What I’m Taking to China

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Thanks for reading! Andrew.

Shanghai at night, China

Below is the list of photographic gear I’m taking on my one month trip to China. I’ve switched from Canon EOS to Fujifilm cameras with this journey in mind. My aim was replace the larger, heavier Canon dSLRs with a lighter mirrorless system that is easier to travel with.

Hand luggage weight is an important consideration here in New Zealand as the airlines are very strict on the 7kg weight limit. The only leeway you have, if your luggage is weighed and found to be over the limit, is to remove your laptop from the bag and carry it on separately.

Is there anything else I’d like to take with me? Yes there is – in the future I may buy a Godox portable flash unit with an umbrella or softbox, much like Piet Van den Eynde does. That could open up some interesting possibilities lighting wise, although of course it does add more gear to the mix, and I’d have to remove something else to stay under the 7kg limit.

Is there anything I’d remove? I will need my laptop, otherwise I’d be tempted to take just the iPad (and a bluetooth keyboard to make typing easy). Also the two manual focus lenses are bit of a luxury. If I had to take just two lenses, I would choose the 56mm and the 14mm (a difficult choice). Ideally, I’d have two X-T1 cameras so that I could move from just one body to the other without having to think about the difference in the way they operate.

The total weight of my hand luggage, excluding the laptop but including personal items like wallet and glasses is just under 7kg. The laptop adds 2kg more.

I must point out that I’ve never been asked to weigh my hand luggage at the airport. For the last nine years I’ve used a Lowepro CompuTrekker AW and it seems to avoid the eye of airport employees tasked with weighing bags.

This is the gear list:

  • Vanguard Vojo 25 and Lowepro Slingshot 200 AW bag (these go in my checked in luggage and will be used in China)
  • Lowepro CompuTrekker AW camera bag (for airline hand luggage and hotel storage)
  • Fujifilm X-T1
  • Fujifilm X-Pro1
  • Fujinon 14mm f2.8 lens
  • Fujinon 18mm f2 pancake lens
  • Fujinon 35mm f1.4 lens
  • Fujinon 56mm f1.2 lens
  • Fuji X-T1 portrait grip
  • Two battery chargers, five batteries
  • Assorted SD cards
  • Cable releases
  • Helios 44M 4 58mm f2 manual focus lens
  • Meyer Optik Gorlitz Primotar E 50mm f3.5 manual focus lens
  • M42 to Fujifilm X mount adapter
  • iPad Air and SD card reader
  • iPhone
  • MacBook Pro
  • Kindle
  • Spare hard drive
  • Cables
  • Formatt Hitech Joel Tjintjelaar circular long exposure kit (three, six and ten stop neutral density filters)
  • Lee Seven5 filter holder and graduated neutral density filters
  • Polarising filter
  • UV filters
  • Mindshift Gear Filter Hive
  • Lens cleaning tissues
  • Lens cleaning fluid (checked in luggage)
  • MePhoto C1350 carbon fibre tripod (checked in luggage)
  • Lastolite white and silver reflector (checked in luggage)

What do you think of this list? What would you add or take away?




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31 Responses to “What I’m Taking to China”

  1. Alistair says:

    Hi Andrew
    Just joined the Fuji club myself, like yesterday. Was wondering about your reasoning on the choice of filters – have you chosen screw on filters or plate filters with holder?

    • Hi Alistair, hope you’re enjoying your Fujifilm camera. I have a mixture of screw in filters and square filters. My polarising filter and neutral density filters are circular screw in filters, and I bought some step up rings so I can use them with different lenses.

      My graduated neutral density filters are from the Lee Seven5 system. They’re a bit expensive and I had to order them from B&H Video as I couldn’t find a stockist in NZ. But I wanted to buy good quality filters. The Lee Seven5 system is smaller than the regular Lee filters and fits most Fujinon wide-angle lenses. The notable exception is the Fujinon 10-24mm lens, for which you need a larger system.

      • Alistair says:

        If I want to use screw on Firecrest filters on the Fujinon 18-135 mm and 10-24mm what step up rings do I need?

        • It depends on the diameter of your Firecrest filters. The Fujinon 18-135mm has a 67mm filter thread and the 10-24mm a 72mm filter thread. If the diameter of your firecrest filters is say, 77mm, then you’ll need 67-77mm and 72-77mm stepping rings. You can buy them cheaply on Trade Me.

  2. Dave says:

    I think I’d drop the iPad air and or the Kindle, since you have the MacBook Pro and iPhone. Probably drop the M lenses too since you have close focal lengths in the Fuji lenses. And either the 14 or 18mm lens.
    Or, I’d drop all the camera stuff and just carry the x100t that I’m shooting now! Last year on a trip to Germany, I just carried the x100s and dealt with the “limitations” of having a single focal length. The joy of a relatively weightless pack made up for lost opportunities.

    • Hi Dave, some good ideas there. Everything is on the list for a reason – the manual lenses because I’d like to try them out on some new subjects, and the iPad because I will be travelling without the laptop in China for a couple of weeks. But there’s definitely an appeal to going ultra-light. In practice most of the gear will be left in the hotel, and when I’m out I will either have two camera bodies and two or three lenses, or maybe even one body and two or three lenses. I plan to experiment with different combinations to see what works best for me.

    • Vic says:

      Hear Hear, totally agree. Me, Sony A7s or Nex7, 35mm 2.8 Zeiss and 24-240mm for occasional use. Cannot take the shoulder pain anymore.

      • Vic says:

        P.s hope you have a great and fantastic trip, am very jealous and hope to see your work when you get back, enjoy.

  3. Richard says:

    If you’re coming to Shanghai feel free to drop me a line if you want some company to show you around

    • Thanks Richie, that’s very kind. I’m familiar with Shanghai because I stayed there for six months a few years ago, but if I have time I will let you know. It’s always interesting to spend time with other photographers.

  4. Per Ulrik says:

    Hi Andrew!
    When looking at your list I’m wondering what’s left in New Zealand. With the selection listed I’m sure you are prepared for any situation, but…
    Previously I brought my Nikon and several lenses plus a flash.
    Looking at the meta data of the images I took, I found out that the majority was within 24-75 mm (35 mm equivalent).
    Today I stick to my Fuji X100 with the wide converter plus a flash when travelling and must accept I can’t go that wide, but the image quality of the X100 allows me to crop rather dramatically to compensate for the lack of tele performance.
    I’m just waiting for the postman to bring the tele converter so I can go a little further. These are the items I will bring for my next trip, one month in USA.
    So compared to your list I will be missing the 14 mm and the 56 mm if just looking at the lens focal range. Image quality is of course another issue, where you lenses may work on a higher level.
    Regarding computer I bring a 11″ Macbook air. It is powerfull enough to run the Capture One program.
    By the way I bought you ebook Mastering Composition. Super book.

    • Hi Per, I guess it does seem like a lot of stuff but it’s all there for a reason. I prefer primes to zooms and none of the lenses weigh much or take up much space (with the exception of the 56mm lens). The manual focus lenses are a luxury but I’d like to try them out with some new subject matter – they are softer than the Fuji primes and give some extra bokeh effects. In practise most of it will stay in the hotel and I’ll take with me the lenses that I think I’ll need on the day according to what I’m going to shoot.

      Glad to hear you enjoyed Mastering Composition!

  5. Scott Bennett says:

    Andrew, sounds like a wonderful trip! Unless I missed it, you’re not planning on bringing a flash. I rarely bring mine, but do find that there’s always a few situations where I wish I had it with me. What are your thoughts?



    • Hi Scott, I prefer to shoot in natural light but there are times when I think flash would be really useful. I’m inspired by Piet Van den Eynde’s work with flash and I think it opens up new possibilities and a different way of taking portraits than using natural light.

  6. Jack Mann says:

    Hi Andrew, I truly hope you enjoy your time in China. I also spent a month there, the only thing I should have taken but couldn’t was clear blue sky. I think I saw the sun only once, for a very short time.

  7. David says:

    Why the Kindle when you have the iPad?
    I ditched a large Canon kit for the X100S, obviously very different but no regrets, fabulous camera and the add on lenses give me 28mm and 55 mm. Leica v lux 40 in my pocket takes care of the fun long zoom bits!

    • The Kindle doesn’t weigh much and it’s much easier to read on the plane or in the hotel late at night. The white light of the iPad is not healthy for your eyes and can disrupt sleep patterns if you view it before you go to bed. Sounds like you’re having a lot of fun with the X100S, I’ve heard nothing but good things about that camera.

  8. Corinna says:

    A double or triple plug to charge all your electronic gear.
    Greetings from Switzerland!

  9. Rick says:

    Hi Andrew. Interesting because I’m busy packing for the Arctic and am facing huge challenges with weight. Looking at your list I’m amazed you can get in with just 7kg. With a 5D mK III and a 7d for wildlife especially birds, and three lens plus tripod ball head iPad and MacBook I’m struggling. The only contribution I can make is there is no need to take the Kindle if your taking the iPad! Enjoy your visit.

    • Hi Rick, the Fuji lenses are really small and light. Compare the Fujinon 35mm f1.4 with Canon’s version, for example, there’s a huge difference. However, dSLRs are still the best for wildlife, and what with the requirement for telephoto lenses I don’t envy your packing challenges!

  10. Thomas says:

    I’m using Canon 5D for landscape and weddings, and use Fuji for friends, family and travel. I recently wore out my x100 and got a new x100t, love it. I really love the fixed lens and walking to zoom, which is why I also tend to use primes on my Canon professionally. I also have an XE2, relatively inexpensive body, with a fuji 14 and 35 lens. So for travel, I take two bodies – x100 and XE2 – one also serves as back up, but then walking the street in my bag (in 35mm equilivant) is a body with a 21 or a 50, and a body with a 35. Wonderful set up! Have fun!

    • It’s interesting to see people using dSLRs professionally and mirrorless cameras for fun/personal work. I’m a big fan of primes too. Lots of fun planned!

  11. Usually when I travel. I carry a Canon 60D with four lenses.Two are my cheapest-EF-50mm f/1.8 II & EF-S 55-250 mm f/4-5-6 IS II and a medium price one for interior EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM and the kit lens for the camera-EF-S 18-135 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS.
    UV and CP filters to suit the lens-CP only for the 10-22 & 18-135mm.I also carry some accessories for cleaning and for back-up. Never carry a computer and rarely download my stuff. I wait until I return home.
    I cannot afford an extra camera yet. But I have been seeing photographers chat about the mirrorless cameras and of their benefits. But for me now as a neophyte I’ll stay with what I have and see if I could trim it down and make the gear more efficient.
    The only thing that bothers me though is the quality of products that I get from using those lenses. Maybe I am not using them right.

    • Hi Trevor, what do you mean when you refer to quality? All lenses need to be used correctly, although that’s usually just a matter of making sure your shutter speed is fast enough to prevent camera shake and that focus is accurate. The 50mm f1.8 should give you excellent image quality. The 10-22mm lens is supposed to be pretty good too. The other zooms have their compromises – I’ve used the 18-135mm and found that it had a lot of barrel distortion at the 18mm end. But things like that happen with zooms with long focal length ranges.

      We ran an article in EOS magazine several years ago about a photographer who travelled to India with just a full-frame camera and a 50mm lens. He got some great photos. As an experiment you might like to try just taking the 50mm lens with you on a short trip and see how you get on. Constraints like these can really bring out your creativity as you work on getting the best out of the lens you are using, rather than swapping around between different optics.

  12. Tom says:

    “What do you think of this list?”
    I think it is way too long!

    “What would you add or take away?”
    I was horrified at the number of items you were carrying. To travel light you need to be a lot more ruthless. It is too late now to make any difference. You are back from your trip.

    I would have left most of what is on this list behind. But you are a successful photographer and have photographed in over 60 countries so you don’t need any advice from me. You must be doing something right!

    It is easier to list what remains after being simplified, than to list what I’d have left behind.

    [Lowepro Slingshot 200 AW bag … maybe]
    Lowepro CompuTrekker AW camera bag (for airline hand luggage)
    Fujifilm X-T1
    Fujifilm X-Pro1
    Fujinon 18mm f2 pancake lens
    Fujinon 56mm f1.2 lens
    One battery charger
    Two spare batteries
    Assorted SD cards
    Maybe one screw-in ND filter
    Polarising filter
    UV filters
    Lens cleaning tissues
    Lens cleaning fluid
    MePhoto C1350 carbon fibre tripod

    I would add a blower brush and a couple of sensor swabs, just in case the sensors picked up some dust, although with two cameras and two prime lenses there should not be much opportunity for that.

    The iPhone is sufficient for eMail and Web access. You do not need a kindle, a tablet and a laptop as well. With your cameras I’d take a self-contained backup device, such as the Sanho Hyperdrive, but I would not beed a backup device as I’d be using an EOS 1-series, and backing up to the second CF or SD card, so I and would carry enough storage cards for the journey. At 1500+ images per 32Gb a few lightweight cards are sufficient for a long journey. Shooting simultaneous RAW and JPEG there’d be no need to transfer RAW files to a computer and process them en route.

    • Hi Tom, thanks for commenting and I understand why you would react the way you did. But everything was on there for a reason – the thing I didn’t mention is that after China we were flying on to the UK and spending some time in Europe. So the laptop is essential because I need it for work. Plus I wanted to experiment with the lenses and filters that I took. If I was just going to China for a few weeks then returning home I would definitely take less gear and leave the laptop at home.

      • Dave says:

        Stepping back a little, isn’t it amazing we live in a time where it’s almost a casual thing to travel to China, then on to Europe and we can talk about it with people around the world were not likely to ever meet face to face, in real time?

        • Absolutely. I love living in an interconnected world like this. Looking forward to explaining to my niece and nephew when they are old enough to understand that there once was an age before the internet.

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