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01-27-2009, 10:15 PM   #1
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New Gear for Costa Rica Trip

Hi everyone. I am a college student and in a month and a half I will be leaving for a 4 month Abroad trip to Costa Rica. I currently have the Pentax K10d and the gear listed in my signature. I am in the process of deciding on the following gear and would like inputs on thoughts as to the appropriateness/cost of the gear . All input is much appreciated

I was thinking of buying all from Amazon

Pentax K20D 14.6MP Digital SLR Camera with Shake Reduction (Body Only)
Shipped from: Beach Camera
------$749.00
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Medium Telephoto Macro Lens-----$401.09
Pentax SMC DA* Series 16-50mm f/2.8 ED AL IF SDM Wide Angle Zoom Lens------$621.20
Pentax SMC DA* Series 50-135mm f/2.8 ED IF SDM Telephoto Zoom Lens
------$699.95
Pentax AF 360 FGZ Flash for Pentax and Samsung Digital SLR Cameras (w/ case) -----$192.35
Pentax Remote Control F --------$18.99
DIGITAL CONCEPTS BP-L150 Digital Camera Replacement Battery (BTW are the K20d and the K10d batteries interchangeable?) -------3x $18.99



Thanks!

01-27-2009, 10:53 PM   #2
Damn Brit
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Thread moved to Photo Trips and Travel Planning so you can get advice on handling the conditions with your gear.


Willoughbys has it for $725 on Amazon, the price has been fluctuating quite a bit and changes from day to day. I can't really comment beyond that on costs, I don't know how much you can afford or want to spend although you do mention in your profile that you are a student needing $$$ (this seems like a big spend for you).


The DA * lenses are sealed so they should be ok. You should also consider how you are going to deal with the humidity when storing the equipment.
You didn't mention a tripod, that would be useful but more expense I'm afraid, if you get one, you need to get a good one.
A cheaper alternative would be a monopod. Another alternative would be a gorillapod; Joby - Innovate for Life they are quite useful because they can 'attach' almost anywhere.
If you get the DSLR version, it has a removable top and you can replace it with one that will take a flash (useful for off camera work).
You also need to consider weight and how you are going to carry your stuff round with you. If you don't have a base where you can leave what you aren't using at the time, how are you going to carry it all?
01-27-2009, 10:58 PM   #3
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oh thanks!

I actually have enough money saved to buy the list i posted but I was just looking to see if any of the gear was a waste of money. I actually do have a gorilla pod> love it

I was planning to bring gallon ziplocs and plenty of dessicant for storage between usages. as for weight I have no clue yet. lol
01-28-2009, 03:35 PM   #4
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I live in Costa Rica and if you tell me where are you going to go, maybe I can advice on what to take and what care concerns you should take.

At first, you are coming in mid March, which is pretty dry and hot all around, except along the Caribbean coasline which will be hot and humid. Rest of the country the atmosphere will be hazy with almost no wind. By mid May, rain season starts, that means that before that, there is no much green around. Landscapes will be yellow, hazy and murky.

For carry purposes, I suggest a back pack type case (that if you purchase all the listed stuff plus your actual gear) and for God's sake, never leave your camera, backpack or case alone, not even inside a car.

As Damn Brit said, you do not mention a Tripod, which is a must. Don't forget plenty of memory cards or something to download to.

What type of pictures do you intend to make? Regular traveling? Documentary? etc.

01-28-2009, 04:46 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by rburgoss Quote
At first, you are coming in mid March, which is pretty dry and hot all around, except along the Caribbean coasline which will be hot and humid. Rest of the country the atmosphere will be hazy with almost no wind. By mid May, rain season starts, that means that before that, there is no much green around. Landscapes will be yellow, hazy and murky.

For carry purposes, I suggest a back pack type case (that if you purchase all the listed stuff plus your actual gear) and for God's sake, never leave your camera, backpack or case alone, not even inside a car.

As Damn Brit said, you do not mention a Tripod, which is a must. Don't forget plenty of memory cards or something to download to.

What type of pictures do you intend to make? Regular traveling? Documentary? etc.

Wow what a wealth of very helpful info. Indeed the camera is probably not going to leave my sight or my grasp at that. we arrive in San jose for a few days in late march. The majority of the trip we will be stationed in Monteverde. I guess that also means I need to get a full sized tripod! As for the humidity i guess Ill only need to worry about it later in may and june. im bringing a portable hardrive and a wealth of memory cards and batteries.

Will carrying these cameras around make me a target for theft and or mugging?
01-29-2009, 01:34 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by iceemn360 Quote
Wow what a wealth of very helpful info. Indeed the camera is probably not going to leave my sight or my grasp at that. we arrive in San jose for a few days in late march. The majority of the trip we will be stationed in Monteverde. I guess that also means I need to get a full sized tripod! As for the humidity i guess Ill only need to worry about it later in may and june. im bringing a portable hardrive and a wealth of memory cards and batteries.

Will carrying these cameras around make me a target for theft and or mugging?
First things first = SAFETY. Carrying cameras and photo gear will make you an instant target for theft. In the Monteverde area, probably not a chance for getting mugged.

About picture taking. The Monteverde area is known for its splendid CLOUD FORESTS. That means, due to altitude and weather conditions, humidity is present all the time, but as I said on my first post, during late March and probably all April, there will be almost no rain at all. Expect clean skies at sunrise and slight overcast (very white with almost no blue) skies in the afternoon.

A powerfull flash unit is mandatory if you want to picture birds and local wildlife in the cloud forest, since trails are dark even at full sunshine (very thick foliage).

Four months in the Monteverde area sounds like a lot of time, unless you are doing something extra like biology studies or such. I bet you will get time to wander around beaches and some volcanos. Arenal volcano is not far from Monteverde (about 2 hrs drive)... here's an example: https://www.pentaxforums.com/gallery/images/7432/1_Arenal_Volcano.jpg

About what gear to bring along, I suggest fast lenses and since you already have them or have the chance to purchase, I suggest the DA 50-135, a fast 17/70 (I am not suggesting the Pentax DA 16/50 2.8 since it gets to many bad reviews). A 100 macro f2.8 will be very usefull and perhaps something like a fast 200/2.8.

I wouldn't bother about superwide angle glass, since lanscape pictures will be dull due to atmosphere load of dust (remember, during those months, specially in March-April, there is almost no wind).

Feel free to PM me for further assistance.
01-29-2009, 04:30 PM   #7
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wow thanks again for the advice.

as you say safety first.

how risky would you say is it then to have my camera in plain sight during the day/night in san jose? Ill be with a small group almost all of the time. particulary the k20d with a DA 50-135 lens on it?
01-30-2009, 03:43 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by iceemn360 Quote
wow thanks again for the advice.

as you say safety first.

how risky would you say is it then to have my camera in plain sight during the day/night in san jose? Ill be with a small group almost all of the time. particulary the k20d with a DA 50-135 lens on it?
You mean like walking around in San JosÚ, with camera in plain sight?

If that is the case, make sure you are surrounded by at least half dozen LARGE guys.. and smiling is prohibited (just kidding).

There are some zones in San Jose that are not safe for nobody carrying valuables. Not even during broad daylight.

Tourist mugging is one of the favorite pasttimes around crowded places.

A few security advices:

If you use a hip pack or camera case, make sure you wear it in front, not in back.

Do not carry extra packs or bags. Make sure you have both hands free when camera is inside pack. If using backpack, make sure is a safe one made out of strong material (that would be tough to cut through with a knife).

About 90% of the cases where cameras or other valuables get stolen, is when the owner gets distracted and leaves stuff without care for a few seconds. Not really much man to man mugging.

Local news and stories from friends, tourists, etc., that got something stolen, was most of the time by car breaking, hotel room breaking or during lunch or dinner times and someone left a bag (camera case, laptop, etc) sitting around, left on ground by table or left unattended in bench or bus.

01-30-2009, 03:53 PM   #9
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BTW, in your gear list, you do not mention a specific item that may prove to be invaluable when shooting pictures under very harsh conditions (rain, dust, sand, crowded places, muggers around, etc).

That is: a waterproof point & shoot camera!

There are some times your beloved DSLR should not be risked no matter how nice the pictures may come out. In such cases, a waterproof P&S makes wonders.

I always carry a Pentax WPi... (now discontinued) but the Pentax W60 is a wonderful little gadget with top optics and beautiful performace... and I believe you can get a new one for around $280.
02-02-2009, 12:05 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by rburgoss Quote
BTW, in your gear list, you do not mention a specific item that may prove to be invaluable when shooting pictures under very harsh conditions (rain, dust, sand, crowded places, muggers around, etc).

That is: a waterproof point & shoot camera!

There are some times your beloved DSLR should not be risked no matter how nice the pictures may come out. In such cases, a waterproof P&S makes wonders.

I always carry a Pentax WPi... (now discontinued) but the Pentax W60 is a wonderful little gadget with top optics and beautiful performace... and I believe you can get a new one for around $280.

Ahh icic. Though I wouldnt be worried about the DA* lenses and the 20din harsh weather perhaps a P&S is a good option too. Though I've been told that theft sometimes targets P and S ppl more since the conception is that "smaller is better and more expensive" while a DSLR "must be old and cheap" since its so big. but thats only something ive heard. I might also just get travelers insurance or check to see if my parents home insurance covers it >>> it covers a lot of random things.
02-02-2009, 12:52 PM   #11
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I recently went on a month trekking expedition to Borneo - although I didn't take my DSLR (it wasn't really appropiatte for the trip - although I regret that now), ziploc bags and dessicant worked really well for keeping my electroncis safe - although, the main thing I noticed is that after waterproofing from the rain - the humidity really didn't affect it as much as I thought it would...

Re-reading this topic, i'm not sure how helpful this will be, but anyway...
02-03-2009, 06:45 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by iceemn360 Quote
Ahh icic. Though I wouldnt be worried about the DA* lenses and the 20din harsh weather perhaps a P&S is a good option too. Though I've been told that theft sometimes targets P and S ppl more since the conception is that "smaller is better and more expensive" while a DSLR "must be old and cheap" since its so big. but thats only something ive heard. I might also just get travelers insurance or check to see if my parents home insurance covers it >>> it covers a lot of random things.
Don't fool yourself thinking crooks don't know what they are looking for. In my work I've had the chance to talk with some law enforcement people that deals with stolen goods and its unbelievable what thiefs know about whatever target they choose. In photo matters, local thiefs that target tourists know before hand and by just looking at you, what you are carrying, what the specs are, where to "pawn" or stash the "hot" stuff and how much its worth. Of course, they are prone to target Canon and Nikon tourists, since their gear is hot seller everywhere, but they won't pass on a Pentax gear considering its also "free" even if it takes longer to sell or not as well payed for them.

About the ziplock & dissecant thing. From own experience, ziplock bags are good protectors in case your camera bag gets soaked, but dissecant packets get saturated very fast (as fast as two or three days only) so they are doing nothing afterwards. You can get "indicator - recyclable" dissecant packets, that are blue when new and turn pink when saturated, then can be recycled (dryed) in microwave oven many times, but you will find yourself looking for a microwave oven every other day.
02-03-2009, 12:44 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by rburgoss Quote
Don't fool yourself thinking crooks don't know what they are looking for. In my work I've had the chance to talk with some law enforcement people that deals with stolen goods and its unbelievable what thiefs know about whatever target they choose. In photo matters, local thiefs that target tourists know before hand and by just looking at you, what you are carrying, what the specs are, where to "pawn" or stash the "hot" stuff and how much its worth. Of course, they are prone to target Canon and Nikon tourists, since their gear is hot seller everywhere, but they won't pass on a Pentax gear considering its also "free" even if it takes longer to sell or not as well payed for them.

About the ziplock & dissecant thing. From own experience, ziplock bags are good protectors in case your camera bag gets soaked, but dissecant packets get saturated very fast (as fast as two or three days only) so they are doing nothing afterwards. You can get "indicator - recyclable" dissecant packets, that are blue when new and turn pink when saturated, then can be recycled (dryed) in microwave oven many times, but you will find yourself looking for a microwave oven every other day.

great. its good to have this critical information and the brutal truth as well. there's no need to sugar coat and when it comes down to it theft exists and is a common practice. Of course I need to do my part and be a smart traveler.Thank you SO much for you invaluable info (especially as a native). I will take all of the precautions I can as well as insure my camera/ electronics gear prior to my departure. as for the desiccants. Perhaps I will use them on particularly moist days getting into may and june.

jut out of curiosity what kinds of things do you go about when shooting in san jose? habits, techniques, interesting places to go and take photos, places to avoid, favorite lens to use in the city?

thanks!
02-04-2009, 04:15 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by iceemn360 Quote

jut out of curiosity what kinds of things do you go about when shooting in san jose? habits, techniques, interesting places to go and take photos, places to avoid, favorite lens to use in the city?

thanks!
Before I can advice on where and what to look for regarding picture taking, I would like to know what kind of photography you are interested in. I'll take a wild guess and say you are interested in just about everything, from tropical landscapes and wildlife to people's lifestyles and such.

Since you're gonna be around for about four months, that will give you plenty of time to visit just about the whole country. In San JosÚ, you can wander around Central Avenue. Best time is during mornings till noon. There you can see many people and lots of peddlers and street vendors. Drop by "Plaza de la Cultura" (Culture Square) and visit the Precolumbian Gold Museum (no cameras or cell phones allowed in, but there's a good package care thing there). Once out of the Gold Museum, drop by Dima. This is a pro photography oriented store, just a few feet away from the Gold Museum, on the north side of Culture Square. They carry Pentax stuff as well as a good variety of Sigma glass for Pentax and others. If you get to go to Dima, ask for Nils (store owner and a very good friend) and in case you are interested in buying anything, tell him your good friend Roberto Burgos told you to ask for special treatment (PM me for more details on this).

Also in San JosÚ, there is the Morazan Park, just three blocks north from Dima's corner. There are some very interesting architecture structures there and a nice park with a greek style temple.

During weekends, specially on saturdays, you can go to one of many "farmer's market" which is put together in the middle of the street, where local farmers sell their goods. There you can photograph hundreds of very "picturesque" people, along their produce... veggies, fruit, etc. Guadalupe's Farmer's Market is one of the best organized. It goes on Saturday mornings and is not far from downtown San JosÚ. This picture was shot at that specific farmer's market Old Lady .

Make sure you dedicate at least one day to go to Iraz˙ Volcano. It is in the province of Cartago and a bus ride (tour) is about an hour away from downtown San Jose. Iraz˙ volcano is a bit over 10 thousand feed above sea level, and on a very clear day, you can get to see both the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, so don't forget a good wide angle lens and start practicing with some panorama stitching software. Make arrangements to get there as early as possible, since cloud formations may block the distant views.

Another place to go is to InbioParque. This is a biological station and park located in Santo Domingo de Heredia. Also, not far from downtown San Jose INBioparque Don't forget to bring a good macro lens here, you will be amazed on how many photo opportunities you'll get, including a nice butterfly garden. This picture https://www.pentaxforums.com/gallery/images/7432/1_ORCHID1.jpg was shot at InbioParque.

While in Monteverde, please grab some time to go to Arenal Volcano. It is not far (about an hour away from Monteverde). You may picture something like this https://www.pentaxforums.com/gallery/images/7432/1_Arenal_Volcano.jpg because this volcano is pretty active with eruptions several times a day, all year around.

I could go on and on forever, but lets have you tell me a bit of what you are interested in.

Here are some valuable links for your visit:

Costa Rica National Parks - MINAE and SINAC
Costa Rica Tourism by ticotourism.com (This is a very helpful site)
Facts on Costa Rica - Page 4
Costa Rica Travel - My Costa Rica Adventure Travel
02-04-2009, 05:13 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by rburgoss Quote
Before I can advice on where and what to look for regarding picture taking, I would like to know what kind of photography you are interested in. I'll take a wild guess and say you are interested in just about everything, from tropical landscapes and wildlife to people's lifestyles and such.

Since you're gonna be around for about four months, that will give you plenty of time to visit just about the whole country. In San JosÚ, you can wander around Central Avenue. Best time is during mornings till noon. There you can see many people and lots of peddlers and street vendors. Drop by "Plaza de la Cultura" (Culture Square) and visit the Precolumbian Gold Museum (no cameras or cell phones allowed in, but there's a good package care thing there). Once out of the Gold Museum, drop by Dima. This is a pro photography oriented store, just a few feet away from the Gold Museum, on the north side of Culture Square. They carry Pentax stuff as well as a good variety of Sigma glass for Pentax and others. If you get to go to Dima, ask for Nils (store owner and a very good friend) and in case you are interested in buying anything, tell him your good friend Roberto Burgos told you to ask for special treatment (PM me for more details on this).

Also in San JosÚ, there is the Morazan Park, just three blocks north from Dima's corner. There are some very interesting architecture structures there and a nice park with a greek style temple.

During weekends, specially on saturdays, you can go to one of many "farmer's market" which is put together in the middle of the street, where local farmers sell their goods. There you can photograph hundreds of very "picturesque" people, along their produce... veggies, fruit, etc. Guadalupe's Farmer's Market is one of the best organized. It goes on Saturday mornings and is not far from downtown San JosÚ. This picture was shot at that specific farmer's market Old Lady .

Make sure you dedicate at least one day to go to Iraz˙ Volcano. It is in the province of Cartago and a bus ride (tour) is about an hour away from downtown San Jose. Iraz˙ volcano is a bit over 10 thousand feed above sea level, and on a very clear day, you can get to see both the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, so don't forget a good wide angle lens and start practicing with some panorama stitching software. Make arrangements to get there as early as possible, since cloud formations may block the distant views.

Another place to go is to InbioParque. This is a biological station and park located in Santo Domingo de Heredia. Also, not far from downtown San Jose INBioparque Don't forget to bring a good macro lens here, you will be amazed on how many photo opportunities you'll get, including a nice butterfly garden. This picture https://www.pentaxforums.com/gallery/images/7432/1_ORCHID1.jpg was shot at InbioParque.

While in Monteverde, please grab some time to go to Arenal Volcano. It is not far (about an hour away from Monteverde). You may picture something like this https://www.pentaxforums.com/gallery/images/7432/1_Arenal_Volcano.jpg because this volcano is pretty active with eruptions several times a day, all year around.

I could go on and on forever, but lets have you tell me a bit of what you are interested in.

Here are some valuable links for your visit:

Costa Rica National Parks - MINAE and SINAC
Costa Rica Tourism by ticotourism.com (This is a very helpful site)
Facts on Costa Rica - Page 4
Costa Rica Travel - My Costa Rica Adventure Travel

WOW awesome! I dont think I can thank you enough for all of the information that you have given me. You pretty much guessed rignt. Im interested in photographing everything from macro to landscape to animals and people. If i do get a chance to go to Dima I will certainly pm you first and let him know that I was referred by you. btw how are the prices there on Pentax gear?
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