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Help defining travel gear

travel gear

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#1 corama



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Posted 26 November 2016 - 03:06 PM

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Warning, long post…


This is my background:

When I travel, I always struggle selecting the gear I’ll use on the trip. I try to keep it as simple/light possible to enjoy the trip (normally walk 6-10 hours a day) while being flexible enough to avoid missing shoots because of gear limitation. Also, I have a concern on safety in dangerous places or pickpockets, so I try to be as low key as possible too.


Besides traveling, I do a lot of street photography but also wedding and social events (not as first income) so most of my gear is more an expense than investment.


I’m very critical with gear results/quality, so I tend to avoid cheaper lens/bodies/accessories and high ISOs so tend to pick faster lenses. Unfortunately, my budget is not unlimited so I have to pick gear wisely.


I’m mostly prime shooter and have 14, 23 F1.4, 35 f2 and 56. XT2, XT1 and X100s cameras


I have 2 type of travel that I have this problem:


Local Travel, Small Towns/Villages, Hiking.

I try to travel very light and shoot documentary, portraits, with some landscape. With X100s I miss a lot of wide shots, specially on interiors, close-ups (do not like the lack of sharpness at f2-f4 of x100s here) and tele shots. With the XTs I have to carry at least 3 lenses to cover what I normally shot and end up changing lenses a lot. Should I go with a zoom instead?


Guided Tours or Photo Expeditions to tourist or exotic locations

Big/long trips that you go once in your lifetime where photo opportunities are too varied within the trip and between trips, like the north/south pole, Africa, jungles or rainforests or cultural like Europe or Asia. Here I shot everything (photo or video) I face and struggle the most to plan if I need a telephoto or a wide angle or zooms or WR lenses or tripod or monopod…. I only went to Europe with XT and 14,23,35 and while weight was not an issue I changed lenses too much and was not enjoyable. For places where wildlife is the main attraction I’m doomed with my longest lens being the 56.


I plan to travel more, so I want to hear your recommendations not only on lenses, but also on bodies, accessories, filters, bags etc. as I may change (sell) or add gear based on your recommendations.


I greatly appreciate your help in advance


Happy Holidays

#2 glospete



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Posted 26 November 2016 - 05:41 PM

An intertesting subject. But with 2 XT bodies and your existing lenses why do you "end up changing lenses a lot". I have an X-T1 and an X-E2 and I keep my 10-24mm on the X-E2 and an 18-55mm on the X-T1. Then with a 55-200mm in my bag I'm generally catered for - I don't use the 55-200mm very often so for most of my shots I don't need to change lenses which I don't like to do too much whilst travelling (for reasons of dust etc). I cannot fault the 10-24mm and 18-55mm lenses and they are way sharper than my previous Canon 7D system. I can fit the 2 bodies with fitted lenses, plus the 55-200mm and another 35mm f1.4 into a Domke Next Generation Herald bag. It also takes a 12" Macbook or iPad. 

​Hope this helps! 

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#3 corama



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Posted 26 November 2016 - 08:13 PM

thanks @glospete !


I forgot to mention that I only travel with 1 XT.


I do use both XT on weddings only, I have not figure it out how to shot with 2 bodies on travels without drawing too much attention to me for safety reasons, maybe without fundaments, just fear, as some friends have been victims of armed robbery or pickpockets while traveling.

Edited by corama, 26 November 2016 - 08:13 PM.

#4 Naddan28


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Posted 26 November 2016 - 09:40 PM

I'm lucky enough to own two lens kits a prime setup (14, 35 & 56) and zoom setup (16-55 & 50-140). My personal experiences when travelling are essentially as follows...

When travelling with my wife and being touristy the 16-55mm is perfect. Yes it's a bit heavy, but the IQ is great and the range means I don't need to take any other lenses or worry about changing lenses. It's WR sealed too which is a bonus. I used this virtually exclusively (little bit of 50-140mm but we'll get to that) on a trip to San Fran and Yosemite and another trip to Amsterdam. The 50-140mm, whilst it's a great lens i find it a bit heavy and normally lives in a hotel safe and is used for specific locations, often for shooting Panos.

When I've got more time and have time to shoot on my own, the light prime set up in a Billingham bag works great. I used this set up in Rome and recently in Morocco and didn't miss the zooms to much, apart from when taking a tour in Marrakesh which meant I was limited on lens change opportunities and therefore lost some shots.

The one lens I'm tempted to get, which would really add to a travel kit i think is the 90mm f2. I've used it a bit and really enjoyed it and as a stand in for the 50-140mm would be great for travel. I think a 16-55mm & 90mm would be a super versatile travel kit for everything apart from treks. For treks, you'd want to throw in the 50-140mm instead in my opinion, and maybe the 100-400mm if it's wildlife images you're after.
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Gear: X100S, XT1, 14mm, 35mm, 56mm, 15-55mm & 50-140mm<p>Flickr:

#5 johant


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Posted 27 November 2016 - 10:43 PM

On our latest city trips, I just took a 27mm and 18mm with me.
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#6 Tom H.

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Posted 30 November 2016 - 07:54 PM

I travel a lot too, I'm usually happy with just one lens and one backup. Usually 35/2 on the cam and the 16 in the bag.

In your case, I'd just pickup the 16-55 and a fast prime for evenings and indoor.
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#7 asathor


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Posted 09 December 2016 - 05:36 AM

Use one zoom - 18-135 is bullet proof for travel with its WR and superior stabilization - you always get a good shot. The "kit: 18-55 is good enough and fast enough at 18mm to be your wide angle lens.


Add one or 2 primes and force yourself to walk around like we did in the old days. Remember that all the "1" series cameras with a zoom framed correctly are just as good as the "2" with the wrong prime that requires too much cropping. You can buy a "1" very cheaply now that the megapixel race has hit Fijifilm as well.

Edited by asathor, 09 December 2016 - 05:37 AM.

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#8 Jonathan Cole

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 08:58 PM

I restrict myself to my x100t and the two converters. Light weight and gives you enough latitude to cover most situations, granted there will be situations where a longer reach would be useful, but unless you're on safari should be minimal.

#9 MirrorMirror


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Posted 26 December 2016 - 10:46 PM

I have a XT10, with the 18mm, 35mm, and 18-55mm. But when I'm travelling for a holiday I just take my X100T, and sometimes just my Canon G9X, and for video I use my phone.

#10 Therapeuo63



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Posted 03 January 2017 - 12:41 AM

Unless you really need the fast f-stops the 18-55 will cover most of the waterfront.  

#11 Tikcus


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Posted 03 January 2017 - 02:10 AM

Warning Long reply


Depending on the location depends on the kit, I'm going to present a couple of situation one of which where money is no problem, or you own every lens, the others actual situations that I have experienced/witnessed.


City Trip - e.g. New York (cityscapes, street etc)


16mm F/1.4 & 56 F/1.2, if one body, one lens on the camera, one in a pocket


16mm for your cityscapes and street, 56mm if you want to do some portrait shots without being on top of the people - You want something that is fast for low light photography for the night


I've actually done New York with the 18mm F/2 and 35mm F/1.4, The 18mm was used through the day, and the 35mm on the night with very little lens changes throughout the day, I'd probably use the same kit again if I went back.


Zoom alternatives 16-55 F/2.8 as a single lens solution, during the day losing 2 stops of light wont be an issue (mostly shooting the city at F/8), at the night, you may miss those 2 stops of light

Mix XF18-55 or XC16-50 for walking around during the day, and a faster lens for the night e.g. 35 F/1.4 or 56 F/1.2




Safari - (assume 2 bodies)


Body 1 - XF100-400 (with or W/O TC)

Body 2 - XF18-135


100-400 for photographing the wildlife (from a safe distance, don't fancy trying to take a headshot of a lion or leopard with a prime lens)

18-135 as a backup to capture any landscape or other photographs


You can swap the 18-135 for any other lens but you will have gaps in focal lengths which may or may not cause you problems, if it is just for occasional landscapes etc, a small prime lens should do fine


Cheaper alternatives - XF55-200, or XC 50-230, you may miss the reach (look on flickr at the focal lengths people on safari use) if you're at a zoo either of those would probably do fine, the XC lens can be purchased cheaply 2nd hand but is under rated.


If you can't/don't want to invest in the XF100-400 but want more reach (are prepared to sacrifice quality for price, loads of super zoom bridge cameras can be purchased cheaply most only have 1/2.3" sensors but a few have 1")



Something else?


Do research, search flickr or other sites to see what people have used.


If I'm going out with no real objective I take 1 body with XF35 F/1.4 lens and maybe the XF18 F/2 in a pocket/bag.


I find the approx. 50mm length useful for nearly everything (bar wildlife/birds) I zoom with my feet, if I can't get wide enough i'll put the 18mm on.




Apart from wildlife photos most other photographs can be captured with most prime lenses or the zooms (that start at 16mm or 18mm)

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#12 David Thompson

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 09:16 AM

Good morning,


Africa Safari requires long lens - my present set up is Fuji X Pro 2 with 100 - 400 lens and then 2 times converter when taking small birds


then a 27mm lens for the XPro2

Panasonic DMC LX5 for landscapes etc.

Very careful about changing lens in the great dusty outdoors


However if I want to carry a second interchangeable lens camera will take the X E2s with the 18 to 55 zoom then no lens changes are needed


Went for a couple of years with the X S1 which was a great solution

My route from XS1 to the ZOOM 100 to 400 passed through the XC 50 to 230 which I did not regret


Will be off to the Pearl of Africa in a month or so to get away from the English Winter

Bird watching is amazing at Entebbe


Hope you find your optimum solution


Taking the photo and having the experience is for me more important than the photo!



#13 jlmphotos


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Posted 10 January 2017 - 06:40 PM

First of all I must ask where the h*ll are you traveling to that you are so concerned?  Wow.  Me?  I carry a very nondescript bag, with two bodies X-T2 and the "1" plus depending on what I intend to photography the 12mm, 16mm 1.4 and the 18--55.  If I do have both bodies primed with lenses, I always leave one in the bag.  I don't do street, so in my case there is NOTHING i need to photograph that can't wait until I pull the camera from the bag.


In my home state I'm licensed to carry a concealed weapon so I don't really worry about when walking around.   But elsewhere-- and I shoot everywhere from the Eastern Canadian border down to Little Haiti (seedy & shady area-- no insult intended, it just is, but it's WONDERFUL ) in Miami, and San Juan + other areas of PR, for some reason I just don't sweat that.

Jorge L. Moro   | X-T1 |  X-T2 | 18-55 |  Zeiss 12/2.8  |  Fuji 16 1.4  |   Fuji 23 1.4 | Fuji 35 1.4 | Fuji 55-200  |

For Special Projects: Nikon D800e and a Nikon 50 1.8G lens (Sold)

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#14 Nick05


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Posted 11 January 2017 - 03:39 AM

I can understand the worry about robbers or pickpockets, but you have to not let that bother you too much. It would be an unfortunate event should something happen, but it can be replaced. It is always difficult deciding what gear to bring, especially when it is that once in a lifetime place. I tend to overpack the gear and underpack the clothes . I tend to usually pack two bodies, sometimes three. I was researching this topic myself and came across a post where someone stated "what happens if your body dies when you're in the middle of that once in a lifetime vacation?" which made me think that would be awful. I also love primes, but they can be a problem if you don't know what focal length you will be shooting at. As someone else mentioned, the 18-135mm is a pretty decent option. I'd compare the IQ from it close to the Canon 24-105mm L I had with my previously. It is not as sharp as the primes, but I consider it more than acceptable. It is also no where near as fast, but this lens covers a big focal range. I normally bring this lens a long with a couple others. Below are some examples of what I bring.

Smoky Mountains - hiking, nature, wildlife
2 bodies, 10-24mm, 18-135mm, 100-400mm, 90mm or 60mm with extension tubes, 1.4x teleconverter, 23mm

New York City
2 bodies (usually leaving one in room, but as a backup), 10-24mm, 23mm, 35mm

Western Caribbean Cruise, went to Cozumel, Costa Maya, Roatán, Harvest Caye
2 bodies, 10-24mm, 18-135mm 23mm, 35mm

Theme parks, I live in the capital of theme parks
1 body, 18-135mm. Sometimes I take a prime instead.
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