Trip to Tibet - what lens to bring

Started Mar 22, 2012 | Discussions thread
mikew
Contributing MemberPosts: 528Gear list
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I was in Tibet for 11 days a few years ago...
In reply to cardiacpatch, Jun 10, 2012

so the conditions I am about to describe may not reflect the current way things are done.

First, on your first day there, do nothing. Don't walk around, don't sight-see. Lay down and read. We were advised to do this and it made all the difference to us. Never had a problem with the altitude. We gave our bodies the time to acclimate. People on our tour that did not do this suffered. I realize this is difficult to do, as you have a limited time there and want to get out and shoot right away.

Second, the Potala Palace is VERY DARK inside. It is lit by candles. In many areas you can barely see to walk, much less take pictures. So I would tell you to take your fastest lenses, however...

Third, when I was there the chinese watchmen were charging $100.00 to take still pictures. Double that for video. Oh yes, thet's per room. There are a thousand rooms in the Potala Palace! So temper your hot anticipation of National Geo shots inside the place. I managed to sneak a couple of worthless "for the record" shots from the hip, hoping for the best. It is terribly crowded inside the palace as worshipers flood the place. The best shots are outside. The worshipers coming to the palace make great subjects. Seek out the prayer wheels for colorful "action" shots. If you travel around Tibet to other monestaries you will get better interior shots there.

Also, be sure to see the Johkang Temple while in Lhasa. The activity outside around the temple is fascinating.

If you are going to hike around Tibet, take your D700, 24-70, and something longer. The 70-200 would be ideal, but it is so heavy. To me, prime lenses are just not flexible enough for travel. You are frequently very limited in where you can place yourself for the shot. And you often only have seconds ( if you are lucky ) before the opportunity disappears. Wider than the 24 would be useful, but I have found most of my wide shots are taken at around 24mm.You will have to decide if the extra weight of an ultra wide is worth it.

The light while I was there was frequently overcast, so the high ISO abilities of the D700 will come in handy. Be sure to get your electrical adapter for the area so you can recharge batteries.

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