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04-24-2008, 02:14 PM   #1
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Germany Trip questions

As some of you know from my previous posts, I am headed to Germany in less than 4 weeks now. I will be spending 10 days in Hanover and Berlin. I have a few issues to bring up and pick your brains about. I have a K100 super and really only intend on shooting maybe 50 pics per day, at the most. I probably will not leave it on and let it go into standby mode either. Also, I have the kit 18-55 lens then manual focusing: i think its a vivitar 100-300 f22-f5, pentax 24mm f3.5-22, a pentax 50mm f1.7-22, and a 150mm f3.5-32.

onto the questions...

1. My professor says that we should buy whatever types of batteries (non rechargable) we need here and just throw them away instead of risking burning up your expensive recharger / batteries / etc. due to the conversion and unreliable voltage converters at radio shack.

So my question is, will 2 sets of full recharged sets of batteries last me 10 days if I give them a quickie at the Chicago airport before we leave?

2. Tying into number 1, I have never rode on a 747, and not sure what to expect, I seriously doubt this but do they have plug ins or anything where we could charge things on the plane?

3. I am really considering I need to get ahold of a better walkaround lens before I get over there and am changing lenses like a mad man. I am thinking about the sigma 17-70, however I seriously cannot get over spending 400 bucks on a lens and a hobby that I just started during Christmas time. Convince me one way or another!

04-24-2008, 03:00 PM   #2
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Good to hear your're heading to Germany. You've picked up a fine time, it won't be to warm or to cold. I'll try to answer your questions:

1) I don't know if the batteries will last, but it might be worth taking a look at your charging unit. Most chargers, power supllies etc will work from 110V to 240V, so the only thing you'd need is a converter that intersects the different plug types, often a voltage transformation isn't needed.

2) Whether the plane you ride has in-seat power or not can't be answered on a general basis. It depends on the airline etc. Check seatguru.com for details. You will *at least* need an inflight power adapter. These aren't cheap (I would guess ~$100), so you'd better not spend the money unless you use them often.

3) The Sigma was my first lens I bought after the K100 and I didn't like it despite the good reviews. Sigma lenses often have a certain risk of decentering or other quality issues. If you do need a kit replacement depends on your shooting habbits. During daytime I do think that the kit lens can be stopped down and might be sharp enough, esp. on a 6MP cam. I you're good at manual focus, the excellent 50mm f1.7 might be a good alternative for lowlight shots. I (for myself) don't see the need for 100mm+ lenses if you're staying in the cities of Hannover and Berlin.

Feel free to ask specific questions about Germany or the cities here or via PM. I guess you're flying via Frankfurt. Do you just change planes or are you going to stay in Frankfurt for some hours?

Anyhow, enjoy your trip!
04-24-2008, 04:14 PM   #3
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Original Poster
yes we fly from st. louis into chicago, then to frankfurt then to hannover. then we take a train to berlin later during the trip then i think we fly directly from berlin to st. louis.

concerning the 100-300, i plan on bringing this, just because. i plan on bringing the kit lens regardless. do you recommend any alternative to the sigma for a walk-around that is in the same price range or lower.
04-24-2008, 07:12 PM   #4
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I find it a lot more convenient when travelling with the K100D to buy a set of Eveready Lithium AA's and not bother with rechargeables. I easily get 600+ shots per set.

If that set gets used up, you just buy another set at your destination - they are easily available in shops.

You have a good mix of lenses, but it may be more convenient to get a zoom lens with a range say 18-200 mm - saves changing lenses. Both Tamron and Sigma have an offering.

The Tamron 17-70 is also a decent lens - and the f/2.8 also gives it decent low-light performance.

Definitely bring your 50 mm f/1.7. Most museums and historical buildings do not allow flash use inside, so the f/1.7 comes in really handy. Germany is a marvellous place to shoot historical buildings - both the exterior architecture and indoors.

Have a great trip.

04-24-2008, 07:22 PM   #5
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My guess is that the kit lens is going to get a serious workout. I went to Germany in February without my kit lens. I wanted to pack light so I brought my A50/1.7, A35-70, and A70-210. I did 60% of my shooting with the 35-70, 30% with the 70-210, and 10% with the 50. I really wish I had something wider to shoot the architecture, both indoors and out. The churches there are beautiful. When we go back, I'm going to shhot as many churches as possible.

As for the batteries, 3 sets of Eneloops might do the trick. You can back those up with some lithium AA's as was suggested above. Enjoy the trip (and the food!). Germany is a beautiful country...
04-25-2008, 06:21 AM   #6
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AC adapters and voltage converters

FYI - while in Spain, I fried my AC adapter for the rechargable AA battery unit even with a power converter. Actually, I initially feared I started a small fire within the apartment, but it was just the smoldering power pack and converter. Luckily, I still had a car charger for the AA batteries.

So .. be careful when using the adapter and AC power cable. Have a splendid trip!!!!
04-25-2008, 08:07 AM   #7
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If you need some ideas, check out Phil Zucker's photos, i believe he's a German ... posts regularly on DPReview (i wish more of those guys would post here instead :P )
http://www.pbase.com/phsan

his panos are so good, you might consider not needing to take pictures
04-25-2008, 10:35 AM   #8
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As touched on earlier, the Sanyo Eneloops will give you aprox 400-500 shots easily. The kits with 8 aa, and 4 aaa, are avialable online and supposedly at Costco. No need to bring the charger as these hold their charge. If you run them out ,just bring or buy a set of lithium's, like Maxwell stated. If you can get away,hit as many small towns as you can,and enjoy the fine beer and food. Just ask around a little, or look for a Fest that's going on.

04-25-2008, 10:58 AM   #9
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As with other threads on traveling - here are my thoughts:

Carry the minimum - map out the mm range and leave slow lenses behind. It would be nice to have the ability to have a continuous range from at least 18mm to 200mm maybe 300mm. Although I find it nearly worthless to shoot above 70mm inside buildings and on the street - but that is just me.

Carry Li-Ion batteries for you camera. One fresh set in the camera when you leave - buy another set when you get to your location. At only 50 frames per day, you might not ever need the second set. Forget the charger for batteries for your camera, take the charger for your photo disk (I have a Wolverine flashpac 7000 40GB), mp3 player etc. On my last trip - a three day trip downtown, I left the laptop at home - I left it at home on my one month trip in 06 too. Laptops on international/domestic flights are a pain.

Carry lenses, camera bodies, photo disk, medication etc. on with you. Do not put anything in checked luggage that will cause you real pain if it "goes away".

Drink plenty of water on the plane - get a face mask, ear plugs and sleep during the flight - no booze (unless they give it away - but go easy).

Get up early and pay attention to the evening (for the light). Take a lot of pictures (50 a day is not that many images from my perspective). Wait until you get back to delete anything - it is a vacation, not a photo editing exercise.

The Elitist - formerly known as PDL
04-25-2008, 11:42 AM   #10
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One more thing......if you're flying Singapore Airlines, you might shoot 50 pics on the plane! They have the best looking flight attendants in the industry. No doubt about that!
04-25-2008, 05:45 PM   #11
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Batteries: Eneloops. Or buy the equivalent Sony CycleEnergy which are easy to find in German shops.

Hannover: Considered boring by most Germans but some disagree. Try to visit Göttingen rather than Hannover which is 30min by train from Hannover.

Berlin: Discover it, esp. at night. Berlin never sleeps. Ride on night busses.

Go 100km out of Berlin into the smallest villages you can find on the map. There you can still smell cold war and it is quite another world.

You are going to miss the beautiful villages found in hill regions in the south and west of Germany, though.
04-25-2008, 09:00 PM   #12
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You will love Berlin... It's a little different from most other European cities. Hard to explain. In some ways it's quite forwards, and in others it's still behind. It just depends on what part of the city you are in. It does add a bit of allure to it though. As well, it's very easy to get around: taxi, bus, s-bahn, u-bahn, tram, walking.

One tip, if you don't speak German, you may want to brush-up on some of the basic tourist phrases for your Berlin-portion of the trip. The locals are not as bilingual in German and English as in most other large German cities. I was a little surprised by this when I was there in May 2004. I was told it was related to the former Berlin Wall. Anyway...

If you think you need a charger for your eneloops, Sanyo makes and eneloop branded charger that has worldwide voltage capabilities. The only problem is, you can only charge two batteries at once...but you could charge two during the day and two over night. If you look at sanyo's eneloop webpage, it should be listed there.

Have a great trip! (wish I could go with you!)
04-25-2008, 09:42 PM   #13
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just to add my 2 cents or so

was in germany last year, and i travel almost monthly for my job....

1-the airline adapters for in flight power? not worth it. I bought a targus inverter/adapter...never used it, for 2 reasons. One, its big. Two, i'd much rather sit, read a magazine or enjoy a movie/music. Then again, I was flying Lufthansa BusinessClass or whatever they call that all-business class jet...and on those, they supply personal video players. In the end, after numerous trips, I just don't think its worth it. If my firm hadn't paid for the thing, I would have never gotten it.....

2-re: country adapters...i got a targus set for most countries, i think 20 bucks from newegg. had no issues in germany whatsoever. however, if this is a once in a lifetime trip, or not super common, id see if a friend has one to borrow, or just stick with the AA batteries. you can probably get 2 sets of lithiums for the price of the adapters, and i'd bet 2 sets of lithiums is ample

3-you could be sneaky and buy the 18-250 from amazon, try and buy or try and return. i think you have 45 days. i bought one, tried in brazil and just wasn't sold on it, so it went back. its a bit over 400, but if you want one size covering most everything, it fits the bill.
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