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Help defining travel gear

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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

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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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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

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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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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

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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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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!



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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.

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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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I was/am a prime shooter as well, however...


I seem to be spending a lot of time in Iceland. On those trips I have a small Ona bag with a x100f and a few filters for around town...in my ThinkTank backpack I have an xPro2, with the 10-24 lens, the XT2 with the 50-150 and a 2x convertor...a set of Lee seven5 filters, a tripod and a Syrp time lapse, panorama thingy...Also the 35f2, for the Syrp...


I have a trip to the North Pole coming up and I'll add the 100-400 on another XT2 body...


A convenient day set up is an XT2 with the 18-135 lens...


This is what currently works for me. It's a light set, easy to carry and produces nice images.


I have a rider on my Home Owners insurance to cover all the gear if it's stolen...


But, let's talk about safety...If you think an area is dangerous, don't go there...also, situation awareness. Look around you. Follow your common sense...As a street photographer, you are probably already scanning for images...scan for things that stand out as well...things that are out of place...


When I took my Concealed and Carry class we were required to go into a Big Box store, that starts with a W, and pay attention . The idea was to avoid a hazardous situation...Know the exits...notice the guy with the long coat in the summer and clear out of the aisle he is in, etc...It was a very valuable exercise in situational awareness and might be a useful way to spend an hour or so...

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If you are on a once in a lifetime trip, carry 2 bodies if you have them. While in Turkey, I dropped my X100, ended up shooting half the trip with a little Olympus point and shoot I had as a backup.  I am going to Italy soon - with an XT2 and an XE2.  A pro doesn't shoot a wedding with only one camera for the same reason.

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I've been giving this topic a lot of thought lately as I have two unique (for me) trips planned for 2017, one short and one long. Both trips are essentially family trips, so it can't be all about daddy (me) shooting pictures all the time... I hope you don't mind if I share my thoughts about my own trips: maybe it'll help you to hear how other people think about these things.


I have a mix of primes and zooms and, like you, on a trip I want to maximize quality while carrying as little as possible. While I love shooting with primes, zooms tend to be what I build a trip around. Again, with kids in tow, I don't have as much leeway to "zoom with my feet."


I already completed the first trip for this year, nine days in Nicaragua. Great trip. For this it was one body, the XT2, and the 18-135, 23f/2 and 14f/2.8. The zoom was on the camera a lot, but I also used the 23, often wide-open, especially when shooting pictures of my family or wanting to look a little less consipicuous while on the streets (Nicaragua, however, felt very safe to me). The zoom was great because we were often on trails or in boats, with very little room to move. The 14 was used the least, but still worth carrying...I really appreciated going wide with it from time to time. While the zoom isn't as crispy as the primes, it was plenty sharp enough and there were many shots I got that I simply couldn't have gotten with a prime. It was well worth the carry. I will say, however, it was my third copy of the 18-135. I was not happy with the first two I tried. YMMV, but that is a lens that, in my experience, needs careful vetting before purchase.


The next trip I'm thinking a lot about for later this year is much grander: 7 weeks in Peru and Ecuador, including the Galapagos. This is more complicated, given the time and the varied stuff we'll be experiencing. Some of it will be about meeting people and the cultures (we're building a soccer field for a village in the Andes), some for learning (a couple weeks in Cusco learning Spanish with the family and visiting the sites, including, of course, Machu Pichu), and some opportunities to visit some beautiful places where landscape photography will all but demand some attention (Amazon rain forest and the Galapagos, to name a couple). Obviously, I'm very excited about this trip... But, wow, it's complicated to think about what to bring in terms of photo gear. I really want to keep it light and simple for such a long time, and deciding what to carry is difficult. I'm looking at these two options, and leaning strongly towards option A:


Option A, heavier, but with more reach:

XT2 and XPro 2



100-400 (and 1.4 teleconverter)

35 f/2 (or maybe the f/1.4) for portraits


Option B, lighter, less reach, less WR:

14 f/2.8

18-55 f/2.8-4


35 f/2 (it would be my only WR option in this case)


I'm pretty much decided on 4 lenses and two bodies either way. I can of course mix and match the above. I figure my XT2 will mostly host the mid-range zoom (18-135 or 18-55) and the XPro2 will mostly have the 35...then I'll swap in the longer and/or wider lenses as needed from time to time.


It really comes down to how much I want to carry that 100-400 for seven weeks of occasional use. I worry it'll be in my bag for weeks at a time, putting kinks in my back: but when I'll want it (the Galapagos and Amazon especially) I'll really be glad I had it. I think. All the other lens choices kind of come from that one decision in my mind.


I own other lenses, but I think 4 lenses, two bodies is the best compromise for me.


As to carrying it all and security, I've been looking at bags. For the amount of carrying I'll be doing, I decided on a backpack (I used a shoulder bag in Nicaragua, but will be doing a lot more all-day walking on the next trip). I looked at F-Stop, but decided on Peak Design's Everyday Backpack 30L. I also looked at PacSafe's Venture Safe X40 Plus with camera insert, for whole-hog security...similar to F-Stop's approach, but with a lot more security features. But, in the end, I really like the feel of the Everyday Backpack, and especially the ease of access to the gear... it's easier than most packs, and I'll be able to carry everything I need with it. It also seems to be secure enough for my needs.


Hope my rambling helps your thinking, even if only a little. It's fun stuff to think about.



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This thread got me to thinking and handling my various XF lenses as I soon embark on a 5 week trip and my one requirement is that all my gear must fit into my Airport Essentials Think Tank backpack. Once on location I will either just carry 2 cameras or use a small bag for batteries, filters and an extra lens or two.


First, I always shoot 2 identical cameras. I use the XT2. I try to set them up the same so that switching between them is no big deal.


Now to the Big question which--lenses.


For street I set both cameras (95% of the time ) to Acros and shoot with small primes, like the 23/2, 35/2 and 50/2. I carry on occassion the Zeiss Trouit 12/2.8 just in case and in a pocket if I have a pocket available. That is for daylight. For low light I tend to shoot with the 16/1.4 and the 56/1.2 as I have 2 camera bodies and at times I have been known to use these 2 lenses in daylight or mixed direct and shaded environments.


Now to the hard part. The XF red label zooms are very good, but good glass is more often than not heavy. For street they are just too much for me even though they offer flexibility and pretty good f stops at f 2.8. I do not own the 18-135, but on paper it looks like a good one lens setup and weights just one pound. We all have different needs for our images especially when showing, printing, etc. I tend to go for the best glass which satisfies my minimal weight needs. I also do not like a zoom flopping around as mine tend to do more often than not and thus why I go for primes whenever I can while walking around.


For landscape the choice can be difficult if combined with a street shooting environment while traveling. I would take all 6 lenses I own and mentioned above plus perhaps the 55-140 and either the 1.4x and/or the 2x just in case a long reach might be needed and this is most often unforeseen especially while traveling to a new venue.


Just my 2 cents.

Edited by algrove

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I have an Xpro2 and 3 lenses. The 16-55 zoom, the 18 f2, and the 55-200 zoom. The 18 when I going ultra light, the 16-55 80% of the time and the 55-200 if I need to have a tele.

If I need anything more elaborate I've still got Nikon gear. The advice to try a Flickr is worth pursuing.

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X100(S/T/F). Spare battery. 


Here endeth the lesson.  


I often carry a spare SD card along with the extra battery, in case of a card error.

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