My Essential Gear For Blogging & Photography In Asia

In this article My Essential Gear For Blogging & Photography In Asia, I will highlight the few items I have packed and discuss why I have decided to bring them with me.

I have just arrived in Thailand and will be staying here for at least one month. However, I have 90 days on my tourist visa meaning I may be here up to 3 months. After this, I will continue to visit other countries in South East Asia, such as Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.

Those that have travelled before will understand that it is pointless to plan beyond a month or two. I know I will have the option to head east to China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. Or west to Laos, Tibet, Nepal, and India. A bridge I will cross when the time comes to make the decision. My Essential Gear For Blogging & Photography In Asia, My Essential Gear For Blogging & Photography In Asia, My Essential Gear For Blogging & Photography In Asia, My Essential Gear For Blogging & Photography In Asia

1. Travel Specifics

1.1. Method Of Travel

I flew to Thailand. My first destination is the tourist hotspot, Phuket. A small island positioned off the west coast of southern Thailand.

Fortunately, at the time of writing this, the Covid situation has mostly cleared up. Meaning the country is back open for business, and I have not been faced with too many restrictions.

1.2. Luggage Restrictions

In most cases, the carry on baggage allowance is divided into a small under-seat bag and an overhead rucksack (which now costs extra to book). Both of which must not weigh over 10kg combined. This would not usually be an issue. Asia is a hot country, and very few clothes are needed to live comfortably there. Meaning people can travel lightly.

However, because I intend to work on a photography/videography portfolio, I must take more electrical and optical items than a regular tourist would need. In fact, if I were to travel as a standard tourist, I could arrive with little more than a bum bag with a few essential items in and have a comfortable holiday.

1.3. Personal Objectives

Understanding my personal objectives for this journey is the first part of the packing process. Because the size and weight of my carry on luggage are so restrictive, I must take special care that everything I pack is something I need to achieve my goals. Furthermore, there will be no opportunity to shed any item once the trip has begun. Unless I decide to lose that item or piece of equipment for good. 

The things I will work on are:

  • Photography
  • Videography
  • Writing/blogging

2. What’s In The Bag?

2.1. Bags/Cases

osprey bag - My Essential Gear For Blogging & Photography In Asia

This bag has been with me for several years now. It is credibly comfortable and supportive to wear. Even when carrying a heavy load. It has a metal frame that can support itself and effectively distribute the weight to the hips if one decides to use the integrated waist pack. Furthermore, this frame contributes to an airflow design that lets air circulate between the back and the bag.

Depending on how you travel and the items you travel with. The main compartment of the bag may leave something to be desired. Because of the curved design, it is challenging to fit long non-mailable objects inside. Nonetheless, I can insert my 15” MacBook Pro and iPad Pro in here, along with a camera bag and clothes.

On the downside, this bag is several centimetres too tall for the carry-on baggage allowance permitted by airlines. However, I know that I have taken this bag to Thailand before, without hassle. And I am making the bet that I will once again pass through security without bother. There is a little give in the metal frame, meaning I can compress it somewhat. But I hope it does not come to this. I would first break the bag before I pay for check-in luggage.

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2.1.2. Camera Bag – Crumpler Banana Bowl

Crumpler camera bag - My Essential Gear For Blogging & Photography In Asia

On a recent trip to Spain, I had taken a set of Lowe pro bags. One for the body of the camera and two separate protective cases for the lenses. Due to the nature of the trip, a cycle tour, the extra padding was necessary. However, because of the size and weight restrictions of the plane, taking them to Asia was not an option. Instead, I have opted to use my Banana bowl by crumpler.

The bag is made from a thin neoprene material with minimal padding around the exterior and a few padded separators inside. And while this bag offers far less protection than the Lowe pro bags, it is far more suited to this excursion. For example, it is far more malleable. Meaning it is much easier to fit inside to bag. Furthermore, I lose less room in an already small bag to unnecessary padding. Uneccesarry because as long as I do not throw the bag around, the protection it offers will be sufficient. It is still a camera bag.

Lastly, despite its small size, I am impressed by its capacity. I can fit all of my camera equipment, including my hard drive, inside this bag when I have the camera in hand. And as any decent photographer should wear their camera like an item of clothing at all times. Carrying my gear inside this bag will most likely be the case for the duration of the trip.

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2.1.3. Bum Bag – Dakine

Dakine bum bag - My Essential Gear For Blogging & Photography In Asia

I have been to Asia a few times now and realise the importance of carrying a small bag like this at all times to keep items like wallets and phones safe and secure.

This is mainly due to the inferior pockets, if any, found in a light summer dress. But the peace of mind that these are safe from pickpockets makes it a worthwhile accessory to bring.

This one by Danke is slightly on the small side. Ideally, I would like it to fit my GoPro inside while attached to a grip. However, can secure it well enough to feel comfortable using it.

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2.1.4. Laptop/iPad Case – Tomtoc 15”

Tomtoc laptop case - My Essential Gear For Blogging & Photography In Asia

I have been carrying my MacBooks in Tomtoc protective cases for several years. Including taking my current one on an 8-month cycle tour through Europe and the Balkans in 2020. And again to Spain in 2021/2022.

Despite its low retail price, I trust these cases and will remain with the brand long into the future. In fact, I had a more expensive Thule case for my previous laptop. But after making the transition to tomtoc and seeing the difference in protection, I would advise others to do the same.

It is a soft case with a layer of outer protection, including around the corners. And is also filled with soft padded bobbles inside the case. The level of protection it offers is superb. I fully trust it to take care of my laptop. I also carry my iPad Pro in the same case.

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2.1.5. iPhone Case – OtterBox Defender Series

Otterbox phone case - My Essential Gear For Blogging & Photography In Asia

This Phone case deserves to be mentioned because of its quality. While travelling, it is crucial to have a phone case that you know won’t let you down. These days travelling without a smartphone is nearly impossible.

I purchased this case last year while I was working on a construction site, and after using a quad lock case for several years instantly fell in love with this.

Not only does it do an outstanding job at protecting the phone. It looks and feels great too. One addition I would’ve liked to have seen would be a dedicated hole to tie some string. However, I can overcome this by using one of the speaker ports, so it’s not an issue. I thoroughly recommend this case to anyone looking to protect their smartphones.

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2.2. Cameras And Lenses

2.2.1. System Camera – Fujifilm XT-4

Fujifilm XT-$ - My Essential Gear For Blogging & Photography In Asia

The camera I will be bringing with me is the Fujifilm XT-4. Now, this may be my only camera, so I have not chosen it above any others for this trip. However, many of the reasons I decided to purchase this camera in the first place are applicable.

Despite the logical reasons for using this as a travel camera, I have fallen in love with it. Admittedly the likelihood of buying into the canon (once I have become professional, due to their lens range) is high. However, I will always own at least one Fujifilm camera for personal use. Why? Not only are they a pleasure to hold a behold, but the retro/analogue feel to using the camera means they give an all-around pleasurable user experience. And, despite its relatively small sensor, it still performs well enough for many of the actions I need it for.

The leading reason why this camera is superb for the trip is its size. The camera body is tiny. This makes it perfect for things like documentary and street photography. Situations where it’s not ideal to be throwing around a large piece of equipment in people’s faces.

Furthermore, Its compact and lightweight body makes it ideal for travel. Because you can pack more things in your rucksack, and you do not need to carry around heavy camera gear as you go roam.

Its 26 MP CMOS sensor does a more than adequate job of taking pictures for print. And it is also a performance tool for videographers.

I won’t go into too much detail about this camera here as it is not a review article. To summarise, the Fujifilm XT-4 is a superb travel partner.

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2.2.2. Action Camera – GoPro 10

Gopro 10 - My Essential Gear For Blogging & Photography In Asia

Before I departed on my cycle tour to Spain, I purchased the GoPro hero 10. For my 2020 cycle tour, I had used hero 8 and had made many videos with it. Both personal vlogs of the journey and on-location videos of the places I visited. Thinking back to how much I had used this and the quality of videos I had made with such a small camera, I convinced myself to buy the 10. Mainly because of the front-facing screen. Something that was sorely missed and needed in the 8.

Unfortunately, besides being used for a few photographs, I didn’t use it much when in Spain. I’m not sure why this was. I think I set off with the intention of focusing more on photography than being a narcissist and filming myself. But on reflection, I think filming a blog would’ve been a good thing. Both for promotional content and to help continue to develop my skills and speed in video editing. Something I actually despise due to its time-consuming nature. For this trip, I will be blogging with a camera again.

The GoPro is also an extremely versatile and rugged camera. And its small size makes it perfect for travel. It is packed with features I love, such as time warp and slo mo. Plus, I like its ability to take interesting wide-angle stills in raw. I love its ruggedness, knowing I can take it anywhere to capture content without the fear of breaking it.

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2.2.3. Fujinon 16-80mm f/4 WR

Lens

This is the lens I bought the camera with. I paid a little extra to upgrade to a thin one instead of the XF 18-55mm f2.8-4 R LM, the standard Fujifilm kit lens.

The best decision I could have made because this lens is incredible. Yes, it is slow at f.4. However, it is weather-sealed and has a focal range of reach that makes it versatile. It will work for the majority of shots I want to take.

Furthermore, the photographs it takes are outstanding. The detail and sharpness I can capture with this glass leave nothing desired. If I could travel with only one lens from my collection, it would be this.

2.2.4. Fujinon 10-24mm f.4 WR

Lens

I invested in this lens because I was trying to break into real estate photography. Unfortunately, this did not work out due to a lack of demand in the area.

For a while, I believed I had spent a small fortune on a lens that I wasn’t going to get much use from. Luckily this has not been the case, and it has proven itself to be the perfect lens time and time again. Situations where my 16-80 just can’t open its field of view wide enough.

It may not sound like much, but those extra 6mm make a world of difference. Especially when you consider another 8mm is fish-eye territory.

I now believe that a wide-angle is a must-have for any photographer to achieve shots necessary at the lower end of the focal length spectrum.

2.2.5. Fujifilm 33m f/1.4 WR

Lens

This lens is one of Fujifilm’s most recent releases, hitting the shelves in late 2021. I purchased this lens as soon as it was released instead of buying the much cheaper 35mm f/1.4.

Why did I spend an extra £300 on the 33mm, or even £530 for the plastic XC version? The answer is its weather resistance.

I have in the past bought a cheap plastic fast lens that was not weather sealed. Within a month, it had a flake of dust resting directly inside the centre of its lens.

I buy gear like this with a long term outlook. To me, something like a camera lens is an investment. In my purchasing decisions, I lead with the principle buy it cheap buys it twice. And it is no different for camera equipment. I like to spend extra on quality.

Furthermore, for its intended uses, I will more than likely be taking it into environments that may otherwise destroy a lens without weather sealing. But even if I’m not battling sandstorms in the Sahara or blizzards on Everest, I do not wish to be forced to stop shooting if there is a spell of rain.

Another great thing about this lens is its size and weight. Measuring a mere 73.5 mm and weighing just 360g, it is a perfect travel lens as it’s literally pocket size.

2.2.6. GoPro Max Lens Mod

Lens

When I purchased my GoPro, I was forced to buy a subscription that offered its accessories at half price throughout its duration. Because of this, I found myself scrolling through the overpriced accessories on the website to see if something took my fancy. And that is when I noticed this lens.

I wasn’t entirely sold on it at first. Thinking back to how well the GoPro 8 had performed for me in 2020. But after watching a few YouTube videos, I appreciated how well it was further able to minimise shock while further increasing its field of view. Something I knew I wouldn’t need often but could certainly see myself using in the future.

And the lens itself is tiny, as you would expect for a GoPro. So it takes up very little room and weight in a kit bag. Not like a system camera lens which is a real commitment.

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2.3. Camera Accessories

2.3.1. Speed light – Godox TT-350F

Flash

My flashgun is the Godox – TT-350, A compact battery-operated unit that hasn’t let me down in any situation so far. Although I must say, I have not used it properly outside of street photography.

I am relieved I opted for the smaller model instead of some larger, more powerful units offered by the manufacturer. The lower price point was more of the deciding factor at the time. However, that decision was for the best as lightweight and compact are ideal features for travel. Making it a perfect flash option for this trip.

There are two things I don’t like about this flash. The first is the flash itself cannot be aimed to the sides or backwards. It can only rotate 90 degrees on a single axis. Secondly, it is powered by AA batteries, not rechargeable lithium batteries.

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2.3.2. Microphone – Movo VXR10

Mic

As I begin to learn the basics of videography on this excursion, I will require a microphone. I have had this one from MOVO for some time, purchasing it a couple of years ago to downsize from a longer Rhode mic.

Unlike my other products, I do regret buying this mic. If I could, I would change for another rode. Why? Not because it doesn’t perform, it actually does its job well, but it is a Chinese brand.

I just can’t help but feel better about owning something from a reputable brand with a long history of quality. It was cheaper than its rode equivalent. It also came with adapter cables for use with Smartphones. For now, it will suit my needs, and unless it breaks, I do not see myself buying another to replace it shortly.

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2.3.3. Joby Gorillapod 1k

Tripod

I will be using the 1k Gorillapod for this trip. I chose this over the 5k version because it is much smaller and lightweight. It is the perfect size to use with my GoPro and iPhone and is strong enough to support the XT-4. So I don’t need to carry two with me as the 5k is too large to use with the smaller cameras.

The 5k would instil more confidence when being used with the Fujifilm. It would also elevate the camera slightly higher. It also has an acro plate for the camera, which is better than screwing it in and out of a tripod every time you need to use it.

Despite its advantages, the 5k would’ve offered the disadvantages outweighed these, so I decided against bringing it.

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2.3.4. Smartphone Clamp – Joby Smart Grip Pro

Tripod and grip

This clamp came packaged with the 1k tripod, and the deal was too good to pass up. Making videos with my iPhone is something I have not done too often apart from using it to record a few vlogs. However, if I am going to learn to capture video, I want to utilise all equipment at my disposal.

For this reason, I purchased this smartphone grip. Before this one, I used one from Ulanzi, but it fell apart while on top of a tripod during transport.

The Joby is far superior in quality. It grips the phone with a far stronger hold and can be rotated 90 degrees to film in portrait mode without releasing the phone. I made sure I purchased the option with the cold shoe mount to attach accessories such as the microphone. The only downside to this mount is its chunkiness. It does take up a lot of room for what it is.

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2.4. Memory & Storage

2.4.1. System Camera – Sandisk Extreme Pro 128GB x 2

Memory card

The Fujifilm XT-4, like most modern-day system cameras, has a double SD card slot. The memory cards I use are the Sandisk Extreme Pro 128GB. It was worth spending the extra money to get the 128 GB versions over the 64 GB. However, the 256 GB were too rich for my blood.

If you are a videographer or plan to capture videos, 256 GB will be the best option. I have also packed several old SD cards as backups. But unless one of the 128 GB cards stops working, they will be used throughout the journey.

Unlike other photographers that fill their cards and move onto others. I download all my files to a hard drive, wipe them, and head out with formatted cards.

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2.4.2. Go Pro – Sandisk Pro 32GB & 64GB

Memory Card

For my GoPro, I use Sandisk extreme cards. I have never had any issue with the quality of writing speed while using these cards with a go pro. I have three 32GB and two 64BG cards with me as these things tend to fill up quickly. Especially when shooting in 4K or even 5.6K.

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2.4.3. Sandisk Extreme 1TB Hard drive x2

Hard drive

I purchased these drives after my 2020 cycle tour, where I used a traditional disk drive. I decided to make the leap due to their size and weight. But most importantly, their durability.

With fewer moving parts, there is far less that can go wrong. An issue I found to be the case when trying to export the files from the disk drive when I returned. Although I was fortunate enough to still access the files.

For any form of travel, I recommend flash drives before disk drives. I still use disk drives for my archives but hate myself for it. I know that one day it will stop working. And all of my files will be lost. Furthermore, I need to back up these files on a separate archive drive.

When I return, I will invest in flash for archives. Despite the price, it will be worth it to ensure I don’t lose everything to a corrupted drive. I suggest you do the same!

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2.5. Computers & Devices

2.5.1. Laptop – MacBook Pro 15″ (2017)

Macbook

The MacBook I am using is several years old now. It is pretty beaten up is slow as hell. And has a plastic screen that is scratched to pieces from being pressed against the keyboard. I dislike this model and got better performance out of a 13 inch I owned previously.

Unfortunately, over the last several years, I have noticed a severe decline in the quality of apple laptops. And this 2017 model is no exception. I would love to order an M1 13 inch for this journey. However, that isn’t an option, so I will need to carry this thing with me. It is too large for a travel laptop, but I have no choice but to make it work.

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2.5.2. iPad Pro 12.9 (2021)

iPad

Last year, I decided to invest in an iPad. The decision came following seeing how they were used to edit photographs. The process of holding a photo in hand while using the apple pencil looked like joy in comparison to desktop editing. And after I took the plunge and had a go for myself, I was right. In fact, after purchasing an iPad, my editing game increased tenfold.

I started to use selective editing more and now make several layers in my Lightroom edits. Something I had been doing in Photoshop previously. However, the ease of use and speed of Lightroom makes it a better experience all around. Even with the reduced somewhat limiting the functionality of Lightroom CC.

For most cases of photography, LR is the winner. Only after you stretch into the more creative realms of photography does PS become the winner.

Anyway, I absolutely love this I pad. Although, I could love it more. It is by no means a desktop replacement. If you use things like the adobe suite, you will need a desktop. Also, trying to manage files on the iPad is unbearable. In a way, I wish just I had a 13 inch m1 MacBook, but with the joy I get from editing photos on this thing, it is a tough call.

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2.5.3. iPhone 11

iPhone

The iPhone 11 is a few generations old now. Despite this, it still performs adequately. It is not the Pro model, meaning it lacks a telephoto lens. However, it does have a wide-angle lens which is far more valuable, in my opinion. The bottom line is iPhone cameras don’t improve vastly over individual iterations. I will upgrade when a new iPhone is released with unignorable features.

Having any smartphone is also essential for travel because you can store and show all of your documents, saving time and expenses printing. They can save your travel cards for contactless payments. A smartphone can help you budget your money while you travel. And with a wealth of apps available, there are so many things a smartphone can do that a feature phone cant.

I did consider taking a feature phone with me and learning how to adapt to life without a smartphone. A decision based on taking a digital detox. However, smartphones are simply part of life now, and there is no escaping that fact. I will just need to be more disciplined with the time I spend staring into the piece of glass in my hand.

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3. Conclusion

That is it for my Asian photography kit list. I will be taking a few items of clothing and toiletries, but I doubt you’re interested to hear about those. And with this article approaching 5,000 words, I do not wish to discuss them either.

I hope you’ve found this list somewhat insightful into packing photography carry on bags. And can use it to better guide your own packing decisions.

If you require any more information or have your own recommendations, please leave a comment in the comment section below.

My Essential Gear For Blogging & Photography In Asia, My Essential Gear For Blogging & Photography In Asia, My Essential Gear For Blogging & Photography In Asia, My Essential Gear For Blogging & Photography In Asia, My Essential Gear For Blogging & Photography In Asia.

David Davis
David Davishttps://shuttergang.com
Hi, My name is Dave, and I am passionate about photography. I am currently travelling to document the world's most interesting people and places. I have started this blog to share these incredible sights and experiences with you, including all the knowledge I gain as a photographer/videographer along the way. If you share a passion for street, documentary, and travel photography, join the mailing list and stay up to date with the latest posts and resources direct from the field.

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