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| p.1 #6 · Planning a trip to Thailand/Cambodia, need backpack advice |
I agree with Lars.
We've both spent a lot of time in the region, both with photography as a focus at times. I've filed a number of stories (written and photographic) from there over the last few years. Here's my advice:
Two bags. A light day bag, for carrying camera gear (and other light valuables), a rain shell (or 1 dollar/euro plastic shell you can buy at any market there), extra shirt, whatever. And then another cheap bag, be it a duffle, backpack, whatever, for a few changes of clothes (like Lars suggests, my protocol is to bring very little, and acquire stuff while there), maybe a pair of shoes/flip flops (I like having a choice each day), etc. Unless you pack REALLY light, you don't want to have to carry around cloths and stuff, nor a big (even if empty) backpack when you're out during the day. Transportation is cheap, and a second bag is no more difficult for moving around than having any bag at all. If anything, it makes it easier to keep track of your valuables (big bags might not fit well on some buses; a small bag with valuables goes with you at your seat, the big bag goes in the under-the-bus/above-the-van storage area). I actually switched to a non-photo bag for my photo bag purposes: TNF Hot Shot (non-special addition). It carries my netbook, backup HDD(s), 5Dmk2, 17mm Tamron, 35L, 135L, 0-series CF Tripod (outside), and all my other little gadgets, bits, and pieces (GoPro HD, gps logger, remote release, etc)-- and it's easy for me to get into and out of, it doesn't scream camera (labels blacked out, black, beat up bag), holds up to abuse, is very comfortable for day-out purposes.
If you're reasonably smart about what you leave and where, you can leave stuff in hotels/guesthouses. If you're really concerned, get a system for locking your stuff up, and insurance. A determined thief can always get your stuff-- but making them break something to do it will allow you to file a police report and get your insurance to cover you. Most thefts in hotels/guesthouses are crimes of opportunity, and easily thwarted. I've spent close to a year in the region on various trips-- and have left thousands of dollars of gear in $5 to $20/night guesthouses/hotels (I have insurance)-- and my sum total of experiences are i) returning to a hotel to see someone cleaning the room with my iPod on (first generation, when the iPod was a novelty in America still), and someone chasing me down to give me back a camera worth more than a good chunk of average local salary.
As for lenses, I personally see little reason to go beyond mid-tele in this part of the world (caveat: unless you have a specific reason, or specific things you wan to shoot with a long tele... see some of Lars's work). Sure, that's a generalization, but for me it applies. And for most people I am willing to bet it applies too. I find that the majority of my shooting in the area ends up being some of the following: tight/cramped spaces, large architecture, cityscapes, people, wide to medium scenics. i like having something ultra-wide (17-xx is perfect; I use a 17 prime), something for low-light (24L or 35L would be great), and less often something in normal to mid tele (135, or a zoom).
It's admittedly more difficult to compose/expose with wider lenses, but I think you end up feeling more because it forces you to get closer.