Gear selection for Cuba from US

Started 9 months ago | Discussions
Gary Mozer
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Gear selection for Cuba from US
9 months ago

I am leaving for Cuba on Thursday.  I was told not bring "professional" equipment.  I was planning on taking my 5D3 and my 24-70mm 2.8L II.  Can I bring my 70-200 2.8L II without drawing too much attention?  What would you bring? Plan to do street and architectural photography.

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Canon EOS-1D Mark IV Canon EOS-1D X Canon EOS 5D Mark III Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM +11 more
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Digirame
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Re: Gear selection for Cuba from US
In reply to Gary Mozer, 9 months ago

It seems to me that the Canon 5DIII would be "professional".  I would bring something like the Canon SL1 (or the equivalent) with smallish lenses; for telephoto maybe the 55-250mm STM lens.  I suppose the answer would be, bring whatever makes you feel comfortable.  The old adage of investing is that if it keeps you up at night thinking about what decision to make, then don't do it or sell what makes you worry.  I suppose the same applies here.

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rstone
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Re: Gear selection for Cuba from US
In reply to Gary Mozer, 9 months ago

It's hard to say Gary, according to your gear list, all you have is professional equipment. I suppose Cuba can be as dangerous as any us city and anything (70-200mm) that stands out may pose a risk of being targeted.

Depending on what you want to do with any shots you take (intending to sell photos or for your own use).. You might want to carry a bridge camera, maybe an sx50hs. Thinking about your personal safety as well as your equipment.

Do some research about the areas you will be traveling in so you know exactly where the risks are!

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Rexgig0
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Re: Gear selection for Cuba from US
In reply to Gary Mozer, 9 months ago

I believe the problem in Cuba with "professional" equipment is getting through Cuban customs, rather than personal safety. Many nations are leery of photojournalists, which probably applies to Cuba. Another factor is most countries want to know if a traveler is there for business or as a tourist, and can be very suspicious when a traveler with professional equipment claims to be a tourist. (Even the USA requires different visas for business travelers.)

Check Syl Arena's blog; he went to Cuba last year, and he uses the Canon 5D Mark III. I know he rented an EOS M for the trip, but I doubt it was his only camera. Zack Arias used Fuji X cameras in Cuba, according to his blog.

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I wear a badge and pistol, and, primarily with 7D cameras, with 10-22mm and 100mm Macro L lenses, shoot evidentiary images at night, which incorporates elements of portrait, macro, still life, landscape, architecture, PJ, and occasional action. During personal time, I enjoy using both Canons and Nikons.

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JCS56
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Re: Gear selection for Cuba from US
In reply to Gary Mozer, 9 months ago

Gary: I travel to Cuba (from Mexico) a couple of times carring photo equipment with no problem. It is safe to walk, I did it in Varadero and Havana. 24-70, 70-200 2.8 IS, flash, bag, laptop... always in group and or pro guide...

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Canon EOS 30D Canon EOS 6D Canon EF 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
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photosen
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Re: Gear selection for Cuba from US
In reply to Gary Mozer, 9 months ago

You're going to draw attention anyway, it's a safe country but the restrictions, as with everything else, will probably be more with officials than with normal people...

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Rollover
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Re: Gear selection for Cuba from US
In reply to Gary Mozer, 9 months ago

We went to Cuba last year with a 5D MIII, 24-105 and 70-300. It was just myself and my wife. We kicked around Havana for a few days then rented a car and explored the eastern 2/3's of the country for 3 weeks. It's a great place to go, easy traveling and the people are very friendly. It's very safe and I would not worry about theft except in the very worst areas of Havana after dark.

Contrary to what people have said here... it's not a police state and you will not find many police or authorities. You will not be drawing any attention if you've got a camera with a lens and a waist pack. It's normal and Cubans like having their photos taken.

It's not your gear that is going to get you into trouble, it's your actions and nothing is going to happen unless you start shooting airports, military installations or the police.

A few non-photo related tips:

Bring about US100 in 1's for tips. When you make 30 bucks a month, a dollar tip will open doors like you never believed. Be prepared for a few beggars, but just say no.

Bring any western type toiletries like sunscreen toothpaste and shampoo . If you have room, bring a few baseballs to give away. We just winged it and made no reservations other than a few nights in Havana and had no problems.

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Marx81
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Re: Gear selection for Cuba from US
In reply to Gary Mozer, 9 months ago

I have a rather extended experience about photography in Cuba :

pls feel free to bring what you like . No problem . I do freelance work .

Have a great trip .

I'll be back in Santiago , in march

http://www.flickr.com/photos/marxx/

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Goguin
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Re: Gear selection for Cuba from US
In reply to Gary Mozer, 9 months ago

Maybe your 5D MkIII body fitted with a 40mm STM.

This combination do not look too "professional".

Plus there are many advantages in traveling light and with only one lens.

Excuse my poor english.

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eyeu
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Re: Gear selection for Cuba from US
In reply to Gary Mozer, 9 months ago

Traveled to Cuba in November of '11...had US license for the visit. took my Canon 5Dii with

24-105..70-200 and 17-40 lenses. Never had a problem. The people were so warm and friendly.

After taking photos of people, tried showing them the result on the LCD which they loved.

Just be smart. You will love the island..the cars, the people...everything!! Have a number of photos on my website at smugmug.

rick

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jase
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Re: Gear selection for Cuba from US
In reply to eyeu, 9 months ago

Cuba is about as safe as it gets, no-one will rob you for your camera equipment, they will however steal it from your car. As far as Cubans are concerned, any a camera built in the last 10 years is professional and your 50 1.8 cost 12 month's of their salary.

I speak from bitter personal experience on the theft front.  Never leave your kit where you can't smell it or touch it.

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jase
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Graham Meale
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Re: Gear selection for Cuba from US
In reply to Gary Mozer, 9 months ago

Who told you not to take professional gear? I took my 5D III and several lenses when I visited a year ago. No problems.

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Gary Mozer
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Re: Gear selection for Cuba from US
In reply to Gary Mozer, 9 months ago

Thanks for the insights.  Really appreciate the help and feedback on this and other issues on this Blog.

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Colin Franks
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Re: Gear selection for Cuba from US
In reply to Gary Mozer, 9 months ago

I was there 1 year ago, and loved it; I really want to return. My camera at the time was a m4/3 (Panny G3), with the 20mm f/1.7, 14-45, and 100-300 lenses in a Flipside 200 backpak. I found that switching lenses during travel shooting is a pain, and would do it with just one or two lenses next time.

If you have a 24-105, that might be ideal. If I go back there with my new 6D, I'd likely just take the 50mm f/1.2 and the 70-200 f/2.8

There are over 2 million people in Havana, and the streets are busy enough that nobody is going to be foolish enough to mug you. They also know that they are in deep, deep trouble with the police if they are caught in any criminal activity, so it is safe. Just use the same common sense as you would anywhere else.

There is much poverty, so do take various little things to give away, especially things for children (school supplies, clothing etc).

http://www.cubaabsolutely.com/Travel/Travel-Tips-Useful-Information-&-FAQs-Cuba.php

.

..

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Colin Franks
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Re: Gear selection for Cuba from US
In reply to Colin Franks, 9 months ago

Oh, and watch out for this guy; you will likely come across him.  He is one of these individuals who dresses up for the tourists in Havana, and insists on a dollar for any photos taken, and if you don't pay up, he gets very hostile.  I saw him belligerently yelling at people.  A real jackass.

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eyeu
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Re: Gear selection for Cuba from US
In reply to Colin Franks, 9 months ago

As I remember there were lots of those characters waiting for you to take their photo and then demand money.  A guy with a rooster..a woman all decked out smoking a huge cigar, etc etc.

Just remember to bring some give aways..like small soaps and shampoos that you find in hotels...candy, etc.

Things that they would have to buy with their monthly allotment..so they can use the money for other essentials.

Rick

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Colin Franks
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Re: Gear selection for Cuba from US
In reply to eyeu, 9 months ago

eyeu wrote:

As I remember there were lots of those characters waiting for you to take their photo and then demand money. A guy with a rooster..a woman all decked out smoking a huge cigar, etc etc.

Yes, but this guy is particularly nasty.  I observed him for a little while, and I suspect that he's actually got some mental disorder.

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scrane
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Re: Gear selection for Cuba from US
In reply to Colin Franks, 9 months ago

Cubans suffer greatly from the embargo. Almost every interaction with Cubans during my visit ended with a request for money or aid. Subjects demanding money for photos is on a par with photographers wanting models for free.

Don't worry, me and this guy had an agreement.:-)

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flyfoto
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Re: Gear selection for Cuba from US
In reply to Gary Mozer, 9 months ago

Was there two years ago with canon 7D and a bunch of good lenes on a fishing shoot. They did hassel me at the airport, looking at every piece of equipment, taking notes but after about 15 minutes they let me thru.

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JCS56
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Re: Gear selection for Cuba from US
In reply to Gary Mozer, 8 months ago

Gary:

Let us know how was your trip. It is always good for people looking for the same information in the future.

Saludos amigo!

 JCS56's gear list:JCS56's gear list
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