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Going Backpacking to Peru & Bolivia in October - What to Bring?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Reactions, Aug 29, 2012.

  1. Reactions

    Reactions Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 24, 2012
    Last year i went backpacking through central and south america and was pretty disappointed with my p&s images (panny zs10). (panama, costa rica, & columbia).

    This year i'll be bringing my micro 4/3s gear and was wondering if anyone had any recommendations on other gear i should bring down for a 2.5 week trip.

    I have my gx1, p20mm, o45mm, and r7.5mm in my little domke 5xb bag with rain cover (so useful already).

    I came back from a mini vacation from new orleans this past week (yes good timing) and i picked up a few things about shooting with my gear.

    • climate changes fog up lens and EVF's pretty rapidly leaving the hotel room. (it was humid then rainy).
    • i was often changing from the 20 to 45 where it got tiring. I need a zoom of some sort. But i dont think there will be photo opportunities like it as in new orleans. that city is busting with activity. south america is pretty chill.

    so yes ill be going to the major areas of peru -machu picchu - amazon jungle - la paz, Copacabana (Lake Titicaca) etc.

    so i was thinking maybe i should go for a telephoto lens even though i don't particularly care for them for normal shooting.

    I was considering bringing a tripod but now im thinking of a monopod. i could always use that as a hiking stick.

    anyways any feedback would be appreciated. :thumbup:
  2. foxtail1

    foxtail1 Science geek & photo nut Subscribing Member

    Dec 30, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    When I think about Machu Picchu, I think about two approaches. One, of course, is the wide angle vistas. The whole spread is pretty amazing. The other is focusing in on elements, such as the stones, staircases, lintels, etc. For those, a moderate telephoto would come in handy. (Of course, a lot depends on what you like to shoot. I see macro aspects every where I go.:smile:) 

    Titicaca and La Paz are similar to Machu Picchu, in some ways. There are amazing opportunities for wide angle shooting. The bowl of La Paz is like nothing I've ever seen, backward from most cities in that the most desirable land is at the bottom, not higher up. There are some otherworldly stone landscapes there too.

    I think if I were you I would take at least a 45–200 range lens. It brings so much more into your shooting range. I remember a reed boat, slowing decaying just off shore at Titicaca. Without a zoom, I don't think I could have captured it. In the jungle, you never know what you'll see just around the next bend in the trail. A lot of the interesting stuff is overhead (animals, flowers, birds) and a zoom would be very handy.

    I don't know about a tripod. I just hauled one with me to Hawaii, and never used it.

    Have a great trip! I'd love to go back to that area. Don't miss the market in La Paz — glorious colors!

    By the way, do you have the Bradt book on hiking and backpacking in that area? I have an ancient edition from when I traveled there, but they're great books.
    • Like Like x 2
  3. Mellow

    Mellow Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2010
    Florida or Idaho
    I typically spend a month in Bolivia each year, ending with a tourist trip somewhere. And I ALWAYS end up using my Oly 9-18mm more than I thought I would . . . the landscapes can be so vast and lonely in places that you need some extra reach to really convey what they're like.
    • Like Like x 2
  4. Chrisnmn

    Chrisnmn Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 26, 2012
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Hey man im from Chile, i can tell you about climate and scenarios youll find up north of my country, peru/bolivia.

    You said you got tired of changing in between the 20 and 45. then youll want the P12-35. try to go as wide as you can, theres not much wildlife to justify lets say something like a P100-300, YES there will be little desert foxes, some birds here and there but is not like central america with tall trees and jungle where youll need long reach.

    You will see a lot of landscapes, people, ruins, street and flea markets, food, that kind of stuff. so I would definitely recommend wide to mid range lenses. maybe your fish eye for landscapes, and then 20mm for general use and 45 for portraits or some tele landscapes as well?.

    Also, PLEASE take polarizers and ND filters. youll thank me later. Those places have some of the clearest skies in the world, meaning you might want to try some long exposures, star trails and such.

    Climate is going to be humid (specially bolivia), to take a lot of "ponchos" and bags to keep your camera and gear safe.

    but most of all, enjoy those places man. they are AWESOME!. and bring some nice shots!.

    hope i could help you a little bit. if anything jsut ask!.
    • Like Like x 2
  5. Reactions

    Reactions Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 24, 2012
    what moderate tele would you recommend for those macro shots?

    hah i just sold my 45-200mm
  6. pxpaulx

    pxpaulx Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    Manfrotto has a table-top tripod that might be a good and compact compromise if you don't intend to use one often, I find it isn't too hard to find a place to set it (besides the ground of course!). I agree the 45-200mm is a good choice to have in your bag - even if not used often, it is a solid and useful telephoto range and a good performer for the going price under $200.
  7. foxtail1

    foxtail1 Science geek & photo nut Subscribing Member

    Dec 30, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Actually, unless you're into wildlife shots (where the 100–300 mm excels!), I would have recommended the 45–200. It's inexpensive and not too big.
  8. Reactions

    Reactions Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 24, 2012
    hey - anyone chime in on a camera bag that will also carry an ipad?

    i have the fxb - it's obviously too small. thank you
  9. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    foxtail covered most of what I wanted to say, +1!

    I would invest in a telephoto. I like the 40-150 for the weight and size. Very easy to justify bringing on any trip. One of the best "travel" lenses imo. And cheap.
  10. caimi

    caimi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2012
    middle US
    Caimi caimiphotography.com
    First of all I'm envious. I would give anything to be planning a hike to Macchu Picchu. Secondly, I have been impressed with the Pan 14-45 and 45-200. Both lenses can cover just about any images you want to capture there. I'll be hiking throughout southwestern Ireland in December and plan to bring both of those lenses with me. Have fun!
  11. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    I really like the Panasonic 14-140 as a travel and hiking lens. It just covers so many possibilities it's hard to leave it behind. The 14-140 would be an excellent companion to the 20mm you already have, IMO. The 45-200mm is a good choice for a telephoto if budget is an issue, but I find that 45mm at the short end is pretty long to work with, and the difference from 140mm to 200mm isn't all that significant at the long end.

    If you know you don't need the tele range, then a 14-45 or 12-35mm would be a great choice that's a little smaller to pack, depending on your budget. The 12-35mm is a stellar lens but the price reflects that. If you're on a budget the 14-45 is a really good alternative zoom with OIS, which you'll appreciate on the GX1.

    Lastly, If the wide angle view is something you'll use, a 7-14mm or 9-18mm would be great to have. The 7-14mm is my preferred UWA lens, but the 9-18mm wins out for size and weight. If you're backpacking and space/weight is an issue then for a UWA the 9-18 would probably be preferable.
  12. foxtail1

    foxtail1 Science geek & photo nut Subscribing Member

    Dec 30, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Somewhere there is a thread on just this topic. Try a search in the accessories forum.
  13. SZRimaging

    SZRimaging Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 16, 2011
    Might be opposite of your thinking, but have you thought about a backpack and lens wraps? I alternate between setups, but a lot of my travel has been done this way.
  14. SZRimaging

    SZRimaging Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 16, 2011
    So...ummm...I feel like an idiot, you are going backpacking.....thus you will have a backpack. If it has a either a detachable daypack or hip pack, I would still suggest going with lens wraps. I have carried my gear (Nikon DSLR) in my Osprey this way, and would think it would be even easier with m4/3 gear.
  15. zapatista

    zapatista Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 19, 2012
    Albuquerque, NM
    Mike Barber
    This won't be a popular opinion but if you're serious about macro while still wanting portability, think about swapping your Oly 45 ($325 used) for the PL 45 ($525 used). I think it's an optically superior lens though it's a fair bit bigger (tiny for a real macro lens though).
    What you get: Better Resolution, 1:1 macro & a stabilized lens.
    What you lose: Size, Weight (100g less) & Low Light-Shallow Depth of Field flexibility, ($200 cost).

    Hope this helps and have an awesome trip....I'm headed to Colombia in December!
  16. angusr

    angusr Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 21, 2011
    Just to throw an alternative out there, you could of course get a second body for one of your primes.
    My 6 months in South America (pre mu43) however suggests that wide is the way to go, and I like to travel light. So if it were me, for what I shoot, I'd take the Oly 9-18 as my zoom, which will double as my normal lens in daylight, and either the pana 20 or oly 45. Depends to some extent how much time you'll spend in dark environments.

    Enjoy your trip, and make sure you see the Bolivian side of Titicaca - so much prettier!
  17. Reactions

    Reactions Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 24, 2012
    Thanks guys ! Super helpful info

    I'm leaning twds the oly 9-18

    If I can sell my p20 in time I'll get the p25

    I am backpacking but I leave that in the hostel.

    I wanted to carry just my camera bag around town.

    When I'm on the plane my osprey is in the overhead and my camera bag benieth my chair.

    This isn't my first backpacking trip ;) 

    This will be the first where I will have camera gear and not a point and shoot.

    Would u guys suggest I bring a monopod?

    Could always double as a walking stick.

    Finally a few of u guys suggest teles

    Still on the fence - can u provide photos or examples where this could be handy
  18. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Camera Bag
    For the camera bag, I use the Thinktank Retrospective 5 and a Maxpedition Jumbo with a custom camera insert from courierware. What I look for is something that's comfortable to carry all day, can fit a water bottle and/or extra non camera items like a spare jacket, rain poncho and so forth. The Jumbo is better for this as it has a water bottle holder on one side and I carry a "dump pouch" add-on on the other side which can be used to throw in random items. If you're looking for a ready-made bag then I really like the TT Retro series for the styling, features, and built-in rain cover.

    I have only used travel tripods and not a monopod, but I just don't see it being worth carrying the way I end up shooting when traveling. It adds stability but takes up one of your hands the rest of the time or space in your bag. I find the tripod only really gets used for either long exposures, or taking group photos (neither of which works with a monopod :smile:) . Your mileage may vary of course.

    If you take a look at my Alaska travel thread you can see some of the photos I came home with as an example. Those were nearly all with the 14-140 or 100-300, except a couple with the 12mm f/2.0 and 25mm f/1.4. The longer lenses aren't just for wildlife, but also work great at capturing portraits, isolating subjects from busy backgrounds and so on. It's not just about shooting stuff that's far away, but also just a lot of framing options.
    • Like Like x 1
  19. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    My wife and I are doing a similar trip - MP/Cusco only, around the same time.

    I have a Lowepro 300AW for all my stuff, but for MP, I'm only going to bring my Travelon Urban Tour bag, which easily holds my GH2, GF3, 9-18, 100-300 plus the 3 Panny pancakes + iPad.
  20. SZRimaging

    SZRimaging Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 16, 2011
    My point was, I would hate to have a second bag hanging around me when I was carrying the main pack, that's why I asked if it had a deploy-able day pack. That's how I do it, and it fits an iPad, camera and lenses in wraps just fine.
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