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Thread: Going Korea (a different kind of advice pls)

  1. #1

    Default Going Korea (a different kind of advice pls)


    I plan to join a guided tour group to korea soon. As this is the first time I'm going that far, I intend to make full use of the tour for photography.

    I've got a few questions that I hope someone can answer.

    1. I intend to being most of my gears there.... 10D, 17-40, 70-200, 400mm, 550Ex, 1.4x, 15" laptop and my manfortto tripod. Do anyone know any camera bag that I can take for the trip that will be able to accomodate all less the tripod? I intend to carry it at all times, so must be able to handcarry into the plane.

    2. Anyone been to S.Korea recently? Pls advice if there are any good photo locations that I shoud look out for... how about sunrise at a ski resort?

    3. Is it possible to shoot while following the group around (totally no experience wif tour groups)

    4. Should I leave all my rechargeables (for 550Ex only) in Sg and buy AA batt there or should I lug along a couple of sets of batts and chargers.

    That's all for now.. might have some more when I get more details.

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  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2002


    that's a whole load of gear!!!! given your build, I guess it's not a problem. it'll still be quite a load though, so maybe can consider a backpack with a roller?

    and bring along a smaller shoulder bag when you go out in the evening and don't really need the tele lenses.
    Last edited by mpenza; 12th December 2004 at 12:38 AM.

  3. #3


    Quote Originally Posted by mpenza
    that's a whole load of gear!!!! given your build, I guess it's not a problem. it'll still be quite a load though, so maybe can consider a backpack with a roller?

    and bring along a smaller shoulder bag when you go out in the evening and don't really need the tele lenses.
    I can squeeze all my gears with my current camera bag... but now I need to being a 15" laptop... carrying it seperately is a super bother.

    Evening might be considering lowepro belt configurations... see my budget how first.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    The 13th floor


    I went there in Aug'04.
    Carried my Lowepro Rover with kit lens, sigma 70-300, Compact-drive (CD) & Slik Pro 340DX.
    Going with tour group, u dun have the time to shoot, it's more like a point & shoot type, no time to set up tripod or wait for sunrise/set etc. My tour schedule is considered not that rush, still, i was rushing my every shots. Hardly have time to take out my sigma. I was always the last to move off at every locations. I changed my lens, uploaded my pic to CD etc etc on the move. And it was very tiring to move up & down, here & there with such a big setup.
    My next trip, I will leave the tripod at home. Unless u go for free & easy.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    In the void.


    Hi, I've been to S.Korea a few times, here's some of my opinion.

    1. I hope that you are intending to bring your carry-on bag is your only hand lugguage. You are likely to run into any trouble at our airport, but sometimes security at Incheon is quite strict and insist on only one carry-on, excluding shopping bags and notebooks bags. They run routine checks on bags from time to time, so if you are carrying a lot of stuff, it can be quite troublesome.
    (Cos technically, they are still at war, espionage and stuff are still a concern)
    Lowepro's S&F Rover is a good travel bag, and you can attach external lens pouches for extra space.

    2. Last trip to Korea was this summer in July. I was with a tour group that brought us to all the shooting locations for the drama serials and movies. Some of the places were really nice, but you need to move around in order to get good shots, as in look for the angle and composition. Typically, it doesn't snow in S.Korea until around the week before Christmas, but the ski resorts will have some snowfall already. Yongpyong Ski Resort where they shot Winter Sonata is really very beautiful in winter, but it's always full with Japanese tourists now, so it's almost impossible for Singapore tour agencies to book rooms there. Sadly, the best places for scenery and landscapes are not featured in tour packages here and for most of them, you will need a local to bring you there.

    3. The thing with tour groups is, there's often little time for you to do your photography. If you concentrate on shooting, you will probably missed out on the explanation of the tour guide. Which defeats the whole purpose of joining a tour group in the first place. If you are going on tour package, my suggestion is not to place so much emphasis on shooting. Or else you will probably feel too hectic to really enjoy your trip, especially if you are with family or friends. However, if you are solely going there to shoot, join a free and easy package. You will have more time to youselves.

    4. Bring your rechargeables, South Korea uses the 2-pin round end plugs we sometime use in Singapore too. And the voltages are 240V too. S.Korea has a very strict recycling policy, if you buy AA batteries there, you have to throw them into the right recycling bins. And it's hard to find the ones for used batteries. If you are caught throwing batteries into the wrong bin wilfully,you will be fined by the police, foreigner or not.^^
    (Horray for environmental-friendliness!)

  6. #6


    I went there last week. Things to note.

    1) Its hard to do decent photography, everything is a rush. You choose either to hear the guides commentary at places, or venture off while he is talking. Either way, u miss out on something. There is hardly anytime man.

    2) I reckon you will use no more than your 17-40 there. I brought a 80-200 and end up as a white elephant. Bring less, and enjoy shooting more. You dont have the time, seriously. I covered the whole trip with a 18-70, I used the 80-200 less than 10 times, just for the sake of it.

    3) Get a compact drive portable storage if you can, your laptop will be a pain. I changed hotels almost everyday. You dont really wanna risk banging your laptop around, and you dont want to hand carry either. Its crazy. The tour buses are cramp.

    4) Korean tours seem to have a tag along pro photographer who will take shots of your family and charge abt $200 for the photos which u "must" buy out of obligation. Quite irritating.

    5) I suggest, you treat this as a holiday, and do not expect too much out of photography. If not, you will neither get good shots, nor enjoy korea. Dont be too harsh on yourself. the 400mm lens that you intend to bring, hmm... is in my opinion pointless. Travel light, enjoy more, and you'll naturally take better pics.

    6) The multiplug must contain that fat 2 pin round plug, I brought the skinny 2 pin, end up holding the plug in.

    7) I hope you get snow, but winter is very late. average temps are 3-8

  7. #7


    hehe i goin during CNY later....only afraid tt my cam will freeze le.... hmmmm....this thread is very applicable to me too...

    thanks and cheers..

  8. #8


    bring fz20 ...

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Gim Boon Tai


    I went to S.Korea last September but I did not bring all my gear. I'm not sure about the bag that might fit in all your gear, but even if you did managed to squeeze it all in, the bag might not fit into the overhead carriage compartment, so you might have to put in under the chair or something.

    I seriously don't think that tour guides will let you have the luxury of time to set up your gear as they are always in a rush. Then again, you might opt for the option of not always following your tour group ( as long as you know how to get back )

    Its always better to bring your chargers as AAs deplete rather fast and its rather expensive to buy them (not to mention the environmental issue as said by Prismatic). Voltages are the same as Singapore, just have to get a adapter to fit into the round 2 pin socket.

    Thats all I know, hope it helps!

  10. #10


    My experience:

    Brought about the same amount of gear to Korea in a minitrekker 2 years ago. Marcwang is right - the 70-200 is a white elephant. Ended up using my Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 90% of the time. Very versatile lens. No laptop then.

    A bit wiser during my recent trip to Japan. Brought 17-40, Sigma 20mm f1.8 (very useful lens) and a Tamron 28-200 for telephoto. Also had a 15mm fisheye (useful for street) and a 50mm f1.4 which I hardly touched. This time I had a laptop, so lugged everything in a computrekker. Still very heavy. The chargers all went into the check-in luggage. Make sure your adaptor has a round base and not a square base.

    ie the diagram in the middle, NOT the picture on the right:!c.htm

    I had one of those luggage rollers you can strap the bag onto (cheap $12 alternative to the rolling minitrekker) but it was a royal pain unstrapping and strapping up again just to change lens or battery. You would probably want to check in your tripod in the big luggage bag if you really want to bring it. Not sure what you want to shoot with the 400mm, but I would REALLY suggest leaving it behind. You really have to compromise on gear when travelling. Yes, if you need the lens and left it at home it's indispensable, but you can still make do.

    For Korea tour a lot of getting on and off buses. Yes, everything quite rushed, but you still get some free time every now and then to walk around and shoot. Your group can do some negotiation with the tour guide to tailor the itinerary to your preferences. It's pretty flexible.

  11. #11


    Seriously, the FZ20 sounds like a good option. Or a Canon G3. Can take video some more.

  12. #12


    I agree with most. If its a tour group, enjoy it as a group tour and expect less from photography (use a superzoom, or a compact camera). If you want more out of photography, go for a Free & Easy and DIY.
    Enjoy your holiday!

  13. #13


    Thanks for all the tips... the batt disposal thingy is very useful It seems that I've to bring a charger too.. But my current chargers are energizer's slow charge...hmm... maybe get the pd7x from eastgear. Is it quick charge type?

    After reading the posts, I've decided to leave the tripod at home. (maybe get a mini tripod instead)

    I've also bought a universal socket adapter which states S.Korea is OK. (but if still got problem... then go there then beg/steal/borrow/buy adapter again loh )

    For the lens selection, I've only got 17-40 and 70-200... OK I'll leave the 400mm at home also.

    Anyone know if Stealth Reporter 650 AW fits into the aircraft's hand lugguage compartment? I intend to bring 1 hand-carry lugguage which includes my laptop and cam equipments.... accessories and the rest check in.

    Considered the P&S options... but concerned about batt life and the number of shots I might take.

    marcwang.. your point:

    4) $200 is Sg $?

    6) fat 2 pin? the only fat 2 pins I know are 20A type... domestic 13A 2 pins are thin ones. Or are you refering to the round 2 pins vs flat 2 pins.

    I'm joining the tour group cuz I'm not familiar with the place nor the language... most likely I'll be concentrating on shooting rather than listening to the guides.

    evq... you mean the group leaves before sunrise and ends after sunset?

    thanks again.
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  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2003


    If you are bring only your 17-40 and 70-200 with a laptop, you can consider crumpler farmer double (or is it double farmer hah). It has a laptop compartment plus some space for you to put in other stuff (eg guide book, water bottle, etc).

  15. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2003
    State of Confusion

    Default Dust and static

    I just came back from a Japan trip last week, and found that because of the dry weather there, things tend to get charged with static electricity, so my camera's glass surfaces became a dust magnet, and sometimes wiping it with a cloth can make it even worse. OK, it wasn't THAT bad a problem, but enough to cause some annoyance.

    DSLR users may want to take note about this, especially when changing lenses. Maybe invest in an anti-static brush? (I've never tried one of those before, though...)
    Sony Alpha system user.

  16. #16


    Quote Originally Posted by CYRN
    Anyone know if Stealth Reporter 650 AW fits into the aircraft's hand lugguage compartment? I intend to bring 1 hand-carry lugguage which includes my laptop and cam equipments.... accessories and the rest check in.

    thanks again.
    Stealth Reporter 650 AW should fit in the hand luggage compartment assuming its empty. At most (if it does not fit) you can ask the stewardess to store it in the first/business class compartment which is usually emptier. The key is to pretend that your bag is NOT heavy until you pass the imigration .. else the check-in lady sometime will ask you to weigh it and the max weigh "suppose" to be 7 KG.

  17. #17
    Member Adiemus's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Small island....

    Default Pd7x

    Quote Originally Posted by CYRN
    Thanks for all the tips... the batt disposal thingy is very useful It seems that I've to bring a charger too.. But my current chargers are energizer's slow charge...hmm... maybe get the pd7x from eastgear. Is it quick charge type?
    No, the PD7X chargin takes eternity....

    You're better off using a dedicated battery charger. The pro about the PD7X is that it is REALLY FAST!

  18. #18


    Not sure if this will help, CYRN, but here's my 2 Korean Won ... I just got back last Sun after about 4 days there on business.

    It's quite cold there now, daytime temps 5-10C and dropping, nightime close to 0C, but sadly, no snow yet. It's also very dry, and if you drag your feet as you walk across carpets, you'll build a hefty static charge that will (a) hurt your finger when you touch a metal object like a vehicle or doorknob and (b) maybe do unspeakable things to your camera gear. If you can, touch something metallic & grounded with your elbow first, hurts less that way.

    Weather's clear in the middle of the day, but gets a bit smoggy in the morning and evening. But this is in downtown Seoul, not sure if the country's similar. What this means is that landscape photo ops are probably limited. OTOH, the countryside's pretty much a mishmash of dull browns and greys ...

    Powerpoint ... yes, they do use 2-pin round plugs, but they are a larger size than what most "universal" adaptors provide (ie. diameter of the plugs is larger). This means your charger will not sit in the socket nicely, good to have a small bit of masking tape to hold it in place, unless you can get one of the correct type. However, most decent hotels may give you a UK-type socket, or you can use the US plugs in the bathroom meant for shavers.

    It gets dark pretty quickly (around 4pm), so at a risk of provoking shock and outrage, I'd recommend you get an el-cheapo and light tripod (like a Slik) ... easy to carry around and may come in handy. I agree with keeping the 400mm at home, and perhaps even the 1.4x ... think about what you'll use that for, it's another piece of equipment that you have to worry about losing.

    On the positive side, everyone's walking around with rosy cheeks because of the chill ... good to take people pics !

    See if the tour group takes you to a korean-style shabu-shabu joint ... after a cold day outside, it really warms you up, especially if you like kimchi. And you won't go hungry ... after you finish your "main" meal, they throw noodles into the stock and cook that for you, then as you're eating the noodles, they add more stock and rice and you end up with a nice pilaff. A colleague took me to a place in Namdaemun market and it was very nice.

    One other good place to try (not sure if you have freedom to venture out separately) is a restaurant called Samwon Gardens, it's owned by the golfer Grace Park's family. Their Kalbi & Bulgogi are very nice, good ambience too, but need to take a cab there.

    Enjoy your trip there ... I love going to Korea, and would go again in a heartbeat.

  19. #19



    Yes, the photographer charges ard $200, or $5 for each 5R photo with a simple album. Depends how many shots he takes of your family.

    The plug they use is similar to the round 2 pin plug that comes with most electronic goods in Singapore, like the Nikon Charger, your Toshiba TV set. That black rubber 2 pin plug.

  20. #20


    Hi everyone. thanks for the tips.

    For the lens selection, I've confirmed 17-40/f4 50/f1.4 and 70-200/f2.8. (going for lowepro belt and pouch system)

    My itenary are as follows:

    SG >
    Everland >
    Daemyung Vavaldi Park Resort >
    Mt Sorak Shinhengsa temple >
    Namdaemum market >
    Myongdong >
    Gingseng shop >
    Cordyceps shop >
    Amethyst showroom >
    Lotte World >
    Kyongbok Palace >
    National Museum >
    FIFA WC 2002 stadium >
    Sharaton walker hill hotel >
    HK >
    SG >

    Any idea what to look out for at the various locations and photo opportunities. (also any wildlife to shoot?)

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