Gear suggestions for a trip to India

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by yakim_peled|1, Jan 13, 2011.

  1. Sometime next month I'm going an a 1-1.5m trip to India. It all began with a terrible blow: After 10.5 years I got fired. After the first shock faded away (to say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement, I was truly devastated) I decided that this is the right time to make a longtime dream come true. I can't take such a long vacation while working and I'm not getting any younger.
    So, despite the fear of getting robbed I decided that after 20 years of shooting with SLR/DSLR I'd be a complete fool to take just a P&S for a once in a lifetime trip. However, as I know that less is often more when you travel I'm thinking very hard of what to take with me and what to leave behind. I want maximum versatility with minimum weight and bulk.
    First, the things I'm sure about:
    I'm definitely taking the 7D, 10-22 and CPL. Bag is also a simple choice: The Lowepro CompuDayPack is my daily bag for the past 3 (4?) years. I have upgraded it to match my specific needs and it is very durable. Last, I'll be taking a small P&S as a backup.
    I'm definitely not taking the 5D (recent purchase, don't like it, planning on selling it). I will also leave at home the 135/2, the 85/2.8 PC, the 300/4 IS (not versatile enough) and the Gitzo 1541T (hardly use it).
    Now for the things I'm less sure about.
    17-55/2.8 IS: I'll probably take it. For the past 3 years this has been my most used lens so it looks like a safe bet.
    18-55 IS: I'll probably leave it at home. While small and light I found out I'm taking it with me only when I'm not sure I'll shoot at all. Whenever I think there's a good probability that I'll shoot I take the 17-55/2.8 IS.
    55-250 IS: I consider taking it as my tele lens. Small, light, inconspicuous (black) and with very good IQ. My only fear is the poor BQ. One blow and I am left without a tele.
    100/2.8 IS: I consider taking it (+ 1.4X TC) as my tele lens. As it's faster it'll better for portraits and BQ inspires confidence in a long trip but it'll be less versatile as it is shorter than the 55-250 IS and can't zoom. Zooming with your feet takes time and one might loose the decisive moment. Yes, I know that the faster aperture offers versatility of its own but I still think that in a trip the zoom capability will be more important than the faster aperture. It's just that the BQ issue of the 55-250 IS really bugs me.
    60/2.8: Here lies my second biggest uncertainty. On the one hand this is my second used lens and I love it dearly. It is relatively small and light and I can't count the number of great images I took with it. As a reference, I use it much more than the 100/2.8 IS. OTOH this is an additive lens. It is another lens to carry and as I said above, less is often more when you travel.
    580EX: I'll probably leave it at home. Both because I mostly shoot with only available light and because I have a backup in the form of the built-in flash of the 7D. Leaving it at home will also save me the bulk of AA batteries + charger.
    Gear I don't own but can borrow:
    24-105/4 IS: The funny thing is that I often recommended people of a 10-22 + 24-105 set as a great travel set. Only two lenses, great IQ and great range. However, it is a slow set, it is not stabilized below 24mm (I often used IS in the 17-24 range) and as it is a once in a lifetime trip I'm just not sure it is long enough.
    70-200/4 IS: This one has many advantages over either the 100/2.8 IS and the 55-250 IS which I'm sure I don't need to list. Problem is, it is bigger and heavier than the 55-250 IS and my gear is already not that light. Worst of all, it is very conspicuous (white).
    Considering everything the set I'm leaning to is 17-55 + 55-250 IS + 12mm extension tube but I must confess that leaving the 60/2.8 will cause me serious heartaches.
    I also consider buying a NetBook or an electronic wallet to load my pictures into. I'm leaning towards the first as I consider buying one anyway.
    Precautions: I'll be keeping all the gear with me at all times to avoid theft (hence my desire to reduce weight and bulk). My only concern is what would happen if I'd want to go into a sea/river/lake. I'll have to leave it behind. You see, I'm going there alone but hope not to be traveling alone. I heard that travelers always form groups in India.
    Of course I'll insure my gear but that will be of no comfort if it is stolen mid-trip. I'll only have a P&S to shoot with and I simply hate them. More importantly, it will not allow me for the versatility I have in my DSLR gear.
    I apologize for the lengthy post but this is very important to me. Thank you all in advance.
    Happy shooting,
    Yakim.
     
  2. zml

    zml

    Only you can answer these questions... I would never go to India, or anywhere else for that matter, without a T/S lens but that's me - I have no idea what do you intend to shoot thus any advice I'd give you would be trite. Except perhaps that unless I have help and/or a permananet safe/secure base, my choice is "light and uncomplicated", which in my case means 2 bodies, 4 lenses plus a flash or two and some assorted junk.
    But I'm a bit puzzled by posts like yours: what difference does it make whether you are in India or some other neck of the woods..? The important thing is what you shoot and how you do it - that part is unlikely to change, be it New York or New Delhi, so take the equipment you use most often for the type of shooting you intend to do in India and you'll be fine.
    As for that "theft" thing, again - Brussels or Bejing - use common sense and you'll be fine. (Hint...a photographer's bag gives you away from a country mile so roll your own...) I routinelly shoot with very expensive equipment in places way more dangerous and unstable than anything you are likely to encounter in India and to tell you the truth I'm more afraid in many "first world countries" than, say, in the barrios of Managua...
     
  3. Yakim, I used to say that my "ideal" travel kit consisted of my 5DII or 1V (or both), coupled with my EF 17-40/4 L, 24-105/4 L IS, and 70-200/4 L IS. Using these admittedly slower zooms rather than primes, I was (so I thought) maximizing IQ, versatility and portability at the same time.
    Lately, however, I have found that I am using my zooms less than my primes. I still do use my beloved 70-200 regularly, but my former workhorse, the 24-105, sits on the shelf most of the time, and I actually recently sold my 17-40 because of lack of use. So now, if I were traveling, I'd likely take my 50/1.4 and a fast wide angle prime or two (my 24/1.4 L II or 35/1.4 L) in addition to my 70-200, which I would not leave home without. (I also have (and love) the 85/1.2 L II and the 135/2 L, but the IQ of the zoom is so near to the level of these primes as to render them redundant for travel).
    But if I were you, and decided to take only my 7D, I'd also take my 10-22, 17-55, and 70-200. The advantages in portability and versatility of zooms for travel simply cannot be overstated, IMHO. And the IQ of these lenses leaves little to be desired. (Truthfully, I'd also take one fast normal or wide angle prime, but that's just me).
     
  4. You don't say where in India you will be headed or how many places you may try and visit or whether you think you'll travel by train or hire a car or fly... I have traveled to India on eight separate occasions over the last 30 years and visited a large sampling (not been in the far NE yet). I think the options are almost infinite for gear but I'll just give you my prejudices -
    My leanings these days are to take two bodies, one with a longish tele and one with a somewhat wider range - the 17 - 55 you mention for example. (My kit is the 5D II with the 24 -105 and the 7D with the 70 -200). I have a pretty simple pattern - long tele for people shots and wider for architecture, city streets, temples etc. If I take both out for the day one is in an over the shoulder bag and the other in a small backpack with other gear.
    First of all you will want telephoto - you will have very little control over your shooting other than architecture. You will not believe the number of shots in markets, villages, etc. that appear for just a few seconds and then vanish - you often will not be able to walk around choosing the right location. Were you to bring additional lenses you may wish to anticipate the days shooting and select for that, you will rarely feel like switching lens - either because of dust, crowds, and maybe sheer exhaustion.
    I think your 17-55 and 55-250 is a fine choice, but I myself at this point lean towards the 70-200. Do NOT worry about the white lens - first of all you will stick out no matter what if you go anywhere outside main cities. No one will think a white lens any more strange than you already will be with a big old DSLR and any lens.
    I have never had anything gone missing in India. That said I am very careful on trains and mindful when I am out in a crowd (90% of the time in India except out in the desert or trekking in the mtns). And these days I usually stay in pretty decent hotels but even in very simple lodging (dirt floor) it has not been an issue.
    I'm sure it is a bad idea, but ever since leaving film I have only traveled with my CF cards and no other backup. I keep close tabs on them and have not lost a single shot anywhere in India, Nepal, Tibet, Burma.... YMMV but don't saddle yourself with too much electronics. There will be plenty of places where you can burn a card to DVD.
    You already have the good intuition to go with an outfit you are fairly comfortable with, it is hard to adapt to new things when so much is happening in a place like India. And while you will no doubt miss a favorite lens, I believe you will find hauling too much around gets to be a pain the longer you are there - especially if you are going to do a lot of traveling while there - it does wear on you.
    Again you did not say where you were going. Some of the well known spots are still very good bets - Rajasthan is very dramatic, Kerala will be accessible at this time. And the Taj really is spectacular even if filled with visitors and often clad in murky skies. I have no attachment to any of the large cities and they have only become harder to travel around in as private car ownership has gone crazy. There are some amazing tribal regions in Orissa but that may be too out of the way for a first visit. Ladakh is a treasure but it will be cold and snowy for some time as will Sikkim but some of the hill stations may still be OK. Still this is the time of year to be further south.Travel can be hard but sitting on the train yields countless stories. Flying is easy and less hassle at times than the States. Hiring a car and driver will be both a comfort and the closest you come to russian roulette...
    If you take a mobile phone and want to get a local SIM card you need to all kinds of ID now - copy of passport, visa etc. You can certainly do Skype if you take a Netbook and there are a few million kiosks where you can call home for very low rates. you also now need a copy of your birth certificate to get an Indian visa - probably a mixture of terrorist fear and tit-for-tat for our restrictions on Indians getting visas for here.
    I hope you have a great time and don't worry too much - you will not get it right no matter what you do, the scope of what you will want to photograph will overwhelm you. Next time bring an assistant to haul your gear for you... Remember to breathe deep, India has been changing and modernizing like crazy since the '90s but it will still knock you off your feet.
     
  5. I think you're on the right track.
    I spend several months each year on the road. My setup is: drebel, ultrawide (in my case a Sigma), f/2.8 standard zoom (my trusty Tamron 17-50/2.8), plus a telephoto lens. It's carry-able and stays with me at all times.
    For telephoto I've used Tamron 90/2.8 macro, Canon 85/1.8, or Canon 55-250 IS, depending on my mood and destination.
    In you case I'd bring the 10-22, 17-55/2.8 IS, and the 55-250 IS or the 100 IS. Leave the big flash, ditch the tripod. Put the gear in a scruffy non-photo backpack. Don't worry too much about backup - there is gear for sale in India. Enjoy!
     
  6. I've gone on a couple of trips to Indonesia (western and central Java, Bali and Lombok) with an SLR/DSLR and a 24mm f/2.8, a 50mm f/1.8 and a 100mm Macro (non-L). I think a small kit is a good idea. The more you take, the more you have to lug around and keep tabs on. I selected one lens to cover the wide end, one for normal and one for telephoto. I agree with the 10-22mm and the 17-55mm, which would cover wide to normal and beyond. I too think the 55-250 IS would be a good choice because of its weight and inconspicuous appearance.
    I really think the 60mm f/2.8 would come in handy for you. It's a great lens, and it would give you the opportunity to indulge in the close-up shots without messing around with extension tubes as well as being a great portrait lens. If you are taking the 55-250mm, taking the 60mm f/2.8 would weigh a whole 10g more than replacing the 55-250mm with the 70-200 f/4L. It's something to think about.
    I hope that helps. You've helped me enough over the years. Have a great trip Yakim, you deserve it!
     
  7. I got fired and have been happily spending my redundancy for the last 7 months on the road. A RTW starting in South
    America. Today I arrived in Cambodia. I am traveling with my 5DII, 24-70, 16-35, 70-200, 50mm f/1.4, 24mm f/1.4,
    580ex and Benro travel tripod. So far I have needed all of it on many of the days. It does get to be a pain carrying it
    around but then I do try to use it - of course you don't have to carry all of it every day if you have a reasonable
    hotel/lockup. Be aware and cautious but don't let paranoia get to you.

    In India there is a lot of hustle and bustle, eating and drinking healthily is important. I have only seen the Taj, Jaipur
    and Delhi (Chandi Chuk?) but there is plenty of interest there (as above)
     
  8. Yakim, I'm sorry to learn that you were fired. I hope things work out for you for the future, and it's good that you can make a positive opportunity out of the situation. Hve a great trip.
    I have never been to India, but I do travel regularly to Africa with similar sort of kit . My main camera is my 5DII, but I also carry a 7D, and have been sufficiently impressed with it that if the need arose I could well contemplate making it my main camera for a trip if I could not take both. The 10~22 is an excellent lens - I like it at least as well on the 7D as the 17~40 on the 5DII, except for high-ISO situations where the 5DII wins out. Because the 5DII is my main camera, with the 24+105 as its standard lens, I use the 10~22 + 24~105 combination when I am using the 7D on its own. It works fine, and the gap is of course of no significance, but it does occur at a point that seems to entail quite a lot of lens-changing, and since you have a 17~55/2.8 (which I do not) and that is by all accounts an outstanding lens, you would probably regret not taking it. I would guess that it would spend a lot of time on your camera.
    I think what else you carry does very much depend on what kind of shots you plan to take. I know the 60/2.8 is a great lens - I have one - but unless you are going to do quite a lot of close-up work, it's not really going to earn its keep assuming you take the 17~55. The 100/2.8L IS is also a great lens, and is the macro lens I normally use on my 5DII. But for its specification it is too big and clumsy in my view to use primarily as a general-purpose lens, and again, it comes down to how much, if any, close-up work you plan to do, and what your subject matter will be. My choice would be to take a 70~200/4IS, a lens that I really like, and if I anticipated wildlife opportunities, I would take an Extender 1.4×. Colour of the lens really does not bother me, and I know from carrying my usual walk-around kit (5DII, 17~40, 24~105, 70~200/4IS) that I can manage that total weight, although it is starting to approach my comfort limit. I can see the attractions of the 55~250 – I have never used one – but I can understand why you might not be entirely confident about it.
     
  9. Yakim, Sorry that you got fired, This is life , It has ups and downs.
    If it was me, I'd just take the 7d, 10-22, 17-55 and the 55-250. I suspect that 10-22 would be the most used lens on that trip.
    Have a good trip, And take care.
     
  10. Dear Mr.Yakim
    I should post some suggestions as I am living in New Delhi for the past 18 years and I am hailing from Tamil Nadu , southern state. Do not fear . I never heard any theft of camera in my photographic experience of 15 years. May be it is not like other place where the robbers will eye for the camera equipment specifically to steal. Little alert on the common sense will do. You have to have 17-55 for the Architecture and 70-200 for portraits. As suggested have the 24-105 7D and 70-200 on 5D MK II for colorful faces and cloths all over India. You have what ever you want in India. Desert, Hills, Snow mountains, forest ,wild life, historical monuments,sea scape, different people with different cultures, cold deserts like ladakh, rivers, temples , holy places,towns, cities, villages, agriculture, heavy industry, cottage industry, different food, bullock cart, Merc, BMW, Jaguar, Limos, NANO, Highways, country roads, Trains network all over India, etc..etc... I can go on and on.
    Feel comfortable and you will love to travel in INDIA. Don't heed to the thugs at airport and Railway stations. Welcome to India. All the best and enjoy your journey. :)
     
  11. 7D + 10-22 + 17-55/IS + 55-250/IS + extension tubes seems to me the most versatile set up carrying the least weight.
    Changing to macro would be slow but most macro subjects don't need speedy lens changes anyway.
    And if the 55-250 gets smashed you'll probably be able to get a new one.
    It's not what I'd take but what seems to fit your profile.
    Having your equipment I'd probably just take the 7D + 17-55 + 135/2.
    (Using my own equipment and wanting to go lightweight/high quality I might just take a 5Dii + 28/2.8 + 100/2.8L IS and not sweat the lost shots.)
     
  12. Hello Yakim,
    Sorry to read about the firing. I stay in India near Kolkata and have used the 10d before switching to 5d mkII. I feel the 17-55 should take care of the narrow alleys and short spaces and landscapes. Most other shots can be covered by the 70-200mm. I have been using the 17-40 & 70-200 on the 10D and both have served my purpose. You can add another lens. As the night falls very quickly a large aperture like the 17-55 will be helpful for the dusk shots.
    Theft happens to everyone, if you are careless enough, you don't have to be a tourist for that.
     
  13. I like Mark P's recommendations plus one macro lens.
     
  14. Sorry about your job loss, I'm part of the 15 million :) in America jobless, as I lost my engineering job 10 months ago, but it will be better when I go back, have learned a lot about myself (and other people). I went throught the disbelief phase, then the anger, now at the dont trust anyone phase...
    I will be in the minority but I have similar outfits as you, as well as large format etc. but I would go with a Canon G series (i use g9), lx5, or more recently i would recommend a Panny Gf-1 and a couple of lenses. I've posted this before, but the benefits of carrying a full slr outfit are outweighed for me by the compactness and lightweight factor of a rangefinder type setup. There are full time travel photographers who agree, but I just want to throw my opinion out there. Try putting a 7d with lens in your travel vest. Good luck and I look forward to reading about your trip in the future. Maybe put together some different "packages" for your trip and carry each around for an entire week. Or will your trip be such that you can leave stuff at the hotels and walk around with a lighter outfit? Tom
     
  15. I've been to India many times. I have never feared being robbed. The less you take, the better off you will be. I used to go with just a Leica M7 with a 35mm and a small digital cam. People love to see their picture right away. Lately, I've added a 5D and a 24-70mm. In the cities, it's very crowded...so wide angles are better. If you are certain you're going to be near wildlife, then you will need a longer lens. Because, I've mostly been a Leica shooter, I'm a firm believer in using your feet instead of a zoom lens.
    A wise man once told me... when you travel, take half as much stuff, twice as much money and you will triple your good times. That advice has never failed me.
     
  16. My travel kit is 350D / 10-22 / 24-105 / 70-200 / 1.4TC / EX380, so guess what I would suggest :)
    However, prepare for many lens changes due to no overlap between the 10-22 and 24-105.
     
  17. Don't forget a good Indiana Jones hat and whip by your side. lol. Enjoy your trip.
     
  18. I would not worry too much about theft - the dust however can be a big issue. I suggest you take 10-22, 17-55 F2.8 and 70-200 f4 L IS. If necessary add the macro (100 F2.8) but mainly for Macro and portrait / candid use. In terms of flash you may want to consider adding the 270 EX as it is cheap compact and so much better than the built in 7D flash (I bought it for my 5DII but also use it on my 7D). If you can afford the size and weight a compact tripod or Gorillapod may be worth adding.
     
  19. Yakim,

    I am sorry to hear you were fired. I hope you will find a better job when you return from your trip.
    I would take the 7D (weather sealed, smaller than the 5D), the EF-S 10-22mm (extreme wide, good for architecture shots), the 17-55 f/2.8 IS (walk around lens, IS) and the 70-200 f/4L IS. If you have to take one prime, the 60mm f/2.8 would be a nice option. I would hate to embark on the trip of my life and not to be able to make the shots I could do because of lack of equipment.
    Happy shooting (as you say).
    Antonio
     
  20. it

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    Lens selection is obviously personal and based on how and what you want to shoot. I have spent a lot of time in India, Bangladesh and Nepal over the past couple of years, mostly shooting for clients. Personally I go minimal - 2 bodies, 4 lenses, 1 flash and a compact CF tripod.
    I highly recomnend a good, compact bag (I use Domke's) and the best shoes you can afford.
    http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=906524
     
  21. My shooting style while travelling is to do long walks and always try to be ready whatever might show up. I am carrying two cameras, one 450d with a 300mm 4.0L on it in the case wildlife will show up (carried on my hip) and a 5d mark II with a wide angle zoom attached for landscape/street photography, carried around my neck. For backup I use the canon portable storage-device (dont remember the name), as I am more concerned about somebody stealing my full memory cards than my camera.
     
  22. I do a a lot of traveling for the sake of photography and I agree with you that the less you have in your camera bag the smoother things going to be for you.
    My last trip on nov. for a month time to Sri Lanka, I mostly used the Nikon D3X along with the Nikon 70-200MM F2.8VR for my street aged people portrait, the 24-70MM Sigma for the Landscape, plus the Hasselblad Xpan with the 45MM Lens and he centre filter.
    I had a lot of gear but all others not been of any use to me there.
     
  23. Firstly, congratulations Yakim on making a great decision. Although I'm an Indian, I've been down your path and am now in India, yes it hurts. India is the perfect place to be alone without really being alone. Extend your visit if you can.
    Of the bunch of gear I have, the one that is most frequently seeing use is an E-P1. I'd whole heartedly recommend a micro 4/3 camera like the E-P2 or GF2 with viewfinder and lens adapter. As Jake already said, a Leica would probably be the best thing if it were not so expensive. You will want to have the camera at your side 24x7, not only because it can get lost but photographic opportunities will pop up and disappear all the time. A smaller body will simply be easier to manage. Wrap the strap around your wrist.
    Lenses; cover these focal lengths (for any <=35mm format): 22mm, 50mm, 135mm. Remember that you will be hand holding/shoulder bracing (using pocket tripod) the camera most of the time.
    Accessories, a tripod is a must even in limited spaces. The manfrotto pocket tripod and extension with a slik 120 ballhead is a remarkable thing; you can take it (sometimes in your pocket) even where tripods are not allowed (like archaeological sites). Also an external hard disk (or two) to store images (apart from any netbook you may be carrying which will be more likely to get lost/stolen than a hard drive). If you can make friends, you can simply carry the drives and card reader and leave the laptop at home. A flash is a good question, but it will slow you down and you will also need radio triggers etc. Get plenty of batteries and tape the contacts so airport security doesn't harass you over the lithium in your baggage.
    Make plenty of friends, write their numbers/emails in your pocketbook. Everyone wants to see their pictures/video. Emotions run high here and most want to talk a lot. If you have a web portfolio somewhere it can be a great conversation starter. India is not an inexpensive place anymore, but if you don't look rich and can blend in, a little cash will take you a long way and also open many more photo ops. Some places have "foreigners associations" which might be helpful. Time to visit; avoid winter, nothing much happens in winter in this tropical country. If you're not used to heat, you might want to be near the coast during the peak of summer just before the monsoon. Which places are you visiting?
     
  24. Hi Yakim,
    I sympathize with your job loss, but I feel you are making the best of the situation. Good luck!
    Now to your battery of questions: it is hard to suggest a line up of lenses not knowing what you plan on shooting. That said, I would take a wide angle (10-22 or 17-55) for city, street, etc and a zoom tele (55-250 or 70-200) to shoot portraits, wildlife etc. I would include a flash. Changing lenses can be a pain due to dust and if your travels take you to Southern India, where the humidity can be pretty high even during the months of Feb/March. If you are comfortable, carry both your bodies with a lens attached and you are ready for any opportunity. I would suggest a backpack rather than a shoulder bag, especially if you decide to carry both bodies. Carry as many CF cards as possible and you will find internet cafes or computer services a dime a dozen (even in small sleepy towns) where you can burn CDs/DVDs.
    Now to safety issues: India is as safe or unsafe as any other place on the planet! For the most part it is ones own callousness that results in theft. Having a backpack will help you keep your gear safe on your self without hurting your shoulders or back. When I travel to India (native of Kerala, India) I take my backpack rather than my Lowepro camera bag. Like someone mentioned in an earlier post, you will stick out no matter what and regardless of the gear you carry. You will be surprised at the number of people (Indians and foreigners alike) carrying expensive camera gear in India these days. So do not fret too much about safety issues, but use common sense and be careful. Most hotels will provide taxi service through drivers known to them, although it might cost you a tad more. The upshot: if you like your driver, you might be able to get him the next time around and he will end up being quite a good guide for your local travels! Since you are going to be In India over a month, I would strongly suggest that you get a new SIM card in India for your cell phone.
    Most importantly, be flexible and go with the attitude that you are going to enjoy this trip! India is a fantastic country and there are only two extremes in terms of travel there: you will either LOVE IT or you will just hate it! There is no middle ground. The people, culture, food, colors, architecture, nature, and yes, the McDonalds, KCF;s and others will knock your socks off! Enjoy your trip to India and come back rejuvenated with memories and pictures that will keep you wanting to go back for more!
     
  25. Michael,
    I have a 24/3.5 II on order but unfortunately it will not arrive in time for the trip. If it would, I'd take the 5D and permanently attach it to it. 85mm on APS (and even on FF) offers too limited usage IMHO.

    I respectfully disagree with your statement “what difference does it make whether you are in India or some other neck of the woods..? The important thing is what you shoot and how you do it - that part is unlikely to change, be it New York or New Delhi, so take the equipment you use most often for the type of shooting you intend to do in India and you'll be fine.”. I think that sometimes it does and sometimes it does not. For example, if I was going on a safari in Kenya I'd surely take a long tele with me and leave the 10-22 at home. However, in a trip to India I know that many of the shots I'll take will be landscapes and architecture so I consider the 10-22 essential.


    I thank you for the theft tip. It is very encouraging to hear this. Nevertheless I must say that some of my friend who have been to India say that theft risk is very real in hotels, buses and trains.

    Mark,
    Save from the 17-55/2.8 IS I mostly use primes and not zooms but like you I think that the versatility of zooms will be more important in a trip.
    Jeff,
    I did not say because I have no idea where I'll go. The only sure place is the Taj Mahal but I've already been given strong recommendations on Kipling Camp, Varanasi and Dharamsala. Nepal is also a strong consideration. Thank you for Rajasthan and Kerala suggestions. I'll sure check them out.
    Thank you very much about the colour tip. It is a very important one. If I'll be able to get the 70-200/4 IS I'll take it instead of the 55-250, mainly because of the BQ.
    I'm also certainly going to get a local cell phone with a local SIM. I work in Orange Israel (not for long...) and I'm well aware of the insane prices we charge our subscribers for roaming. I certainly wouldn't want to be on the other side of the bill.
    Arie,
    Thank you for confirming my initial hunches. I must admit I never thought about buying photo gear in India and it's good to know I'll have such option if my gear gets stolen. Now, about the 400/2.8 IS II I was thinking about bringing home.... :)
    Dillan,
    My only reservation WRT the 60/2.8 is that it will be my fourth lens. I fear it will be too much.
    Glen,
    That's a very nice set you're carrying and if you are using it all it makes a lot of sense to carry it. Your phrase “Be aware and cautious but don't let paranoia get to you” is very true but the problem is to know where and when to draw the line in each case.
    Robin,
    The comfort limit you refer to is indeed one of my fears. If I'll use a lot of tele (which I'm not sure) and if things will often get really crowded then the extra bulk and weight of the 70-200/4 IS will be worth it just to have its inspiring confidence BQ.
    Mars and Antonio,
    You seem to think like me. Well, you probably know which minds think alike..... :)
    Thangavelu,

    You are the first Indian* to reply to my posts so your views are very much appreciated. Indeed there is so much to see in India that my mind is in a mess. You see, in my country (Israel) there's also a lot to see but as it is less than 1% of India it is a lot easier to travel.
    * P.S. Is it the proper word? Are India inhabitants and native Americans both called Indians?
    Matthijs,
    Do you really think that 17mm (27mm in FF terms) is wide enough for landscapes and that 135/2 not overly limited in low light situations?
    Sushyam,

    You are right. It's just that there are places which are more prone to theft than others. I'll re-think about the 10-22 WRT your remark.
    Dan,
    I like it too. :)

    WT,
    I feel for you. It's a very stressful situation. While I've been in this situation before it was when I was a lot younger and without mortgage and kids to worry about.
    I tried the Sony A33 a few months back but it was way too small for me. Every time I wanted to shoot I kept reaching for my larger and heavier (but ergonomically better) Canon rig. I thus eventually sold it.
    Jake,
    As a prime lover (in my 20 years of shooting my set normally contained more primes than zooms) I'm using my feet all too often and generally have no problem with this. However, that technique also have it's limitations. First, you can not always do that (e.g. when you want a wider angle and your back is against the wall) and second, perspective change as you change the distance between you and your subject.
    Matthias,

    This is indeed one of the sets I consider.
    Mark,
    I'd rather have Lara Croft by my side. She can do anything Indy can but has other advantages.... :)
    Philip,
    One of the reasons I prefer the 7D to the 5D is its anti dust system. I always change lenses when the camera is off and it is pointing downwards but I vividly remember doing the same in my first DSLR, the 1D, and cleaning the sensor once a week.
    I also never thought about the 270EX. I'll give it a thought.
    Ian,
    Going minimal with 2 bodies and a tripod?
    A compact bag might not hold all the gear + at least one watter bottle. I was told that India is a very hot country (just like mine) and that I should NEVER drink from local taps. My bag is of moderate size and is very comfortable. It also does not look new so I guess it'll be an advantage as well.
    Some of the portraits in your folder are really beautiful. I hope I'll be able to make similar ones. BTW, are the people friendly WRT their picture being taken?
    Jorgen,
    As I said above, the only lens I'd really want to use on FF is the 24/3.5 II but alas, it'll arrive to Israel only after I leave. :-(
    Rashed,
    This is a very heavy rig. Didn't you find it too heavy when traveling?
    Indraneel,

    As an Indian I'm grateful that you chimed in though I see that you are also one of the few here which got fired. It's a real pity. :-(
    The Manfrotto pocket tripod is similar to the Gorillapod. I guess it wouldn't hurt to bring one on but I wonder how useful it'll be. You see, I'm already carrying a few Kilograms of photo gear.
    Re batteries, the only one I have is the one in my camera.
    Thank you for all your suggestions. I'll consider them.
    Murali,
    I thank you for your tips and suggestions. I don't think I'll hate it (I wanted to go there for many years) so I guess I'm bound to love it. :)
    I see that I have some editing problems which I can't eradicate. I apologize for that. I also want to wish my thanks to you all. Your comments are very valuable and most appreciated.
    Happy shooting,
    Yakim.
     
  26. If you are that concerned about robbery I would not borrow any lenses. Your only real option is the 17-55 and 55-250. Add one of your macros only if you think you will "focus" in on tiny subjects while bombarded with the bigger experiences of India.
    On another note, the only reason I can perceive that you don't like the 5D (is it I or II?) is that you don't have many lenses that work on it. Canon must appreciate your ISitis. You may want to evaluate if you really require it so often that it must be in all your lenses. I mention this since ones budget can often get lenses with much better image quality without it.
    In general, I can never figure out why people do not want to take their best equipment on their best, once in a lifetime, photo excursions. Obviously some of the bigger lenses would have to be left behind. If I were going on a once in a lifetime trip I'd be taking my crop body, my full frame body, four primes and one telephoto zoom. All dispersed between two bags. The hardest decision would be whether to take my non-photography wife with me! Ha, ha, ha. She is definitely not laughing!
    If I were worried about robbery, I'd likely leave what ever equipment I did not need on a particular daily outing with hotel security. In North America I have gotten by with leaving extra stuff in the hotel room or in the trunk of the car.
     
  27. Travel light. Keep your gear to the absolute minimum. The two weeks I was in India I never needed anything wider than a 28mm (18mm APSc) and nothing longer than a 70mm (50mm APSc). I was traveling with a D700 and a 24-70 f2.8. It was too heavy. My life saver was a 50mm f1.4 and a small inexpensive flash. Bring spare batteries and extra plug adapters. DON'T eat anything which isn't hot. (Except yogurt) In retrospect I wish I had taken a D90 and my 17-50mm f2.8 lens. It would have been much easier. A good point and shoot is a must have. I would recommend a G12 or the Samsung TL500. Things you should not travel without. Good insect repellent, sun screen, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper. You will need a good, secure, over the shoulder bag. The Temba Messenger or the Crumpler 6 million dollar home would be good choices. Good hiking sandals and lots of cargo shorts and t-shirts. I would bring a prescription for cipro in case you get Bombay belly. If you are going to be in Mumbia (Bombay) I can give you a list of decent restaurants. I have friends who live there. If you are going to Goa be sure to eat at "The Ritz Classic" they have amazing food.
     
  28. Dear Yakim,

    27mm equivalent is squarely in the wide angle region. Only for special effects and in very tight spaces one needs
    more. (though I must confess my 17-40 loves my 5D very much)

    The 135/2 would be a great tele / long portrait lens. For really low light there's the 2.8 and the 4 (?) stop IS of your
    17-55.

    The question was "most versatile while staying light weight" and having your equipment that would be my choice.

    Another option would be your 7D, an EF 18-200 and a fast prime (between 24 and 50 depending on your personal
    taste) that's versatile and would hardly ever force you to change lenses at a bad moment.

    M.
     
  29. Yakim - what sort of travel are you doing? I was staying in hostels, backpacking/hitchhiking and moving around a lot, and going where I wanted on the day so wanted a light kit. But if I decided I was more likely to stay in an area and working from a 'base' to explore it more, I may take a bit more and leave bits in the hotel room if I felt I had too much for the day.
    In my experience in Asia (Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Burma) mugging in streets is rare, pickpockets are more of a problem. So if you are careful on buses and in the streets you should not have a problem - I got into the habit in crowded streets of slinging my daypack across my chest if I felt uncomfortable, often hanging off one shoulder which looks casual. And I rarely left my gear in my hostel room (I did not stay in decent hotel rooms when I was travelling), but then again I only had a film body and two lenses; if I were doing it now I would feel OK leaving a surplus lens by itself in my room as I presume that is far less appealing to anyone who has evil intentions.
    For gear I would consider the minimum to be my 17-55 and 70-300 (non-L) IS USM and t/c. The 17mm gives me the same FOV as 28mm did on my 35mm film camera and I rarely (I would not say never) felt I needed wider. In reality I may take tmy 70-200F4LIS instead of the 70-300. Priorites for additional kit would be a second body to avoid lens changing - first because of the chance dust and secondly to be ready for anything. Next priority would be a 24-105: in busy streets or interiors I am coming to the conclusion that anything wider is hard to use and on a crop sensor 70mm is a shade too long as a minimum focal length.
    But for general set-up in UK with good light my walkaround kit is often my 30D+70-200 in a holster bag with my S90 for wider shots. But I am increasingly tempted by a Panasonic GH-2 with 20mm pancake, 14-140 and 100-300, but that would be dependent on the chance to test them first.
    As for tripods, I think that is a tricky one. I don't use them much and although I would love them for interiors etc I would probably take a good monopod and shoot a lot at ISO 1600. And add a Gorillapod.
    As for your question about people wanting their photo taken - they LOVE it (adults and children). And taking the time to show them the pictures on the LCD makes a friend for life. I don't know what it is like in India but in Nepal there is an increasing issue of kids wanting money in return for their picture and people have different views as to whether you go along with this so make your own decisions.
     
  30. Hi Yakim! Although I am a Nikonian, I couldn't resist posting on this Canon gear thread since I too am originally from India, and photography there is close to my heart! As far as your job, good things do come out of unfortunate situations, and you'll undoubtedly end up stronger and in a better place!
    I have photographed in India, and China as well. The biggest thing you will notice are the crowds, and the apparent visual chaos. To get to the beauty, you must use lenses and techniques that isolate your subject. If you are using wide-angle lenses, you must carefully choose your angle to frame your subject with the proper background. Large apertures, and medium teles help a lot. I think 10-22 is too wide for most people pics, even on the 7D, you should get something in the 35mm equivalent FOV of a 36mm or higher (IMHO). Of your existing gear, I'd take the 17-55 and the 100mm, both sharp and with wide aperture. If you really want, take the 55-250mm as a backup, if you need longer tele. Midday sun is very harsh in India, at least carry a polarizer to cut the glare. Early morning and late afternoon golden light is truly golden in India, and you can get priceless portraits in the right light. Otherwise, stick to the shade. Also, during winter, you get a lot of fog in the mornings, and foggy atmospheric pictures, or portraits in diffused light because of the fog, can also give you wonderful images.
     
  31. About the 55-250 and its build quality. I wouldn't sweat it too much, for two reasons. First, it's a light lens and it'll do just fine. Second, if your shooting habits are anything like mine then 90% of shots will be with the UWA and standard zoom. In the unlikely case of failure you'll only miss a few shots, and you may have to do some cropping. No big deal.
    I'd leave the 60/2.8. You already have 55/2.8 on your zoom. Now, as for 55-250 vs 100/2.8. The zoom is versatile and light, but it's slow, has dubious bokeh, and limited close-focus capability. The 100/2.8 is a nice shallow-dof lens but requires "zooming with the feet". As I mentioned I bring a prime or zoom depending on mood and destination. I usually choose about 1/2 hr before the cab arrives to take me to the airport. Since it's used for 10% of shots it's no huge decision.
    As for the 400/2.8. You better start honing you bargaining skills!
     
  32. Do you work in Computers/IT/media/entertainment
    I suggest take up a job in India. Should be easy with your experience.
    You will get to know the locals and hence figure out the least expensive and safest ways to travel.
    Equipment: No more than two lenses, changing them in India is a pain or for that matter anywhere in the world.
     
  33. it

    it

    Yes, I go minimal with 2 bodies. As I mentioned, I am working. Going on a job with one body is career suicide.
    Don't worry about water, there is bottled water everywhere. Don't worry about getting ripped off, it's not going to happen. Trust people, you will have a better time.
    Stay away from tourist areas in India IMO. Get off the beaten path.
     
  34. John, your recommendations are spot on, down to the Ritz Classic. You might as well share your list of decent restaurants in Mumbai... (and anywhere else, for that matter)
     
  35. Just take the Canon 7D and the Canon 15-85 mm IS lens and nothing else for ultimate light weight travel. Not the widest (you can photostitch if you need wider) and not the longest (but with 7D you have quite a bit of digital zoomability) but will cover you for 90% of your photography needs in one relatively compact and light package.
     
  36. Hi
    Sorry for the late response as I could not access to my mail yesterday. I do have 17-40 and 135 mm f/2 with my 5D MKII. I have used it very limited times. 135mm will be wonderful for portraits and 17-55 will cover the rest. You need only two lens either 24-70 mm or 17-55 mm ( 17-55 will be good with 7D) and 70-200 either f/4 IS L or 70-200 IS L F/2.8 (but too much weight).
    We are proud to be called as an INDIANS always. Don't mind , we are nice and good and helpful INDIANS . We look forward for your successful trip to our country. All the very best.
     
  37. Yakim, i have only one suggestion , don't take borrowed lenses/stuff with you on trips that you've never done before . I never do .. Have Fun ! PC
     
  38. I never felt threatened at any time while I was in India. Everyone I met (except one guy in Agra) was friendly and hospitable. Indians seem to love getting their pictures taken. A perfect reason to bring a 50mm f1.8 and a small flash. The people in Dehradun were great. The folks at Sanjay Gupta's Sony shop were kind enough to charge my cell phone for me. I guess the road from Delhi to Dehradun can be a bit hazardous, my friends wouldn't let me out of the SUV.
    00Y2SY-321515584.jpg
     
  39. zml

    zml

    Yakim:
    Most people here are "omnivores" in terms of photography, i.e. shoot everything and everyone in sight regardless of their whereabouts, so unless your shooting preferences will change in India, I don't see any reason to schlepp around stuff that you normally don't use. Now, if you have in mind a specific topic that requires specialized gear, such as the proverbial 500 mm lens on a safari, by all means take it with you but otherwise it is a good thing to limit oneself to a simple and versatile setup with some backup (for that "once in the lifetime" part...) And if you want to be "fully covered" for pretty much every situation, optics covering14-200 mm range (on a FF frame body) would be perfect, but by no means required. I, for one, know that 90% of my "omnivorous" photography is covered by a 24-105 or even 24-70 lens so this would be my choice. So I'd lose some pictures due to the too short/too long focal length range (or get very creative to get the shot with whatever is available...) but IMO that's a good trade-off between simplicty and too much stuff, especially if you are going at it alone.
    YMMV of course.
     
  40. Whenever I travel outside of Israel, weight / bulk is a major factor so I always take my G9 from a size/ IQ point of view. Shutter lag is not an issue for me with travel pics and, as quite a few subjects will be camera shy, it's easier to take a candid shot with a compact.
    Also, travelling today means having to unpack frequently for security checks, etc, hence the desire for a point n shoot. All I have to take is a small flash, an extra fully charged battery or two and a number of smaller cards - you never know you will get a chance to recharge or when a card may pack up or get lost.
     
  41. 1) 17-55mm/f2.8
    2) 70-200mm/f4 IS
    and if possible, better would be 15-85mm (instead of 17-55mm which will have an overlap with 70-200mm). I am currently living in south of India (of course, I am an Indian) and having many short trips to many places during the weekends like temples, palaces, parks etc. I always feel that 17-55mm is wide enough. I generally carry 17-55mm and 70-200mm and, mostly use 17-55mm. Sometimes I feel like having a lens which is little wider and little longer than 17-55mm.
    Cheers!
    Avijit
    Update: Carrying a laptop might be a pain during the summer. Get lots of memories.
     
  42. I have been to India 11 times (totallng about 3 years) and my wife 17 times and we have never had any problems (in regards to theft or violence). I feel safer in India than in a western city.
    With that said, some common sense prevails.
    I have talked to many tourists who have had problems, particularly with things left in cheaper accomdations.
    Definitely take a nice telephoto with a decent zoom range that is IS stabailzed (like the 70-200 IS) , in addition to a walk about wide to moderate tele zoom. I would also take a fast prime for night shots. In the evening as it cools, everything takes on a different quality.
    Forget about a tripod for most shots, everything is spontaneous. Some people do not like their pictures taken, which you have to honor. It is very colorful, especially south india: trucks have names and faces painted on them, people spill out into the street, and everything is in relationship with everything else in a kind of poetry at times.
    However one reason to have a tripod is for some of the spetacular sunsets. Perhaps a less expensive and light tripod would be fine for this occassional useage scenario.
    When going through crowds, put on your backback backwards, that is with it in your front. Be careful leaving things even for a moment. In terms of using a camera, a high end camera is less of a theft draw than a point and shoot, at least in the more rural areas. Do not get sleepy at night at train stations (sleeping) with bags lying arounds you - better to travel lightly.
    Be relaxed and friendly (really important), a smile and respectful mannor goes a long way in India.
    Very careful what and wear you eat. If you get a bit sick (and you will), then at first sign stop eating and simply have lemon juice/water/honey and perhaps some neem tea for a day or two, and you will be fine.
    India is no longer in-expensive in regards to accomodations, unless you want to stay in very basic settings. For trains always travel first class (which is like 3rd class for western standards).
    Technical things like computers, etc, have a way of breaking in India. With high heat, humidity, a lot of bumps, grime, dust, ants, etc, it is just a factor of life. For any computer, it is important that you have some kind of voltage protection: 240 volts can be anyware from 30 to 300+ volt, with masive spikes as well. For a camera, you could have a second body that could be sent DHL to you on a moments notice if need be.
    Think of it as Mother India and it will be a different experience, there is no place like it. I is simultaneously a place you do not want to go back to (pollution, dirty, ...) , and yet a place that is also very special in to many ways to describe (feelings, soul, softness, connectivity, people, ...).
     
  43. John Crowe,
    My 5D is Mk I but I don't think I'd like it any better if it was Mk II. This would only make life with it a bit more tolerable. :)
    My best equipment would be a bit on the heavy side. 135/2 + 300/4 IS weigh much more than the 55-250 IS and I'm not sure they'll be used enough to justify taking them. Indeed, my 17-55/2.8 IS also weigh much more than the 18-55 IS but I think I'll be using it a lot more.

    John Schroeder,
    Thank you for the tips. Indeed many people told me the same. BTW, I really like hot and spicy food.

    Matthijs Claessen,
    I do indeed expect to be in very tight spaces and/or too near so I consider UWA essential. Hyperzoom is out of the question. Don't like them.

    Mike Hitchen,
    I have no idea what kind of a trip it will be. I basically want to absorb the country. People (very important), food, landscape, architecture etc. I want to see new colours and new shapes, smell the street (yes, even if it is foul), travel by train, eat the food, see the cows in the streets, see the tigers (hopefully) etc. As I said, absorb the country.
    My camera bag, passport, visa and credit cards will be near me at all times. Other things like shirt, towel etc. will be carried in a small trolley (i.e. bag with wheels).

    Sasvata (Shash) Chatterjee,
    I am very grateful that you posted here. Indeed, the crowds and the apparent visual chaos are one of my main interests in this trip. I expect the 17-55 to be used most of the trip, as it is at home.

    Arie Vandervelden,
    Thank you for your views. They are indeed logical. I'm reassured.

    Vineet Joshi,
    Though no smiley is attached I guess it is a humoristic post. I am married for 20 years and it's likely that Snow White and three dwarfs will be waiting for me to get back sometimes.... Either that or they'll be glad to get a bit of peace and quiet and want me to stay there..... :)

    Ian,
    Got it. It's much more logical now that you explained it. I wish I was going there on a job (so someone else would pay the bill). I'm a bit puzzled by your "Stay away from tourist areas in India" suggestion. I thought about Delhi, Varanasi, Agra and Rajasthan. If time and weather permits at the end of the trip I'll head north towards Dharamsala etc. All are main tourist areas in India and in a once-in-a-lifetime trip I don't think I'd want to miss them.

    Johannes Praibin,
    Thank you very much for your warnings. If possible I do want to explore "The real India" but without getting hurt. I hope it will be possible. If the above places are not considered as "The real India" I guess they'll have to do.

    Sitthivet Santikarn,
    No doubt that it is perfect as the best ultra light set but it's a bit too minimalistic for me. My total gear is about 2Kg. I can handle that. 17-55 as the main lens. 10-22 for UWA and 55-250 as a tele.

    Thangavelu Nachimithu,
    Thank you for the clarification. I've heard so much about India and I am very excited I'm finally going there. I'm just sorry that it couldn't be a longer trip. The more I gather info the more I realize how 4-6 weeks is a very short time for such a vast country.

    Paul Candelaria,
    Got it. I won't.

    John Schroeder,
    Good to know. Many people said the same so I'm much more relaxed now.

    Michael Liczbanski,
    I do plan to go to nature reserves in the hope of seeing Tigers so a tele will be in place there. I leave my 300/4 IS at home as I won't be using it much (2-3 days?). What really aches me is the necessity to leave the 135/2 or 100/2.8 IS at home. Wide aperture is great for portraits and I've seen many great portraits from India (no idea about FL though).

    Russel Harris,
    I hate P&S form factor. Even the A33 was too small for me, ergonomically wise. Also, next time you're in Israel you're welcome to contact me. I'll be happy to meet a fellow Photo Nutter. :)

    Avijit Sett,
    Not sure about the 70-200/4 IS any more. I offered someone my 5D in exchange for his lens but he backed up. :)
    The Netbook idea is under consideration under the "less is more" rule.

    Michael Khalsa,
    Thank you so much for chiming in. Your tips are very valuable to me. Basically I intend to be cautious without being paranoid (and hope I'll be able to tell the difference....). I normally smile and am (presumably...) a courteous person so I think I'll get along. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

    Happy shooting,
    Yakim.
     
  44. I'm definitely taking the 7D, 10-22 and CPL. Bag is also a simple choice: The Lowepro CompuDayPack is my daily bag for the past 3 (4?) years. I have upgraded it to match my specific needs and it is very durable.​
    I intend to go with two bags. One is the aforementioned above. Any suggestions for another bag or, more precisely, another type of bag? I intend to carry in it all my daily things like shirts, towel, trousers etc.

    Happy shooting,
    Yakim.
     
  45. I want to emphasize that I do not plan any long (i.e. more than one day) treks. That means that this bag will basically be used only to transport these things from train/bus station to the guest house and vice versa.

    TIA.

    Happy shooting,
    Yakim.
     
  46. Forgot to mention that I have a Lowerpro Rover. It'll be great but if it gets stolen I'll be rather upset.
    Happy shooting,
    Yakim.
     
  47. Hey Yakim,
    Exploring India is undoubtedly a great idea. Although your apprehensions, which are not totally baseless, trouble me.
    Yakim, I too am a professional photographer but work with instruments which may have been your childhood toys. That's the hard way we the middle class Indians learn to live and accomplish.
    Back to your dilemma, Yakim I have a few practical suggestions.
    You can bring along your big lot of gears, park them at a secured place, and then roam around with the precise set which would be best required and used in any particular trip. As in you wouldn't need all your stuff all the time and when going to places where you'll have landscapes take the gear accordingly and similarly the other set when visiting a different type of place in the country.
    Not that expert of the trade, hence can't suggest much.
    At the best I can offer my company while visiting the places where you would probably need a friend. Would love to spend some time with you and learn about those big machines and add-ons that you use.
    Am a photojournalist and writer in this part of the world. You can read more about me and my work on jeetalex.blogspot.com
    Wishing you all the best for the journey.
    Regards,
    Alex
     
  48. Hi Alex,


    I apologize but I was misunderstood. I am not a pro. Just an avid amateur.


    I'll be landing in Delhi at February 11th and taking off at March 29th. From the info I gathered by now I guess I won't be staying much in Delhi and will most likely travel most of the time (current interest points are Varanasi, Agra and Rajasthan but things are not final in any way). While in Delhi I'll probably be in Hari-Rama in the Main Bazaar. If possible on your end, I'll be very happy to meet you.


    I'm not sure I like the idea of locking the gear in some place. Reason is that I'm positive that whatever I'll lock will be needed for certain shot. You know, in accordance to Murphy's laws.....


    BTW, "A chronic case of itchy feet, Lovejeet is on the mission to taste water of all the corners of India"? Well, I was warned by many people not to do that but as you are native I guess things are different.


    Happy shooting,
    Yakim.
     
  49. Hi,
    I have been all I all over the world with only my 40D and 17-85 EFS, so I do not have a whole lot of opinions about your hardcore gear, but I think can help you prepare in some other ways.
    For me, the most important things in my kit (in order) are:
    1) My PacSafe stap. This strap has steel belting running through it and really lowers my anxiety about someone slashing my strap and running off with my camera.
    2) Multiple batteries and multiple chargers: I have been caught twice with either 1 broken battery or 1 broken charger. It doesn't matter how amazing your lens arsenal is if your camera won't turn on.
    3) A memory card large enough to hold all the photos you take on your trip. I find that memory cards have a way of walking away from me, so I think it is best to stick with one and leave it in the camera
    4) A robust backup system (external hard drive, ftp server, whatever). If you lose your camera and don't have a backup system, you will be much more upset about your lost data than hardware.
    5) A neoprene "sleeve" to carry your camera around in. I carry my camera naked because I would much rather get a few scratches and dents than miss a great shot, but if you must have it in a case, don't be one of those fools who carries all your stuff around in a giant case. Even if it takes 30 seconds to get your gear out, you will take fewer pictures and generally take pictures of lower interest/quality.
    6) Silica packs. Especially in humid climates, I always have a ziplock full of these. I also carry a 1 gallon ziplock that I put my camera in with a couple fresh silica packs in once every week or so (overnight seems to do the trick). This helps soak up all the condensation that will constantly be attacking your lenses/camera guts.
    7) A healthy respect for your subjects. Try your best to be respectful. One of the best tricks I have learned for taking really amazing portraits is to carry my camera on my hip/back. If you approach someone with your camera on your chest like a big aggressive phallus, you will probably turn people off. Make the relationship the first step, then the picture.
    Good luck!
    Danny
     
  50. 1+5: Not an issue as the camera is firmly attached to my bag.
    2+3: Already taken care of.
    4: I am thinking about burning DVD's frequently. I understand that the facilities are abundant there.
    6: Never thought about that. 10X.
    7: That is obvious. This goes without saying.
    Happy shooting,
    Yakim.
     
  51. You are right to go to India; it is a photographer's paradise...and much more. I have travelled for years and shot in many different countries. My suggestion is to limit the amount of gear you take along. I would be so bold as to suggest to only take 2 prime lenses: a 28 to 35mm and a short telephoto 85 to 135mm. My suggestion is that you will need to travel light and a camera bag is not a clever way to advertize you bounty. I have found that i use the wide angle 70% of the time and the tele the rest. So the short tele rests in my pocket of a kind of safari jacket. You have to understand that people with fancy gear bags tend to attract the wrong type of attention; with a simple camera around your neck you can walk up to people or situation in a friendly casual way and get the shot you need. Once you start opeining a gear bag and switching lenses, the magic is lost. Finally, beware: the trip to India is an eye opener on more fronts that images and, we photographers, have a tendency to carve images out of our surrounding by hunting all the time for subjects. A real trip is usually a way to open up to the unexpected and a camera tends to detract from that. I used to travel with a Leica M6 years ago and would pull it out of my pocket when needed. It worked becasue it looked to people like a natural tool of a tourist. A gear bag looks professional and peole will assume you are one and their attitude will be different. Enjoy your trip.
     
  52. Dear Yakim,
    I just got back from my second trip to India in two years. You are going to have a wonderful time! Each person has to decide what is important, but I would rethink bringing the 5DII if you are thinking about making large prints. This is such a beautiful camera I can't imagine not taking it, using it as your main camera, and taking the 7D as your backup. Also, I suggest taking as little as possible. Having a choice of so many lenses only confuses you, makes you slower to respond (You will see so many things in India to photograph, you'll want to be ready to shoot instantly), and weighs you down. I took a Sigma 28-300 and a Sigma 12-24 and never felt that I was missing anything (I know some people are going to doubt the lens choices, but I have been doing this for 35 years and know what is necessary to achieve excellent results). As far as storage goes, I used a laptop only as an interface between a card reader and two 500GB miniature hard drives (I used Transcend drives, though there are a lot of different choices). It worked beautifully, allowing me to shoot as freely as I wanted and have everything backed up. Make sure to have enough plug adapters to accommodate your needs.
    It looks like you may be there for Holi, September 19-20. I envy you this opportunity; be sure to take something to protect your camera from all the brightly colored powders that are thrown in fun by anyone on the street. Have a great time and good luck!
    00Y614-325007684.jpg
     
  53. Hi Yakim,
    Congradulations! You will forget you ever had a job, and question ever needing one again after a traveling a week in India. My main suggestion I have for you, is to have an open ended ticket. Consider traveling 3-6months if not longer. Then continue on to see the rest of Asia. Be sure to travel based on the weather you enjoy. The extremes hot, cold, wet for any prolonged period of time can really burn you out. Be prepared to have significant GI problems for 3-4 days, you will feel like going home, but stick throughout it. I get sick every time I am there, and always go back.
    I have been to India 3-4 times times for a total of 6-7 months, including a 4 month Bike trip from Shimla to Ladakh across the Himalayas. The key to enjoying travel in India is to travel as light as possible. It allows me to hop on the top or hang off of the back of buses with ease.
    Safety
    I make sure I don't look like a photographer. I carry all of my gear in zing cases hidden a normal dungy looking day pack. I wear a loose, light, long sleeved shirt, unbuttoned in the front, and wear my camera underneath the shirt.
    I carry about 5 dollars in my pants pocet, 50 dollars in my waist belt hidden under my pants, and the rest - $1k cash, passport, plane tickets in an underarm pouch. Most places I go are too remote and don't accept traveler checks.
    Photo copies of everything are kept in my large backpack. I stay in low budget guest houses and don't trust the motel safe, although it is probably OK.
    I don't carry my gear at night in the big cities. I have never been robbed or felt unsafe following these rules.You can find the story online about how N.G. photographer, Steve McCurry was with a guide, and still robbed of all of his camera gear in Varanasi. N. G. sent him overnight.
    Gear
    I carry 5 items a body, 28-80 mm f/4.0, and 70-200mm zoom, and a 50mm 1.4 lens for low light shots, and a point and shoot + filters. To be honest, my best portraits are with the point and shoot, it is unobtrusive and spontaneous. I always get addresses, and sent photos.
    Take the 55-250 and the 17-55, leave the other lens at home. Plus a point and shoot. Life changes too fast to get caught up in changing lens all of the time. The flexibility of zooms in creating spontaneous compositions is more important than prime IQ, IMHO
    Here are some of my photos at www.dphoton.org
     
  54. Hi Yakim, I want to focus on some other matters. My first India/Nepal trip was in 1978, when Lonely Planet had just two books published...I used Across Asia on the Cheap, it did from Burma to Europe in 300 pages or so. I think I am up to 11-12 visits since then, it adds up to over 2 years in all. The changes are now stupendous, and accelerating. India is now a major tourist destination and that is half the problem. Go with a good idea what you want to shoot, work through this carefully, look at other work, and let that and that alone determine your gear choice. Minimal is best. Light is best. Small is best.
    I think the best for a Canon person is the 5D and a 24-105. Lower cost, great colour, and less nervousness for theft/damage. Excellent IQ, good enough everything else stated above. 24mm is wide enough for most subjects and 105mm is a great top end for a walk around lens. AF for speed.
    Long lens - useful but a zoom is best for framing. I would look into the 70-200/4IS if affordable to you. Good enough for a crop if need more than 200mm, which is rare. Another 5D for backup. No PCs, just enough CF cards, which are quite cheap. That way, you either shoot wide to normal tele, or longish, with few lens changes.
    Trip details: if you want non-modern India, stay away from the tourist trail, which is very well-trodden into a deep rut these days and whose subjects redefine the term 'cliche' in photography...for a first time visit in this surprisingly giant country (as big as Western Australia) I suggest what many others do, but with some twists:
    Rajasthan is a must see...more for the people, and ancient cities than the brochure images. The further away the town the better. Look into: Jaisalmer out at the edge of the Thar desert, Pushkar, Jodhpur and surrounds, Udaipur and surrounds, and the animal sanctuaries. The countryside and out of the way forts and religious sites are fabulous, and the tribal societies still quite intact. India is still predominantly rural, remember, despite the bustling cities. Avoid Golden Triangle 'attractions' like Jaipur, a smelly filthy overcrowded hole with few appealing (and even then over-hyped) sights. All the decent guidebooks detail the better out of the way places.
    Varanasi/Benares - fantastic and photogenic ancient Hindu city, narrow back streets, the Ganges, festivals, fine eateries, the ghats, great atmosphere and an authentic experience even today.
    Sadly, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are sorely overrated. Most Indians are clueless about garbage, and it is everpresent, as are rats and sewers. It can get you down, seeing old colonial masterpieces like Pondicherry or Fort Cochin dying in front of your eyes. The major towns are now tourist traps, and nasty ones at that, full of gormless Europeans, who arrrive by charter flights. Cultural attractions here are thin on the ground, but there are some charming towns in the hinterlands, and the robust wildlife is doing quite well. The beaches are horrible even by Israeli standards, and all tout-infested.
    Many regions of interest near to Bombay (yes, many Indians call it that still) incl Gujarat state and of course the beautiful old Portuguese state of Goa, especially the old ruins and old quarters of Fontainhas. The beaches are overrun with partying English fly-in/fly-out types looking for all night rave parties. The beaches look tired and dirty, with a few coconut palms thrown in for photo interest.
    Even in winter, Himachal is worth a trip, a short trip it is from Delhi, to places like McLeod Ganj, Simla, etc. Very pretty countryside. If you feel like a once in a lifetime experience, fly to Leh for 4-5 days. 50 short minutes in a 737 over the Himal range, into the Tibetan buddhist mountain paradise, one of the best mountain flights anywhere, apart from Pakistan.
    Agra - two major sights that no one should miss: the Taj, better than anyone expects, perhaps the best thing humankind ever made, and the Red Fort, which has fine views back down the river. For non-cliche shot of the Taj, head to the other side of the river. Try to see the Taj very early or late. Nice cheap GHs in Agra also, which make great retreats from this noisy, polluted, nasty industrial city. Fatehpur Sikri if you have a spare half day.
    Other: learn how to deal with touts. Be firm with them, and hold onto your gear. Learn a few choice Hindi phrases. Take a decent padlock, a mid-size Master is what we use, and use it religiously. If the GH or hotel is OK, you have nothing much to worry about. The markets, like say in Old Delhi, are places to take care. Pay attention as you waltz around, always check your wallet pocket and gear bag when you have a meal or coffee. We use clips or even safety pins for trouser pockets. Use a small pouch around the neck for passport, cash and contact info. Make a copy of all main paperwork and lock it in a pocket of your backpack. The water is horrible, even bottled water, you can buy it in large bottles in the big cities. Food is great and safe everywhere but where tourists are (!) Eat where Indians do, but be careful of street food unless an Indian advises it. Learn how to pronounce English with an Indian accent - Indians are less good at English than 20 years ago, sadly.
    Trains are great ways to get around on main routes, sleep on your gear bag as a pillow. Train food is safe. Planes are cheap, but book ahead if possible. Long distance taxis are also a great way to see far away places, and meet local people. Good GHs are wonderful, and can arrange everything for you these days - so use them. For auto rickshaw rides, ask any local how much to pay drivers.
    Buying - markets are good for bags, buy fabrics from highend places that funnel money back to villagers, like Fab India. India has cheap books also, many that are simply unavailable elsewhere.
    Resources - my favourite is IndiaMike.com, and the Thorn Tree run by LP.
    Nepal - great for a break if/when India oppresses you - and a good time of year if you want a short trek or even a drive around. KTM is easy to reach by both plane and bus, from say Varanasi. It is crowwed and these days, another tourist trap, but the countryside! You can take flights to Lukla or Jomson (from Pokhara) or even drive up towards the Tibet border.
     
  55. I thank you all for your posts but sadly, I won't be using them anytime soon. My work was just prolonged to May 1st. That is good because I'll earn more money in the meantime but that is bad as I'll have to postpone the trip till October. I don't know what to think or feel. I want to cry and laugh at the same time....

    Happy shooting,
    Yakim.
     
  56. Hello,
    you can always consider renting the required gears when in that country/city. For one of my trips, i rented few lenses from bragpacker.com in Mumbai. and i must say that it was a good deal and very convenient as well.
     

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