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Thread: Need beginner's advice on trip to India

  1. #1

    Default Need beginner's advice on trip to India

    Hello all,

    My first post as you can see, newbie to these forums and even to photography. Without boring you so much into my bio and into where I've been, I'll just cut to the chase.

    I have searched and read numerous forum threads but I would like some personal(to my problem) advice.

    I am going to India for about a month in August to early September. What I have been told will be the warmest months and with quite a fair bit of rainfall. I will travel from South to North with a friend and I've decided to bring my camera and gear with me.

    Gear;
    Nikon F2 Photomic or Nikon F801s(I have not decided because most of my lenses are old.)
    20mm f/4 pre-AI lens. (I assume it's pre-AI because it does not have the second set of f/stop numbers)
    85mm f/1.8 pre-AI lens.
    Either a 50mm f/1.8 AF lens or 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 AF lens.
    Approximately 10 rolls of B/W film
    Approximately 2 rolls of colour slide film
    A flash unit and a small Sekonic light meter
    Tripod
    Nikon Coolpix S8(for those self-timer moments)

    So all in all,
    1 body
    3 lenses
    12 rolls of film
    Flash unit
    Light meter
    Tripod
    1 P&S

    I need a bag to carry all of that, maybe minus the tripod all the time. Don't think I want to set that up in a busy street in the morning.

    I am eyeing a Lowepro Versapack 200 AW at the moment and a Domke F6/F3X.

    Of course it's the usual backpack vs. shoulder bag debate. But I hope to narrow down the usual arguments. I am concerned of course with weight distribution. Film cameras are not usually very light and neither are their lenses, especially the 85mm(I decided against the 80-200mm MF lens because of that).

    With the shoulder bags, I can't carry the tripod with it, this much I know. But it's not a huge issue. I am concerned with;

    - Weight distribution(are the Domke bags THAT great at not making my shoulder feel worn after a day of touring, assuming I have quite a heavy load mentioned?).

    - Camera bag visibility(I could cut away the Domke tag, and even if I will take my gear out, I can be assured no one is going to know I'm carrying a camera when I move to a new location versus something that screams "expensive gear inside!").

    - Carrying my needs for the day(map, raincoat, water bottle, maybe a bite-sized snack, passport, papers i.e. travel brochures, tourist brochures that type of thing).

    - Weather resistant(usually if I go to Europe, I don't mind this so much but with what many people are saying may turn out to be the wettest and most humid months in India, I'd rather a bag that could resist light rain and of course I'd use a weather cover in a downpour).


    That's about it, sorry for the long post, and many many thanks to those who reply! On a side note, I am leaning towards the Domke because it doesn't look like a camera bag and is lighter although I know I cannot hold as much as I could with the Lowepro, but I am willing to let go of a few things if it is the better solution.

    Thanks again for reading!
    Last edited by articulate; 11th June 2010 at 12:52 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Need beginner's advice on trip to India

    38 views and 0 replies, no one can help me out?

  3. #3
    Member knight84's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need beginner's advice on trip to India

    In India people walk very close and tend to push/bump into you a fair bit so when considering a bag consider that. Also consider snatch theft!

    As for a tripod u can get one of those slings that can be attached to tripods.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Need beginner's advice on trip to India

    Quote Originally Posted by articulate View Post
    38 views and 0 replies, no one can help me out?
    thats because you asked for beginner's advice....shoulda asked for expert's advice

  5. #5

    Default Re: Need beginner's advice on trip to India

    Quote Originally Posted by knight84 View Post
    In India people walk very close and tend to push/bump into you a fair bit so when considering a bag consider that. Also consider snatch theft!

    As for a tripod u can get one of those slings that can be attached to tripods.
    So in such a situation, would a backpack worn on the front be better than a sling slung across your chest?

  6. #6

    Default Re: Need beginner's advice on trip to India

    Quote Originally Posted by memorylane View Post
    thats because you asked for beginner's advice....shoulda asked for expert's advice
    Expert advice is no good to a beginner. An expert giving advice to a beginner while aware that the beginner might not know everything is great.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Need beginner's advice on trip to India

    Great choice of equipment, just put that stuff in a nice comfortable shoulder/sling bang because trust me, you don't want to be missing shots in India by taking your backpack off and fiddling around with lenses.

    P.S. bring more color film
    Last edited by krishna91; 14th June 2010 at 07:21 AM.
    I refuse to List my camer@ equipment here.

  8. #8
    Senior Member zoossh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need beginner's advice on trip to India

    it is something difficult to advice on becos,
    as long as you want to bring a lot of heavy stuff with you...
    no matter how the weight is distributed, they will be heavy, and
    no matter how you hide them, they will be so big that ppl will know u r carrying a lot of camera gear.

    so the only way u can cover the above concerns is to limit yourself to simple gears that street photographers used. if u wanted versatility and quality, then u can only have minimal expectation over weight and conspicuity. then after adjusting for that, then u can start to reconsider things. cos from the way u pop your question, you wanted to carry a lot of stuff, not feel heavy for a long day and still not look conspicuous, which i think will be difficult for big gears.

    the best way to distribute weight is to wear double-shoulder harnesses for camera body and waist belt to even out the weight of the extra lens. consider thinktank and blackrapids. u will look like commando but u get comfort and fastest access.

    the next best for weight is to use a backpack but consider one that offers you faster access. thinktank have one that allows a compartment to be rotated to the front without taking off the backpack.

    shoulder bag offers better look and appear less conspicious than the above, and is easier to retrieve things compared to the backpack. but it strain the shoulder, depending on how much u put inside and how big is your build. optechusa and other brands may have shoulder pads or straps that add elasticity though i dun think they offer much feel of reduced weight or comfort when your stuff is just too heavy - which simply needs a backpack or harness-belt systems.

    i'm not sure of film equipments. i used DSLR and usually carry 3 lenses with me. i started to feel very tired when i start to carry the 80-200mm f/2.8 that weighs 1.3kg alone, even with a belt-harness system. i dun like to use a backpack cos it gets sticky on the back when it is hot.

    Quote Originally Posted by articulate View Post
    Hello all,

    My first post as you can see, newbie to these forums and even to photography. Without boring you so much into my bio and into where I've been, I'll just cut to the chase.

    I have searched and read numerous forum threads but I would like some personal(to my problem) advice.

    I am going to India for about a month in August to early September. What I have been told will be the warmest months and with quite a fair bit of rainfall. I will travel from South to North with a friend and I've decided to bring my camera and gear with me.

    Gear;
    Nikon F2 Photomic or Nikon F801s(I have not decided because most of my lenses are old.)
    20mm f/4 pre-AI lens. (I assume it's pre-AI because it does not have the second set of f/stop numbers)
    85mm f/1.8 pre-AI lens.
    Either a 50mm f/1.8 AF lens or 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 AF lens.
    Approximately 10 rolls of B/W film
    Approximately 2 rolls of colour slide film
    A flash unit and a small Sekonic light meter
    Tripod
    Nikon Coolpix S8(for those self-timer moments)

    So all in all,
    1 body
    3 lenses
    12 rolls of film
    Flash unit
    Light meter
    Tripod
    1 P&S

    I need a bag to carry all of that, maybe minus the tripod all the time. Don't think I want to set that up in a busy street in the morning.

    I am eyeing a Lowepro Versapack 200 AW at the moment and a Domke F6/F3X.

    Of course it's the usual backpack vs. shoulder bag debate. But I hope to narrow down the usual arguments. I am concerned of course with weight distribution. Film cameras are not usually very light and neither are their lenses, especially the 85mm(I decided against the 80-200mm MF lens because of that).

    With the shoulder bags, I can't carry the tripod with it, this much I know. But it's not a huge issue. I am concerned with;

    - Weight distribution(are the Domke bags THAT great at not making my shoulder feel worn after a day of touring, assuming I have quite a heavy load mentioned?).

    - Camera bag visibility(I could cut away the Domke tag, and even if I will take my gear out, I can be assured no one is going to know I'm carrying a camera when I move to a new location versus something that screams "expensive gear inside!").

    - Carrying my needs for the day(map, raincoat, water bottle, maybe a bite-sized snack, passport, papers i.e. travel brochures, tourist brochures that type of thing).

    - Weather resistant(usually if I go to Europe, I don't mind this so much but with what many people are saying may turn out to be the wettest and most humid months in India, I'd rather a bag that could resist light rain and of course I'd use a weather cover in a downpour).


    That's about it, sorry for the long post, and many many thanks to those who reply! On a side note, I am leaning towards the Domke because it doesn't look like a camera bag and is lighter although I know I cannot hold as much as I could with the Lowepro, but I am willing to let go of a few things if it is the better solution.

    Thanks again for reading!
    Last edited by zoossh; 19th June 2010 at 02:58 AM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Need beginner's advice on trip to India

    Bro, the heat in India is a killer. I reckon it will be in the low to mid-40s while you are there. Not sure about you, but at that temperature, I find it really tough to focus on photo-taking for a sustained period of time, let alone carry the bag full of equipment. So I advise you consider carefully the bulk of equipment to bring. I rather forsake a lens (or 2) than spoil the overall mood for the shoot.

    2 things to note about films... First would be the heat. I don't recall slides, esp provia and velvia, able to take heat well, so make sure they are well insluated. Second would be the x-ray machines at the airports. I never trust them in the past, and those machines in the india airports look really dubious to me. But have to say, that was many years ago (perhaps have been replaced by newer machines now) and during more recent trips there, I have stopped taking note of them since I have started shooting in digital.

    Enjoy

  10. #10

    Default Re: Need beginner's advice on trip to India

    One method I sometimes used is to put the equipments into small individual camera bags and individual padded lens casings then put all into a larger non camera associated backpack or sling bag, like a high sierra/deuter backpack etc. This way, it don't scream loudly that its a camera bag. Unless people sees me actually taking the camera out of the bag. Of course the minus point is that it is sort of more difficult to access the equipments as I need to open more casing inside the bag to get to the equipments. I also carry a small point and shoot outside, maybe in my cargo pants pocket or on my belt for fast access to a camera. Also sort of like a decoy such that people see I already have a point and shoot camera and may not think there are more expensive photographic equipment with me.
    Of course if the criminals would rob/snatch first before actually knowing what is in the bag, then all these measures may not help much. I have not found a way to make a SLR/DSLR loaded bag to not to look bloated, unless maybe just dump them in without all the padded casings. These are the methods I use sometimes and not specific to India plus I have never been to India.
    Last edited by cairocks; 23rd June 2010 at 03:00 PM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member zoossh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need beginner's advice on trip to India

    Quote Originally Posted by cairocks View Post
    Of course if the criminals would rob/snatch first before actually knowing what is in the bag, then all these measures may not help much. I have not found a way to make a SLR/DSLR loaded bag to not to look bloated, unless maybe just dump them in without all the padded casings. These are the methods I use sometimes and not specific to India plus I have never been to India.
    depends on the nature of photography. some do as an occasional shots at buildings, scenaries and inert objects, that is possible to do with inaccessible daypack though troublesome. those who do human subjects, esp fleeting moments of candid streets will not have the time to hide and take out cameras. some even bring two camera bodies constantly attached to two lenses.

    for snatch, it is safer to use double-ended straps such as loop over the neck or double loop over both shoulders with a cross over the back.

    for knifepoint mugging, then nothing will help except for
    - avoiding going to shady countries/areas/town/parts of towns/certain dark quiet alleys/certain time of the day
    - moving in bigger groups.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Need beginner's advice on trip to India

    Quote Originally Posted by knight84 View Post
    In India people walk very close and tend to push/bump into you a fair bit so when considering a bag consider that.
    I dont quite understand this. you mean when the pedestrian is small? or even in wide open places people still bump to each other?

  13. #13

    Default Re: Need beginner's advice on trip to India

    Quote Originally Posted by thechaperone View Post
    I dont quite understand this. you mean when the pedestrian is small? or even in wide open places people still bump to each other?
    regardless of space, they will bump into you somehow. the concept of personal space is non-existent.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Need beginner's advice on trip to India

    Was in Delhi and Agra in May and I tell you the weather is a killer. Close to 45 degrees. So I think a slingbag will do better than a backpack from all the sweat that is generated carrying that. Just need to choose less gear I guess, a positive trade-off

  15. #15

    Default Re: Need beginner's advice on trip to India

    Quote Originally Posted by zakariazainal View Post
    Was in Delhi and Agra in May and I tell you the weather is a killer. Close to 45 degrees. So I think a slingbag will do better than a backpack from all the sweat that is generated carrying that. Just need to choose less gear I guess, a positive trade-off
    Agree with you on that. Was there 3 years ago around late May. Decided to stopover in Delhi to visit Agra(Taj Mahal) after Nepal. The heat is a real killer. I even stayed indoors for one whole day at Jaipur cause the heat was really getting to me. Btw TS, as the rest had mentioned. On top of conditioning yourself physically for this trip, you might want to rethink what you want to bring along.
    One thing i am sure is that you will be swarmed at one time or another. Classic eg. - coming in and out of the mosque where you will usually see large crowds(almost all of them are not tourist), usually young kids or sometimes adults asking you for something.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Need beginner's advice on trip to India

    Quote Originally Posted by articulate View Post
    38 views and 0 replies, no one can help me out?
    Just saw your post. Personally I'm a sling bag kind of guy having two Domkes and a couple of Safrottos (domke imitation). In my film days, I have carried two bodies (FM2n) and three lenses (24, 50 and 85) while backpacking. It was heavy but I was much younger then Nowadays I make do with one digital body and a general zoom lens. I carry this together with one litre of water, a lonely planet guide book, snacks, medicine, raincoat or fleece jacket (depending on weather) and all the other neccessary travel stuff in a canvas sling bag. It's not light and it's not super comfortable but it works. I have easy access to the camera, guide book, map or water just by swinging the bag in front of me. Also anytime I feel suspicious about the people surrounding me I carry the bag slung in front. Another thing about the Domke/Safrotto clips and buckles - they're not so easy to undo which is a good thing actually as unwanted prying fingers will also have problems! Trust me most thieves have no problems with regular zippers and buckles - you won't even feel them undo it!

  17. #17

    Default Re: Need beginner's advice on trip to India

    a quick qn,
    do we need any vaccination against anything for visiting india?
    gg on Aug, so if need be, we need to do now.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Need beginner's advice on trip to India

    Thanks for all the replies and all the great tips! I honestly, didn't bother checking back til' now based on the low volume of replies I was getting.

    I agree with almost everyone here, and have actually decided to drastically cut down my equipment to one F801s body and a small 35mm f/2 lens permanently attached on to said body. No flash unit, no tripod, no light meter, just film(+ filters) and guidebook and maybe a poncho(monsoon season after all) with space for water bottle and some miscellaneous papers and of course the little P&S.

    I bought a Domke F6 for that, debated a long time on the backpack, but since I will be backpacking in India, I found the Domke a little easier to manage with the small handle. Or slung across my chest.

    With regards to the vaccinations, I think it is prudent to get some done. I will talk to my doctor and see. Don't forget the visa too.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Need beginner's advice on trip to India

    I just returned from north india.
    it might get real cold at night.... at Himachal Pradesh, Sarchu, at night the temp dropped till 4 degrees. the temp in north and south are very different.

    My itinerary always avoids the major touristy area. and they don't really care what cameras you are carrying. I had a guide and a driver so basically just dumped everything at the back of the car. but there will still be times whereby u got to carry ur gears... I am pretty particular abt IQ thus a bit more kiasu. plus I always have backups. LOL.

    basically... I had 4 cameras with me. LOL. 5 lens. lol. most of the time the 300mm is sitting at the back of the car. haha.

    3 dslr (one as a backup in case anything goes wrong... u nv know)
    1 fuji g617

    35mm
    85mm
    12-24mm
    24-70mm (more of a back up)
    300mm (for wildlife but unfortunately or fortunately, didnt spot any this time rd)

    maybe u can share a bit more on ur itinerary so that we can offer more advice?

    pics are here --> http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/showthread.php?t=728641

  20. #20
    Senior Member zoossh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need beginner's advice on trip to India

    Quote Originally Posted by dingzyangz View Post
    basically... I had 4 cameras with me. LOL. 5 lens. lol. most of the time the 300mm is sitting at the back of the car. haha.

    3 dslr (one as a backup in case anything goes wrong... u nv know)
    1 fuji g617

    35mm
    85mm
    12-24mm
    24-70mm (more of a back up)
    300mm (for wildlife but unfortunately or fortunately, didnt spot any this time rd)
    eehhh..... your setup probably dun suit most ppl other than the most hardcore. I'm looking at your lens setup, do u carry 2 dslr + 2 lens round your neck at the same time for fast street shooting, hence the need for two cam (plus one backup)? for me, i have 1 backup body but that is in the backpack, not carry-around.

    ladakh's not as hot as the area that ts's travelling.

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