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Archive 2014 · Help! What to bring to Europe
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Help! What to bring to Europe

Heading to Vienna, Budapest,Prague and Munich. Wondering if I should bring limited equipment or go for it.

8-15mm ??
16-35mm YES
24-105mm ??
70-200mm ?? big and heavy.....
40mm ??
Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art ??

Graphite Tripod with RRS head YES
580EX Strobe I never use it.....

Nodal Slide ??
Giga T Pro II ??

I shoot landscape but would like to travel as light as possible. I have a Tamrac Expedition 5 but it's big and heavy when loaded. Should I consider a smaller pack? I was going to travel with a backpack vs suitcase but now leaning towards a small suitcase with wheels and backpack for camera equipment and day trips.

Also, any advice on MUST shoot in these cities would be appreciated

Edited on Jul 17, 2014 at 06:03 PM · View previous versions

Jul 05, 2014 at 07:01 PM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Help! What to bring to Europe

I spent three weeks on the east side of the big pond last summer and I left my big Canon gear at home and instead took a smaller system based around a Fujifilm X-E1 with the 14mm f/2.8 (21mm equivalent), 35mm f/1.4 ( 52.5mm equivalent), and 55-200mm lenses (87.5mm- 300mm equivalent), a small Induro tripod, a very small RRS tripod head. I would do the same thing again in a heartbeat. My entire camera kit fit into a small messenger bag as carryon, and it also held my (Macbook Air) laptop, phone, passport, and assorted other odds and ends.

If I were going with a 5D3 body, I might carry my 17-40 (or the new 16-35 f4 that should arrive this week), the 24-105mm f/4 L IS, and the 70-200mm f/4 L IS. I might consider replacing the 24-105 with a large aperture 50mm prime. I'd use a smaller than normal tripod and head, since I like to get everything into carryon.

In my experience, quite a bit of the photography tends to be city/urban stuff, and even though I most often shoot from the tripod in my typical photography, I worked almost entirely handheld in Europe (as I tend to do when doing urban travel in the US, too). However, if you are sure you want to do serious tripod-based work in Europe and are willing to travel with the extra gear...

... I'd plan on checking my regular luggage. Then I'd probably take an overhead-bin size camera backpack that is reasonably light, like my Lowepro Flipside Sport 20L AW. (I have moved away from heavier bags since this beauty came out.) I would take whatever tripod would fit in my checked luggage with the head removed and anything else modified to make it smaller. (Sometimes you can remove leg sections and create a shorter package if you are willing to go to such lengths.) I would pack the tripod head in my carryon bag.

Unless photography was essentially my whole reason for going, I would simplify things and probably not bring other odds and ends that I might use.

But seriously, a smaller mirrorless system is really wonderful for this sort of thing.


Edited on Jul 06, 2014 at 03:15 PM · View previous versions

Jul 05, 2014 at 07:59 PM
Craig Gillette
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Help! What to bring to Europe

What he said! I took only an NEX-6 and a single lens on my trip to Europe (serious budget constraints). And both a small gorilla pod and a light tripod. The alternative could have been to update my D200 and take 3-4 (with the 50mm) lenses and a suitable backpack. That pack also serves as my carry-on and day trip type bag, sometimes crowded up, sometimes fairly empty.

I have to admit, first impression answer to your post, though, was memories of customers at the market when I was bagging. "Put it all in one bag but don't make it too heavy." You simply can't have both if you want an ff dslr and 4-7 lenses, etc. Ours was a family trip so my camera activities were restrained to some extent by what we all would be doing, a few solo expeditions notwithstanding.

I guess it comes down to what you want, an exacting and dedicated photo expedition or a more comfortable, less strenuous vacation type trip.

Incidentally, of those cities, my daughter was able to get to Budapest and she loved it. She spent a lot of time near the river, liked the Fisherman's Bastion and Matthias Churdh.

Jul 06, 2014 at 04:40 AM
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Help! What to bring to Europe

Are you flying between any of those cities? And are you using any 'budget' airlines? If so, please do check the carry on bag limitations - size AND weight - while working out what gear to take (I'm assuming that you'd want bodies and lenses in a carry-on). Some airlines can be VERY pernickety and the allowances are not always very generous. Even the transatlantic flights can be restricted: Virgin Atlantic now have a 10kg limit but until about a year ago, it was only 6 kg (Unless you're flying Business or First, in which case have fun! )

Jul 08, 2014 at 07:26 PM

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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Help! What to bring to Europe

I would suggest that you limit your equipment and I echo what Dan and others say above. Weight is a major consideration. In foreign cities I usually carry my equipment all day. My strategy is the least weight that will get the greatest percentage of good photos. I tried several different camera bags and backpacks for my Nikon kit. It did not matter; a Nikon with a couple extra lenses grew very heavy by the end of the day. For my most recent foreign trip, I left the Nikon stuff at home and took an Olympus mirrorless kit. What a difference! It was light and fit easily in a ThinkTank waist pack.

Except for Munich, I've spent time in the cities you plan to visit. All have endless photo possibilities. Prague and Vienna have compact central cores - you can walk to most of what you will want to see..

Lenses: I used my wide to medium telephoto zoom for about 80% of shots. It's nice to have a 70-200 - but I would not carry a heavy Nikon f2.8 again. The interiors of the churches (and other public buildings) in those cities are quite spectacular - a fast wide lens is very useful. The interiors are usually dimly illuminated and flashes are universally forbidden. I've used a flash on rare occasions for fill on an outside shot - I take a very small one. I would not take my tripod again for an urban trip. I never used it. Tripods (and monopods) are not allowed inside of churches and museums and are usually not practical outdoors in densely populated cities. Instead, I braced my camera on pews, columns or railings whenever I could and upped the ISO as needed.

I also take a good compact camera (Sony RX100) set to shoot Raw. I use it as a backup or give it to my wife who will not use a larger camera. She's taken some great shots with it.

Sorry if you already know this travel strategy, but I've found it important: Check on the fees that your bank charges for foreign credit card and ATM transactions. Many banks add on significant fees for transactions that cost them nearly nothing. They can add up. If you plan to spend much time abroad get a credit card and an ATM card that do not have any added fees for international transactions. For foreign travel I use a Visa card from a credit union and a Charles Schwab ATM card which do not have extra charges. I get cash from ATMs for everything except hotel bills and car rentals which I charge. Credit cards outside of the US all have embedded chips to prevent identity theft. Using a US credit card without a chip in a store or restaurant can be a hassle because some places do not have a device to read the magnetic stripe.

BTW Hungary has a new and controversial civil law requiring photographers to get permission from anyone who is identifiable in a photo. Google "Hungary photo ban". You should not miss the public baths in Budapest, but leave the camera at the hotel! Have a great trip!


Jul 09, 2014 at 05:53 AM
Craig Gillette
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Help! What to bring to Europe

Second the advice on the Schwab card. My daughter and pretty much all of the other students in her study abroad program used Schwab cards. One thing to be aware of is they are very sensitive to possible fraud issues so surprise or out of pattern charges may be delayed or blocked. For example, she was in Italy but booked flights on one of the bargain airlines. The charges came in from Ireland. They didn't expect her to be there so we had to verify the charges, etc. She also got caught in the big storm in London while trying to get to Iceland. Flight problems developed and she couldn't use her phone, they rejected her attempts to use the card to pay for phone calls until we resolved that as well. Once they got used to advising them of itineraries, etc., things went fine.

Jul 10, 2014 at 04:20 AM

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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Help! What to bring to Europe

Craig’s point about notifying the card issuers of your itinerary is very important. It is not a good feeling to have no money when you are on the other side of the planet. We also take alternative cards (which do have fees) and always keep them separate from the cards we use daily -- preferably in the hotel safe. The banks for those cards must also be notified.

Encountering a pickpocket in the cities you will visit is very unlikely. But pickpockets love American credit cards because of the lack of security chips. I had a credit card stolen by some very clever pickpockets in Buenos Aires. They managed to take the card out of my wallet and put the wallet back in my pocket! By the time I noticed the card was gone two hours later, they had run up several thousand dollars of charges and the bank had shut the card down. I called the bank immediately and did not have to pay, but it was a hassle.


Jul 10, 2014 at 06:03 PM

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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Help! What to bring to Europe

I am dealing with the same dilemma!

I'm heading around Europe for 6 months and only have a loose plan for destinations.

As of right now I am thinking my ideal set up will simply be my 70D with an 18-35mm f1.8 and an 85mm... I still would need both lenses though :P
An alternate would be my 20mm or 50mm prime with a 24-105mm f4

If I had your set up I would take the 16-35 and your 28-105. Go light and simple!

Jul 11, 2014 at 03:16 AM

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