Generally, no. That said, you should be familiar with the workings of your camera, regardless of what type it is. You don’t have to fully understand f/stops, depth of field, and the rule of thirds, but the more you do understand, the more you’ll get out of the trip and the better your photos will be. The trip guides are there to answer your questions and offer tips, however the the amount of actual instruction you’ll get will depends on the trip and trip guide. Some trips are faster paced than others. Ultimately, the more you can learn before the trip, the more you’ll get out of the trip – you’ll be able to focus more on what you’re taking photos of rather than how to take the photos.
As you can probably imagine, we get this question a lot. And there are several answers. The find the “right” answer for you, you’ll want to think about how you plan to use the equipment. It’s different for everyone.
From Jim Cline:
“If you want to continue at a basic level, then having one all-purpose lens is a great idea (18-200 or 18-300). The advantage of having two lenses to cover the whole range affords you a little better quality, i.e. slightly sharper pictures, quicker focusing, etc. But then you would need to either be changing lenses a lot, or carrying two camera bodies. I would suggest spending to the high side of your budget range for the lens, because it will outlive your camera body. After a few years you may want a new body either because you want to upgrade the model, or just because the cameras keep getting better and better. But a good lens should last for years and years. Since you will probably get a camera with a cropped sensor, the 18 focal length becomes effectively a 27mm, so you may be missing out on the wide angle in some situations. At some point you might want to consider one of those wide angle lenses they make specifically for cropped sensor DSLR’s, they are like 10-22, or something like that. With the conversion factor they become something like a 16 – 35 focal length on a full frame sensor camera.”
From Karl Grobl, (trip leader for our Asia-based trips) It’s a general answer rather than specific to beginners:
“I only have two lenses (and two Olympus OM-D EM1 Mark II camera bodies) which I carry all the time, one body has the 14-28 2.8 and the other a 80-300 2.8, I love shooting both the wide end of the focal length range as well as the longer telephoto range. For the middle ground (28-80), I make due by moving closer or farther away. [Ultimately] bring what you’re most comfortable using, which also provides your largest range of focal lengths, as we will be shooting in many different scenarios and you’ll always wish you had “wider” or “more telephoto”….Murphy’s law says that you will always want the lens you left in the hotel.”
From Kat, our Tour Coordinator and fellow photographer:
“If you’re looking for an entry level DSLR, you may want to check out the latest Canon Rebel or comparable Nikon (D3100?). Both are decent entry-level cameras with loads of features at a reasonable price ($400-$600 depending on the model). Both cameras will likely come with an 18-55mm wide angle zoom “kit” lens. If you wanted to purchase another lens, a 55-300mm zoom would be a good compliment. However, in lieu of the 55-300mm, you may want to consider an 18-200 or 18-300mm zoom lens. The 18-300 lens will cover the same area that the 18-55 and 55-300, but instead of carrying two lenses, you’d just have one. Less bulk, less weight, fewer decisions to make. The 18-300 will cost you a bit more, but if you can afford it, I’d say it’s worth it. “
I (Karl) carry my cameras in a Think Tank Urban Approach 15 backpack when in transit and then switch to my Dual Spider Holster for active shooting. My Macbook Air is kept in the laptop sleeve of my Urban Approach backpack .
Jim Cline Photo Tours LLC strongly urges participants to purchase travel insurance. This usually covers costs in case of an unexpected event or emergency. While no specific recommendations are made for one insurance provider over the other, for your convenience, here are four carriers you may want to research:
Each country is different, so for specific information you will need to research a bit. The best electrical adapter that Karl has found is the “Go!con W2 by Road Warrior. He also uses the Go!con Plus Tap which is essentially, a very compact universal 3-outlet power strip. These are the only two items ever needed to plug in a computer, battery charger or other device.
It is always difficult to define what is packing “fairly light”, as this varies so greatly from person to person. There is no need to be obsessed with packing super light. While there is most always bell-boys loading bags at the hotels, it’s just best if you are able to transport your own bags a short distance, in a pinch. Even times such as at the airport getting from the curb into the ticket counter, etc. There should be porters there, but they could be tied up helping others. There will be plenty of opportunities to have laundry done at the hotels, so there’s no need to pack enough clothes to last the entire trip. As a reference, Jim travels with an expandable rolling suitcase that’s roughly 22 inches, and 2 carry-on’s – a daypack with a laptop slot and his camera bag.
The luggage question is difficult because there are so many variables, and it’s different for everyone. Jim splits his carry-on items into two bags so even on smaller aircraft, one bag can go in the overhead while the second bag goes under the seat. He brings one camera bag that holds most of the camera gear, along with a daypack which holds his laptop, an extra camera body, and miscellaneous things.
For his checked luggage, Jim uses a 22″ roller suitcase. This works for Jim, but keep in mind, he’s not hauling back souvenirs. You may want to bring a larger bag, but be mindful of your destination. If the tour will have regional flights on smaller planes, there will surely be different restrictions on weight and carry-on sizes. It’s also important to keep in mind that you’ll be responsible for your luggage when travelling through airports if there are any regional flights on your tours and while some properties will have bellboys or other staff to help you, not all will, so you really should be able to handle your own bags. Ultimately, for the ease of everyone involved in the tour, we ask each participant to pack light.
Yes, most of the time we will be travelling in private buses and, yes, you can leave packs and other items safely on the bus while we are off shooting and exploring.
Each Jim Cline Photo Tour is cultural tour as well as a photo tour; everyone in the group gets to experience all that the tour has to offer, behind a lens or not. Since we strictly limit the group size, the price remains the same for non-photographers.