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Travel kit for Middle East trip?

Discussion in 'Travel Tips and Discussion' started by phrenic, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    Ah the usual dilemma..more gear every year only makes it a harder decision. I'll do some thinking aloud here and hopefully you guys have some insight..

    Background: going in April, probably 5-6 weeks..thinking Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, and Israel. Though it's quite open to change..got a sweet deal for round-trip airfare into Istanbul, otherwise anything else is on the table. Always the option to check out eastern europe or north africa if things get too ugly in that part of the world though I take the national travel advisories with a very large grain of salt.

    Pool of equipment:
    -G5 and G1 (7.5mm, 20mm, 9-18mm, 14-45mm, 40-150mm)
    -Fuji X-E1 (35mm 1.4)

    So there are compromises obviously.
    1) Travel weight/size. Less is better obviously...also a benefit of carrying less is that it makes me feel a little more comfortable to carry less $ worth of camera equipment. All too rarely do I go to places that I can comfortably carry everything without any thought of damage or theft.
    2) IQ...3 tiers here. I have to say that while I prefer using my XZ1 to other compacts with its larger sensor and fast lens, I'm still not crazy about it's output. Imo it still looks like a compact camera output in many cases..ok detail if you shoot raw, limited dynamic range, meh DoF etc. I am reluctant to shoot with it for images that I care about. It's more my social/beater camera.
    3) Focal lengths..not sure what I want to pick and choose from without carrying everything and the kitchen sink.

    Possibility A (travel super light)
    -XZ1 + Fuji XE1. The Fuji IQ is great but only 1 focal length. Not my fav focal length..but I love the output. And then use the LX1 for anything wide or long. Unfortunately 28mm equiv isn't great..I was looking forward to having something more capable for stuff like the Blue Mosque. I like the fact that it's only hauling 1600$ of equipment or so around and is light! But otherwise it seems a weird compromise of not loving the output of the compact but being forced to use it lots.

    Possibility B (big kit..capture the images without regrets or compromise)
    -XE1 (35mm-->50mm equiv) for low light, G5 with 9-18mm for walk around lens, 7.5mm fisheye for capturing vistas, indoor architecture etc, and 40-150mm telephoto. Pretty versatile overall..no IQ compromises. I enjoyed travelling with a 3 lens kit last vacation (20mm, 9-18mm, 40-150mm). The main addition with this is the fisheye. Downside: ~3000$ on my back. Not exactly something I would feel comfortable leaving in the hotel room or to put down for a moment.

    Possibility C (micro four thirds only)
    -G5 and G1: 20mm (low light replacing the XE1), 9-18mm, 7.5mm fisheye, 40-150mm. 2 m43 bodies to swap lenses or minimize changes is attractive. Light weight option. ~$1800 of equipment I suppose. I miss out on the XE1 and just plain awesome 35mm..but a highly practical kit for the weight/dollar value.

    Thoughts? Other suggestions?
  2. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Flak Jacket
  3. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    Actually it is quite safe.

    Re the OP's question I have been to all of those countries except Jordan (going there next week, in Israel currently). My kit is as follows: 2x G1 bodies, 14-140mm, 9-18mm, and 12mm F2. The 12mm is the specialist indoor dark church/tomb/cave/monument lens. The other two do most of the work. I am also carrying a Benro Travel Flat tripod with a monopod leg that also serves as a very good walking stick. I am carrying 4 batteries and two chargers. I have six x 8GB memory cards, all numbered, and rotated daily through the cameras so that only a fraction of my take will be gone if a camera is lost or stolen, a memory card goes bad, etc.

    Someday I will replace the G1 bodies with something having better low light performance, but the image quality exceeds my needs and the ergonomic design is among the best of the M43s IMHO. So I am in no rush.
  4. hkpzee

    hkpzee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hong Kong
    Sounds like your all m4/3 option is the most practical way to go, since it minimizes lens changes...
  5. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
    Regarding safety. All these countries are very safe. You need to pay attention to political situation in Egypt, but the country is generally safe.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Gillymaru

    Gillymaru Mu-43 Veteran

    I think I would take the XZ1 and the Fuji. The XZ1 is good enough up to ISO 800 and the Fuji with its 50 mm eqiv lens would be capable of producing wonderful photos.
    Don't forget it is possible to take panorama shots with the Fuji, even 4 or 5 shots handheld stitched in photoshop can produce wonderful wide panoramas.
    Seems like you are more concerned with carrying too much gear rather than missing a shot or two because you may not have the "right" lens.
    I know I could just take my 25mm Nokton and a body away for a couple of months and get wonderful photos. Sometimes having a series of work that is all shot at the same focal length can actually look very good.
  7. Whatever else you do, do NOT leave the UWA lens at home!

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    C50D-IMG_1557-P2R Canon EOS 50D Giza Pyramids Cairo Egypt - Travel by Nic (Luckypenguin), on Flickr

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    C50D-IMG_1897-PR Canon EOS 50D St Catherine Egypt by Nic (Luckypenguin), on Flickr

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    C50D-IMG_1895-PR Canon EOS 50D St Catherine Egypt by Nic (Luckypenguin), on Flickr

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    C50D-IMG_2065-PR Canon EOS 50D Wadi Rum Jordan by Nic (Luckypenguin), on Flickr

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    C50D-IMG_2068-PR Canon EOS 50D Wadi Rum Jordan by Nic (Luckypenguin), on Flickr

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    C50D-IMG_0963-PR Canon EOS 50D Ayvalik Turkey by Nic (Luckypenguin), on Flickr

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    C50D-IMG_0844-PR Canon EOS 50D Cannakale Turkey by Nic (Luckypenguin), on Flickr

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    C50D-IMG_0764-PR Canon EOS 50D Gallipoli Turkey by Nic (Luckypenguin), on Flickr

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    C50D-IMG_1055-P2R Canon EOS 50D Ephesus Turkey by Nic (Luckypenguin), on Flickr
    • Like Like x 4
  8. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
    Looking at your photo option, I think that option C. This countries are sunny therefore EVF is a must that implies G1 and G5. With option C you have covered all focal range and if you miss the 20 to 40 pick also the P14-45 with the hood. You have low light option with the G5 and P20.
    If you need some off the beaten track places in Israel fill free to contact me.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Images from my visits:
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

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    I agree, times have changed, and I was in Gaza and Lebanon.

    • Like Like x 2
  10. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    I'd go with option B personally. I wouldn't bother with the ZX1 if you're not going to be happy with the images, and I wouldn't want to leave the UWA/telephoto options behind either.

    My suggestion would probably be to take the G5 with the 3 lens setup you've used before. If you will enjoy the X-E1 output enough to make it worth the extra weight and space, I'd take that along too. If it were me I'd certainly be willing to carry the extra camera in exchange for the output from the Fuji. You could fit the G5 + 3 lenses *and* the Fuji in one small camera bag so it's not as if you're talking about carrying around a pelican case here :smile: It's also great to have a second camera in the event of unforeseen problems. Oldracer's advice on the memory cards is good also. On important trips I will bring a wallet of cards and rotate them daily so I don't lose a whole trip of photos to a card failure or loss.

    Regarding the expense of the equipment:

    Get insurance coverage for your trip. There are many affordable options out there but find one that fully covers theft, damage, etc. while you're traveling, then get out there and shoot. That's that cameras are for, capturing the moments - and they can't do that if you leave them at home because they're too valuable to risk.
  11. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
    Gary, times have changed but unfortunately not in Gaza and Lebanon.
    Lets hope that they will also join the Arab spring that kicks democracy into the area.
    Like a smart guy once said, there have never been a war between two countries that have McDonald branches.
    For the sake of peace we need to see more McDonald branches.:smile:
  12. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    Panorama stitching works well in some scenarios, but isn't truly a substitute for shooting with a wide angle lens..there are issues with lines and the perspective changes with using UWA focal lengths. I think this might be my biggest hangup of the idea of going with XZ1+XE1. The lens I use most is the 9-18mm when I travel.
  13. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I think the world will come to an end if Pepsi and Coke ever arm themselves.
  14. Gillymaru

    Gillymaru Mu-43 Veteran

    If you use the 9-18 most frequently then you should absolutely include it. The G5 with this lens would be a good choice, if you must take another body and lens then perhaps add the Fuji and 35 mm.
    Having 18-35 mm and a 50 mm equiv combination would definitely work well. The only drawback in carrying 2 systems is needing to pack 2 different battery chargers.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010

    Thanks for the memory card reminder guys. I'm already rather paranoid about it already..I always rotate multiple small cards in and out, but it probably is best practice and hopefully other people learn that here (instead of learning it the hard way).

    Maybe I should just carry the m43 kit and fuji. I've talked to my home insurance providers before and they told me over the phone that camera equipment would be covered on vacation, but I should probably go through my coverage and get it on paper to ensure that I am adequately covered...if the risk of loss isn't a factor then I suppose I would like to take as much as I can reasonably carry. :rofl: No worse than carrying 2 bodies and 5 lenses while hiking up to Macchu Picchu with altitude sickness. :tongue:

    Thanks for all the insight guys..haven't heard of many posters here seeing the area in the last year or so.

    elavon: have you been able to check out these countries recently? Curious to hear some real-world experiences vs what comes from the news media.
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