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What Camera bagcamera bodieslensesbackpackInsurance For Trip to PANAMA


Well-Known Member

Just wondering what you guys would take on a trip to Panama, im going to be a budget traveller. Staying in cheap hotels, riding busses and c&ing a bit, I will be carrying everything with me. Although I will have a place to call "Home Base" because I have friends in the city. I am going for 3 weeks in December.

I would like a camera bag that would fit in a decent size backpack. Not one of those huge backpacks for cross country travel, more a school type backpack but in a larger size. Any reccomendations for a camera bag or a travel backpack would be appreciated. In the backpack I would like room for the camera bag a change or two of clothes and room for some other random things.

It would be nice if the camera bag would be able to fit in the backpack, so I dont always have to have the camera bag out. Please help.

I have 3 camera bodies, but I will only be taking 2. My choices are Contax G1 which have had a while and am very comfortable with. I also have a Nikon F4 and Nikon FE, I started with Nikons and only use Manual focus lenses on them. I the like these cameras just as much as my Contax G1, but for different reasons. So help me pick two of these bodies. If you your choice is both Nikon Bodies I will buy the 105mm 2.5 to go with them and make it a decent 3 lens system.

My lens choices are Contax 35mm and 90mm. For the Nikons 24mm and 55mm micro. If you think of a lens you would add to the system please tell me.

Also what filters would you guys take? I want a polarizer who makes a good one? Let me know which ones you guys use and have good results with.

Im thinking of buying the Sekonic L308 light meter to go with me. If you know of any others that would be good for travel let me know.

Can any of you reccomend some camera insurance I would be able to get. I need around 1200.00 of insurance, give or take a little depedning on what bodies and lenses go with me. I am 21 yrs old and a student I live with my parents. Meaning I dont pay homeowners insurance or renters insurance, so I dont know if I can get insurance through the two ways just mentioned????????? If you know of a way for me to get insurance please let me know. Also if you know around how much it will cost for my gear, thanks!

Sorry for the long post just started thinking of all the stuff im still unsure about.
Colin Thomas
Dear Colin
This kind of thing is always a dilemma, how much gear to take and what to put it in?
It really depends on whether you are primarily doing a professional job or taking a few snaps while backpacking or on holiday.
In your case I would recommend you take the G1 with a 35mm lens and your Nikon FE with the 24mm and 105mm. You will have most situations covered. Personally I don't use filters apart from UV/Skylight to protect the lens. A small flashgun can be helpful. I sometimes use the Sekonic L308 and its a really useful bit of kit.
As far as the bag is concerned there are various options, you can either buy a purpose built small camera bag such as the British made Billingham Hadley:
The website gives details of US distributors and stockists.
Another alternative is the smaller Domke bags:
In my opinion (having used both) is that the Billingham is the better quality and a lot more waterproof, the Domke canvas ones are useless in the rain! If you want a Domke bag, they may be cheaper in the USA, the reverse is true here in the UK, look at the "J" series, the smaller one may suit your requirments.
Another alternative (a hell of a lot cheaper!) is to buy a normal, ie not a camera bag and customise it with dividers, etc. In my experience military type bags are the best and cheapest, good military and outdoor stores or ebay online auctions are the best sources for these.
Another thing to consider while travelling is that ideally the bag shouldn't look like a camera bag and should look a bit worn. Billingham bags in particular look a bit "posh" until they are a bit worn, but they are really robust and take a lot of gear for their size. One way to "age" them is to litreally drag them through the mud a few times and them put it in the shower, keep doing this a few times and like a good pair of jeans and leather jackets they look 20 years older! Believe me it works! And don't worry about the bag, they are waterproof and really robust. I do this to mine. Just rub a bit of boot polish or saddle soap on the leather bits to keep them in good condition.
Hope this helps, please get in touch if you need any more help.
Hi Colin,

I agree with Paul that the Billinghams are great. However, if you find it a struggle to put that in your backpack, as an alternative, you can get a camera bunion from Crumpler bags - they fit inside their own bags and cost about £25. They have four compartments and will take two bodies (the G1 and the FE) and probably three to four lenses (depends on the mix of lenses you have).

I would take the G1 and the FE (although I love the F4 - the G1 will give you slightly more flexibilty with candids etc.)

Polarizers - I've used Hoya and Cokin. You may struggle to use a filter holder on your G1 - but equally, in the long run, a Cokin system would be cheaper than buying lots of individual filters (and filters can be heavy and bulky compared to a Cokin system).

Light meters - Gossens do really small ones - but they don't offer spot-metering - is that what you wanted? Also did you want a flash meter as well?

As for insurance, I have seen adverts in the photo magazines - but look at the small print - some of those are virtually impossible to claim on - I would suggest talking to your home contents insurer and seeing if they offer anything.

You haven't mentioned a monopod or small tripod. If possible see if you can fit a monopod or beanbag. They can be light and fold down really small - down to even 35cm.

Finally good luck, and when you get back post your photos for all of us to see!!

Cheers, Saras

As for insurance, I don't know where you are, but here in Japan when one purchases an airline ticket, all agencies (this applies in any country) will offer travel insurance. In Japan, most travel insurance includes loss of a camera or other belongings due to theft. A friend of mine had her digital camera stolen when in NYC and only had to supply the insurance company with a police report on return home, for a full reimbursement. Try your travel agent and see what is on offer.

Good luck!

Mark Edwards
I also had been looking for a bag for my G2 in which I could also carry a wallet, Treo phone/pda, couple of spare films and a few other small items. I came across a Samsonite Trekker DV-DUO, where the top main compartment could have been made for a G2. It was Euro 38 from a local camera shop but could probably be found cheaper on the net. It has lots of zippered compartments and pockets, seems well made and given that it is Samsonite should be fairly long lasting (I still have the Samsonite case my parents gave to me on my 21st back when trilobites were still common). Wilson
While I can't recommend what bag to buy, I can certainly recommend what not to buy. And that is a TAMRAC. I own a Tamrac "pro" series camera bag. Monday I loaded my Leica M6, 50mm lens, 90mm lens, 135mm lens and a Metz 45CT4 flash; hardly a substantial weight.During the carrying of this bag, one of the 'pro quality' swivel hooks that attached the strap to the bag broke sending the bag crashing to the ground! This so called steel swivel appears to made of cheap pot metal, just like those kids diecast toy cars. I intend to write to them, however, I don't expect a satisfactory response; hell! I don't expect a response of any kind. I shall think twice about buying another "quality product made in the USA."
I also purchased the backpack harness Tamrac makes for its pro bags. Let me tell you, I don't have the courage to use it now.Compared to many other bags I consider Tamrac products to be under-engineered and definitely overpriced.