User Tag List

Thanks useful information Thanks useful information:  3
Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Camera gear for my remote Borneo expedition

  1. #1
    Member SpoonyDan's Avatar
    Join Date
    30 Apr 2014
    Location
    Brisbane
    Posts
    174
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Camera gear for my remote Borneo expedition

    In August I’m off on a 2 week expedition into the remote parts of Borneo. Central West Kalimantan to be more precise. It’s somewhat of an an ‘eco’ trip, with a focus on the work the leaders have been doing in the region supporting the local Dayak people’s battle against deforestation of their land for palm oil. In combination with efforts for the local wildlife and orangutans displaced by this disaster.
    I’m obviously keen to document my time there with photos. Given the remoteness, with the village being self-sustained and very basic, deep in the rainforest, transport via 4x4 utes, long boats and light planes, I’m contemplated what gear I take. I’d rather take only a single camera body/kit to try and save space/weight.

    I have Fujifilm X-T1 + Zeiss 12mm f2.8, 35mm f1.4, 50-230 f4.5-6.7 . All this kit is quite compact and with spare batteries weighs in at 1.5kg.
    My other body is a Nikon D750, which I currently only have a Tamron 70-200 2.8 VC.
    While the short end of the Fuji Kit will work quite well, the cheap 50-230 zoom, while amazingly sharp for $250 lens (leagues beyond any cheap similar Cankion lens), it’s stupidly slow. Which will really limit it’s use in anything but great light. Which probably won’t exist that much in thick rainforest?

    While it gives far more reach than the 70-200 on the D750 (due to apsc crop), this is negated in anything but good light as the D750 files with the fast lens will crop down with better results.
    As such I’m considering taking the D750 and adding another zoom. Which is something I’d like to get anyway. I’m considering the Nikkor 24-120 f4 or perhaps Tamron 28-75 f2.8, both seem to be available reasonably priced. The 24-120 f4 seems a good option to negate the need to change lenses very often.


    Kit weight will be about 1kg more than the Fuji option but advantage will be better low light performance across most of the focal range. Bar the 35mm f1.4 on the X-T1, which performs at between f2.8-4.0 if compared to the D750.
    Possibly some others on the forum have had similar expedition experiences and can steer me a little on which way to go.
    Last edited by SpoonyDan; 31-05-2016 at 2:56pm.

  2. #2
    Ausphotography Regular Brian500au's Avatar
    Join Date
    03 May 2010
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    1,237
    Mentioned
    4 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I travel a lot and interestingly enough will be heading to Borneo specifically to photograph Orangutans in October. I am going to start by saying there is no perfect travel kit - I tend to pack for the trip as my travels are so varied. One thing I have learnt though is I treat every adventure as a once off adventure - in other words I may never get the chance to return so there is no second chance to get the shot if i fluff it up the first time around. Now my trips maybe a little different from what you are doing - my prime reason to travel is to take photographs and that will influence the gear I take with me.

    The second influence i have when i travel is my mode of travel. ie will I be sitting in the back of a jeep with my gear in Sri Lanka or will I be traveling on the metro around Paris? In Borneo I will be doing much the same type of travel as yourself, so I figure I can take some gear with me as I will not be trekking too far from a vehicle. I will also be traveling via light plane and long boat such as you describe.

    If I was you I would always carry two bodies (and in my case always the same brand) - my reason behind this is if one develops a problem I still have a full range of lenses I can use on the remaining body. I figure there is nothing worse than looking at a bag full of lenses I could not use because the body is unworkable. Again the range of lenses - in your case as you rightly point out, light could be a problem. Fast lenses are the go - but at the cost of weight. If weight is a limiting factor then I would opt for a light tele (in my case I use a 100-400), a mid range (24-105) and as a back up a 50mm 1.8 light weight nifty fifty. Although not my prime interest I have also heard macro photography can be quite interesting in Borneo so either a set of extension tubes, and dedicated macro lens or a close up lens would also be handy addition to the kit.

    For me personally I will take the 100-400, 24/70, 16-35 and 50mm. I also have a larger telephoto I will take but that is also because I plan to do a bit of bird photography.

    Be interesting to chat with you when you return - that way I can modify my own kit based on your experiences.
    www.kjbphotography.com.au

    1Dx, 5DsR, 200-400 f4L Ext, 100-400 f4.5-5.6L II, 70-300 f4-5.6L IS, 70-200 f2.8L IS II, 24-70 f2.8L II, 16-35 f4 IS, 11-24 f4L, 85 f1.2L II, 500 f4L IS, 300 f2.8 IS, ∑50 f1.4 A


  3. #3
    Member
    Threadstarter
    SpoonyDan's Avatar
    Join Date
    30 Apr 2014
    Location
    Brisbane
    Posts
    174
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Cheers for the detailed reply. That's cool that you're also going to visit this awesome place. My prime reason for visiting isn't photography but it is a key interest as part of the trip. You've given me good info to consider, thanks! Yes will certainly give feed back and no doubt post many pics.

    The light factor is a big one with the zoom I have for the X-T1. Even the trip I took to Fraser Island QLD a few months ago, in open terrain late in the arvo when some dingoes were out I was up at high ISO and low shutter speeds trying to get some shots in. I think part of it is I'm just to use to using the 2.8 on the D750 as my main zoom, so struggle when I pull out the old slug on the Fuji. haha.

  4. #4
    Member Morgo's Avatar
    Join Date
    03 Apr 2013
    Location
    Newcastle
    Posts
    224
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Have you considered the Fuji 50-140mm F2.8 lens?

  5. #5
    Member
    Threadstarter
    SpoonyDan's Avatar
    Join Date
    30 Apr 2014
    Location
    Brisbane
    Posts
    174
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Morgo View Post
    Have you considered the Fuji 50-140mm F2.8 lens?
    Yes I did some time ago when the X-T1 was my only body. However the reasons I didn't invest in this lens and so much into the X-T1 system still stand. I purchased the D750 + used Tamron 70-200 2.8 instead.
    For action and demanding shots in low light the 50-140 2.8 on the X-T1 still falls substantially short vs the D750 combo.

    So as you can understand it's ongoing use vs investment on the X-T1 would be wasteful, I'd rather invest in glass I'll use on the D750.

    I'm trying to do logical comparisons, so in this case I can have a whole stop slower glass on the D750 and achieve similar DOF. I can have near 2x stop slower glass on the D750 and achieve the same output quality when shutter speed and low light are factored. So as an example the Nikkor 24-120 F4 gives me the same DOF abilities as the Fuji 16-55 2.8, better low light performance, extra reach/zoom, and over 40% saving in cost.
    In the same way the 70-200 2.8 Tamron gave me complete advantage and price saving vs the 50-140 Fuji.

    Sure there is the bulk weight to consider, Though the 50-140 2.8 fuji vs the 70-200 2.8 Tamron isn't as stark as one might think (less than 300g, 10mm in length, 3mm in diameter). Vs the performance gain given on the D750 or similar body, I feel given the 50-140 is only lighting only a apcs sensor, it is too bulky and goes against the idea/point of having a more compact mirroless body.
    Comparatively the Nikkor 24-120 F4 vs the Fuji 16-55 2.8 are pretty much on par for size and weight, but the practical advantage goes to the D750 due to extra zoom + cost savings + better low light.

    Getting into the fast lenses the advantage seems to be mainly just the body. The X-T1 is certainly more compact and lighter, but the D750 isn't exactly a huge bulky overly heavy DSLR especially for a 35mm unit. Depending on how demanding shooting conditions are, that extra size and bulk in the body is well worth in what the D750 can offer in performance/ability.


    Is my comparative logic sound?
    Last edited by SpoonyDan; 02-06-2016 at 8:39am.

  6. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    05 Apr 2010
    Location
    Brisbane
    Posts
    159
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    My wife and I travelled to several rain-forest sites in Sabah for a few weeks in 2010. Whilst we were primarily interested in photographing orangutans and proboscis monkeys, we encountered so much more!
    Other animals we shot included red leaf monkeys, silver leaf monkeys, pig-tailed macaques, long-tailed macaques, gibbons, small clawed otters, wild pigs, leopard cats, civets, prevost squirrels and pygmy elephants.
    Some of the birds we shot included crested goshawks, crested serpent eagles, rhinoceros hornbills, oriental pied hornbills, oriental darters, blue-throated bee-eaters, collared kingfishers, cormorants and egrets.
    However, not everything worth shooting was high in the forest canopy. We were amazed by the sheer variety of different funghi growing on the forest floor and decaying fallen tree trunks that were covered in moss about 3cm thick.
    There were different spiders, frogs, snakes,butterflies, lizards, monitors, lantern bugs, millipedes as well as flowers and pitcher plants.......... and tiger leeches!

    I agree with Brian about the two body policy : (a) rain-forests, by their very nature, are often very damp, humid zones so it is far safer for your sensor if you don't have to perform lens changes when moisture and fruit pulp
    are falling from the canopy and feeding animals - every plant you brush against drips water on you. In the early morning there's usually mist and around lunch time it often rains.
    (b) by Murphy's Law, if you only have one body and you have long lens on, an animal of interest wanders within five metres of you and, conversely, when you have mid range zoom on,
    an orangutan swings into a tree top twenty metres above you. By the time you change lenses, you have probably missed a good shot opportunity.
    (c) When we were shooting polar bears in the high Arctic, in cold, windy, rainy conditions, one of our camera bodies developed a moisture problem and dropped out for a while; however, we were able to keep on shooting with the other camera.

    Back then on our Sabah trip we took a 24-105mm f/4 on a 5D II body and a Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 on a 7D body. As we expected, the Sigma was a bit slow in some situations but it did have a bit more reach than our old
    Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 which may have yielded slightly better results in some cases. A Pelican 1500 case with wheels and trundle handle worked well to protect the gear in vehicles and on boats. Dry sacks are a necessity
    in case you experience rain in the rain forest. A tall, sturdy monopod with a tilt head was helpful when shooting up into the canopy for extended periods -( Tiger leeches like dropping down your shirt sleeves when you are doing this.)

    A combo which worked well for us on our recent trips to PNG, Indonesia, Madagascar and South Africa : 24-105mm f/4 on a 5DsR body and 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 II on a 7D II body (supplemented with a widey, a macro and TCs).

    SpoonyDan; Several Nikon shooters we encountered on those trips were pairing their D750s with 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lenses and getting good results - they were also geotagging using hot-shoe mounted GPS units. This lens and either the Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 or the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 should cover most things you'll encounter in Borneo though this would mean leaving your Tamron 70-200mm at home if you didn't want to take three lenses. I feel that
    200mm would be a bit short for some of the canopy shots. How well does it perform with a teleconverter? ( I didn't suggest the 200-400 f/4 as it would be too bulky, heavy and expensive.)

    Brian : Yes, there is plenty of opportunity to use a macro on in the forest. Would you take your 200-400 Ext for your bird shots or your old 500? Did you choose the 24-70 over the 24-105 because it's 2.8 despite its lesser reach and its lack of IS ? I like my 500 II as it is substantially lighter than the old one and has better IS.

  7. #7
    Member Morgo's Avatar
    Join Date
    03 Apr 2013
    Location
    Newcastle
    Posts
    224
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by SpoonyDan View Post
    Yes I did some time ago when the X-T1 was my only body. However the reasons I didn't invest in this lens and so much into the X-T1 system still stand. I purchased the D750 + used Tamron 70-200 2.8 instead.
    For action and demanding shots in low light the 50-140 2.8 on the X-T1 still falls substantially short vs the D750 combo.

    So as you can understand it's ongoing use vs investment on the X-T1 would be wasteful, I'd rather invest in glass I'll use on the D750.

    I'm trying to do logical comparisons, so in this case I can have a whole stop slower glass on the D750 and achieve similar DOF. I can have near 2x stop slower glass on the D750 and achieve the same output quality when shutter speed and low light are factored. So as an example the Nikkor 24-120 F4 gives me the same DOF abilities as the Fuji 16-55 2.8, better low light performance, extra reach/zoom, and over 40% saving in cost.
    In the same way the 70-200 2.8 Tamron gave me complete advantage and price saving vs the 50-140 Fuji.

    Sure there is the bulk weight to consider, Though the 50-140 2.8 fuji vs the 70-200 2.8 Tamron isn't as stark as one might think (less than 300g, 10mm in length, 3mm in diameter). Vs the performance gain given on the D750 or similar body, I feel given the 50-140 is only lighting only a apcs sensor, it is too bulky and goes against the idea/point of having a more compact mirroless body.
    Comparatively the Nikkor 24-120 F4 vs the Fuji 16-55 2.8 are pretty much on par for size and weight, but the practical advantage goes to the D750 due to extra zoom + cost savings + better low light.

    Getting into the fast lenses the advantage seems to be mainly just the body. The X-T1 is certainly more compact and lighter, but the D750 isn't exactly a huge bulky overly heavy DSLR especially for a 35mm unit. Depending on how demanding shooting conditions are, that extra size and bulk in the body is well worth in what the D750 can offer in performance/ability.


    Is my comparative logic sound?
    I understand where you are coming from. I shoot Fuji and Canon myself with Canon mostly being Tele lens.

    I have a Canon 70-200 2.8 IS II and on any of my bodies, 5d3 1d4 7d2 its kicks the fuji's butt all day long. Problem is if you want a complete kit in the smaller lighter fuji system for travel, as I do (unless its a dedicated photo trip where the heavy canon gear would be going) then your going to have some overlap.

    Which is why I also have the Fuji 50-140 2.8. Having this means I'm not missing out for those times I need it and I still get to take my smaller and lighter other fuji lenses. Other wise its fuji small fast primes and a 5d3 with a 70-200 which means multiple systems which is multiple chargers and batts and if one body fails then half the kit is useless.

    It just comes down to a compromise in size/weight VS performance and what you need for the trip.

  8. #8
    Member
    Threadstarter
    SpoonyDan's Avatar
    Join Date
    30 Apr 2014
    Location
    Brisbane
    Posts
    174
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Babu,
    Great info and experience. Cheers! Yes more reach than 200 on the Nikon would be nice, though funds won't allow anything expensive at the moment. I could however afford a Nikkor 20-120 F4 and a Tamron 70-300 F4-5.6 . While the long end won't be quite as good as the 70-200 2.8 I already have it does make a compact practical kit at reasonable outlay.

    I have looked into a teleconvertor for my normal photography use and it seems the AF ability is lost for some reason with the Tamron 70-200 2.8 + TC . I didn't know this at the time of purchase as I wish I could use a 1.4 TC with it. Somewhat annoying. In saying that it's a great lens and so much cheaper than the Nikkor version.

    Morgo,
    Interesting to hear your similar experiences. It all certainly is a compromise. If I had the 50-140 2.8 on the fuji I would likely just take that kit, but I can't justify buying that lens as I'd never use it for my normal shooting vs the D750 combo, the body/lens combo just can't match it (mainly low light and AF performance is issue, not image quality).


    I'm starting to consider just the 35mm 1.4 and 12mm 2.8 and D750 with the 70-200 2.8 might do. That way I have two bodies so a level of back up, be it limiting in use/range if one body fails. It does mean buying lots of batteries for each though.

  9. #9
    Member
    Join Date
    05 Apr 2010
    Location
    Brisbane
    Posts
    159
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Unfortunate about the TC situation. The 1.4x would give you the equivalent of 280mm at f/4. Perhaps Tamron users on this forum could offer a solution that maintains AF.
    The two lens kit you propose should be compact enough and help you get decent results without busting the budget. I'd suggest that, whatever lenses you decide on, purchasing fairly soon would give you enough time for familiarizing before your trip.
    Do you put Clear / UV protective filters on your lenses to take the stress off the front elements?
    Good luck in Borneo. I look forward to seeing a post from you when you get back.
    Last edited by Babu; 03-06-2016 at 6:47pm.

  10. #10
    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
    Join Date
    18 Sep 2009
    Location
    Nthn Sydney
    Posts
    16,610
    Mentioned
    21 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Can't offer much except the idea - I think it's been postulated already - DON'T waste money on anything that lowers your IQ.
    If 200's the limit and it's good for IQ, then leave it. Yes, I read about the 230mm, but 15% extra magnification and, as you say,
    iffy performance!... Nup! Go the whole (unaffrdable) hog with something, or just take what you've got.

    Would say, though, give that 230 kit a whirl in lowish light and see if you get any surprises
    CC, Image editing OK.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •