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11-19-2015, 04:44 AM   #1
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Planning gear list for France in May 2016

Hi all,

I am heading to France for nearly 3 weeks in May 2016 and am thinking about the packing list.

I have the following:
645z, DA28-45, DFA55, DFA90, FA150, FA80-160, FA300/5.6, will be getting the new DFA35, Sony A6000 with 12mm Zeiss (18mm eq) and 35mm (50mm eq).

I do not wish to carry a backpack during the day, so it will be a ThinkTank sling bag. It can hold the 645z with 28-45 and 80-160.

I will be traveling with a roller bag to carry all the lenses and camera on carry-on, sling bag inside my checkin.

I will be shooting landmarks in the cities, landscapes while traveling across the country, landscape at each destination etc.

I was thinking of taking the 645z with DFA35 and either the DFA90 or FA150 or FA80-160 during the day walks etc, leaving the 28-45 and 300 for planned morning and afternoon shoots after we have done the tourist stuff and the wife is drinking wine! For the driving parts of the trip, having the 80-160 fitted and on the back seat for brief stops.

Can anybody comment on their experience shooting around France (Paris, surrounding areas, Normandy, Bordeaux, Champagne region, Monaco etc and what lenses you used most.

My only concern with carrying the 35mm during the day is that I may require wider for interiors. In this case I could take the A6000 and 12mm or just take the 28-45 and deal with the weight.

Any comments are welcome.

11-19-2015, 05:24 AM   #2
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You brave person. After the events of last Friday, I wouldn't go there without a bullet-proof vest.

You might also want to check out the copyright laws in place with regard to shooting cityscapes and notable buildings around Paris - from what I've heard, you might be unpleasantly surprised in that regard.
11-19-2015, 06:00 AM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
You brave person. After the events of last Friday, I wouldn't go there without a bullet-proof vest.

You might also want to check out the copyright laws in place with regard to shooting cityscapes and notable buildings around Paris - from what I've heard, you might be unpleasantly surprised in that regard.
I live in Paris so I suppose I know what's happening here.

Frankly, you have an enormous amount of gear bordering on too much, but perhaps you have certain objectives to meet. I'd say basic coverage from 12mm to 200mm will allow you to shoot inside and outside, have enough width to capture interiors and land/cityscapes plus the reach to capture anything with 200mm. No use birding in Paris....From to 12mm to 90mm you'll get plenty of shots as the cityscapes can be quite dense with many details.

I'd be cautious about carrying all that gear, not that thieves and robbers abound, but rather Paris is indeed a big city with it's share of unsavory characters (and some much worse...). It would be wise to avoid certain quarters of Paris where these people reside and stick to the main sites and luxurious/noteworthy quarters of which there are many.

In terms of the copyright laws for landscape and building and so on. I seem to recall that the European project to control that was not ratified. At any rate, no one is concerned with it and it does not appear to stop/hinder anyone to photograph almost anything he or she wants. That said, due to the heightened security measures and overall level of nervousness, buildings such as police headquarters, LEOs, embassies and so forth would be a no-no for sure. Street photography generally poses no problem either, requesting permission is probably recommended, unless you're excellent at stealth shooting.

In general, France is a very free country with zillions of tourists who take photos every year. As long as you're not sporting a suspicious beard and wearing a conscipuous djellabah and a cute little skullcap, then gee whiz, I'd shoot away just like I normally do without a care.

Just watch the official gov't buildings and take care of your equipment.

PS - last night's police raid (18 Nov) killed 2 terrorists and arrested 7 suspects in a Parisian suburb. I heard that the police fired over 5000 shots...

P.S - Make sure you go somewhere else in France after Paris. The French countryside and small villages are absolutely outstanding and very photogenic. Equally, the stress level compared with Paris will greatly decrease....

Last edited by Davidparis; 11-19-2015 at 06:08 AM. Reason: typo
11-19-2015, 06:16 AM   #4
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I too am planning a trip there. Mine will be in the spring. I am still trying to decide on equipment myself. I won't hijack your thread with my dilemma but I will say the last time I went (about ten years ago) I took my K100d Super, my da 18-55, and my da 50-200. I used the 18-55 the most (not surprising I expect).

Obviously the 645z has a different crop factor but maybe that helps? My trip was to Paris and Brussles no countryside areas. I did find the 50-200 useful for gargoyle images.

11-19-2015, 06:19 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
You brave person. After the events of last Friday, I wouldn't go there without a bullet-proof vest.

You might also want to check out the copyright laws in place with regard to shooting cityscapes and notable buildings around Paris - from what I've heard, you might be unpleasantly surprised in that regard.
Wow, Fox news and CNN doing their job as normal then. Don't believe all the crap that the media put out. Remember they have ads to sell and bad news gets more viewers.

Exaggeration = $$$$

Your risks of being involved in anything is incredibly low.

Avoiding these places is the reason the terrorists do it, yet Western media, particularly US owned and influenced seem to thrive on playing into their hands.

OP, go , enjoy it. You are more likely to be pickpocketed than shot by a terrorist, so take care of your wallet etc when setting up a shot.
11-19-2015, 06:38 AM   #6
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I think the OP's bravery is in bringing all those lenses! I've just returned from 3 weeks in Ecuador and shot almost exclusively with a 35 and 80-160 with an occasional yearning of something around 200, maybe 300. Given that I found myself needing more width than reach and indeed ended up stitching a few to compensate I'd say bring the 28-45 and 80-160. I also packed a vest so that if the airport tried to stop me carrying the other lenses (that were largely unused except for the 120 macro) then I'd end up wearing them. I didn't have to but that roller bag may get the wrong attention at check in. I brought an F-stop back pack but largely so that I could carry and wear the right clothing etc for the 3 seasons that we would inevitably encounter in the ONE day!
11-19-2015, 06:56 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by itshimitis Quote
Wow, Fox news and CNN doing their job as normal then. Don't believe all the crap that the media put out. Remember they have ads to sell and bad news gets more viewers.

Exaggeration = $$$$

Your risks of being involved in anything is incredibly low.

Avoiding these places is the reason the terrorists do it, yet Western media, particularly US owned and influenced seem to thrive on playing into their hands.

OP, go , enjoy it. You are more likely to be pickpocketed than shot by a terrorist, so take care of your wallet etc when setting up a shot.
Whoops, I forgot the pickpockets...Yep, they are all over the metro and where ever the crowds are. Gotta be on your guard for those fine, upstanding folk as well.

---------- Post added 11-19-2015 at 06:59 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
I too am planning a trip there. Mine will be in the spring. I am still trying to decide on equipment myself. I won't hijack your thread with my dilemma but I will say the last time I went (about ten years ago) I took my K100d Super, my da 18-55, and my da 50-200. I used the 18-55 the most (not surprising I expect).

Obviously the 645z has a different crop factor but maybe that helps? My trip was to Paris and Brussles no countryside areas. I did find the 50-200 useful for gargoyle images.
If you added the DA16-85 to your K-50, you'd be in perfect shape for that trip. Maybe a second lens for some reach...but the 16-85 does one heck of a job in "close to medium quarter" situations. That's my 2 centimes.
11-19-2015, 07:07 AM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Davidparis Quote
Whoops, I forgot the pickpockets...Yep, they are all over the metro and where ever the crowds are. Gotta be on your guard for those fine, upstanding folk as well.

---------- Post added 11-19-2015 at 06:59 AM ----------


If you added the DA16-85 to your K-50, you'd be in perfect shape for that trip. Maybe a second lens for some reach...but the 16-85 does one heck of a job in "close to medium quarter" situations. That's my 2 centimes.
I was thinking the 18-135 which I already own and maybe the fa35 for lower light.

11-19-2015, 07:29 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by 2351HD Quote
Hi all,

I am heading to France for nearly 3 weeks in May 2016 and am thinking about the packing list.

I have the following:
645z, DA28-45, DFA55, DFA90, FA150, FA80-160, FA300/5.6, will be getting the new DFA35, Sony A6000 with 12mm Zeiss (18mm eq) and 35mm (50mm eq).

I do not wish to carry a backpack during the day, so it will be a ThinkTank sling bag. It can hold the 645z with 28-45 and 80-160.

I will be traveling with a roller bag to carry all the lenses and camera on carry-on, sling bag inside my checkin.

I will be shooting landmarks in the cities, landscapes while traveling across the country, landscape at each destination etc.

I was thinking of taking the 645z with DFA35 and either the DFA90 or FA150 or FA80-160 during the day walks etc, leaving the 28-45 and 300 for planned morning and afternoon shoots after we have done the tourist stuff and the wife is drinking wine! For the driving parts of the trip, having the 80-160 fitted and on the back seat for brief stops.

Can anybody comment on their experience shooting around France (Paris, surrounding areas, Normandy, Bordeaux, Champagne region, Monaco etc and what lenses you used most.

My only concern with carrying the 35mm during the day is that I may require wider for interiors. In this case I could take the A6000 and 12mm or just take the 28-45 and deal with the weight.

Any comments are welcome.
Overkill for the gear. If I were to take the 645z, it would be with the 28-45(range and stabilization), 55, 80-160. These days, they are getting a little sticky about carry- on weight. The 6000 would be my walk around but I would get a little more conducive glass for that. What is the purpose of your trip- loading yourself down carrying stuff or enjoying the country? Now, if I were to start from scratch and knew that a lot of my time was going to be in cities and I wanted resolution, I would probably buy a Sony.
11-19-2015, 08:51 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by 2351HD Quote
Hi all,

I am heading to France for nearly 3 weeks in May 2016 and am thinking about the packing list.

I have the following:
645z, DA28-45, DFA55, DFA90, FA150, FA80-160, FA300/5.6, will be getting the new DFA35, Sony A6000 with 12mm Zeiss (18mm eq) and 35mm (50mm eq).

I do not wish to carry a backpack during the day, so it will be a ThinkTank sling bag. It can hold the 645z with 28-45 and 80-160.

I will be traveling with a roller bag to carry all the lenses and camera on carry-on, sling bag inside my checkin.

I will be shooting landmarks in the cities, landscapes while traveling across the country, landscape at each destination etc.

I was thinking of taking the 645z with DFA35 and either the DFA90 or FA150 or FA80-160 during the day walks etc, leaving the 28-45 and 300 for planned morning and afternoon shoots after we have done the tourist stuff and the wife is drinking wine! For the driving parts of the trip, having the 80-160 fitted and on the back seat for brief stops.

Can anybody comment on their experience shooting around France (Paris, surrounding areas, Normandy, Bordeaux, Champagne region, Monaco etc and what lenses you used most.

My only concern with carrying the 35mm during the day is that I may require wider for interiors. In this case I could take the A6000 and 12mm or just take the 28-45 and deal with the weight.

Any comments are welcome.
Being from France, I may bring a couple of comments: your 645z would be most appropriate with low light situations: Paris at night, has most monuments (Louvre, Sacre Coeur, Tour Eiffel, Notre Dame...) illuminated, the best shots in Normandie and Champagne would be during "golden hours". In the south, french riviera, you'll be facing south, the best light is after sunrise. During the day, I might suggest CP or ND filters if shooting outside.
One more thing: watch out in Paris with pick pocket, you may want to use a bag that won't have a label: carrying photographic equipment inside.
11-19-2015, 09:42 AM   #11
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Lucky you- France is a beautiful country, and I strongly agree with everyone that there is so much more to see and do outside of Paris.
My suggestions for places to visit and photograph in France would include:
Provins - Only one hour by local train just outside of Paris (South East). Famous for it's old wall city, brie cheese, flour, and roses. My wife and I where married here (we eloped).
Reims - The champagne houses and the cathedral are very impressive.
Chamonix (and the three valleys) - French Alps at it's finest.
Cassis - On the Mediterranean coast, famous for it's calanques (fjords), just east of Marseilles. Worth a few days (and if you don't mind roughing it, stay at the hostel in the Calangue park, great vista of Cassis and the cliffs that hang over it.).
Toulouse - Take A66 towards the Andorra. Incredible drive, lots of great photo opportunities.


In Paris - I've found the 19th Arrondissement (specially the Cite des Sciences et de I'Industri) to very photogenic. Easy to walk down the canal.
Also, the 18th, Sacre-Coeur, yeah, a little cliched, but worth it.
La Defense is interesting place to see, nice modern architecture.
South of the city is Observatoire de Paris, 18th century science hall, along with lovely gardens.
Versailles, it will be crazy, and nearly too much to take in (weekday if you are going).

On your equipment list I didn't see a tripod listed. Oversight?
11-19-2015, 12:06 PM   #12
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Thanks for the feedback, but let's clear a few things up.

I booked this trip well before the attacks.

When I say I am going to France, that means much more than Paris.

The trip is primarily because I am a Formula 1 fan and we are going to Monaco for 4 days for the F1.

Paris will be 3 days at the end of the trip, nothing more. As I said in the original post, we are visiting many country areas such as the wine regions of the mid and south, plus heading out to the western coastline. After that we go over to the east until we head back to Paris for 3 days to fly out.

As for the gear, I said I was taking a sling bag, hardly large and it only allows a body and 2 lenses. The rest is purely in a roller bag to shoot out of the car when we are traveling or to shoot with if I get up for a sunrise or a night shot, which in reality I will know that I have planned to shoot and will still take just one or two lenses in the sling bag. The roller is just to make the travel easier.

As the original post said, that is my gear list, not what I am taking. So, it's either of the 3 tele lenses, 90, 150 or 80-160. Plus probably both wides, one lightweight for walk around and the heavy one for tripod work, and maybe the 300 for when I am in the country for landscape.

I am taking a tripod yes, but that will stay in the hotel with the roller bag and spare lenses unless it's a planned shoot, ie I see something nice to shoot during the day and go back to night or morning to shoot in the right light.

So with regards to all the concern on weight, I hardly see how 3-4kg of gear (1.5kg camera, 600g to 1.5kg wide lens and 1kg for tele lens) is a concern to carry around in a sling bag. Am I misguided?

---------- Post added 11-20-15 at 05:23 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Hank Quote
Lucky you- France is a beautiful country, and I strongly agree with everyone that there is so much more to see and do outside of Paris.
My suggestions for places to visit and photograph in France would include:
Provins - Only one hour by local train just outside of Paris (South East). Famous for it's old wall city, brie cheese, flour, and roses. My wife and I where married here (we eloped).
Reims - The champagne houses and the cathedral are very impressive.
Chamonix (and the three valleys) - French Alps at it's finest.
Cassis - On the Mediterranean coast, famous for it's calanques (fjords), just east of Marseilles. Worth a few days (and if you don't mind roughing it, stay at the hostel in the Calangue park, great vista of Cassis and the cliffs that hang over it.).
Toulouse - Take A66 towards the Andorra. Incredible drive, lots of great photo opportunities.


In Paris - I've found the 19th Arrondissement (specially the Cite des Sciences et de I'Industri) to very photogenic. Easy to walk down the canal.
Also, the 18th, Sacre-Coeur, yeah, a little cliched, but worth it.
La Defense is interesting place to see, nice modern architecture.
South of the city is Observatoire de Paris, 18th century science hall, along with lovely gardens.
Versailles, it will be crazy, and nearly too much to take in (weekday if you are going).

On your equipment list I didn't see a tripod listed. Oversight?
This is some great advice, many thanks. I will look all of this up and see how it compares to what I have already planned to see.

Last edited by 2351HD; 11-19-2015 at 12:13 PM.
11-19-2015, 12:54 PM - 1 Like   #13
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Thanks should go from all us to you Davidparis. In addition to your feedback regarding photography in France, we appreciate the resilience of your people in light of the most recent events.
11-19-2015, 01:28 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by j0n4hpk Quote
Thanks should go from all us to you Davidparis. In addition to your feedback regarding photography in France, we appreciate the resilience of your people in light of the most recent events.
Thank you very much. That make me feel very good. Watching the news at this precise moment, after today's additional events in Paris, it is indeed an extremely tense and emotional time. Things like lenses and cameras seem so incredibly futile and useless to me right now. Anyway, thank you for your kind comment.
11-19-2015, 02:31 PM   #15
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Paris etc.

QuoteOriginally posted by Davidparis Quote
P.S - Make sure you go somewhere else in France after Paris. The French countryside and small villages are absolutely outstanding and very photogenic. Equally, the stress level compared with Paris will greatly decrease....
I agree wholeheartedly! My wife and I were in Paris/rural France last month and while Paris is a vibrant city full of famous landmarks, we found the French countryside to be a highlight of our trip. The people are friendly and helpful and there are photo opportunities everywhere and yes, the pace of life is far more relaxed. We spent time in the midi-Pyrenees area around Montcuq and Cahors (an hour or so north of Toulouse) and in Provence, at Uzes (north of Nimes).

I'm not a medium format user (yet ) so I had my K20d and Sigma 17-50 2.8 lens with me. One thing I found in the villages (and to a lesser extent in Paris) was that with the narrow streets, on a bright and sunny day, the contrast was a real pain - very dark shadows and bright, sunlit, stone walls in the same shot.

Enjoy your trip!

RHN12
(Peter, Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia)
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