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Archive 2013 · Nepal and Bhutan equipment question
  
 
Jeff Nolten
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p.1 #1 · Nepal and Bhutan equipment question


Greetings, my wife and I just booked a Nepal and Bhutan tour through OAT. I was thinking of taking my normal travel kit of 5D2 or 3, 24-105, 100-400, an iPad, and possibly a 100L. What concerns me is OAT says the in-country flights have a very strict 11 lb carry-on limit and suggest you carry on a complete change of clothes, etc in case your luggage gets "delayed" !?.

I've never been to this part of the world before. Does anyone have experience and suggestions for this? When I asked OAT about camera gear they suggested I bring a zoom lens. Should I post this in the Nature/Wildlife forum since this is not really a gear question but how to get it there? Any help would be greatly appreciated.



Jan 15, 2013 at 07:17 PM
Monito
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p.1 #2 · Nepal and Bhutan equipment question


Jeff Nolten wrote:
Greetings, my wife and I just booked a Nepal and Bhutan tour through OAT. I was thinking of taking my normal travel kit of 5D2 or 3, 24-105, 100-400, an iPad, and possibly a 100L. What concerns me is OAT says the in-country flights have a very strict 11 lb carry-on limit and suggest you carry on a complete change of clothes, etc in case your luggage gets "delayed" !?.


Carry on the camera gear, no clothes and pack everything else in the checked baggage. You can replace a bag of clothes much more easily in Bhutan than you can a bag of camera gear. Alternatively if you have to live the entire trip in the clothes you wear and wash them every second night in the hotel room, you'll have the photographs to last forever (triplicate copies, one off-site) and who cares if the clothes are like rags when you get back. Twenty years from now, will you remember what clothes you took with you?



Jan 15, 2013 at 07:32 PM
Jeff Nolten
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p.1 #3 · Nepal and Bhutan equipment question


I agree with you completely Monito. I wouldn't go if I couldn't bring the camera gear.


Jan 15, 2013 at 07:58 PM
Bacalhau
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p.1 #4 · Nepal and Bhutan equipment question


No one really cares about what you are wearing, unless you are staying in luxury hotels, and even so, only is really caring.
Depending when and exacttly where you going to, just make sure you can layer easly, and have always a set of confortable/warm clothes for the night(sleep) and after the tour.
Whool underwear and base layers will go a long away before they start smelling btw.

As far as gear:
on the flight, yes, carry all your gear with you. Make sure your bag is whithin allowed sizes. Even you lithium batteries have to be carried with you - not in checked luggage.
If you have a porter or most of your luggage is transported by anyone else other than you, saty with given limits, and pack your daypack according to region /scenary.
I would carry a UWA prime or zoom. 24mm is enough, but may come narrow in a few situations, and yes, the 100-400 is a good lens to have too.
As you have both cameras, and they have same battery type, I would set one with the 24-105, anthe other with a 16-35 or any other prime below 24.
Obviously you can always carry the UWA and 100-400 in you pack, but be very careful exchanging lenses( dusty area), and be aware of humidity levels too.
check TripAdvisor forums for clothing tips and such

ps: consider carrying a p&s too - not only is a backup, but can be used when you don't want to carry the big camera - i.e. going out for dinner, and if you have a private guide, hand him the P&S and tell him to shoot away everything he wants, in special you and your wife along the way.

In sum:
both cameras
UWA
24-105mm
100-400mm
leave the 100mm home
ipad- why not? beter yet a laptop, to view and store shots

11lbs is a given limit - if you really are way over that, they will make you pay for extra weigth.
wear your hiking boots, and dress in touring clothing - rain jacket or light sweater will fit in the bag ot around your waist
and last but not least - get gear insurance(thru your home insurance agent) and get travel insurance too, along with get all required vaccinations for the area (check with local CDC and your doctor/health provider)

Have fun



Jan 15, 2013 at 08:06 PM
Monito
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p.1 #5 · Nepal and Bhutan equipment question


Wear two shirts, a sweater, a rain jacket, two pairs underwear, two pairs of socks, and a large hat. (Time of year will determine how much to prepare for rain versus frost.) If you over-heat on the flights carry the rain jacket in hand or tied around your waist.

Wear pants and shirts with lots of pockets. Stuff the pockets with filters, spare batteries, cable releases, CF cards, etc.



Jan 15, 2013 at 08:07 PM
Monito
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p.1 #6 · Nepal and Bhutan equipment question


Get the new 24-70 f/4 IS L with the quasi-macro capability as your mid lens. It's new, its price will drop later, but get and get it soon. It will be your walk-around lens. Sell the 24-105 to get it if need be. If you end up not liking it, sell the 24-70 f/4 when you get back and buy back the 24-105. Partly why I recommend getting the quasi-macro before you go so you get used to it and test it in use.

Also take a 50 mm f/1.8 in one of your pocketses for candle-light shots, yak fat lamp shots, moonlit shots, etc.

Take a 1.4x Tele-Extender for the 100-400 L; they are a great combination, but be prepared to focus manually (not hard with a little care).

Take a 4 oz Ultrapod II table tripod. It also has a velcro strap so you can attach it to a railing or a branch or a pole. You can also jam the pod against a heavy tree trunk and hold it in place for a couple of seconds for a shot.

Stack your NDs and CP filters and get the screw on front and rear stack caps. It will save space and a little weight over carrying each filter in a case. Not much more space is a cloth filter carrier.

I have the 50, the 100-400, the 1.4x II, stack caps, and the Ultrapod II and recommend them all highly. I also have the 100 2.8 macro (non-IS, non-L) but I would take the 24-70 quasi-macro instead for versatility.



Jan 15, 2013 at 08:14 PM
Xavier Rival
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p.1 #7 · Nepal and Bhutan equipment question


I have taken many domestic flights inside Nepal, but never visited Bhutan.
In theory the weight limit is indeed very low on those flights, but in practice I never had any issue, with much much heavier equipment (not only photography, but also mountaineering). Nobody ever checked. In the other hand, the "checked-in" luggage was checked and was a source of concern among our local guides.

Not strictly on topic, but just in case here is a few things about the photographic equipment I took, mostly for trekking/mountaineering:
- a 5D + a 10D as a backup (which I never used... better safe than sorry).
- typically a three lenses set like 17-40L+70-200/4L+ZE21 or 17-40L+24-105L+70-200/4L.
- a very small Gitzo with RRS BH-25, rarely used though, so not taken on the last trip.
- a Think Tank Change Up; very convenient to carry equipment ready to use in a waist bag, that does not interfere much with the backpack.
- plenty of batteries (to always keep warm, especially before use, when in cold places) and CF.
Cameras and lenses were always with me on all flights.

I never wished I took my 100-400L as wildlife photography is really hard to do on a trekking. In the other hand, the wide angle lenses got a lot of use. I also like the mid-tele a lot, and there are portrait photography opportunities (so if you have one "portrait lens" of choice, you should not leave it behind). Not many places offer wifi, so I am not sure about the iPad (it is a bit limited as a backup solution).



Jan 15, 2013 at 08:38 PM
Jeff Nolten
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p.1 #8 · Nepal and Bhutan equipment question


Thanks Bacalhau, good review. And thanks Monito, excellent tips. We are pretty experienced travelers so we have lots of Supplex clothes and silk underware which wash/dry easily and tend not to stink. Our checked gear has never been a problem. I like all the tips for carrying on extra stuff this is useful so I'll make notes for future reference.

I'll only be taking one body, my 5D2 or probably I'll be getting a 5D3 before the trip hoping the f8 AF update arrives so I can take advantage of a 1.4x. I like taking two bodies, e.g. 5D+7D but dealing with one for group trips seems to work better and saves weight. I'll probably live with the 24-105 and its 24 wide limit. I have a 35 f2 that would take nice "yak fat" pictures. (I want to name my new rock band Yak Fat ) Maybe the 35 IS but I don't know if I'll buy it before the trip. I always take 20 mm of extension so the 100L is more for portraiture but it is expendable. I took a 17-40 on a Greek trip but didn't use it much - I tend to stitch for panoramas wider than 24.

My wife will be carrying our G1X and I'll try to have its underwater housing in my checked bag. We're doing some river rafting somewhere. We'll also be doing lots of hiking so I don't want to skimp on my backpack/carry on bag. It weighs 3 lbs empty with the camera/lens padding I've added. 5D+24-105+100-400+iPad and bag comes to 11 3/4 lbs. so I'm already pushing it. Thanks for the suggestions.



Jan 15, 2013 at 08:57 PM
Jeff Nolten
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p.1 #9 · Nepal and Bhutan equipment question


Xavier Rival wrote:
I have taken many domestic flights inside Nepal, but never visited Bhutan.
In theory the weight limit is indeed very low on those flights, but in practice I never had any issue, with much much heavier equipment (not only photography, but also mountaineering). Nobody ever checked. In the other hand, the "checked-in" luggage was checked and was a source of concern among our local guides.


Thanks Xavier, this is the kind of experience I'm hoping to hear. I've done in-country air in Costa Rica and Tahiti with ridiculous weight limits and found they didn't check if you were reasonable but I've never been to this part of the world.

The iPad contains my reading material and previous trip photography to share with fellow travelers. I always laughed at those who rushed to the hotel hot spots, I travel to get away from that.

Maybe a 70-200 f4 instead of the 100-400 if there is no wildlife to expect. I'd appreciate input on that. We won't be trekking, just day hikes so if I can get it on the plane I can get it out the trail.



Jan 15, 2013 at 09:06 PM
galenapass
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p.1 #10 · Nepal and Bhutan equipment question


Wow - great trip! I'd love to have you conundrum! Have fun.


Jan 15, 2013 at 09:28 PM
 

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Zander Alberts
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p.1 #11 · Nepal and Bhutan equipment question


My experience was very similar to Xavier's.... not too much emphasis on weight on the domestic/in-country flights. I would venture the hardest part will be getting through the US airports. The Nepalese are relatively relaxed on weight, security, etc. I remember walking through KTM to find the bag checker asleep, nearly falling out of his chair.

Are you planning on riding along on some kind of bus the whole trip? Trekking?

Time of year... if you are planning on going during monsoon, that takes some preparation.

Additionally, the Nepalese are quite helpful and generally do not bother Americans, but depending on where and how you are traveling, you might want to spend some time making your gear as inconspicuous as possible. I highly doubt you will have a problem, but it never hurts to mention.



Jan 16, 2013 at 01:01 AM
thw2
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p.1 #12 · Nepal and Bhutan equipment question


Been trekking to Nepal couple of times. I am not sure if your trip involves a bit of hiking.

In any case, I took 7D + 10-22 (equiv to 16-35) + 17-55 f/2.8 (equiv to 27-88).

I seriously doubt you'll need the 100-400. Not much wildlife there. IMHO, all you need is an ultrawide zoom + standard zoom.



Jan 16, 2013 at 01:56 AM
Jeff Nolten
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p.1 #13 · Nepal and Bhutan equipment question


We will be traveling with Overseas Adventure Travel in a group of 12 to 16, by bus I would guess. No outside or primitive living but not the Hilton either. timeframe is April May, so before monsoon. I'm not too worried about personal security other than due diligence. From previous OAT trips the age group is early retirement, so no ice axes or crampons.

It sound like the issue may be Bhutan or Delhi to Bhutan as Bhutan is relatively new to tourism. This should narrow my google searches. Thanks!



Jan 16, 2013 at 01:57 AM
thw2
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p.1 #14 · Nepal and Bhutan equipment question


Was in Nepal during April. Expect slight haze due to forest fires. Another reason why you will not need your 100-400.

Bhutan is not new to tourism. However, it's never easy to enter Bhutan because the authorities there want to limit tourism to preserve their local culture. They'll welcome you with open arms as long as you are accompanied by tour guides. Your stay in Bhutan should be very comfortable.

Based on your description, you'll mostly be taking photos of temples, local folks and perhaps some cultural performances. A few landscape shots are possible especially in Bhutan. You should have a have better idea of what to bring now.



Jan 16, 2013 at 02:09 AM
Jeff Nolten
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p.1 #15 · Nepal and Bhutan equipment question


Thanks THW2!


Jan 16, 2013 at 03:58 AM
Lars Johnsson
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p.1 #16 · Nepal and Bhutan equipment question


I didn't have any problems to carry-on my equipment when flying Royal Nepal airlines in Nepal. And don't forget a wide lens. Looking at your profile I would bring the 17-40 also. You have some of the best scenery in the world for landscape shots all around the mountains here. Street shooting and portrait shooting is also very good here


Jan 16, 2013 at 05:20 AM
Jeff Nolten
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p.1 #17 · Nepal and Bhutan equipment question


Thanks Lars, how useful do you think the 100-400 would be?


Jan 16, 2013 at 06:45 AM
jolson72
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p.1 #18 · Nepal and Bhutan equipment question


i would travel as light as possible. i did india / nepal 10 years ago in the film days. any chance you'd want to do small Olympus OM primes? a kit such as an olympus OM 21/3.5, OM 50/1.8 and canon 70 - 200f/4 would be very small and very light....

or how about a canon 28/2.8, 50/1.4 and the 70-200/4? i wouldn't want the weight of two large lenses...



Jan 16, 2013 at 07:23 AM
Paul Mo
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p.1 #19 · Nepal and Bhutan equipment question


Core kit, two bodies, two lenses:

5D2 - bash it around (no great loss) with a 16-35 for landscapes and general street scenes.

5D3 with a 100L for razor sharp portraits and detail/formal work.

Batts, chargers, plenty of memory, cloths/lens tissue stuffed in a bag.


An extra, and probably best left at home:

Lightweight cheapy (but good enough) tripod and remote ONLY if you want to do some evening/night shots; if you aren't too knackered.




Jan 16, 2013 at 07:32 AM
Lars Johnsson
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p.1 #20 · Nepal and Bhutan equipment question


Jeff Nolten wrote:
I agree with you completely Monito. I wouldn't go if I couldn't bring the camera gear.


It's rather long if you don't gonna shoot birds, animals or similar stuff. I would belive your 70-200/4 IS lens would be much more usefull (smaller & lighter also)



Jan 16, 2013 at 10:54 AM
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