broken things, panic and search frantically for mis-placed pieces of things (that's the technical term), run around in a harried frenzy searching for things I can't find, run back and put everything together again, stuff everything into cases, unpack everything and re-pack everything to minimise space, toss out the stuff I don't need, lock everything up, collapse, wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat realising I've left out something crucial...repeat entire process.

When I'm finally done with the camera gear, I've got to pack normal stuff — clothes, bug repellent, wetsuits, etc. And when I'm at long last done with that, I inevitably find everything I couldn't find during the process of packing, but by then it's too late because everything I was actually able to find fits so nicely that I can't possibly bear to unpack and re-pack yet again.

So those things I find at this late juncture stay at home, punishment of sorts for not having revealed themselves at a more convenient point in the preposterously painful packing process.

This really can't be good for me.


The only time it's not so bad is when I have new equipment, like for this trip.

I've got a new Zillion housing for the Canon 5D camera, and I just picked up a 20 mm Canon lens to go with it. Of course, with new equipment, I've got to take extra time to check everything, so earlier in the day I put everything together and tested it in a pool. Luckily, no leaks.

Despite the extra trouble, it's always cool to have new toys to play with new tools to work with. I've used a Zillion housing with my Canon 1D MkII and 1Ds MkII cameras before, so I'm pretty psyched about this new housing.


After using a Zillion housing for the first time, I made a few suggestions to Kojima-san, the owner of Zillion, and he's incorporated them ideas into his latest housings, including for the D200 and the 5D. The most conspicious new feature is a quick-release system for mounting the camera in the housing. Just tested it today, and it works like a charm.

Zillion housings are made from machine-moulded ABS plastic, which makes them really light (great with increasingly strict baggage limitations), and even better, immune from corrosion. I have to admit I was a bit skeptical at first, but I'm hooked now. And what's really cool is that Kojima-san is supporting Canon cameras, which some housing manufacturers don't support, or support less thoroughly than Nikon gear.

So in the end, here's what I ended up packing for my upcoming trip:


  • Canon 5D
  • Canon 1D MkII
  • Canon 1Ds MkII
  • 15 mm fisheye lens; 20 mm lens; 28-135 mm zoom; 100-400 mm zoom


  • Zillion 1D/1Ds MkII
  • Zillion 5D
  • Subal CD1

Plus many, many kgs of other stuff to enable the cameras and housings to work properly.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the reason I'm going to all this trouble is that I'm on my way to the Kingdom of Tonga to visit the humpback whales that are there to give birth to calves, nurture their young and do some socialising before heading back to the antarctic in the summer to feed.

If the internet connections hold up, I'll post pix and text to this blog and to my Flickr feed. And now, alas...back to packing. Sigh.

[tags]Canon, Zillion, Underwater Photography, Humpback Whale, Tonga, Flickr[/tags]