Trip to Thailand and Cambodia - November 2011
My wife and I are heading to Thailand and Cambodia - Bangkok, Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) and Krabi - in November. Neither of us have been there before and I'm wondering what camera / lens combo to take with me. My choices are:
(a) Leica M6 TTL, 28mm Elmarit-M, 50mm 'Cron and 9cm Elmar (the Elmar is very scratchy)
(b) Nikon F2S, 35mm/f1.4, 50mm f1.8, 105mm/f2.5
(c) Nikon F5, 24mm/f2.8, 35mm/f2, 50mm/f1.4, 85mm f1.8
I'm intending to take a Zeiss Ikon Perkeo folder for MF shots and a Panasonic Lumix LX3 for some digisnaps. I will also be taking a lightweight travel tripod for low-light / temple shots.
We will be travelling fairly light but not exactly backpacking.
1. Which camera / lens set up would you recommend and
2. What film stock (colour and mono) would you take? (I usually use Tri-X 400 and Portra 160)
3. What is film supply like out there? Should I take all I'll need with me?
Paul Jenkin (a late developer...)
I've been to all the places you're hoping to go to, albeit in the last 10 years or so. I'd highly recommend bringing all the film you think you'll need, even back in 2001 (Cambodia) the only film available was consumer-grade negative film that had been baked in the sun. You're F2S set-up is very similar to the one I tend to take when travelling when I want a range of focal lengths but also as light a rig as possible. You don't say how long you are travelling for or the focus of your trip but I'd budget at least one film per camera per day (x different film stocks) for the trip (although you'll probably go through a lot more while at Angkor Wat). Are you mostly a black and white shooter or a colour one? That might also influence how much you bring of each film. Definitely go with the film stock you are most comfortable with. Tri-X is great because you can pull it a bit for real sunny shots and push it for low light temple shots. Be aware thought that in some of the temples you may want a flash to help you out a bit.
Last edited by mooseontheloose; 05-27-2011 at 08:47 AM. Click to view previous post history.
My favorite thing is to go where I've never been. D. Arbus
I did a similar route and added one month in Vietnam on top of it. I also had a hard time deciding whether to bring along 35mm or MF. Eventually I took an M6 with 35&50 summicrons, a light weight tripod, and used only Delta100 film. The Leica allowed me easy street shooting and the Delta + tripod allowed fine grained images of Angkor. I haven't regretted that decision at all.
In any case, enjoy the trip! Cheers...
My cousin goes there nearly every year for a month or so. He packs a Nikon F-5 and F-6, and used to carry loads of Kodachrome, on a bicycle. I'll ask him his favorite places/lens choices next time I run into him. I should also see what film he's switched to for transparencies. If you're interested in seeing some of his work on flickr, look for "vincenzooli" , he's been posting there for years.
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I did that (well, Cambodia) at the beginning of 2010 ago with DSLR and RZ67. Used a bunch of slow, fine film in both B&W and colour (Pan-F, Acros, Velvia, Provia). That time of year, the light will be pretty flat because they're constantly burning things, so you won't get a golden hour at either end of the day; it goes dark -> grey -> full sun and vice-versa.
Film and processing was not available at all anywhere I went.
While in Siem Reap, make sure you get out to Beng Mealea, preferably at dawn, since it has basically no tourists compared to the other temples. We went there on a tuktuk (breakfast in the pre-dawn smoke while riding!) and were the ONLY tourists there for the first half-hour or so, in contrast to being in a crowd of about 10,000 waiting for sunrise over Angkor Wat.
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I usually travel in SE Asia (I'm a middle aged backpacker) with just one or two small fixed lens 35mm film cameras and perhaps with a small d**tal P&S. The best light is in the morning at 4 to 6 am and another good time for photos is in the evening around 6 to 7 pm. During the day I find the light too harsh and hazy to shoot anything else than interiors which in many cases are very very dark. Basically you'll find yourself shooting a lot in very dim light where there are a lot of bright spots of light.
What you need is a camera that can handle this kind of tricky lighting situations. The F5 would be a great choice if you can handle the weight in the +30C heat. I'd take just two lenses: a 20mm for the interiors and a 35mm or a 50mm for the rest.
For late night bar shots take the LX3 with a small table tripod. I hate to say this but sometimes the d***tal is a better tool for the job.
Your film choice sounds good. Maybe Portra 400 instead for one stop more speed. A 2-3 stop ND and a polarizer are a must. Take all film you plan to shoot with you and keep it in your hand baggage during flights. You can find one or two shops that stock film in Bangkok but that's it.
I'd take the F2S body for insurance and the F5 with the Nikkor lenses, because if your camera malfunctions without a backup for the sake of a couple of extra pounds you're f**ked .