What lenses should I carry to Thailand with Nikon D7200

Started 2 months ago | Questions thread
Schrodingers_cat Senior Member • Posts: 3,068
16 - 80 and be done with it

We have been blessed with the ability to travel overseas on a fairly regular basis, and have been doing so for decades. Based on having done it wrong a depressingly high number of times, we have some pretty firm opinions about what will work and what won't, for us. As a vacation traveler your specific instance might potentially be an outlier and none of this stuff applies to you, but I bet you a beer you'll be pretty close.

Let me propose several thoughts for you to at least consider. And do understand this post is related to vacation travel the way we do it. If it’s a photographic trip, that’s a different deal. If you’re a working professional, it’s not even the same arena and you should already know better than to ask questions on a hobbyist forum (watch out when you try to type hobbyist on DPR. The spellcheck wants to turn it into Hobbits. Who may or may not read DPR, I have no idea.)

If you carry cameras/lenses you will need to do so as carryon luggage. This is not an option. Otherwise you run a risk of their being stolen or destroyed. (All commercial airlines are required to follow FAA regulations regarding luggage handling. The regulations specifically require treating passenger luggage like 50 pounds bags of organic steer manure.) You don't want to check anything at all if you can possibly avoid it.

Depending on your airline you can benefit from limiting yourself to one carryon item and one personal item. If you are unfortunate enough to fly one of the small carriers, your empty backpack may well exceed their carryon weight limits. Flying Main Cabin on American Airlines (this was the cheap seats till they dreamed up something even cheaper) we can do a month in Europe for instance with only a camera bag and a carryon item each. (If you’re really on a tight budget, or are doing penance for some past sin, you might consider their newest and even cheaper seats, which seem to be something like pay extra for everything you bring to the airport, two people per seat, naked, with a shared oxygen mask and no toilet access once in the air.)

On arrival we use public transportation just like everybody who lives there. In any case, for the ordinary tourist Asia and Europe are about walking. Through airports and their lines and metal detectors and security screening and mile long walks from the front door to the gate. You ever tried to get from Terminal 2 to Terminal 5 at Heathrow in time to make a tight connection? It’s like a branch office of Hell. On and off public transportation like trains and busses and the Tube. Up and down stairs at Metro stations and on and off subway cars. Along cobblestone streets and through castles and cathedrals. Ancient tower stairways in cathedrals and temples and such are steep, long, and narrow.

Once, standing across from the Arc de Tromphe de l’Etoile and a safe distance from the homicidal French drivers on the traffic circle, we watched a chauffeured black stretch limo pull into the no parking zone directly in front of us and stop. A liveried driver jumped out and opened the door for the beautiful couple inside, who stood in the traffic long enough to take a selfie of themselves, then left.

If that was you, ignore this post.

In addition to schlepping all your stuff through the afore mentioned public transportation, you are obligated to provide security for all that crap. Probably security for your wife and kids stuff also as they are occasionally unable or disinclined to do so themselves. How comfortable are you leaving expensive stuff in a hotel room, providing entertainment and possible financial remuneration for the staff? Crowding into a packed subway car or street car or bus wearing a backpack and watching out for your family at the same time? The more stuff you are obligated to schlep around the less attention you will be able to devote to "family time / tourist time / actual photography." Don't handicap yourself this way.

Backpacks are prohibited in lots of places. Just like tripods and flashes. You might have to trust to their security to watch your stuff for you.  This on occasion can be a bit like using a fox to watch the henhouse. In the best case, I can tell you they don’t regard this as a very important part of their job. They might not have a place to store it at all or the secure storage (broom closet) might be full, and you would not be able to get in at all.

If you just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan you may be comfortable carrying lots of stuff on your back, but anyone who has done so will tell you carrying items not strictly required is best avoided. NOBODY likes carrying crap they don't need. I even took the extra joker out of my deck of cards. If it's really and truly not a problem for you, you've already answered your own question, just carry everything.

Excess weight/bulk is the kiss of death for walking vacation vacation photography. Lay your anticipated loadout on the bed and ask your self "when will I for sure use this" about every single item. If you can't articulate a specific and important use for something, leave it at home. That goes for your personal stuff also. Maybe even your spouse

For instance, you don't need a separate large tube of toothpaste for every member of the family. We like to purchase consumables when we arrive at the destination. Asians and Europeans buy essentially the same sort of stuff Americans do, it just has unintelligible labels on it. Trying to figure out whether you're buying toothpaste or hemorrhoid cream is part of the adventure. Wash clothing in the hotel room instead of carrying a clean set of clothing for every day of the trip. Hell, wear a pair of underwear twice. We won’t tell.

Forget the backup body.

How often do you have your camera fail to function at home? Has it ever failed to function at home? Has it ever been stolen/soaked/screen broken/gotten lost or gone tango uniform for any reason? More than once? Lots of guys on the internet will tell you about how they broke their camera vacationing in Eastern Uzbekistan and couldn’t locate a Hasselblad service center. Do you know any of them personally? Even live in the same state with one of them? Your camera is no more likely to break in Asia or Europe than in Cleveland, where you probably can’t get it fixed either.  Probably more likely to get stolen in Cleveland, though.

Sure, there's some poor smeg at this very moment on the upper deck of a tour boat halfway down the Seine and he's about to drop his camera in the river, but chances are it ain't gonna be you. One body/one lens.  Get small and keep a low profile.

Big Asian or European cities are just cities, same as the big city where you live. Small towns remain small towns, villages are still villages. Well, maybe not if you live in New Egg, Florida, but in general they're pretty much the same. Take what you'd use most making photographs at home. Reducing the equipment has the potential of concentrating your attention on artsy stuff like composition, lighting, subject matter, and all the issues people discuss on other forums when they concentrate on the result rather than the gear.

One body/one lens, maybe something like a midrange zoom. Maybe two primes. Hell, if they’re small, maybe 3 primes. I like a 28, a 50 and something 85ish, but YMMV. You'll have enough to concentrate on just having family along, don't give yourself more things to distract your attention from your family time. Leave you favorite 600mm f0.95 at home. Every ounce you don't carry makes your mobility that much better and this will almost certainly lead to improved images.

Search the forum for other posts on what to carry to Asia or Europe. It’s not exactly an original question. In fact this may be one of the most frequently asked questions on the entire forum. “I am visiting xxxx in xxxx with my xxxx and can’t decide whether to take my xxxx or my xxxx.” The answers don’t vary a whole bunch regardless of what you use to fill in the blanks. DPR should make it a sticky at the beginning of this forum.

And post pictures when you get back. Have fun.

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