Cameras & Equipment in Cuba
Bring your normal photographic gear: camera, lenses, a flash, and any other essential gear you use when photographing; a tripod is optional (because of weight) but if you typically shoot with one you may want to consider bringing a lightweight, compact tripod. A small to medium-sized camera bag that allows easy access without having to unpack is very important (large camera bags are too heavy to carry around all day—you need to travel light). You will be limited to two (2) camera bodies and appropriate lenses; fast prime lenses are very useful. Pack as light a kit as you can without compromising your craft. Remember there is a lot of walking to do and you don’t want to be encumbered or draw undue attention. So, at the risk of repeating, only bring the most essential photography gear.
Please note: Video cameras attract a great deal of attention and consequently, serious inspection. We highly discourage bringing these to Cuba.
You are allowed to bring in one laptop into Cuba, and please limit yourself to one portable hard drive and a couple of “jump” drives. You will be stopped and your bags searched by Cuban Customs authorities if they detect more than one hard drive in your luggage, and they x-ray all bags. Carry your cameras, lenses and laptop on your person when you travel so they are readily available for inspection. Your tripod (if you choose to bring one), hard drive and other accessories can be wrapped up in your clothing for protection. Like American officials, Cuban officials are cautious about travelers importing items for Cubans and skirting import tariffs. If you are bringing in any new equipment, make sure it is unpackaged and price tags are removed.
A digital camera is a must if you wish to share your images with others during the week. If you want to photograph with film you will need to take it home for processing. Please make sure your photography equipment is in good working order before leaving home, and be sure to bring extra batteries. There is nothing more frustrating than having your equipment quit, particularly in Cuba where repair or replacement is impossible. Check with your insurance company and make sure your photographic equipment is covered while you are in Cuba.
It is important to bring your own laptop computer for this program if you want to have your images viewed by the group leader and to be included in the group critique and the final image presentation at the end of the trip. An iPad or "digital wallet" is not an adequate substitution due to their limited functionality for photo management and processing, and are further limited by spotty internet connections throughout Cuba. Please be aware that you will need to be technically self-sufficient: You must know how to download images from your camera to your computer and organize them. We recommend using Adobe Lightroom, but any workflow software is fine providing you know how to use it. You’ll be called upon to narrow down your images into a reasonable number for review.
Do not buy a new camera or computer right before the trip and expect to learn how to use it during the week.