Help me pick a kit for a RTW Trip!

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by s0nus, Jun 21, 2013.

  1. s0nus

    s0nus Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 13, 2010
    Greetings :43: enthusiasts! In a couple months I will be commencing a ~1 year long trip around the world and I'd like to consult with you about my kit.

    My current selection of native :43: gear, with what I intend to bring in bold italics:
    • EPL1
    • Oly 14-42 r1
    • Oly 40-150mm (adapted)
    • Oly 14-150mm
    • Oly 9-18mm
    • Panny 20mm

    Some qualms that I have that I'd like to discuss with the community:

    Regarding the body: My trusty EPL1 is the only body I currently have. While I've captured great images with it, I do miss some features that newer bodies have, including AF assist lamp (crucial for low light focusing with the 20mm!), a tilt screen (when shooting wide and low), and a viewfinder (glare!). I'm thinking of picking up an OMD, but the cost is what's currently stopping me. If my EPL1 breaks or is lost or stolen, it's worth $100, so no big deal. The OMD is $750. I like the retro stylings of the silver version, and I think many would think I'm shooting with an old film camera so it wouldn't be targeted for theft. Of course, I also drool over the IBIS. Thoughts?

    Regarding the 9-18mm: I'm debating leaving this one at home just for space savings. However, I love the WOW factor of a nicely composed wide image (all my favorite landscape shots are wide) and the lens itself isn't all that big. Like the OMD, however, it is a pricey piece of kit, and it would be shame to break or lose it. Thoughts?
  2. daimos

    daimos Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 23, 2010
    Real Name:
    the $750 would probably be an extra trip to 1 more country. food for thought.
  3. vchaney

    vchaney Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 22, 2010
    You could always get and epl5. Only real difference for you between that and the omd would be the viewfinder. It's much more compact and a lot cheaper.
  4. everythingsablur

    everythingsablur Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 4, 2010
    Toronto, ON
    The lenses look fine to be honest. I would bring the 9-18 personally. There's just no substitute for wide angle some times, especially since you have noted that you do like WA. It's also just a good, smaller walk around lens than the 14-150 if you know you won't need the reach.

    And weather-sealing, which is always useful if you're caught out in a torrential rain (of course this also requires weather sealed lenses, which the OP does not have). The E-PL5 also does not have the 5-axis IBIS, but the more traditional IBIS Oly has always used.

    That being said, if the OP were considering a new body, the E-M5 is not cheap (but is awesome). Alternatives would be the E-PL5 as stated, or if you just want a newer sensor, an E-PM2 (and relegate your E-PL1 to being a backup body, or keep two lenses mounted and ready to go). Since your 14-150 doesn't have IS, that would make the very reasonably priced Panny GX1 less of an appealing option, plus I think all of the Olympus PENs share the same battery, which would be an additional headache if you picked up a GX1.

    Or, save all of that money and just stick with the E-PL1. Use the money for your vacation. Don't let your gear get in the way of actually enjoying your vacation.
  5. battleaxe

    battleaxe Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Well he could always pick up a cheap E-PM1 or PL3 with a grip. Sure the sensor is pretty much the same as the E-PL1, but it does come with improved speed, AF assist, few more features, and is a little better in low light. I think you can find a E-PM1 for under $200 and E-PL3 for under $300 now. That way you can keep your E-PL1 as a back up. Could be something to think about.
  6. lenshoarder

    lenshoarder Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    Is this your first trip RTW? On my first one I brought along everything including the kitchen sink. 2 months in I decided I didn't use 80% of the stuff I bought and got a much smaller backpack and shipped the old backpack home. Carrying a big backpack around gets to be a hassle real fast. Although I do see plenty of people with them. I travel with what amounts to a daypack for my clothes and such with another laptop bag to hold my electronics, laptop/phone/cameras. With my style of travel, I simply wouldn't have the room for a kit that big. I find something like my RX100 suits pretty much all my travel needs. I carry around another waterproof camera for wet work and as a backup. So it really depends on how you like to travel and how much you want to carry. You can simulate it before you leave. While on the road you'll probably want to have that camera kit with you all day everyday. Carry that kit around with you for a week all day, everyday to see if that's something you want to do for a year. When I mean all day, I mean everywhere. From the bus/car to the bathroom.
  7. gnb40

    gnb40 Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 9, 2011
    Real Name:
    I agree with Lenshoarder... take only what you think you will use. I carried around a Canon G1x (rangefinder) and an S100 (backup) on my last trip. Add to that a tablet, batteries, charger, and power adapters... the bag was starting to get heavy in the heat of the day (even though I normally carry much more on day trips).

    If you have friends or relatives here, consider leaving them the rest of your equipment and if you need it they can ship it to you. You may also want to leave them a check or some cash. A friend of mine lost a camera in Tibet. He tried to get every mail order company in New York to sell and ship him a camera... no one would because they were not shipping it to his home address (can't blame them). Finally he called me and I bought it from B&H and then shipped it to him. He was about 2 weeks without a camera.

    I love backpacks when traveling in the US but when I was in Italy last year, a backpack would have caused me grief. For one thing, most of the museums we went to made us check them. At most places with security, they gave my shoulder bag a quick look, same as my wife's purse while thoroughly going through my brother in laws backpack. Also consider getting a Pacsafe or Travelon bag or backpack. These have secure features like cut proof straps and hidden zippers. My brother in law had a pick pocket incident in Spain. Thanks to a Pacsafe bag, the thief didn't get away with it. It can happen anywhere.

    If you like to shoot wide angle, definitely take the 9-18. You might want to insure your equipment... it's not expensive unless you're a pro.

    Sorry for rambling, but I hope you have a great trip.
  8. s0nus

    s0nus Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 13, 2010
    Very good point. Although I didn't mention it in my original post, I did consider this.

    I am considering this body as well now. I would love to have the viewfinder though.

    I actually recently tried a refurbished E-PM2 that I picked up cheap. I returned it because I very much disliked the lack of the mode dial on top. At the time, I was going to try an E-PL3 instead, but now that we have E-PL5s ...

    I will definitely not be taking a 2nd body with me. If anything, the EPL1 will be an off-site backup of sorts left with some friends so that they can ship it to me should I need it.

    This is my first RTW trip (to do more than one!), but I have done the budget backpacking thing for multiple weeks in the past. I have a 40L backpack that I'll be using (specifically, the REI Lookout 40).

    I have considered picking up a high quality compact point and shoot, and I even feel that having that limitation can be liberating. However, I want to be able to shoot absolutely the best photos that I can. I have accumulated a nice little kit, and I went with the m43 system precisely for it's compactness, so that I can travel with it.

    The Oly XZ-2 is a sexy little camera though ....

    Insuring the gear is a great idea. I'm in the process of finding travel insurance, and I will look into that.


    Thank you everyone for your thoughts. This is really helping me think objectively about my needs and gear.
  9. s0nus

    s0nus Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 13, 2010
    A quick update:

    I decided to stick with the EPL1 that I already have. I like this camera, and I know it well. I picked up a VF3 to see if it's worth it. Otherwise, I've been shooting with an LCD for years, and I can't get my most recent bout of GAS get the best of me.

    I had lots of fun with my 14-150mm over the weekend. Even though I had the wide angle with me, it wasn't used at all. The reason I got the 14-150mm was to avoid swapping between a 14-42mm and 40-150mm. Now I'm equally lazy and unwilling to swap to the wider lens. The 28mm FOV suits me, and I do tend to use the tele side of the lens.

    On the other hand ... my favorite landscape shots are wide. Maybe, just like the 20mm, it's an arrow I have to have in my quiver to achieve the image that I envision.

    But damn changing lenses is annoying.
  10. Wizard Steve

    Wizard Steve Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 10, 2013
    Provence, France
    Real Name:
    David Ricketts
    For a RTW trip, I'd not take anything close to the list of kit you've short-listed. Maybe a new, more fully-featured body and the 14-150 but I'd probably just take a Fuji X20 or a Leica X Vario (no, really).
  11. battleaxe

    battleaxe Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Have you found(or foresee) the max shutter speed to be an issue on the E-PL1? Maybe the E-PL2 would be an option, and it should work with the VF you just got, be picked up for cheap, and has an improved AF.
  12. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    I love to shoot when I travel - so I'll disagree with the 'only take a supezoom' statements. I'd rather cut weight by cutting clothing options and such than spare too much on camera gear. Not all destinations are equally photogenic, but its worth the weight to me every time I travel.

    My bare bones travel set would be a body, standard zoom and wide angle zoom. And the RX100 as a pocket cam. Anywhere there are animals I add a 100-300 and generally take the 7-14 as well. The total weight only adds up to about 2-3kg and I tend to dump the big pack where possibly and only lug the daypack around. The key is a good camera insert for any generic bag.
  13. swampduck

    swampduck Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 29, 2013
    Taneytown , MD
    Real Name:
    How many times does one get to take a RTW trip? As a photographer I would want the best gear available to me. I vote to take the epl-1 and get the OM-D as well. Leave the adapted lens home, take the 9-18, 20 and 14-150
  14. everythingsablur

    everythingsablur Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 4, 2010
    Toronto, ON
    Per the OP, he's done an RTW before.

    Weight is always going to be a concern when you do big trips like this, so two camera bodies and more lenses is always a luxury burdened with a logistical challenge. I think the OP's thought of bringing two bodies, but only carrying one (leaving the other with friends who can ship it to him quickly if it's needed) is a pretty good idea. Perks of the OM-D aside, I'd consider the E-PL5 since all of the accessories would be the same (same batteries, chargers, cables, etc.). You don't need to own and manage two sets of chargers and batteries if you need to move to the backup body.
  15. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    From CraigsList a year or so ago:

    "I just want you to understand what you took from me.

    "You stole a purple backpack out of my pannier (saddlebag) off my bicycle around 6pm on friday, in front of Calhouns Cycles on Hennepin in South Minneapolis. Inside the backpack was my camera and ipod. Please, keep the camera, ipod and backpack. All I ask for is the memory card. I just want the pictures back.

    "The pictures on that memory card are from a three-month bicycle trip that I am currently on. I have ridden almost three thousand miles across the country, and that camera has been through the entire thing. Thats right, 3000 miles, and you just stole every single picture.

    "Please, just give me the memory card back. "

    • Have two camera bodies and don't keep them together. This, too, because cameras can fail. Carry at least four batteries and two chargers.
    • Have lots of small memory cards and rotate them through the cameras.
    • Have a backup scheme. Cloud backup probably doesn't work in much of the world. Mailing memory cards home is probably the best tactic.

    Re the 9-18mm it is such a great lens and so tiny I can't imagine leaving mine home.

    Re the 20mm, I suggest a 12/F2 instead. Reason: You will be in some dim interiors, churches, caves, palaces, etc. and it really takes a wide lens to capture a sense of space in those situations. For me 24mm (35mm equivalent) has always been the narrowest I'll use.

    If you'll carry a walking stick, make it a good carbon monopod instead.
  16. lenshoarder

    lenshoarder Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    Many people take RTW trips more than once, including the OP.

    All that sounds nice sitting at home in a nice comfy chair. On the road, it quickly becomes a hassle. I'll suggest the same experiment I suggested to OP. Take those two bodies and those lenses and carry them around with you all the time for a week. I mean all the time. Strap them on when you leave the house in the morning and don't take them off until right before you go to bed. That means not putting it down at work/school, not putting it down when you go to the bathroom, not putting it down period. Since that's what it'll be like on the road. If you are happy to do that for a week, then take it on a RTW trip. If you aren't, then how do you think you'll feel on the road after 6 months? By the way, this is also the time tested way to decided which backpack to take.

    I once travelled with someone that did carry around two bodies and a gaggle of lenses. He was a professional photographer though. He made his living travelling and taking pictures. He moaned about his gear bag constantly.
  17. lenshoarder

    lenshoarder Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    That's a lot of hassle and redundancy on the off chance that something might happen. Why not bring two complete backpack setups as well to have redundant underwear? :smile: I've only had a camera break once on the road. An early Samsung digital camera. It turned out cheaper to have one FedEx to me from New York than buy one locally. So that's what I did. Took 2 days to get it. No need to carry chargers at least. You can get those cheaply anywhere in the world. Generally for about $1.50 - $5. Just get a universal charger. I use those exclusively instead of the proprietary chargers since one charger will work for many devices.

    I copy my memory cards on to my laptop each night and leave the images on the cards as much as possible. Sometimes, I run out of space on my laptop so I need to recycle cards.

    Cloud works fine all over the world, why wouldn't it? The downside is that it's slow. Upload speeds aren't the best and I can make 10's of GB of shots per day when I travel. That takes a lot of time to upload. People do it though.

    In some countries, mail is not the most reliable thing. Unless you are going to FedEx/UPS it, it's probably just as safe to keep them with you.
  18. monk3y

    monk3y Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 14, 2013
    in The Cloud...
    Real Name:
    Agree here... in much of the 3rd world countries, you should not trust the local post offices so I don't think mailing memory cards back home is the best solution.

    As for leaving photos on memory cards, isn't it better to just bring a small external hdd as back up? That way you can be sure you have a back up.
  19. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    Same reason the OP will not plan to take the trip twice to get the ultimate redundancy. Life's a tradeoff. You evaluate the probability and impact of something happening against the cost of taking precautions against it. Underwear is easy to replace. Photos are not. The OP will have to evaluate the tradeoffs for himself.

    For example, would you rather be without a camera but have that spare lens or would you rather be short a lens that you'd like to have but have that second camera body that you now need?

    You must have traveled in a different world than I have. I have been many places where no internet connections were available or connections were too slow for photo uploading. In many, many, countries this is the case outside major cities. Zimbabwe, Namibia, Jordan, the Galapagos, ... are places I've been recently where this is the case. Even in Glacier Park USA, there is internet at only one of the park hotels and at that one it is far too slow to be useful for uploading.

    Yes, especially if you have a companion who will carry it separately from your gear. But be sure to take it out of his backpack the night before the backpack is stolen. That's the problem with any keeping-it-with-you strategy; it's still vulnerable. Mail service is not 100% reliable either but if you mail copies and keep your originals, then the odds are pretty good that you'll have almost everything. I have seen it suggested that one make CDs at internet cafes and mail those.

    Re tradeoffs, my personal tradeoff is to spread my take over many small cards and to split carrying them between me and my wife. I don't go farther for backup but someday I may regret that.
  20. battleaxe

    battleaxe Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Well isn't that what the new Flickr is for, well that is if you can get data, or cell reception to upload your photos.

    The idea of an external is not a bad, once specially if you have one of those light weight ones that is durable, and doesn't require an AC adapter. Another option could be, if you have an Android phone with a microSD slot or and iPhone with enough space to use a usb kit to connect to your phone and transfer photos onto that. I'm sure the phone will more than likely be in your pocket more times that not. Could be a convenient and safe way to backup data. Edit: come to think of it, a eye-fi card could also work, but again you would need some decent amount of space on your phones as I am sure there would be a lot of pictures taken.