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Thailand travel, which lenses to take

Guzzi Jim

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Hi fellow Fuji users.

Have any of you been to Thailand? I'm going late October and trying to decide on what camera and lenses to take.

I have an X-pro2 and X100T, my lens choice is

18mm f2

23mm f2

27mm pancake f2.8

35mm f2

35mm f1.4

56mm f1.2

18-55 zoom

WLC for X100


I also love using old nice glass

takumar 55 f1.7

Ziess 135mm f3.5

Nikkor 105mm f2.5


Having never been to Thailand before I dont know the light and a bit concerned about too much light for wide apature's. Part of me says take the X100T with a polarising filter and be done with it. Less to worry about, get stolen/lost. The wildlife looks great though so a longer reach would be good

Please help.


Many thanks



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Thanks Milandro, some good tips there. A lot of WR recommendations so that goes into the melting pot. I really get the point of hot and sweaty should influence the choice, I live in Scotland so that concept is totally alien to me.... My X100 ticks most boxes apart from reach, not as sharp as the x-pro2 with the 23 f2 WR but plenty good enough, the inbuild 3 stop ND filter may be handy??

I would like the 16mm but Ive got a holiday to pay for, my 18 aint too bad at f8 or so.

Has anyone had to deal with the light levels, ND filter? What reduction level?


Many thanks

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I live in Thailand, and don't have a water-resistant body, and my X-E2 and C-M1 have survived use thoughout several monsoons by using simple rain protection. (and my next body will probably be WR). A good, waterproof over the shoulder bag is useful, and don't carry too much stuff because of the heat and to make it easier using very crowded public transport. You are goung at the end of the monsoon season, so rain will not be too common anyway.


Theft is not a huge risk, but theft of camera bags by motorcycle theives does happen in tourist and business areas, hence the over-shoulder bag worn diagonally.


There's a lot to photograph here, but with the exception of in the national parks, most of it is close range (tuk tuks, busy markets, people, monkeys, families on motocycles, more people, temples.... and everything is on the move, so I wouldn't bother with the old non-autofocus, long lenses.


Backgrounds to shots will be messy (untidy buildings, street signs, endless tangles of overhead wires), so a wide aperture to blur backgrounds will be handy.


My most used lens is my 20mm f2.8, long enough to capture what I want without being too 'in your face' and just wide enough aperture for some subject isolation. I use the 35 f1.4 and 60 f2,4 when I want a bit more isolation or a longer lens, and the 1.4 for night shots.


- Most things happen at night in Bangkok.


It's the tropics, so light is overhead and harsh, and the 'golden hour' last 15 minutes. But there's lots of shade, and the locals never sit in tbe sun, so don't worry about excess light.


Have fun, smile a lot, never get angry with people, carry a copy of your passport and don't rent a motorcycle!

Edited by frankinfuji
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All I can do is give you what I would bring if I were in your position because I have never been to Thailand myself. I prefer to use primes. When I travel, my bag starts with 2 primes, then I'll add a zoom. I would probably bring the 23mm, one of the 35mm lenses (I prefer the f/1.4, but both are good), and the 18-55mm. The X100T is a great camera, but with my personal shooting style I generally don't subscribe to the "bring the X100 instead of the 23mm" line of thinking. 23mm is probably my most used focal length and I would rather bring both the lens and the X100T. If I want to be less conspicuous, use the X100T when necessary. But I would never want to be caught without that focal length on my interchangeable lens camera. I think the 23 and 35mm focal lengths nicely cover the range of subjects that you can expect, based on what friends and relatives who have been to Thailand have shown me.

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Not sure what you are interested in photographing in Thailand. Some of the temples will require an ultra wide angle lens to shoot inside

I suggest the Xpro2 with the 18-55 plus a long lens if you want to travel light

I normally bring more lenses when i travel anywhere - from 10-22, 18-55 (or 18-135mm) and 50-140mm

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I'd go for two small, fast-focussing lenses - the 23mm f2 and the new 50mm f2. The weather resistance is great too, if you want to capture a tropical downpour.There's not much you can't capture with those two lenses - unless you're in lots of very tight spaces, when you might also want the little 18mm f2. Even with all 3 lenses you'd hardly notice you're carrying them.



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Thank you for all the great advice, much appreciated.


We are going for 2 weeks, one on Koh Chang and one in Chaing Mai, so a fairly wide subject choice. I would expect Koh Chang to be mostly scenic/beach and exploration type shots and Chaing Mai, street, temples etc with a bid of wildlife sanctuary thrown in.


I have the smaller Billingham Hadley and thats my limit of gear so the suggestions of 2-3 lenses is bang on, I might take the little EF-X20 flash.


The old glass is now not on the list, quite right frankinfuji so all will be fuji glass. My fav at the minute is the   23, 35 f2 or f1.4 and 18-55. 


Warwick, do you have the 50mm f2, i have the 56 f1.2 and love it. But dont want to take it to Thailand, its precious.

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I've had the 50mm f2 for about a week. I used to have the 56mm f1.2 but I hardly ever used it because it was so bulky. I couldn't just casually slip it on my camera and carry it around 'just in case'. And it felt conspicuous when I was trying to take pictures of my family in daily life. Then I read a couple of posts on Kevin Mullins's blog about how he's using the 50 in conjunction with the 23mm f2 as a 2-lens documentary photography kit, and I bought the lens. I'm really impressed with it - it's got me using longer focal lengths again. Before that I was shooting mainly with the 23mm and the 18mm



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Thanks Warwick. I've been following Kevin for a while now, he's a great inspiration to me and have adopted some of his techniques. My claim to fame is that Kevin passed on some lovely comments about a slideshow I uploaded doing a storybook candid wedding as a second shooter, mainly black and white with plenty detail shots of the beautiful Culross Abbey in Fife. The X100T proved it's worth along with the 56mm on my X-pro2.


I'm gonna have to look at the 50mm now..... I'm also looking at a 50-230mm as a cheap, light longer zoom for the wildlife bit in Thailand, should be fast enough for Thai light....I think. I've read some good posts on it, especially from milandro :-)

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  • 1 month later...

 I went and bought the 50mm f2 and the 50-230mm so my choice is now easier. 23 f2, 35 f2, 50 f2 and the 50-230 for getting out into the wildlife parks. The 35f2 may stay at home tho btu I need to spend more time with it comparing it to the 35 1.4 which might take it's place. I would like to take the 18 f2 but where do I draw the line? Decisions, decisions......

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  • 3 weeks later...

I would take the 18 f2 or buy the cheap Samyang 12 f2 (you'll need wide mainly for interiors and temples) and 35 f2 or 50 f2. The X100T is always a very handy small camera that covers 23mm, acts as a backup camera just in case and don't have to switch lenses all the time. That tele 50-230 could be useful sometimes.

I've been in Thailand 7 years ago on honeymoon for about 2 weeks late October and got some rain showers but not much to worry about - 1 week in Bangkok, North (Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Sae) and other week on South. By then I was a Canon user and took 3 zooms - Wide, normal and tele and a small pocketable Panasonic LX-3 just for some videos.

Nowadays with my Fuji gear I would take the X-Pro 2, 16 f1.4, 35 f2 and a X100F. Probably I'd buy a tele like yours, is useful for some wildlife and some shots of people praying that you don't want to disturb keeping a comfortable distance. Have a nice trip, it's a great country to visit with very nice people.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for all your input, your time is appreciated!!


I leave soon for Thailand and have decided on the following kit. As I enjoy using primes more the only Zoom I will take is the 50-230 because I cant zoom there with my feet.


My bag:-

Billingham Hadley Pro

X-Pro 2

18mm f2 for tight spots, temples etc and waterfalls with my ND1000

23mm f2 general walk around (my favourite FL)

35 f2 or maybe f1.4 for low light. This will also feed into my decision of which one to sell. I dont use them very often so one must go.

50mm f2 Just bought it but like 'getting in' that wee bit more, I intend using this lens a lot

50-230mm zoom for wildlife parks and other occasions I want to take candid moments without intrusion

Pixi tripod

Nissin i40 for fill essentially. I have had the firmware upgrade for HSS TTL


I'll feed back my findings




Again, thanks for your help

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  • 2 months later...

Here's some feedback on my trip, late I know but hopefully might help someone :-)


The X-pro2 performed without fault, with fairly high humidity and around 28-30 deg C. I did have to change lenses quite a bit but still no issues.


The 18mm f2 was soo needed for the Grand Palace in Bangkok and for some temple internals, the 23 just didnt cut it, too narrow for these situations. The 16mm would be even better but I don't own one.....yet


The 23mm f2 was my most used length looking at the metadata in lightroom, I had 35mm 'days' but often had to step too far back to get it all in for the busier places, however I did get some nice candid portraits of street vendors etc with this lens. I should have taken the 35 1.4 instead tho, I found when I wanted to use the 35 a bit nicer bokeh would have helped.


A fairly big surprise to me was the 50mmf2, I hardly wanted to use it, and when I did I was disappointed at the lack of subject separation with the busy backgrounds pretty much anywhere. One benefit is that I now know there probably isnt a place in my collection for this lens.


On Koh Chang island and in Chiang Mai the 50-230 was used quite a bit with some lovely images. The weekend we landed in Chiang Mai was the annual festival for the end on the rainy season, long distance candid or even posed shots were great, hundreds of people in national dress from various regions of northern Thailand.... spectacular


The Nissin flash got used once or twice to illuminate my wife's face with sunset background shots but to be honest I dont really liked the results. Maybe a diffuser of some sort would have been handy.


We liked Chiang Mai so much that we leave again very soon for another 2 weeks there. Slightly different camera bag this time, oh and on that the Billingham Hadley Pro was a great travel bag but found it a wee bit big for walking around the streets so gonna take my small hadley with me in the case.


I have since bought the 55-200 at a great price in Edinburgh airport so thats coming this trip.


One thing I did notice, and I suppose it applies to a lot of vacations but there was a distinct difference between what I wanted to carry daytime and nightime. So that has 'tuned' my bag also for this trip.


So this trip will be

X-pro2 with Fuji handgrip

18-55 and 55-200 zooms (I did miss the ability to frame a shot quickly without using my feet, there is so much happening at a fast rate there)

18mm f2

35mm f1.4



I take my pixi tripod and smaller EF-X20 flash, just in case

I have a small photo shoot set up with someone this trip so will take my 56mm f1.2 mainly for that occasion


So soon on ebay will be a 35 f2, 50 f2 and a 50-230 all hardly used, they just don't suit my shooting style


Thanks for reading, please leave your comments

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One thing that I have noticed that I think your experience backs up is that when traveling I almost always take the 55-200mm instead of the 56mm (or 50mm for some people). For the space and weight it takes up, the 55-200 is much more versatile and in a pinch it can be used as a perfectly serviceable portrait lens even though the bokeh isn't as good as the 56mm.

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  • 2 months later...

I just read this and it made me laugh as you've come to exactly where I am in gear.  I'm in Thailand now and 2 weeks ago I bought the 16-55 in Hong Kong.  I haven't had it off my camera since I opened the box.  I thought I'd miss the longer length but I haven't.  And I thought the heavy lens would bother me but it's so sharp that it's worth the weight.  I use the 35 f1.4 sometimes, but the 16-55 is my new favorite.  And I also travel with the 56 in case I have to do a portrait of somebody.  As for a bag, I bought a small nylon crossbody that wasn't made for camera equipment and it works very well.

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