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08-09-2012, 08:07 PM   #1
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East Asia Trip Kit

Hi guys, I have got a bit of a tough decision to make over the next 6 months, and I want some of your views.

I am heading to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos during feb next year and I am having a tough time working out what kit I am going to take.
Currently I have in the way of Camera/lenses:
Camera:
Pentax K-7

Primes:
Pentax K 28mm F3.5
Pentax FA 31mm F1.8 Ltd
Pentax K 50mm F1.2
Pentax A 50mm F1.4
Auto Chinon 50mm F1.9
Pentax FA 77mm F1.8 Ltd
Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX Macro
Pentax K 200mm F4
Sigma 400mm F5.6 APO Tele Macro

Zooms:
Pentax DA 18-55mm WR
Pentax F 28-80mm
Pentax F 35-135mm
Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 Macro II
Sigma 150-500mm DG OS HMS
Sigma DC 18-50mm
Sigma DC 55-200mm

As you might have noticed I have a lot of lenses with lots of overlap but more to the point, I only have one WR lens the 18-55mm. The reason this concerns me is I am paranoid that the weather will consist of mass amounts of rain with high humidity.

I believe that zooms would be more useful over primes as we will be constantly on the move and I don't want to miss shots because I had to change lens etc

My proposed travel kit would be the 18-55WR + A 50 1.4 + Sigma 55-200mm + Maybe 28 3.5 for landscape stuff. Assuming I don't buy any lenses but upgrade body to K5/k-30/K5replacement. (Average to Poor IQ zooms + A 50 for good quality)
I have been eyeballing the DA* 16-50 + DA* 50-135 as a solid travel combo but stick with K-7 (Good image quality all round and faster aperture and most importantly Weather sealed throughout the range).

I am not sure I would need much beyond 135mm whilst traveling but alas I have done no such travel before so I could be wrong.

What are your thoughts? Any kit suggestions / Experiences in this region?


Last edited by Chaos_Realm; 08-12-2012 at 04:05 PM.
08-09-2012, 08:15 PM   #2
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I have been all over the place and have lived all over Asia. Are you going to be staying in the cities are do you plan to go wild and wolley out in the countryside as well?

In any case I second the motion for good zooms, but the 18-55... not so sure about that. It really just depends on when you want to go... but I will say this... when it rains...its worse than say stepping into your shower at full blast with all your gear. It will flood buckets when the showers come... if that's when you are going...

Aside from that I would go with something good on the wide end. You will want to capture a lot of 'scenes' of various types... street scenes, cool buildings, or beautiful mountains, rice fields or whatever. Err on the side of wide... but I would go up to and possibly through 100mm...

I don't know your style of travel or your style of photography, so pretty much over there any lens you pick up you can make good things happen. If you are like me you travel fast and loose which means light packs and just 'go'.

I rarely will go to another country with more than a single backpack for everything (I mean clothes or whatever)... now that I have gotten into DSLR photography I will have to ammend my style some to carrying two bags.

In an ideal world for my style if I were going there again and I was intent to take a lot of photos I would have two bodies and two zooms...one for each...and maybe a spare prime or two 'just in case'...

It all depends on what your intent is. If you want to get into the mix deep then walking around with two cameras strapped on your body will get you tons of attention... if you want to be low key and off the path that's something else.

Really to be honest you need to tell us what kind of TRAVELLER you are so that any advice will be relevant. Are you going to be on a tour or are you just going to land and wing it and hitch hike to some village?

Last edited by alamo5000; 08-09-2012 at 08:30 PM.
08-09-2012, 08:27 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
I have been all over the place and have lived all over Asia. Are you going to be staying in the cities are do you plan to go wild and wolley out in the countryside as well?
Will be staying in cities for accommodation but will be making day-trips to POI in the country areas. There will be a bit of kayaking around Ha Long bay, Hiking and cycling too.
08-09-2012, 08:39 PM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Chaos_Realm Quote
Will be staying in cities for accommodation but will be making day-trips to POI in the country areas. There will be a bit of kayaking around Ha Long bay, Hiking and cycling too.
Day trips in vietnam (and other places) are interesting in and of themselves... you will learn the truth of the statement that the adventure is in the journey not the destination....

Also please take note that I added more to my comments above...

The movement around the country is not so clear cut... last time I was in vietnam we were on a rusty old barge with a truck full of chickens, pigs running loose on deck, and a ton of scooters and cars... we couldn't hear each other over the chickens, pigs, and rickety old engines rattling around...

It will take you about 4 times as long to go the same distances (or longer than that even) than you are used to... if you think you are gonna do a 50 mile trip in one day... not likely. If you really want to make the best of it travel independently or with adventurous people and travel in legs. Stay in towns that are not major cities. Take the 5 hour trip from city A to city B and stay in B for 3 days... the move to city C and so forth...

What you plan to do matters a lot...again I don't know your style...but if you are in small village X and get up at the rooster's crow (a real possibility) and go take pictures at sun up... now you can come home with great photos...and better memories...

If you plan to stick around the beaten tourist trails its a different style... In either case, err on the side of taking something too wide vs something too long...

08-09-2012, 08:53 PM   #5
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On a side note I am building what I would hope would be a great travel kit... So far the Tamron 10-24 would make it... the tamron 17-50 would make it...and maybe a 50mm f1.4 prime would make it into my kit. I would possibly include (so far) the pentax 55-300mm too as it is very light and very flexible....right now I would carry my k-5... with about 10 or 15- 32GB cards...and about 4 spare batteries and at least two travel chargers.

If I had a second K-5 I would take that too.

The thing is now I am hunting for a good bag that will suit my needs.

I am not quite to where I want to be yet but I am putting major thought into how to travel fast and loose with good lenses that offer max performance with little weight and hassle.

Last edited by alamo5000; 08-09-2012 at 08:58 PM.
08-09-2012, 08:58 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
In any case I second the motion for good zooms, but the 18-55... not so sure about that. It really just depends on when you want to go... but I will say this... when it rains...its worse than say stepping into your shower at full blast with all your gear. It will flood buckets when the showers come... if that's when you are going...
Vietnam should be reasonably dry according to vietnam weather, vietnam climat, weather in vietnam with average up to 30mm in the north which is wetter than the south at that time, similar in Cambodia and Laos.

QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
Aside from that I would go with something good on the wide end. You will want to capture a lot of 'scenes' of various types... street scenes, cool buildings, or beautiful mountains, rice fields or whatever. Err on the side of wide... but I would go up to and possibly through 100mm...
This was the focal range I was thinking 16 up to say about 135 or 200 because I "might need it"

QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
I don't know your style of travel or your style of photography, so pretty much over there any lens you pick up you can make good things happen. If you are like me you travel fast and loose which means light packs and just 'go'.
I haven't done too much travel but it I would probably fit the intermediate. I will pack what is required plus a couple of spare bits and pieces. As for my style, I am all over the shop. I should landscapes and 'try' candid portraits, there will of course be the standard memory shots to.

QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
I rarely will go to another country with more than a single backpack for everything (I mean clothes or whatever)... now that I have gotten into DSLR photography I will have to ammend my style some to carrying two bags.
I will probably have a sports gear bag, not quite a suitcase but bigger than backpacks plus a camera bag which will double as a day pack.

QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
It all depends on what your intent is. If you want to get into the mix deep then walking around with two cameras strapped on your body will get you tons of attention... if you want to be low key and off the path that's something else.
Not going for the "hey everyone look at my expensive camera - Come steal it" but I want flexibility and quality. Finding the point of balance here is probably the basis of my post.

QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
Really to be honest you need to tell us what kind of TRAVELLER you are so that any advice will be relevant. Are you going to be on a tour or are you just going to land and wing it and hitch hike to some village?
We will be just landing and doing out own thing, with the odd tour at key attractions. I hope this and previously mentioned stuff will help give an idea of my travel style.. but as I said, I have not traveled before so it's a learning curve.
08-09-2012, 09:07 PM   #7
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
The movement around the country is not so clear cut... last time I was in vietnam we were on a rusty old barge with a truck full of chickens, pigs running loose on deck, and a ton of scooters and cars... we couldn't hear each other over the chickens, pigs, and rickety old engines rattling around...
Very well aware of this stuff, My partner is a travel agent
08-09-2012, 09:17 PM   #8
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One last bit.... anywhere in Asia pretty much people are rarely going to stop and let you compose a nice shot. Things will be going on all around around you... you will need to blend in and snap shots. Take em when you can get em. The stuff I saw online about 'street photography' is very applicable.

In Asia your pictures will probably be the majority very wide... 20-24mm or less... but every once in a while maybe something higher than that...IE you see a trike (3 wheeled bike) with about 200 boxes packed on it... will need a 16mm angle of view to get it all in...LOL!!

I think you could get away with one lens even. If I only got to take one... the tamron 17-50 and i would be golden.

08-09-2012, 10:32 PM   #9
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18-55; 55-200 will cover you well enough.
Perhaps a 'fast' normal between 28mm - 50mm will do well for night markets.

If its not the monsoon months, you should be fine with rain/weather.
Always have some sort of rain cover though (be it plastic bags or proper commercial camera/bag covers).
08-09-2012, 10:37 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
If I only got to take one... the tamron 17-50 and i would be golden.
After checking out the rainfall stats I just realised that they get less rain than Melbourne. Humidity obviously wont change, and I will be chocking my bag with tones of the home made desiccant packs (made with kitty litter) and snap lock bags. This lens might prove to be a more economical alternative! to the pentax.

Edit: Thanks pinholecam, another alternative might be something like the 17-50 2.8 + 55-200. Although the 55-200 is a rather average lens and the more thought I put on it makes me want to scratch it off the list even though its portable and light.
08-10-2012, 12:10 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Chaos_Realm Quote
I will be chocking my bag with tones of the home made desiccant packs (made with kitty litter) and snap lock bags. This lens might prove to be a more economical alternative! to the pentax.
Kitty litter is a bit risky and dusty to have anywhere near your gear and anyway it's not really meant the suck the moisture out of an airspace, Lens pouch, camera bag etc
It looks like gritty dirt and only sucks the moisture out of small cat's turds. I wouldn't trust kitty litter to anything more valuable than a cat's turds, really.

The real Silica gel sachets come in all sizes and are packed in nice little (virtually indestructible) breathable Tyvek fabric bags.
I bought a swag of these in a few sizes for not too much money. They can also be and dried out and re-used if you stick them in an oven.
http://www.silicagel.com.au/
08-10-2012, 12:39 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Chaos_Realm Quote
After checking out the rainfall stats I just realised that they get less rain than Melbourne. Humidity obviously wont change, and I will be chocking my bag with tones of the home made desiccant packs (made with kitty litter) and snap lock bags. This lens might prove to be a more economical alternative! to the pentax.

Edit: Thanks pinholecam, another alternative might be something like the 17-50 2.8 + 55-200. Although the 55-200 is a rather average lens and the more thought I put on it makes me want to scratch it off the list even though its portable and light.
Personally, I find that humidity is no big deal for the short period the lenses are exposed.

If you are concerned still,
Desiccant packs, I'd suggest using silica gels (not expensive at all) or just salvage them from those things that have them (Eg. some crackers or foodstuffs; electronics packaging; etc)
I won't suggest reheating them in an oven that is also used for cooking.
The blue colored ones contain cobalt (ie. carcinogenic if ingested in enough amounts).

Even better that silica gel in the camera bag, just bring/buy an 'air-tight' Tupperware container and place the silica gels into it as a storage box at night.


I seldom find a need for anything above 135mm except for very vast landscapes on hilly/mountainous areas where the isolation can be useful.
But those who are more shy to take people photographs do often opt for a 135mm.
08-10-2012, 01:15 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by steve1307 Quote
Kitty litter is a bit risky and dusty
Sorry I probably wasn't clear on this. But I use the blue silica stuff not the brown clumping type. Put that in a coffee filter which is then folded and taped to secure. I have used this with great result when off on ski trips.
08-10-2012, 01:22 AM   #14
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Just a thought, whatever ever else lens wise you decide, find a little corner somewhere to take your Pentax K 50mm F1.2.

For temples, sunrise/sunsets, candids, markets and low light stuff, but hey I just love a fast fifty.
08-10-2012, 01:29 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by pinholecam Quote

I seldom find a need for anything above 135mm except for very vast landscapes on hilly/mountainous areas where the isolation can be useful.
But those who are more shy to take people photographs do often opt for a 135mm.
I think what I need to do is limit my use of focal lengths for a couple of weeks to the 18-135 ball park and see how I go and what I find limiting.
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