what OM gear / lenses to take to south east asia

Discussion in 'Olympus' started by tim_kohlman, Aug 24, 2008.

  1. Hi all, I'm planning a trip to Thailand and Cambodia for later this year, the plan is to spend a week in samui relaxing
    on the beach and then head to Siem Reap and hit some temples / more remote areas of Cambodia and take a few
    photos.

    I wanted to get some feed back on what kit I should take with me as it's the first time i've really travelled with my gear
    where mobility could be a problem.

    The type of photos I'm looking at taking are pictures of the local people ie. typical life in some of the less developed
    areas of the country, and photos of the temples. I'm more interested in people pics.

    I want to be shooting in slide film (probably fuji velvia) and also black and white (probably Ilford HP5 and Ilford Delta
    100) so I was thinking of taking:

    - My OM-4 (for slide film, esp. useful with the spot meter)

    - My OM-1n (for the black and white)

    - My Zuiko 100mm f/2.8

    - My Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 or f/1.8 MIJ

    - My Zuiko 28mm f/2.8

    - A T20 flash

    - Filters

    - Spare batteries

    - Ziplock bags to keep equipment dry

    So, just wondering if there is any gear you wouldn't take, or anything that you consider a 'must have'. Ie. if there is a
    specific zuiko lens that is perfect for this sort of environment then i'd consider investing in a lens specifically for the
    trip.

    What would be a better choice in lens, the 50 f/1.4 or the 50 f/1.8 MIJ?
    I could see the 1.4 coming in handy if taking photos inside of temples.

    I guess at tripod would be useful but a bit too bulky for me. I've also left out any larger flashes, winders, macro stuff,
    zoom lenses.

    Any other advise on film to bring, places to see etc. would also be great.
     
  2. My main film stock would be ISO 100, with some ISO 400 for interiors (possibly pushed one or two stops). For the
    latter there is nothing to touch Provia 400X professional. For the ISO 100 use whatever you would elsewhere.

    The T20 is too puny. You need at least a T32 and the wide angle (see below) and zoom adapters can be useful.

    I never take a standard lens anywhere, using three zooms, a superwide to standard, a mid-range and a 70-210mm. A
    17mm or thereabouts, prime can get the shot others cannot.

    I take an external meter (I use incident readings) as back-up, my OM4 spotmeters having let me down more than
    once.

    I carry a changing bag for sorting out those little problems, such as when the film breaks off from the cassette inside
    the camera. Believe me, it happens, never at home, always far away!

    Some silica gels crystals, preferably the self-indicating ones, in little cloth bags will protect your lenses from the
    potentially high risk of fungus.

    A refillable bean bag can be useful. Take it empty and buy some raw rice or other seed locally.

    Before you go, read up on the places and people. I find that Eyewitness Guides are the best. Check what
    photography is deemed acceptable/unacceptable.

    Dump cassette boxes and plastic tubes before you go. You will be surprised how much weight and bulk they
    contribute.

    Take an indelible felt-tipped pen and label your cassettes, making notes in a notebook.
     
  3. I don't know if you'd get a lot of benefit from the 1.4 over the 1.8. I mainly use my f1.4 lenses wide open only when taking isolated people photos in interiors (theatre,etc.). For inside a temple you want as much depth of field as possible. I wouldn't even shoot wide open with the 1.8 under those conditions. The f1.8 lens, BTW, is nicely portable so you might still want to bring it. If you have a wide angle wider than a 28mm you should bring it as well. Many interiors are more easily photographed with ultrawide lenses. One of my favorite ultrawides (sorry it's not a Zuiko) is the Tamron Adaptall 17mm f3.5. I can use it with my OM series cameras as well as my Minoltas, Yashica, Pentax, and Konica. It has a built in yellow filter that can be selected for black & white shots. Also, have you considered a tele longer than 100mm? Maybe the Zuiko 70-150 f4 zoom if you have one.
     
  4. Jealousy sets in as I write this. A few years ago, I lived in Southeast Asia for a while and shot exclusively with a (not so trusty) OM2. I think your current set up sounds excellent, it doesn't get much better.

    There will be so many great shots you'll miss, no matter how much stuff you bring. I learned a lot about photography there, and by the end of my time had whittled my kit down to an OM2, a Cosina 135mm, a Vivitar 28mm, the 50mm 1.8, couple of rolls of Provia and Tri-x, a polarizer, permanent marker, and a table top tripod. Sure, sometimes I wished I had a little wider lens for here, or a macro for there, but in hindsight, I never would have lugged this kit the places I did if I had included a couple more lenses and used a larger bag. This simple cheap combo has given me some of the best photos I've ever taken.
    If you are more strict, and you know you won't be spending multiple days on the road, then by all means take more, but what you've already got sounds great.

    There is a definite beaten path in these countries, but it is easy to get off of if you try. A fun way to see this part of the world is to bring a guidebook, like the popular Lonely Planet, and then ignore every place it mentions, since they are tourist laden and written in such detail it sucks the sense of discovery right out of your trip. They are not comprehensive and there's plenty they miss. If you want personal photographs, do a farm stay, or something equivalent. Guaranteed, it will be more memorable, and give you better pictures than either Angkor, or Samui.

    Have a great time!
     
  5. I agree with Mike, the f/1.8 lens weight and size benefit is much greater to you in this situation than the 1/2 of a stop gained with the f/1.4. Also, I find the f/1.4 to be too "mushy" wide-open to be useful for interiors anyway. Saving yourself the size and weight is more important. As far as temples go... mini-tripod and cable release with the wide-angle lens would be the way to go. You can find mini tripods that are pretty stout for under $30, with real metal joints. This would allow you to shoot using the same film you use for daylight without having to deal with 800 speed film, which you run the risk of fogging in the scanners at the airport, as well as allow you to stop-down and get all the detail you need without using flash.
     
  6. I'm glad Patrick mentioned the tripod. A tripod, even a small one, is a must-have for interior shots. Some places do not permit tripods,though, so having a wide to ultrawide prime lens is a good thing since you can hand hold at slower shutter speeds. Also the tripod will allow time exposures to be made at night. Near dusk before it gets really dark is a good time to get some really unusual shots in both color and B/W.
     
  7. My suggestions were based on the kit I take on such trips, omitting the items Tim would seem unlikely to use. So,
    returning to the 50mm lens: In view of Tim's stated interests, I did not mention my 50mm macro.

    Would the unique chances to shoot some showy insects and flowers really be passed up? My macro lens would
    also be an excellent choice for standard lens use but, from several overseas photographic trips, I do not recall using
    it as such. Also, I take my X-pan with me, where the standard 45mm lens, in 35mm format, is always available for
    such use. Again, I cannot recall using it thus, except when my OM4 has developed fault or when I would
    have had to return to my car for more film and missed shots. Is Tim going to be comfortable enough, when taking
    pictures of strangers, to do so within the range of a 50mm lens?

    In general, a standard lens, as will any prime lens, can be very limiting in framing shots, especially when there are
    limits on the viewing positions. It can be better to deal with low light situations with faster film. I overcome X-Ray
    concerns by posting all my films home, actually direct to the processing lab, from the country I am visiting.
     
  8. I'd personally take the f/1.4 over the f/1.8. I have the MIJ 1.8 and I like it, but I like the Bokeh on the 1.4 silvernose
    that I have more and that extra 2/3rds of a stop can be useful. I don't find the size/weight difference between the two
    lenses excessive. I'd take all of your lenses and consider looking in to a wide angle 3rd party lens (24mm or wider).
    My copy is quite sharp wide open, of course the DOF is still pretty thin unless focused really far out, but I can stop
    down a stop or two and have much greater DOF.

    My personal kit varies depending on the trip, but would I would take on such a vacation would probably mirror what I
    would consider for something like a European trip.

    Zuiko 50mm f/1.4
    Sigma 24mm f/2.8
    Sigma 28mm f/1.8
    Tamron 35-70mm f/3.5 macro
    Vivitar series 1 70-210mm f/3.5

    When I don't worry about low light as much I take my Tamron 28mm f/2.5 instead of the Sigma f/1.8 and I'll
    sometimes leave my zuiko 50mm f/1.4 behind. I use a Vivitar 285hv flash which has quite a bit of output to it, but
    frankly I don't travel with a flash. I use it for events/people shooting and I don't want to lug the extra weight. In the
    future I might consider packing my little Sunpack DC3 flash which has a GN of 30 and just slip it in my backpack
    instead of my camera bag just so I have some kind of flash with me.

    I do want to get a Tamron 17mm f/3.5 lens for those really ultrawide shots, but architecture and landscape related. I
    never, ever take anything longer then my Vivitar 70-210 lens. I also have a 300/5.6 and a 400/5.6 as well as a 2x (and
    shortly when it arrives) a 1.5x teleconverter, but all of that is strictly wildlife/sports.

    If I truely had to pack light/small I would probably just take my Tamron 28/2.5, zuiko 50/1.4 and vivitar 135/3.5 and
    call it a day, but I haven't faced that situation ever (I did take just a zuiko 50/1.8 and that vivitar 135/3.5 to England
    with me a few years ago...but those were the only lenses I owned at the time and I seriously regretted not having
    something wider).
     
  9. - My OM-4 (for slide film, esp. useful with the spot meter)
    - My OM-1n (for the black and white)
    - My Zuiko 100mm f/2.8
    - My Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 or f/1.8 MIJ
    - My Zuiko 28mm f/2.8


    I think this is a great kit, and you'll love it. You might want to add an ultrawide for some tight interiors, but even these 3 lenses will be fine for 95% of all photographic opportunities.

    BTW: my kit consist of the same lenses, and I've used it for several trips. I usually use 28 and 50 the most, with 100 seeing only rare use. Sometimes a 28/2 would be more handy for dark interiors when the use of tripod is forbidden. But I now have 28/1.9 for my Leica, and plan to use that for trips instead of the OM kit.

    There will be so many great shots you'll miss, no matter how much stuff you bring. I learned a lot about photography there, and by the end of my time had whittled my kit down to an OM2, a Cosina 135mm, a Vivitar 28mm, the 50mm 1.8, couple of rolls of Provia and Tri-x, a polarizer, permanent marker, and a table top tripod. Sure, sometimes I wished I had a little wider lens for here, or a macro for there, but in hindsight, I never would have lugged this kit the places I did if I had included a couple more lenses and used a larger bag.

    I completely agree with this one. Keep it simple. Enjoy the trip.
     
  10. thanks for the comments everyone, the trip is actually a few months away so i'm getting excited now but still have a bit of time to wait before I set sail.

    i'm quite happy with the 100mm, it's probably my most used lens. I love it for taking portraits from a reasonable distance, full frame facial portraits and for picking out specific detail in scenes. What it's bad for are interior shots and group portraits but I think the wider lenses have me covered there.

    I don't see a need for any longer lenses, perhaps they would be useful for nature photography but I really have no interest in doing any of that for this trip. The wider lenses could be useful also some faster lenses maybe (what does a 21mm/f2 go for these days.....)

    Would a tilt/shift lens be much use?
     

Share This Page