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paulhphotography

Which lenses should I take to Thailand?

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Hi everyone,

Thank you all for your useful information that you have given to me in the past. I've decided I'm only going to take one camera body which is the XT1 with me to Thailand next week. My main question is which three or four lenses would you choose out of this list to take with you:

XF 16mm f/1.4

XF 23mm f/1.4

XF 35mm f/1.4

XF 56mm f/1.2

XF 90mm f/2

XF 50-140mm f/2.8

I would like to dabble in some street photography, landscape, portraits and architectural shots. Any helpful tips will be kindly appreciated thanks. Would it also be worth taking my Nissin i40 flashgun and tripod? Plus I'll be going to a fight whilst in Bangkok, and I don't know which settings and lens to use for this as I'll be ringside.

 

Kind regards,

 

Paul

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Hi everyone,

Thank you all for your useful information that you have given to me in the past. I've decided I'm only going to take one camera body which is the XT1 with me to Thailand next week. My main question is which three or four lenses would you choose out of this list to take with you:

XF 16mm f/1.4

XF 23mm f/1.4

XF 35mm f/1.4

XF 56mm f/1.2

XF 90mm f/2

XF 50-140mm f/2.8

I would like to dabble in some street photography, landscape, portraits and architectural shots. Any helpful tips will be kindly appreciated thanks. Would it also be worth taking my Nissin i40 flashgun and tripod? Plus I'll be going to a fight whilst in Bangkok, and I don't know which settings and lens to use for this as I'll be ringside.

 

Kind regards,

 

Paul

your stated photographic needs are varied, but also open to interpretation (e.g. is "architecture" pictures of Bangkok's sky scrapers, or the interiors of temples?).  If you have a standard zoom (e.g. 18-55mm) then take it as it will be the most useful lens in a range of situations and is stabilised.

Street: 23mm or 35mm - some streets are quite small and crowded so you can be near to the subjects, so maybe 23mm (does it focus fast?)

Landscape: depends - some use wide, some long teles - depends where you will be  - probably something wider, again I would prefer a zoom

Portraits: formal staged, or street, or candid?  Portrait - your 56mm - I think the 90mm makes the working distance too long in many circumstances unless you are just taking close ups of faces

Architecture - tricky as so open to interpretation - I shoot a lot of temple interiors etc and can work with anything between 15-35mm for interior views and 35-85mm for close ups of detail - again a zoom is a god send in many circumstances - probably you want something wider in the 16-24mm range for interior and exterior building pictures - for Bangkok something even wider can be useful

Muay Thai - do you know which stadium?  Ringside seats sound good but the ring can be much higher than your seat, making the view difficult, and also putting all the ropes in the way.  I have often favoured a seat high up at the back with a long lens.  If you can stand beside the ring and look through the ropes that's great, but they may not allow, or you may block other people's view.  You probably want continuous focus, tracking or zone AF, continuous shooting.  Meter off the fighters body and set that exposure manually as the camera meter will get confused with spotlights etc otherwise.  you want a shutter of at least 1/250s for action.  aperture around f2.8-4 will give enough DOF depending on focal length (the longer the lens, the smaller the aperture to ensure "enough" DOF).  so set your aperture and shutter speed manually, meter off their skin, then lock the ISO that the camera meter suggests - you may need to adjust +/- 1/3EV depending on skin colour.  the lighting in the ring should be fairly consistent - if pictures come out under or over then you can adjust later in camera or in post production. hope that helps.  maybe this is the obvious situation to use your tele zoom

 

generally, in Thailand and SE Asia, tele primes are my least used lenses and often I don't take anything longer than about 100mm (FF equivalent) unless I know I have a need for something longer for a specific reason.

Tripod... I wouldn't bother... you won't want to carry it around all day when it's 80-100F.

If you want any suggestions or advice on where to go, what to see etc PM me and I can try to help you (e.g. street photo locations, temples, architecture etc).

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I was going to suggest you sent a PM to @Artuk. HIs pictures of Thai fight rings and street scenes show he knows what he's talking about. Unfortunately I think the pictures were posted on the previous iteration of this forum and are un-viewable from here.

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I was going to suggest you sent a PM to @Artuk. HIs pictures of Thai fight rings and street scenes show he knows what he's talking about. Unfortunately I think the pictures were posted on the previous iteration of this forum and are un-viewable from here.

Thank you for your kind words.... here is some shameless self publicity that happens to still be hanging around this forum.

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Thanks Adrian, there's plenty of guidance for the OP there since they were taken with 23mm and 35mm lenses.

Going by your advice for the fight rings I'd say the need to sit back a little favours adding the 56mm f1.2 to his kit and will give him a good range of FLs. Since he asks for 3 or 4 lenses he can pick a favourite from either 16mm or 90mm. In spite of my reverence for the 90mm f2, I suspect the 16mm f1.4 might be  the best bet.

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Thanks Adrian, there's plenty of guidance for the OP there since they were taken with 23mm and 35mm lenses.

Going by your advice for the fight rings I'd say the need to sit back a little favours adding the 56mm f1.2 to his kit and will give him a good range of FLs. Since he asks for 3 or 4 lenses he can pick a favourite from either 16mm or 90mm. In spite of my reverence for the 90mm f2, I suspect the 16mm f1.4 might be  the best bet.

Were they?  Oh yes, the X100 and the Fuji 35mm, amongst others.  Some of the portraits were taken with an 85mm on full frame too.

The Muay Thai is an interesting challenge as it really depends on the stadium layout and the organisation - I only know 1 stadium in Bangkok personally, and that has been demolished to make way for a condo building, and replaced by a new venue near the old airport which is about 10-15Km away!  If sitting ringside the view is often obscured by the ropes, so it wouldn't be my first choice if you cannot stand.  The last time I went many years ago I sat right at the back as it was higher and used a 35-200mm zoom on APS-C - I think the 55-200mm would be much better than the 56mm in that regard. 

My "standard" minimum lens set used to be 17-35mm, 50mm and 85mm, replaced with a 24-85mm for general use (al full frame).  These days I tend to use:

general: 24-70mm

street/reportage: 28mm or 35mm or 85/90mm for street portrait use. 50mm is often neither one thing or the other - too long for close use on crowded streets, and not long enough for some portrait type work.

architecture: 16-35mm or 21/28mm combo

interiors (temples etc): 24-70mm or 21/28mm combo plus 85/90mm, 50mm can be useful if close focusing

formal portraiture: honestly, 24-70mm on APS-C for versatility (when using good available light or with wireless flash system), for available light street work anything between 28mm, 35mm, and 85/90mm primes

(all full frame unless otherwise stated).

As for locations:

1. Street - night market and side streets of Silom (avoid Patpong, photography not well liked there), sidestreets of Pratunam but not necessarily the market, or near the river near Silom or Chinatown areas.  In general people are not adverse to photography, though it is nice to ask first if photographing a single subject.

2. Architecture - Sathorn Square for modern architecture, where you can find an early Norman Foster building on Sathon Road nicknamed the "robot building".  Temples can be found in most guidebooks - Wat Po, Golden Mount, Wat Arun and Wat Mahathat worth a visit, also temples in Chinatown (photography may not be permitted).  There are other excellent temples further outside the city centre if you have time to travel to the suburbs, but if on a limited time budget, easier to stick to centre of town. 

3. Landscapes - not really sure what this means if staying only in Bangkok.  You could try a day trip to Ayuthaya (about 2 hours each way, you can go by private hire taxi or take the train from Hualamphong main station), a world heritage site.  In the city, there are decent cityscapes around Siam Square, and Chitlom.  The new "central embassy" mall is something to be seen, as is the Okura Grand hotel opposite it on the corner of Sukhumvit and Wireless roads.  Anantara Resort hotel on Narathiwat road (near Sathorn) has an excellent roof top bar with views toward the city, better than the guidebook options in my opinion, and better value.  Sofitel Hotel on Sukhumvit and Siam@Siam hotels at Siam Square both have good roof bars with decent views from some angles, as does the Centara Hotel at Central World mall.  If you have time, you could try to see the "Elephant Building" out beyond Mo Chit (JJ Market area) but I can't recommend a place for the best view.  Lumpini park is quite attractive with a large lake and decent park grounds.  Bhumiphol Bridge (named after the current king) is well photographed, but difficult to recommend a spot - best to get a taxi and drive around to find a spot you like.  Rama 9 (I think) also has a beautiful suspension bridge with supports only at one end which is very photogenic.

4. Portraits - as mentioned most people don't mind, but ask first and be polite - people respect good manners and politeness. Depending on who you like to take portraits of, backstreets and side streets can be great places.  Big roads, tourist areas and shows put on for tourists are not so good in my opinion.  China town is fascinating, but Chinese Thais tend not to like being photographed so much. 

Edited by artuk
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This is a very good question and there is a proper technical answer:

Automatically, your going to want the wide angle primes for landscape and architecture.... and to capture all that is going on.  The possibilities are endless and you will want to capture for the viewer "what its like being there" which can only be done with a good wide angle.  So for starters:

XF 16mm f/1.4

XF 23mm f/1.4

are a must.  The XF 16mm is absolutely indespensibe.  I would consider getting an even wider lense.  Perhaps the XF 14mm.... or a Rokinon 12mm F2.   For APC sensor, 16mm equates to 24mm Full Frame Im sure you are aware.  I would go wider. 

The XF 23mm translates to roughly a 35mm Full Frame and that will be indespensible for street shooting.

Even though the XF 35mm is one of Fuji's finest lenses and gets so much praise, I would leave it home.  Frankly, a 50mm focal length will be the least neccessary -considering landscape & architecture where you already have a 35mm equivalent.

Next, I would ask myself do I want portraits and images with bokeh ?

If not I would leave behind the 56mm and the 90mm and just go with the 50--140mm zoom.   At F2.8 Fuji gives nice Bokeh anyway and you've just eliminated two lenses with one that will do all your tight angle shots and distance telephoto.

I would strongly consider aquiring a 12 or 14mm wide angle and then go XF16mm,  XF 23mm, and leave the portrait primes home and finish with XF50-140mm

my 2 cents.

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