Kit for *extended* travel

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by nickthetasmaniac, Dec 3, 2011.

  1. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2011
    Hi everyone, I'd like a bit of advice, especially from people with experience travelling with photography gear.

    Next year I'm undertaking an extended backpacking trip, starting in April and returning around October for next year's guiding season.

    At the moment, the rough plan is to start in Europe, staying with family and friends in Finland, Galicia, Netherlands, Belgium and Italy, for about six weeks. I'll then fly to Shanghai and follow the Yangtze to the Tibetan Plateau. I'll then cross into Nepal for a few long-distance hikes (Kathmandu - Everest Base Camp and the Annapurna Circuit being top of the list), before crossing into India and following the Ganges from it's source in the Himalaya down to it's headwaters in Bangladesh. At the moment I've reserved four months for this part of the trip, but I expect that it'll take longer so I'll probably return in 2013.

    Throughout the trip I'll be living out of a rucksack and I plan to be completely self-sustained where possible - so I'll be carrying an ultra-light tent, sleeping bag, cooker and so on... I'm an experienced hiker and I've travelled quite a bit before, but never for this long and never by myself.

    The two key focusses of the trip are bushwalking and photography - my main photographic interests being landscape, people and remote architecture.

    This is the gear I have available:

    Panasonic GH2 - 4x batteries and 2x 8gb cards.
    MacBook Pro 15"
    Domke F10
    Gitzo CF tripod (very light)
    Lumix 7-14mm
    Lumix 14mm
    Lumix 20mm
    Nokton 25mm
    Pentax M50/f1.4
    Pentax K50/f1.2
    MZ 40-150
    Pentax K135/f2.5

    At the moment my street kit is usually the Nokton 25mm and SMC 50/f1.2, and when I hike it's usually the Lumix 7-14, Nokton 25mm and SMC 50/f1.4 (as you can tell, I'm comfortable with manual glass and generally prefer primes).

    Thoughts? I'm considering buying the MZ 45/f1.8 and carrying that, the Nokton 25mm and 7-14 (probably with the 40-150 in the pack). I'm also thinking about getting a second-hand EPL2 and leaving it with the 20/f1.7 in my pack, in case the GH2 is stolen or dies, and an iPad for basic internet and editing...
    • Like Like x 1
  2. turbodieselvw

    turbodieselvw Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 29, 2010
    If you're going to be away from a power source for an extended period of time, I recommend this solar ipad case. LilyPad - Solar Charging case for the Apple iPad. They are just about to start shipping their first production.
    With regards to a back-up camera, if weight is a concern, I would carry along two of the same bodies. That way you would not have to deal with different chargers and multiples of two different batteries.
  3. I would definitely take a second body. It's unfortunate that the GH2 uses a new battery otherwise a second Panasonic body with the same battery would have been helpful. It seems that you have quite a lot of time set aside for each leg of the trip. Under normal circumstances I would leave manual focus lenses at home because I don't want using the camera to become a chore when I am travelling. At home it's all good fun using manual lenses but I think they would just annoy me and take up too much time during the course of a holiday.
  4. turbodieselvw

    turbodieselvw Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 29, 2010
  5. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    I went to Mongolia with a DSLR kit and a GF2, if I were to do it again, I'd only bring a M43 kit. I'd bring your GH2, get a second body (GF1, GF2, etc.), 7-14, a prime of your choice and the 40-150mm for when you need a zoom.

    I think that should cover most of your needs.
  6. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    Sounds like an epic adventure! Hope you find time to post some shots while you are on your big walk!

    Plus one to a backup camera and another plus one to making sure the cameras use the same batteries. I'd even go so far as to suggest two of the same cameras. And while I like the GH2 a lot, I'd probably try to go smaller and lighter. My kit for a trip like this would be something like

    2 x G3 or GX1

    The newer Panny bodies should be similar to the GH2 in low-light. If I was indoors, I'd have the 14/2.5 and 20/1.7 mounted and switch cameras as needed. If I was outside, I'd have the 20/1.7 and 45/1.8 mounted and switch cameras as needed.

    For photo storage, I'd try to send photos home from time to time so that if something catastrophic happens (pack stolen, floods, pestilence) you won't lose everything. Internet cafes are likely to have slow uploads in remote areas, so I'd consider shipping memory cards home in addition to using Flickr as a cloud-backup of the best shots. You can probably get a fistful of 2Gb slow Class 2 cards for cheap and every couple of weeks cull the best photos, throw them on a card, and ship them out.

    For interim storage, I'd consider a tablet or netbook. Tablets will be smaller/lighter, but netbooks will probably have more storage. My iPad is 64GB, my HP Netbook is 160GB. FWIW, the iPad injests photos pretty easily. I haven't tried selecting and writing back out to an SD card though. The iPad also has good battery life, which helps on the road.

    Let us know how your gear planning goes - it will be interesting to see what you finally choose.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I would bring the Lumix 7-14mm/4, Voigtlander 25mm/0.95, Pentax 50mm/1.2, and Pentax 135mm/2.5. I also like the idea of an E-PL2 with Lumix 20mm/1.7.

    I don't shoot as much wide angle so I normally get around with a travel kit of Zuiko 25mm/2.8, Zuiko 50mm/1.4, and Zeiss 135mm/2.8, but I also carry an Olympus EC-14 1.4x teleconverter to turn my Zeiss into a 200mm/4. So I'm a little more on the telephoto end while your kit would be more on the wide angle end... and a good bit faster, lol.
  8. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Depends on your budget, of course. If you have the funds then buy a GX1 when they come out and a Macbook Air. Or get a Hyperdrive for iPad and take an iPad. The iPad on its own isn't big enough as a standalone image tank. My list would be:

    gH2 and GX1
    20, 25 Nokton, 45 1.8 and the 40-150
    Hyperdrive for IPad plus IPad.
    4x8 gb memory cards
    3-4 batteries for each camera
    52mm polarizer plus step rings for other lenses.

    Put the lot in a large crumpler Haven and throw it in your normal backpack.

    I also use a universal charger from Hanemul. Charges my camera batteries, AAs and has a USB charger port. It also charges from AC or DC power.

  9. Gillymaru

    Gillymaru Mu-43 Veteran

    Recently spent 4 weeks in NZ and was able to bring my large bag of 4/3 gear (e 620, 11-22, 14-54, 50-200 + 1.4 x) and my Ep3, 14,20,25,45 and 40-150.
    I wanted to find out if just carrying micro 4/3 was somehow going to restrict my photography. Well the good news was I only used the E620 once during the month and with just the 50-200 lens.
    The rest of the time I was more than happy using the primes especially the 25 mm and 45 mm. The 14 mm also got some use when I needed something wider.
    On 2 occasions I used the 11-22 on the Ep3 for landscapes. The image quality is much better than the 14 mm and 11 mm is a nice focal length.
    My thoughts for my future travel kit is to get something wider than the 14 mm with better image quality. The 7-14 would be nice but talk of a possible 12-35 and a 12-60 have kept me waiting as I feel either of these lenses will be a must own. My 14 mm does the job, is very compact but I feel there will be better wide solutions in either the 7-14 or future lens releases.
    The rest of my kit is just about perfect. The 25 mm is a lens I could happily go away and know I would come home with a selection of beautiful photographs. It was almost always on the Ep3. The one 'do it all' lens.
    The 45 mm is wonderful, I would always take this lens, it is so sharp and focuses beautifully. I have the 50mm F2 4/3 lens and the 45 mm just smokes it for usability. Throw it on the Ep 3 and it becomes my perfect concert outfit.
    The 40-150 would probably come with me just in case I needed something longer, if I was pushed for space it would stay home. I dream of the day a 4/3 50-200 is announced.
    That leaves the 20 mm. It is such a fine lens and almost the perfect 1 lens solution. If I didn't have my 25 mm it would come everywhere.
    So what would I do if I were in you shoes Nick?
    The 7-14 would come, I would sacrifice size and weight for image quality ahead of the 14 mm.
    The 25 mm would be the first lens I packed.
    Its up to you what to take in the 50 mm range, I would get the 45 mm it is a great lens and much smaller than the other lenses. But you have a budget and at the end of the day 45-50 mm isn't a length I do lots of shooting at, do you?
    If you have room the 40-150 would be nice but I don't think essential.
    As to getting an iPad for traveling I would offer this advice. For Internet, email, magazines ( Zinio) and books the ipad is wonderful. For a traveling photographer I would be very frustrated, a MacBook air with a couple of external drives is a much better solution. Or even a cheap windows net book if the budget won't stretch to around 800-900 for a refurb air.
    Whatever you choose you won't really make a 'bad' decision all of your gear will provide you the tools to make great images, the rest is up to you.
  10. Fred49

    Fred49 Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 24, 2010

    +1, unless you have people to carry your stuff, you will enjoy more your travel if you are light.
  11. Canonista

    Canonista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 3, 2011
    +2. You'll also have less gear to keep track of and fear losing.
  12. dayou14

    dayou14 Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 6, 2011
    The regions where you'll be travelling in Asia, some of them are not the safest, and thugs and thieves have been trained to eye DSLR and DSLR-type cameras. I would avoid lens changes in the field unless necessary, so the suggestion as with others in this thread, would be to leave your manual focus lenses at home. 2 bodies, two to four batteries, and multiple 8GB SD cards, would be what I'd do. Your battery would die before your card run out of space, and your card could theoretically get corrupted in the field. So I'd shoot a session, and shoot another one with a different card. I'd backup everything on my computer. I'd considering getting a high-capacity but cheap ultra/netbook and leave the Macbook 15 at home, again due to security concerns.

    I would mask all the shiny parts of the camera with black masking tape (like the Lumix logo), and use a black, non-descript sling that doesn't say 'Panasonic Lumix.'

    Lastly, I'd carry an ultra compact camera like the Canon S95, as when all else fails, I still have a camera I can make pictures with.

    I know I sound like paranoia, but if you lug around all those lenses, all those cameras, and a Mac 15, at some point, it is probable that you'll be at the receiving end of a theft or burglary attempt. It could happen anywhere in your travels.

    • Like Like x 1
  13. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I agree with traveling light and inconspicuous... but traveling light is why I bring my manual lenses with me. My commercial lenses are largely modern fast zooms with AF... and they are not light at all, thus they are not included in my "travel kit". Manual primes provide me with some really compact gear for the type of performance I can get out of them, and they are rather inconspicuous. After all, they look like old lenses... which they are. Thieves are after new and modern high-tech gadgetry.
  14. I agree with what Bian says in the main.

    I have two worries when traveling with cameras.
    (1) Security: an ILC makes it hard, because you need two bags. It is harder to handle everything when you have a backpack and a camera bag to worry about. It makes travel less enjoyable as well.
    (2) Weather: especially when camping. A non-weatherproof camera really limits what you can record: sometimes IQ is secondary.... Also, it's really hard to relax and enjoy eating Indian food with your hands, if that same hand is needed to change a lens. Try removing Daal Curry from a sensor!

    I wouldn't stress too much about a back-up m43 body, unless you are really sorted on the ultra-light front with your other kit. A better back-up might be a waterproof P&S for recording your adventures when the GH3 can't be risked. That also gives rise to the question of what to do with the kit when it's wet: drybags needed.

    I travel quite a bit, with kids. When I need to carry my main luggage somewhere insecure, my camera bag is stowed in the backpack. Cam over shoulder on the full length strap so that it tucks under my arm: zoom mounted if daytime, 20/1.7 mounted if indoors or evening. I have a drybag for my m43 kit, an Ortlieb Aqua Cam. 10 years old now, probably good for another 10: and it's been in the river a few times with no issues. Small enough to load into a backpack easy. There is also a chest harness available for this model, which could be handy. Places in there to stow passports and wallets as well.

    I use a MacBook Air, and feel that could be a good unit for you, with an external HD as back-up. Avoid the 1st generation if buying second hand: hinges break, and battery life is poor. My 2nd gen is better, and I understand that the current models are better again, especially for battery life. I had a fabric panel sewn inside my backpack so that it is carried next to my back, away from knocks. Haglofs makes a drybag for laptops. Can't stress enough the need for drybags! No matter how waterproof your backpack is, you will at some stage be stowing wet gear in it, and the vapour will kill your electronics on an extended journey.

    As far as lenses go, the 7-14, 20/1.7 and 45/1.8 should cover most of your needs: if you are taking the 40-150, perhaps don't worry about the 45/1.8. Personally, I find my OM50/1.4 is too big and heavy, especially when compared to the 45/1.8.

    Batteries? Well, there are solar panels available that mount on the outside of your backpack, but there is a whole lot of weight involved, and the adapters etc need to charge camera batteries seem involved and probably bulky. Better to overstock on batteries.

    Backpack: simpler the better. For security, I prefer a single sack model, and always canvas over nylon, for long term water resistance. I use an older Macpac, their Aztec canvas fabric is really good.

    Sounds like you have a whole lot of fun in front of you!
  15. Maybe it's just paranoia in my old age, but given the nature of the trip you are undertaking and the fact that photography is one of the main reasons for the trip, I would have concerns about the reliability of the system you are carrying. I don't just mean from the point of view of a m4/3 camera being any more or less likely to break down (which to be honest I don't really know if it is the case or not), but from the chance of having a piece of camera equipment dropped, lost, stolen, get wet, etc. I say that with the caveat that while I have travelled with a backpack in Asia and the Middle East I have never truly backpacked, and that in the past I have only ever carried one Canon DSLR body without too much thought for something happening to it.

    Nowadays I would be looking at carrying the most redundant system that you can afford to carry. What if a camera body breaks down early in the trip? Would you want to find yourself walking around somewhere like Kathmandu looking for a replacement battery charger for a m4/3 camera? And so on.

    Another reason I would not want to be relying too much on manual focus lenses is remembering the number of times travelling where I only had one hand spare to take a shot. For instance, holding on for dear life in an Auto-Rickshaw, balancing precariously on 1000 year old stone stairs, riding on the back of a motorcycle, etc, etc. The value of autofocus at such times cannot be overstated.
  16. granlaw

    granlaw Mu-43 Rookie

    Nov 13, 2011
    I wouldn't fancy carrying all that gear about as it may just become a hindrance and as said above it would almost certainly attract the wrong type of attention at some point. Don't think I could relax with all that gear around me.
    I'm heading to S Africa / Namibia next year and have also had to consider what to take . I've settled on a GH2 body, panny 100-300, 14-45 and PL 25, plenty of 2gig cards so that if one dies it's not a huge problem, spare batteries and a Giottos vitruvian 8225 .All of that fits in a small think tank 5 that also fits in a ruk sack along with my trusty old G9 as a back up. If my trip was a job I'd certainly go for a spare body and back up drive.
    Having lugged big DSLR setups around I'm pretty sure I'll get way more use out of the MU43 setup because it will be with me all the time.
  17. David

    David Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 22, 2011
    FYI: the northern outback in CHina, The monthly wage is $ 150 to $ 200 us per month.
    so the gear and being a traveller will be asking for trouble.

    I think one of the camera should be able to withstand shock and weather. Good luck
    in your journey.
  18. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    Manual lenses may be lighter and smaller than your zooms, but I'm sitting here with a couple of old Pentax primes (Super Tak 50/1.4 and Pentax M 50/1.7) and they are both significantly bigger and heavier than the Oly 45/1.8, especially when you add the M43 adapter.

    Nick will be hauling this stuff on his back and has specced out an ultralight tent and such. I think that he's gotta approach his camera gear with the same philosophy - light and small is right. That's why I think the 14/2.5 should get the nod over the 12/2. Likewise the 20/1.7 over the 25/1.4.

    I used to think that a Pentax dSLR with the Limited Primes (21/40/70) were a small and light kit. M43 with the 14/20/45 is smaller still.
  19. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I would take one m43 body and a pocketable travel zoom p&s as a backup (find a used Panasonic ZS3 or ZS7). I HATE carrying gear. It gets old really quickly. I spent a month in Spain last year and took a small DSLR and a small bunch of lenses (Olympus E-520 OM50, 14-54 and 40-150 and a Olympus Trip35) 3K pictures later I find that I used the 14-54 almost exclusively because it was reasonably fast and had great IQ. Most of those shots were WA (at the 14 end) or closeup (both thigs the 14/2.5 does well).

    Next trip (m43 wise) I'll take my E-P1 (antiquated by current standards and looks more like a P&S than a DSLR) and cover it with stickers to make it look extra trashy, my Panasonic 20 and 14 and 2 batteries (all of that is about the same size as my E520 was by itself). Previously I took an iPad with camera connection kit thinking I'd upload to a service like Zenfolio via WiFi. The hardware worked great bit WiFi is not that simple to come across and when you do I'd say it's reliability is pretty iffy. For storage I'd probably just take extra SD cards. A 16GB SD card (last one I bought was around $20) holds about 2300 highest quality JPEGs on the E-P1. I could have taken 4 (under $100) and had room for 9200 images. Finally I'd take a waterproof bag and a phone. I'd probably take my iPhone and pick up an Orange SIMM card so I could get phone calling and data while in Europe and use it like an iPod the rest of the time.

    Travel light.
  20. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2011
    Hi everyone, thanks for the replies and sorry for the slow response - I went on a four day hike and forgot I'd posted this :smile: This will be a bit long as I try and go through everyone's suggestions...

    I've been doing some more research and I think I might drop the Chinese section for this trip and focus on Nepal and India.

    So, overall...

    - Small capacity SD cards and post home regularly...
    - Compact lap-top/tablet - leave the MacBook at home.
    - Avoid redundancy - try and get two bodies that take the same batteries.
    - Compact kit - especially for the high-altitude walks...

    The big questions for me are:
    - which two bodies... Get another GH2 so I can use my existing batteries and charger? Buy a more compact second like a GX1/EPL2? Sell the GH2 and replace it with two compact bodies? Hmmmmmm....
    - Which three lenses? The most compact - 14/f2.5 - 20/f1.7 - 45/f1.8? Go for quality - 7-14/f4 - 25/f0.95 - 50/f1.2? Or any mix of the above...
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