Itinerary: Several days in Shanghai and Beijing each, and then a week in Yunnan province, followed by a week in Taipeh. Right now, all I own is a D700, a Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8, and a Zeiss ZF 100 f2 - no bag or backpack yet, no tripod, no flash. Reading up on relevant travel experiences, I should obviously take all of my camera stuff along as carry-on, with the possible exception of the tripod that I would still have to buy (suggestions?). Maybe with a D700, I don't really need one. Wondering if I should buy a 70-300 VR (a little worried about IQ; I really like sharp images), or sign up for a 70-200 f2.8 VRII (maybe with a TC-17E II) for those longer range shots in low light, hoping that I'm able to get one by early March 2010, and also wondering if a Nikkor 14-24 f2.8 would be indispensable to capture the insides of the Forbidden City, or some of the museums, for example. My main interests are in old buildings, candid people shots, and landscapes, plus macro shots of plants and flowers - if I find them interesting (this is mainly why the Zeiss ZF has to come along). Getting somewhat worried about weight, bulk, and how cumbersome this might all turn out to be, lugging it around all day. I also plan to take an old OM2n (with a 28mm and a 135mm lens) along as an analog back-up, just in case. Currently use 8 GB SanDisk Extreme IV CFs, so far without any problems whatsoever.
Any and all comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
#2. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 0
Unless you are planning to hire a Sherpa, what you are suggesting is far too bulky/heavy. For your type of photography I propose the following: Nikon 14-24, Zeiss 35/2 and Zeiss 100/2 with a Think Tank UD30 bag and a Gitzo 2xxx tripod plus Markins ball head.
#3. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 0
a 50 1.4 and / or 85 1.8 (1.4 if you want to spentd the money) would be an excellent choice along with the 70-200 and TC. I have Lowepro Dryzone 100 and 200 bags. They have ecxellent padding, are waterproof and carry on legal. The 200 will take an awful lot of stuff. I also have a naneu pro military ops bag that is a better bag to work out of.
Do not settle for mediocrity. Rather strive for excellence for even in that attempt lies a measure of success.
#4. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 2
>Unless you are planning to hire a Sherpa, what you are >suggesting is far too bulky/heavy. For your type of >photography I propose the following: Nikon 14-24, Zeiss 35/2 >and Zeiss 100/2 with a Think Tank UD30 bag and a Gitzo 2xxx >tripod plus Markins ball head.
The 14-24 is good advice I think, the forbidden city requires some extreme wideangles as there often isn't room to 'foot-zoom'.
#5. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 0
Tallahassee, Florida, US
It depends on whether you're taking a photo trip, or going on a tour/vacation-type trip. If the purpose of the trip is to get great photos, you want to have the best gear, and don't mind carrying it. If it's more like a tour, you won't have time to get stuff set up, there will always be people in the way and you won't have time to wait for a more quiet period because the tour will move along, and you'll annoy other people as you do try to set up and frame the photos. Part of getting the best photo is waiting for the best light. Will you have time to do that?
If you are just interested in remembering places like the Forbidden City, will you be able to take photos more memorable than those you can buy, taken by professional photographers? You can buy good books of the sites; you can't do that for the people you are with, etc., so maybe what you really want is photos of people you are traveling with, to remember them along with the places you visit. But then you don't need all the equipment.
When I travel (mostly work related, but with photo opportunities) I take either a D300 or D50 and an 18-200VR. That's it. It's easy to carry (but not as easy as the point-and-shoots others have), I don't make any lens changes, and I get very satisfying results. How much do you want to lug around for four weeks, and have to keep track of so it doesn't get misplaced/stolen?
I'd be inclined to get a D5000 and 18-200 to travel light. But that's me... and maybe my low ambition here is one reason I don't have a D700.
#6. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 5
Thanks everybody for your comments - your feedback is beginning to help me home in on the issues at hand. Randy is pointing out that I need to be more specific about my objectives. These will determine what I should take along if I want to have a chance to meet them. Everything else (like the lenses, how to carry them, if I need a tripod, etc.), will fall into place, once that has been clarified.
Here is my first cut:
Most important for me and my wife of thirty-eight years is to create visual memory triggers, so that we have some help in making this trip again in our memories at a later date. We are approaching the age where our kids are telling us already that there is no use in renting new movies, we should simple watch the old ones again, since we have already forgotten most of the plots. Thus the need for creating visual evidence of our joint life experiences.
Then there is the ambition on my part to make these memories as visually compelling as possible. The better the image, the more intense is the recall. For most of my life, I have been dreaming of taking photos of certain visual impressions, almost like impressionistic paintings. I have always been fascinated with low light situations, such as bad weather, fog, early mornings, and evenings. Colors turn out to be very intriguing under these conditions. The D700 is the first camera that lets me take these kinds of images. I had a rather frustrating experience on our last trip to Asia ( Hongkong, Indonesia, and Singapore), where I was almost always limited in my expressions by my equipment (Sony DSC-F828), which was not really all that bad, it actually has an excellent Zeiss zoom lens, but the lens is not very fast, and the view finder is absolutely terrible, compared to the D700.
So, here we go: As much as I appreciate Randy's advice to travel very light - I really do not want to regress back to the DX age; this is the D700 forum, right? My take from the other feedback so far is that I need a good wide angle for the Forbidden City (and presumably for many of the museums - I'm very interested in understanding colonial history a little better); clearly a good excuse to satisfy my NAS and acquire the Nikkor 14-28mm f2.8. Then there is the long range shot issue. Very often, I find out that you can't really "walk" your focal length - as you get closer in order to frame the subject with your shorter focal length lens, the bloody light angle is changing, and the attractive image is lost. This brings me to the one subject where I didn't get any feedback yet - how good is the 70-300mm VR on a D700, scout's honor? I've seen some pretty amazing shots, but there is also quite a lot of talk about rather disappointing softness at 300mm. Taking along the new 70-200mm VRII with a TCE would most likely fix that.
Then there is the advice on traveling light. Obviously a very attractive idea. How about taking along on this trip what I need in order to be able to implement my ideas and meet my objectives in terms of IQ and visual impact, and then leave some of the gear at the hotel on any given day, and only take along on my back what is most likely important for the particular venue on that day. That'll save some money for the sherpa.
Thanks again for your insights and constructive comments. Maybe this clarification helps you understand a little better what I'm trying to accomplish. As Philip says, no compromises, strive for excellence . . . I'm all for that.
#7. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 6 Sun 01-Nov-09 02:30 PM by KQW
I like your approach and thinking. While many prefer to travel light, I'm from the school of taking my best lenses and camera when going on such a trip as yours.
I understand that different people travel different ways but, why would folks go on a trip of a life time and leave the equipment at home that would preserve and capture it best. I guess the local squirrels and pigeons deserve the best lenses as opposed to travels around the world..
Is weight going to be an issue? Maybe, so for your daily trips, secure the lens you feel you will not use that day or bribe the wife to carry one of your lenses..Anyway, work it out...It'll be worth it.
I do suggest taking a storage device such as the epson P6000 or P7000 to dump you files into unless you're going to carry a bag full of CF cards...
Get a good weather proof bag..I use the Lowepro Classified 200 AW..It carries my body, 14-24, 24-70 and the 70-200 along with miscellaneous stuff..It's durable and well padded.
#8. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 7
Saint Simons Island, US
I am heading off to Argentina in a few days and I am of the same thought. Amazingly you named the 3 lenses I have in my lowepro pack. I have a D300 with the 18-200 VR lens on it and practicality would dictate that I bring it. But having cozied up to my D700, I just can't deny the difference in image quality with my better full format lenses. Once you shoot with fine lenses it is very difficult to be satisfied with less....and shoot (no pun intended) if you don't bring along your finest for a trip of a lifetime then when the heck would you? I am traveling as light in every other way but just can't seem to part with my D700 gear.
#9. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 0
what I normally do on a trip, is to pack my handluggage size trolley full with lenses (14-24, 24-70, 70-300.... ) and the D700, sometimes also the D300 with the 18-200. So that I have everything there. And for each day trip I just choose one combination depending on what I will see on this day, I might change after a couple hours. So I can travel light when shooting.
And I also just found out, that the new 28 -300 VR for the D700 is surprisingly good, but I haven't travelled with it so far.
#11. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 10
We spent 2-1/2 weeks in the Baltic. At that time, I had my D80 and the 18-200 lens. Since then, I purchased a D700 and have just purchased the 28-300 lens.
We are going to China next September, so my question was the same as yours. Since we will be touring and getting on and off buses, I will be taking the 28-300, along with my 16mm fisheye for wide-angle shots, and my 50mm. The fisheye and 50mm are so light, they can even fit in my purse.
I really WANT to take the 70-200, but am facing the same dilema you are facing....the weight and the ability to change lenses safely and quickly while getting on and off buses.
I am confident the 28-300 will provide excellent memories for me and my husband, but doubt I will win any contests with it. (not important to me)
#14. "What I'm Using on a 2 Week South American Trip" In response to Reply # 0 Mon 25-Oct-10 11:16 AM by Bart B
Loveland, CO, US
My D700'll have three eyes to see with; a 24-85, 50 f/1.8 and a 70-300VR. I may take my old 18-35 to keep in standby should I want something for indoors.
Regarding the 70-300, if I didn't have a telephoto zoom in this range when I got my D700, I may have wanted a fast 70-200. Checking out on line reviews and photos with both, I got convinced that the 70-200's ten percent more resolution in the 70-200 range than the longer one wasn't worth the extra cost. Yes, the longer one starts to soften up a tiny bit as it goes past 200, but the shorter one doesn't even go there. Other "image quality" things are on my list above resolution, sharpness, brokeh and other stuff the shorter one has over the longer one.
We all decide on the compromises required to get the pictures we want. And we all end up making the right ones for our individual objectives. And the best thing is, not one of us carries better stuff than all the others, just different....based on our own preferences.
DSLR's: D40, D700 DX Lenses: Nikkor 18-55 VR, 18-70, 55-200 VR FX Lenses: Nikkor 18-35, 24-85, 28-80, 28-200, two 50's, 70-300 VR, Nikon Series E 28, 100 & 135. Speedlights: SB-600
#15. "RE: What I'm Using on a 2 Week South American Trip" In response to Reply # 14
You have heard from both sides of the argument, i.e. bring all of your best lens, weight notwithstanding and/or travel light. I am of the latter crowd so I won't reiterate the argument.
One thing however that has not been mentioned is the large crowds wherever you go, especially in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. I was in Shanghai for about three weeks last year and again this year and did travel to Beijing and other cities. For example Shanghai has an offical population of about 18 million and an unoffical population of about 22 milion. The result is that everyone is pushing and shoving whether it is to get on a subway train or to better see a building such as in the Forbidden City. I am not saying this in any demeaning towards the Asians. Rather because of the large population the pushing and shoving has become a way of life and daily survival. I can recall being in the Forbidden City and wanting to take a picture of a building or shrine. I would position myself for a good angle in order to take the picture. Invariably 15+ people would get in front of me. I would patiently wait for those to leave an another large group would do the same thing. Finally I gave up and took the picture as the crowds never let up. For this reason I think you will become frustrated trying to use a tripod in the large cities. You may have better luck in the countryside.
I should point out that I did see some locals/tourists carrying cameras with large lens and a camera backpack. Also wherever I traveled I never felt threaten or uneasy even walking in some of the side streets in Shanghai even after dark. Of course I did take the usual precautions.
Good luck and enjoy your trip. It is a very interesting country and culture. Gene
#16. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 0
This is one of those topics that we all have an opinion on, and our opinion changes depending on the latest lens we purchased.
First, I have both the 14-24 and the 70-200/F2.8 lenses and I would not carry either on a trip like this. They are both heavy and bulky and you will not want to carry them around. Neither will you want to carry a tripod.
I would carry the newer 16-35/f4.0 for my wide angle. This lens is tack sharp, light to carry, and on an FX camera, 16mm is pretty darn wide.
Then I would carry the new 28-300 or the new 24-120 (which I don't have). The 28-300 is the lens that would be on the camera most of the time. It covers most of the range you will need and takes excellent quality shots accept in very low light conditions. Yes, there is some distortion at the extreme ends, which you will probably never notice. You can carry those two lenses without a back pack, (although I would probably bring one) by just using the pouches they come in and keeping one on your belt as you walk around.
If I was going to go out street walking at night, I would bring one of my f1.4 lenses (the 50mm or the 85mm).
Personally, I do not like the idea of "bring 'em all and leave 'em in the hotel room" idea. Hotels rooms are not secure and leaving $3000 worth of lenses in the room will make you nervous. Its not worth it.
I agree with the travel light and simple theory unless you are on a dedicated photography expedition when you will have time to set up, study a setting, go back when the light is right, etc. Which doesn't sound like your circumstances.
#17. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 16
I think I'd take the 28-300 VRII, and a P&S for evenings/dinner when you can safely secure your D700 in the hotel safe.
The D700 and some of the fast pro lenses will get very heavy...and unfortunately, not just for a day or two, but a month.
Enjoy, and remember...technical perfection doesn't make a good picture...a compelling scene does. So I wouldn't sweat the "top-shelf" lenses. Great shots are taken every day, all over the world, with much crappier cameras and lenses than you have
#18. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 17
One possibility that (I think) hasn't been mentioned, though it does carry some risk, is to forget taking along something like the 14-24mm hence go lighter, and stitch a set of images taken with your 24-70mm.
#20. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 19
Hi May I "toss a in card?" an idea Or toss in a dollar into the pot? I start out in funny ways. So, hello: I am not a pro, let me say that first up. I read all this for thrills. And indeed so, China. To me, well, everyone is so wise about lenses. I am in the camp that says insure it all and pack it in a hard case. But that is not why I wrote. TO me, hmm China. To me, I imagine a harshness and sense of accelerated movement. Not just pretty... And the buildings in this case would not interest me as much. I'd get the coolest tripod, whatever that means, and I'd be thinking of shooting it from a shutter standpoint. I'd be thinking of night scenes, and day scenes too, where the whole thing is churning or "driving" itself. The usual saturation and contrast, color yes, but like: everything tripod. And most would strongly think this to be wrong-- as in too heavy. China is just forging ahead to me-- in my minds eye. Far from sleeping or static, it strikes me as a fearsome force of humanity that is linked to the future of earth. I'd be thinking wide, and bracketing more with shutter speeds, and from the tripod. People surging down a sidewalk. Bikes and cars. Maybe looking for one still element amidst a blurred force of humankind going who knows where. I attempt to describe a mood. I hope my post is ok. I'd be also recording evening and night scenes. Blurred lights, cars, people in odd street lighting at 8pm... rushing. In a hurry... Nothing still. My best to you in all this.
#21. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 20 Wed 27-Oct-10 11:46 PM by musical
... and you may take my thought lightly. I have reread the previous about the tripod being too heavy, and yes of course it is. I was only thinking outside the box. In the example though of the building shot, with the people getting in the way. I wonder if a tripod and a long exposure, f22-like, would have been interesting? Blurring the people. They move causing themselves to not be there as much. That is the aesthetic I had envisioned for the brief moment. Something still and something dashing by all together-- even more so in darkness. But of course not ever encountering danger, never let that happen. Some places would have struck me the opposite way. But maybe I have the wrong take on it. Again the very best to you. We enter not always knowing what to expect...
#22. "Panoramas with a single zoom instead of singles with two zooms?" In response to Reply # 18 Thu 28-Oct-10 10:25 AM by Bart B
Loveland, CO, US
Now wait just a minute, Robbie.
I'd planned to send an "atta boy" to someone else in this thread for a really great idea. Now I've got to change the address label on the box it's in to yours. Oh well, your idea's worth it. (wink!)
I post this note as that's exactly what I've planned to do next February on a cruise around the bottom half of South America. I'll leave my 18-35 at home and set my 24-85 at 28mm where it's virtually distortion free then shoot two (or three) overlapping shots horizontally in portrait mode for those scenic wonders down there. Stitch 'em into a 40 by 80 (or 40 by 120) degrees panoramics.
#24. "RE: Panoramas with a single zoom instead of singles with two zooms?" In response to Reply # 22
>...I've planned to...leave my 18-35 at home and set my 24-85 at 28mm where it's virtually distortion free then shoot two (or three) overlapping shots horizontally in portrait mode for those scenic wonders down there. Stitch 'em into...panoramics.<
Do not feel constrained to shoot at a focal length that minimises barrel/pincushion distortion of the lens being used; stitching software will account for this automatically.
Please be aware that stitching presents its own difficulties, namely movement of subject from one image to the next such as people, foliage and running water. Additionally, parallax error may lead to visible errors in the final, stitched, image. Hence my earlier comment regarding risk.
#25. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 0
I just returned from a 3 week trip to Austria and Switzerland with my D700.
I also took two Epson P2000s (I upgraded them with 100 GB hard drives). I shot NEF + JPEG and would back up each (4 GB) CF card each day to both P2000s. Then, I could re-use the memory cards. Each day, I would store one P2000 in the hotel safe and put the other P2000 in my backpack.
My $0.02 is that whatever equipment you decide upon, portable and redundant backup storage should be a major priority. An alternate strategy could be one hard drive-based storage device and having enough CF cards to not have to reuse them.
Best Wishes on your trip!
Nikon user for 40 years. F-Ftn, F3, F4S, F90, F100, D5100, D700
#26. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 25
San Ramon de la Union, CR
Hi, I usually travel with some gear and therefore I have been in most situations you would want to avoid in order to have a nice vacation along with some good pictures. lets try to go item by item as I have done over the years... Camera: already you mentioned the mighty D700. I always carry a small P&S because its cumbersome to pull out our monster in a fine dining or other social meeting. Those pics are usually ok and not artistic. Backpack: I recently took the Kata Bumblebee across estern Europe..not a good choice, the straps are stiff and it will take a couple of days to break in, but that under a heavy eastern europe sun was a little too much. the lower load compartment for the camera is not very useful, so you have to basically take it off. not too practical. Tamrac velocity 7X is quite good as you can sling and pop out the camera, however this top loading bag has its space cons. Maybe thats the purpose, you should not be out in the field with that much stuff.. Lenses: I carry a 12-24 Sigma, a 35 mm 1.4 nikkor for those museum shots with no flash,a 24-700 2.4 sigma and a 70-300 VRII nikkor. Everything else is expendible, believe me..depending on the situation planned for the day, I will just take a couple and leave behind the rest. My back appreciates this after 4 hours of roaming Tripod: There is a very stiff Giottos MML3290B will do the job, even with a big heavy lens. Sometimes you want to travel light but, light tripod/monopod= flimsy so no good night time shots specially if your into HDR.. Dont forget your giottos lens blower, the big rocket, it will help you out of misery when a dust particle get in the sensor. happy shooting!
#27. "RE: Panoramas with a single zoom instead of singles with two zooms?" In response to Reply # 24
Loveland, CO, US
Robbie, I appreciate your comments:
>Do not feel constrained to shoot at a focal length that >minimises barrel/pincushion distortion of the lens being used; >stitching software will account for this automatically. > >Please be aware that stitching presents its own difficulties, >namely movement of subject from one image to the next such as >people, foliage and running water. Additionally, parallax >error may lead to visible errors in the final, stitched, >image. Hence my earlier comment regarding risk.
And well taken, too.
My pano's will typically be scenery shots taken ashore where zero (or minimal) moving things will be in the image. I won't do any afloat during the cruise unless there's nothing but horizon, sky and the setting sun. And the two or three shots will be taken very close to each other so the sun's at virually place relative to the horizon. I don't think parallax will be an issue when the closest thing's many yards away. These will be travel pano's; not contest entry ones. Good enough for slide shows for the neighbors when we get back home.
#28. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 26
I have been to Shanghai, Beijing and Taipei. Yunnan is my next destination. In Shanghai, besides the city tour, i recommend a day trip to Zhouzhuang Water Village or Hangzhou. A few attrations in Beijing are Forbidden City, Great Wall, Temple of Heaven, and Houhai Lake.
24-70 will cover most of city lanscape. If you want to shoot interior of the Forbidden City, you need 14-24. 24mm is still not wide enough.
100/2 is useful when you travel to Yunnan escpecially if you want to visit Shangri-La (near the border of Yunnan, Sichuan and Tibet).
#29. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 28
On a recent trip (two weeks) I took too much leaving quite a bit of equipment at the Hotel. 2,000 images.
What I took. D700,Canon S90, Lap top, 17-35 2.8, 24-70 2.8, 70-200 2.8, Charger,5 batteries, 50 1.4,Velocity 9 Pac, small no name back pac.
What I used. small no name back pack, big enough for D700 with one lens. D700 17-35 2.8 50 1.4 in pocket. 4 batteries / used one at a time. Carried a second when one was running low, the others stayed at the hotel, never used the charger.
#30. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 29 Mon 01-Nov-10 06:20 PM by musical
Hi, it's me: "tripod man" new superhero writing in. I'm really loving this thread and it makes me vicariously imagine going to China with a d700. I decided to write and say that I do like the message just above here. It must be this personal style or choice huh, of just how much to bring to a far-off, mysterious land. I did think of the tripod, like the newer ones are really neat, I have a Manfrotto, but maybe they are over kill. Well, I thought too of rain gear or the rain case sort of, for the camera and it's lens. Maybe the smaller macro lens is a thought for small objects there or food, too.
Yes, the phrase, yes; of a "no name bac pac." Hey I do agree. I carry my beloved camera in a tattered case. I started to keep any lenses in little pouches too, (dust protection) within the tattered case. So I'm not sure why I'm writing. It's fun to dream on. I can hardly believe all the expensive gear and plane tickets being bantered about. Such prose lift one up beyond the mundane cares & woes of a snowy, rainy, dreamy Monday morning (oh, Mama Cass where have you gone...)
#31. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 0
I just got from a 3 week tour of 5 cities in China, had a wonderful time, took over 6000 shots, and strongly recommend you go light. I find a wide angle lense the best except for some long range shots that I occasionally used by 70-200 telephoto lens. Have fun, but travel light.
#32. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 0 Tue 02-Nov-10 03:00 AM by Wizard51
First of all... it will be an absolutely amazing trip. I have been to both cities in 2009 and just last week as well.
In 2009 I took everything; D300, D200, 17-55mm, 70-200mm, 50mm f1.4, tripod, etc. I found that the only location I used the 70-200mm was the Great Wall, but I was VERY glad I had it for that day and got some good shots with it. In the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven (don't miss this) the wide angles are much better.
This year I knew I was not going to get to the wall so I did not lug the 70-200mm, but since I moved up to the D700 I took my 24-85mm (the 24-120mm f/4 arrived after my return, dang it!) and the 50mm f1.4. The 50 was indispensable for night shots on the street though I really wish it was the 24mm f/1.4 ($$$).
If I was going again next week I would take the 24-120mm f/4 and the 50mm f/1.4 and only take the 70-200mm if I knew I was going to be out someplace like the Great Wall where long range shots were going to be critical. The 24-85 was too short the whole trip, but I really think the 24-120 would have been enough for most of the good stuff.
Actually, if I was vacationing instead of traveling for my day job I would probably take a wider lens as well. The 24mm end was a little restrictive at times.
#33. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 32
My original entry that started this thread was made more than a year ago, with a moderate number of responses, and then, all of a sudden, it became a popular topic again several weeks ago. Thanks to everyone for all of your comments.
In the meantime, I have been to China twice, and I took the D700, the 24-70 f2.8, the 70-200 f2.8 VRII and the TC 2.0E III on both trips. Took a total of more than 6000 pictures.
In summary, I would take the D700 and those lenses again on such a trip, anytime. They are a great combination, and I got used to the weight very quickly. The low light abilities of the D700 are wonderful, and I did not have many instances where 24mm wasn't wide enough. The TC gave me 400mm at the long end, which was also more than adequate, since I do not shoot birds or wildlife (yet).
On airplanes, I used a Pelican 1510 as carry-on, with a Thinktank Airport Ultralight V2.5 squeezed inside, instead of any padding. No grief with airlines, customs or security anywhere; I did take Thom Hogan's advice and went to US Customs ahead of time to get a Certificate of Registration, Form 19 CFR 148.1 signed at a local US Customs office that listed all of my equipment, just in case. A Mac Book Pro running Lightroom 3, and a Seagate Freeagent 500GB as external backup drive was used to process and store all the images in a redundant fashion.
My card reader is a ScanDisk with Firewire; it worked flawlessly; my cards are all ScanDisc Extreme IV (8GB and 16GB, UDMA). I format them every time I put them back in the camera, after copying the images to the Mac and the Seagate (14 bit NEF), and never had any malfunctions.
When walking around, I used a Tamrac Veloity 9x, which held the spare lenses for easy access. In the rain I used the watertight cover for the Thinktank, which also worked well for the Tamrac. The D700 with either one of the lenses fit inside the front zipper of my parka, with the strap still kept around my neck. Sometimes I also carried an umbrella at the same time, to take shots in heavy rain.
Never had any moments when I felt threatened, or worried about being mugged, even in tight crowds, such as at the entry to the Forbidden City in Beijing, for example. This did happen several years ago, however, in Valparaiso, Chile, when a couple of youngsters came running by, from behind, and one of them got his hand into the side pocket of my pants - all I lost was some spare change. Scary, nonetheless.
While walking around, even in big cities like Shanghai, Beijing or Taipei, I carried the camera openly on one hand, dangling, with the strap wrapped around my wrist, without any incidents whatsoever. Worked just fine, and allows for quick shots. Did not take a tripod, or at least a monopod - probably the one thing I regret in hindsight - it would have allowed for sharper landscape shots, for example.
Please let me know if you have any questions; I'll be glad to report on other aspects of these trips.
#37. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 36
I'm typing this in Hong Kong after ten days here preceded by ten days in Shanghai. It was my first trip to Shanghai, but I've been to both HK and Beijing 8-10 times, always bringing substantial camera gear. After much experimentation, I've settled on a ThinkTank Airport Antidote (older version) backpack, which holds two bodies (D700 & D300 this trip), 14-24mm 2.8, 24-70mm 2.8, 70-200mm 2.8 VR, 50mm 1.4 and 10.5mm DX, along with odds and ends. This goes in the airplane overhead and also holds my 15" MacBook Pro. Also carried on is a ThinkTank Retrospective 10 with the internal dividers removed. This holds my personal stuff for a long flight (book, iPad, etc.). At my destination, I just load up the Retrospective bag (with dividers replaced) with what I think I'll need for the day. My checked baggage is a large, hard-sided suitcase which does double duty as locking (a Rimowa with very secure key and combination locks) storage for any camera gear I'm leaving in my room. Most of the time I carry around the D700 with 24-70mm attached and 14-24mm in the bag. The D300 with the 14-24mm mounted also makes a great "walking around" rig if I don't feel like carrying a bag. I shoot on 16gb cards and bring two very small Lacie 500gb USD drives. Upon returning to the hotel, everything gets saved twice (once to each drive) straight out of the camera. The two drives are stored in separate places and when flying on, one goes in my checked baggage and one goes in my carry on. This trip, I'd estimate the 24-70mm covered about 75% of my needs.
#39. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 0
I'm going to China soon as well. Let me save you some trouble. Take a 14-24mm and buy the new Nikon FX 28-300 mm. It is incredibly sharp. Sell the other lenses. Oh, the 28-300mm like the 70-300mm is much lighter. Plus at 300 mm you effectively have a macro lens to boot. The so-called closest focusing distance is based on sensor to object but reality is you get far closer because subtract from that minimum focusing distance the length of the distance from sensor to front lens element. Dollar for dollar the 28-300mm FX is probably the best bargain ever
#41. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 6
I did 6 weeks in China this past spring. I did quite well with a 16-35 vr f4 zoom, a 55 f2.8 macro, and a 70-300 vr (latest version). I also used a Lumix lx5 for "easy days". This combo was photographically sufficient but even at that it got heavy from time to time. As for the OP's original suggestion, a 24-70 zoom and Zeiss 100 macro, I think that would work well with a 20 f2.8 thrown into the mix. My experience is that you do not need an extreme wide angle for the Forbidden City and the other commentator is unfortunately correct in that you will not have really great opportunities for distraction-free images. When your tour group moves on, another is right behind it! If you feel you need more lenth, the 70-300 is more than sharp enough with good technique. Sounds like a great trip! Ray
#44. "RE: What to take on a 4 week trip to China" In response to Reply # 0
Just returned from China. I took a D700 and a 28-300. If you are on any kind of tour, this will work really well. If you are traveling independently and have time to set up, you might want to take other lenses.
The most valuable piece of equipment I had (other than the camera and lens) was a cotton carrier. Without it, maneuvering through the Great Wall, Potala Palace, Forbidden City, etc. would have been EXTREMELY difficult. With the camera hooked to my Cotton Carrier, I had freedom of movement with my arms, and the camera felt a lot lighter. I often needed both hands to manage the narrow steps and steep inclines.Also, the camera was never "swaying" so it stayed protected.
Would have loved to have had more lenses with me, but on the tour I was on, I barely had time to set up for a shot much less change a lens.
BTW - even though I only had one lens, I am VERY satisfied with my pictures from the trip. My purpose was to see China, and photography, in this instance, was secondary.