July 23, 2011, 8:40 AM — No matter where you're going on vacation this summer, you're no doubt planning to bring a camera. Perhaps you have your sights set on taking some panoramic landscapes, or maybe you want to shoot some waterfalls. You may want to try your hand at some scenic nightscapes in a foreign city. Vacation is a good time to try all sorts of photos. But no matter whether you pack a convenient point-and-shoot camera or a bulky-but-trusty digital SLR, here are five important things you'll want to bring along on your trip.
1. Spare Batteries and a Charger
There's an inescapable truth about digital photography: Your camera will always run out of juice at the worst possible time. I've found this to be true both with point-and-shoot cameras that only get about 100 shots on a pair of AA batteries with a professional digital SLR that lasts 800 shots with a double battery pack.
If your camera takes ordinary AA batteries, you can find replacements almost anywhere. But these days, most cameras use Li-Ion rechargeable batteries, so you should have a backup battery packed for your trip--and don't forget to bring the charger. If you're going to another country, you'll need to bring an international power adapter.
2. Extra Memory Card
I'm a fan of loading your camera with a large memory card rather than carrying many small ones. The "many small memory cards" strategy is designed to limit the potential losses to your photo collection if a memory card should fail. I can appreciate the logic, but that's more trouble than it's worth to me: You'll likely never encounter a memory card that fails in the line of duty. So why overcomplicate your life?
That said, you should carry at least one spare memory card in case your first one gets full. And given the price of memory these days, why stop there? I carry several cards. Each one of my 8GB Secure Digital cards can hold about 200 RAW or 800 JPEG photos, so three reasonably priced cards are sufficient for any situation (up to and including meeting Elvis on the starship Enterprise).
For more memory card tips, read "Memory Card Questions Answered."
3. Photo Backup