July 20, 2018, 01:17:03 AM

Author Topic: Headed to Japan: gear/locations/advice needed  (Read 4413 times)

ahsanford

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Headed to Japan: gear/locations/advice needed
« on: March 16, 2018, 01:51:17 PM »
I'm off to Japan.  One very full week of work and then one week of vaca.  The majority of the time I will be in Tokyo but will likely do one major trip out of town -- either to Kyoto or to Mt. Fuji.

Advice appreciated for:

1)  Places to shoot.  Note we're talking mid/late April, so after the cherry blossoms blow through Tokyo.  I don't think I want to travel north just to see blossoms coming in -- I hear it's amazing, but I've never been to Japan and have much bigger cultural/visual/culinary fish to fry on my hitlist.

2)  What gear to bring, but note that it must fit in the photo compartment of my PRVKE 21 -- see below.  For rough size purposes, it can hold my 5D3 + two FF lenses that are in the standard/wide FL range (possibly three if two are small and the other is an f/4 zooms) + filter loadout (and no hoods, which is fine). 

I might be talked into bringing my GuraGear Kiboko 22L instead (a more dedicated photo bag with a lot more camera space), but it's on the back end of a business trip and I know I'll overpack it.  I really don't want 30-40 pounds on my back while suited up for work during the week before the vaca starts.  So you'd have to sell me on that like a champ.

3) Besides what I presume is the obligatory photography pilgrimage to the Akibahara area of Tokyo, are there other musts for a photographer there?  I mean tourist/cultural photography experiences -- like photo museums, a Canon corporate site, walls of famous old cameras, etc. -- not necessarily shooting opportunities.  Think less 'Instagram opportunity' here and more 'guy who wants to absorb a rich slice of a photography loving culture'.  Where might fit that bill?

4) Is it clear in english (or with the universal language pictorial) where I can / cannot shoot in Japan?  I don't know what areas are considered sacred / off-limits from photography.

Arigato in advance

- A

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Headed to Japan: gear/locations/advice needed
« on: March 16, 2018, 01:51:17 PM »

photoperson

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Re: Headed to Japan: gear/locations/advice needed
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2018, 03:04:35 PM »
I don't have a lot of advice, here are a few things:
- I'd do Kyoto over Fuji: really cool town, lots of temples, streets of stores, Arashiyama district, etc.
- for either, book your accommodations now, it gets tight there
- you'll see signs where you can't photograph, or someone will tell you; don't fret over it; often the inside altar area of temples might be off-limits for photos
- what gear you take depends on the kind of stuff you like to shoot-- I'm a professional photographer but I just take my G15 and phone, and confess I mostly use the phone-- I'm just a tourist
- you can also decide to limit yourself in what you take just to try an idea--like, I'll shoot everything with a 40mm pancake, or a little kit zoom, or whatever.
- in Kyoto, try to get out early in the morning to the temple districts and Arashiyama--they are thick with people at midday
- beautiful temple gardens in the countryside at Ohara via a bus
- have fun!

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Headed to Japan: gear/locations/advice needed
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2018, 12:26:47 AM »
Consider contacting Jeffrey Friedl, he lives in Kyoto and is very accomplished.

http://regex.info/blog/jfriedl-links/about

Sporgon

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Re: Headed to Japan: gear/locations/advice needed
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2018, 03:36:14 AM »
Definitely require an EF 50mm f/1.4 IS  ;)

beforeEos Camaras

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Re: Headed to Japan: gear/locations/advice needed
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2018, 05:10:13 AM »
I did travel to japan in 2014.

I used the only slr I had a t1i.

if I was to go now with a 5dmk3 the lens will be 16-35 4l is lots of sweeping landscapes. a 70-200 4l is with a 1.4 extender. a 50mm or 85 1.8.

also I might suggest to get a JR rail pass you can only buy before you enter japan. 1 two week premium pass will pay for its self just one trip to the south.

the ito area is where my Japanese part of the family lives near MT Fuji. I will recommend you visit Hiroshima and the peace park there. its a place that will open you eyes.

                                    Joe
palace stairs koyoto by joseph kelly, on Flickr

koyto by joseph kelly, on Flickr


0ffrings by joseph kelly, on Flickr



 
« Last Edit: March 17, 2018, 11:55:29 AM by beforeEos Camaras »
ti1 70D 5Dmk3  18-135 stm 70-200f4 is l 4005.6l 10-22 efs 50m1.8mk1 16-35 4.0 is L 100mm2.8 is l macro now 85mm1.8 mk1,430ex 2 430ex3 600ex-rt flashes

ecqns

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Re: Headed to Japan: gear/locations/advice needed
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2018, 09:25:48 AM »
I'm off to Japan.

I've been to Japan about 12 times and I don't think I've ever been told not to photograph anything or anywhere and I'm usually on a tripod. Very different attitude towards photographers than in the states. Of course be respectful of sacred sites and people's personal space.

The best place for used camera gear is MAP Camera in Shinjuku. Spotless gear at great prices, no tax for foreigners.

ahsanford

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Re: Headed to Japan: gear/locations/advice needed
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2018, 01:58:36 AM »
The best place for used camera gear is MAP Camera in Shinjuku. Spotless gear at great prices, no tax for foreigners.

I haven't shot film since when I was a kid (long before I got the bug), yet I brace for impact if I come across a XPan / TX-1 in one of the camera stores in Shinjuku.  I've always wanted a wide aspect ratio shooting experience (through the VF, not in cropping in post), and that would certainly do it.

- A 

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Re: Headed to Japan: gear/locations/advice needed
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2018, 01:58:36 AM »

lexaclarke

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Re: Headed to Japan: gear/locations/advice needed
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2018, 04:26:13 PM »
4) Is it clear in english (or with the universal language pictorial) where I can / cannot shoot in Japan?  I don't know what areas are considered sacred / off-limits from photography.
There are some signs but they tend to only be in places which you obviously shouldn't shoot in anyway, like government buildings and inside places of worship. In public areas there's really nothing signposted as far as photography goes.
I don't know where you're from, but photography in Japan is pretty much the same as in Europe i.e. you can shoot in any public space as long as you're not trying to set up lights and other trip hazards. Tripods are a grey area, you won't get arrested or anything but obviously it's frowned upon to use a tripod in a crowded place or leave a tripod unattended. Same with your camera bag, make sure you keep it on you or stand next to it at all times.

Just like Europe, you can't freely take photos on private property or in government buildings and some tourist attractions and resorts have their own rules. Stuff like not using flash in a museum, for example. Using flash in general isn't popular and frowned upon in Japan. You also can't take photos which obviously single a person out without their permission unless it's something like a performer in a parade in which case you have the rule of reasonable expectation to be filmed on your side. And like most countries, if a policeman or security for a building or really anybody asks you to stop taking pictures, you gotta stop. In Japan they can't force you to delete photos but they can make you show them photos you took if they have cause to suspect you photographed something illegally and obviously if it turns out you were taking illegal pictures then you're in trouble. I had this once where I didn't realise a building that was in the background of one of my pictures was a government building and I was told to move on by police. Obviously if you are asked to stop photographing something or somewhere and you refuse and continue then again you're in trouble. So if you're told to stop, just stop.

Like I said, not any different from most European countries. Japan sure likes photography and especially if you go to Kyoto they're used to tourists, so I wouldn't worry about it too much. Basically you gotta just not be rude or inconsiderate. Be mindful that just because there aren't explicit laws against photographing in some places doesn't mean it's not impolite. Like if you go to a place of worship, even just outside, don't be that annoying tourist filling the silence with click click click. Don't be that guy who disrupts the sidewalk because you're too busy getting your framing right to pay attention to all the people trying to walk around you. Don't photograph a stranger who is just trying to go about their day.

As for specific places and things to do, there's so much in Tokyo alone you really won't be able to fit everything in on one trip and it's hard to make specific suggestions without knowing what you're into: there's something for everyone. If this is your first time I highly recommend just setting aside time in a couple of evenings to go walk around at night. You probably know this but Tokyo at night is like no other city. Take a really fast lens with good flare control and use either manual exposure or spot metering because there will be a lot of bright lights in frame which will ghost like hell and also make your camera's metering think it's brighter than it really is if it's trying to average meter.
+1 on Kyoto over Fuji. Fuji's cool to see once, but that's it. Maybe landscape just isn't my thing but I mean, it's not like you can go climb all over it or travel around the countryside seeing it from every angle in your few days or whatever. But you can spend a whole week in Kyoto alone. I've been four times and each time I find something new to do or see. If you go to Kyoto I'd say don't be a tourist and do the usual tourist traps. There's always a bunch of white guys in socks & sandals following around groups of 'show geisha' or paying a lot to have ceremonial tea afternoons and that stuff's okay but going to a less publicised cafe or tea house is much better. There's a lot of really beautiful countryside surrounding Kyoto too, so have a day just driving around the outskirts. If you want to do really touristy stuff then it's cool, Kyoto is well set up for that, but I think it misses the point.

forgot to mention gear! First time I went to Japan I took a 5D mark II with a 24-105, 70-200 and a 50mm and in terms of like 'holiday' photos that was perfect. I was there for three weeks and saw every big tourist spot and those lenses got it all covered. But every time I've been since then I do it less like a holiday and more like you would visit a distant relative or like a friend you've not seen in a long time. Having less bulky gear is nicer. So for my last three trips I've had the same bag, a Fujifilm X100 (S then the F) which is like a fixed 35mm lens compact and then the 5D with a 35mm (Sigma) and a 100mm (Canon) when it's been dry and one time it was due to be really humid so I took the weather sealed Tamron 24-70 instead. Of those the little Fujifilm gets the most use by far. 35mm is pretty perfect for Japan, it's open enough to not need ultrawides to fit everything in so 35mm is wide enough to capture everything without distortion. Both the Fujifilm and the Sigma do that excellently but obviously the Fujifilm is much smaller and quieter. The 24-70 I rarely used over 50mm and the 100mm only got used twice. The next time I go I seriously think I'll just take the X100F.

So I know everyone has different things they look for in a photo but in terms of getting the most out of a trip to Japan, I think you should pack whatever lenses and bodies you need for the work portion and then for your personal shooting take whatever your fastest and smallest standard or slightly wide prime is. If you have some kind of compact or mirrorless camera, take that. I know some people think they can't live without their 1D X mark II and a 16-35, 24-70, 70-200 and 400mm f/4 DO but do yourself a favour and scale back, really take the place in and make the most of your trip. See as much as you can, plan to come back again to see everything you miss, and don't let a heavy bag of cameras get in your way.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2018, 04:39:29 PM by lexaclarke »

bhf3737

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Re: Headed to Japan: gear/locations/advice needed
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2018, 06:54:29 PM »
I'm off to Japan.  One very full week of work and then one week of vaca.  The majority of the time I will be in Tokyo but will likely do one major trip out of town -- either to Kyoto or to Mt. Fuji.


I have lived in Japan for a few years back in 1990s. Mt Fuji at this time of year is still under snow and may not be open before May, so not so much to see there. Kyoto and Nara are places to visit for sure. Kyoto has its charms and it is very different from the rest of Japan. In spite of having a very efficient public transit system, there are lots of places in Kyoto that cannot be covered just using public transit in a short time. My suggestion for Kyoto is arranging a private daily transportation service through the taxi company called MK-Taxi. They have service in English and can take you any place you want anytime of day. I used their service and could cover 5-6 spots per day. They are also quite knowledgeable of the places they take you and even will guide you to spots known for taking pictures that typical tourists are not aware of. I arranged with them to go to some places like Arashiyama and Fushimi-inari very early in the morning when there are very few tourists around. 
My Japan album (mostly Kyoto): https://www.flickr.com/photos/bhf3737/albums/72157662056067582.

ahsanford

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Re: Headed to Japan: gear/locations/advice needed
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2018, 01:08:19 PM »
Great comments all.

We've settled on Tokyo + Kyoto for the week.

Gear:  The two f/4L IS zooms are likely coming (16-35 and 24-70) -- it's just a question of what the third lens would be.  No flash other than my 'break glass in case of emergency' 90EX (on the 5D3!) and no tripod.

The 35 f/2 IS makes a lot of sense for nighttime walkabouts and a smaller walkaround kit on non-(dedicated-)sightseeing walks to dinner and afterwards.  I'm likely bringing this or the 28 f/2.8 IS as I love 28mm for street.

I also wonder if (instead of the small wide prime) a 24L II or 35L II might be in order for some fun wider environmental work in the city as my wife will be coming with me.  That said, it might be too big a third piece of kit to cram in to the bag, and my gut says that f/2 IS > f/1.4 non-IS for what I'll be shooting (museums, interiors, late night work where I don't want paper thin DOF).

Please keep the great comments coming!

- A

lexaclarke

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Re: Headed to Japan: gear/locations/advice needed
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2018, 04:42:58 PM »
The Fujifilm X100 I've used so much in Kyoto is an f/2 lens without stabilisation and it's been enough. I don't have the Canon 35mm IS but I have to imagine it would be better. With my Sigma 35mm I didn't use f/1.4 very much, which is why I'll be leaving it at home next time. Obviously you want to get a lot of light in but f/2 has been enough for me and if you can have IS with that I would think that would be a perfect compromise.

But I do hear the Canon 35mm f/1.4L II is a wonder of a lens...  ;)

(Kinda weird they don't make a 28mm f/1.4L, right?)

ahsanford

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Re: Headed to Japan: gear/locations/advice needed
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2018, 06:04:53 PM »
Current entire loadout is presently slated as follows:

Travel day carry:  PRVKE 21 on my back / under airplane seat (see camera module again below)

Outing/sightseeing carry:  TBD, either my tiny Domke F-8 or possibly slightly bigger Kata Hybrid 537 (but without the sidecar bag)

Currently planning to bring:

  • 5D3
  • 2 batteries
  • 2 SD (plus ability to swap at night at the hotel)
  • 90EX: emergency use only
  • 16-35 f/4L IS:  temples, landscapes, wide nighttime handheld work near the places we're staying
  • 24-70 f/4L IS:  daytime sightseeing, general walkabout, etc
  • 35 f/2 IS: going out at night, smaller kit for when it's not dedicate sightseeing time
  • Blackrapid
  • UV / CPL for each lens
  • Desiccant and one big ziplock (in case we get hit in a downpour)

What am I missing?  Stuff I'm not bringing:

  • 70-200 f/2.8L IS II
  • Dedicated landscape gear: Gitzo travel tripod 1542T / ball head / 4x4, 4x6 filters
  • Primes:  28 2.8 / 40 2.8 / 50 1.4 / 100L / 2x TC
  • 5D3 vert grip

But none of the missing stuff above makes it into the bag unless something on the top list of equal space makes way.  But don't let that discourage you -- sell me on it!

Thoughts?

- A

slclick

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Re: Headed to Japan: gear/locations/advice needed
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2018, 06:21:50 PM »
Current entire loadout is presently slated as follows:

Travel day carry:  PRVKE 21 on my back / under airplane seat (see camera module again below)

Outing/sightseeing carry:  TBD, either my tiny Domke F-8 or possibly slightly bigger Kata Hybrid 537 (but without the sidecar bag)

Currently planning to bring:

  • 5D3
  • 2 batteries
  • 2 SD (plus ability to swap at night at the hotel)
  • 90EX: emergency use only
  • 16-35 f/4L IS:  temples, landscapes, wide nighttime handheld work near the places we're staying
  • 24-70 f/4L IS:  daytime sightseeing, general walkabout, etc
  • 35 f/2 IS: going out at night, smaller kit for when it's not dedicate sightseeing time
  • Blackrapid
  • UV / CPL for each lens
  • Desiccant and one big ziplock (in case we get hit in a downpour)

What am I missing?  Stuff I'm not bringing:

  • 70-200 f/2.8L IS II
  • Dedicated landscape gear: Gitzo travel tripod 1542T / ball head / 4x4, 4x6 filters
  • Primes:  28 2.8 / 40 2.8 / 50 1.4 / 100L / 2x TC
  • 5D3 vert grip

But none of the missing stuff above makes it into the bag unless something on the top list of equal space makes way.  But don't let that discourage you -- sell me on it!

Thoughts?

- A

We have very similar kits and I would do what you did, have a great trip!
That's it, I'm switching to Rollei

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Re: Headed to Japan: gear/locations/advice needed
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2018, 06:21:50 PM »

lexaclarke

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Re: Headed to Japan: gear/locations/advice needed
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2018, 11:05:36 PM »
That all sounds good. I'm a prime girl so I'm fighting my urge to yell at you to ditch all the zooms, but that's just me. The focal lengths are all right. None of the stuff you're leaving behind is stuff I would take, myself. Maybe the 100mm or 70-200 if you were seeing more of the open countryside and wanted some of those compressed, isolated landscape shots, but there's really not much use for them in Tokyo and limited use in Kyoto. My 70-200 got some use on my first big trip because I did travel the full length of the country and saw and got use out of everything somewhere along the line, but for Tokyo? Just dead weight.

Maybe if you go back again you could take the 70-200 and more dedicated landscape gear then. For a first-time trip, with how intense and fast and varied Japan can be, you will appreciate not trying to specialise too finely. Lots of people underestimate the culture shock and how overwhelming it can be one minute, then deathly quiet the next. Especially Tokyo. So easy and comfortable > trying to be too professional your first time out. My partner is an extremely technical photographer and they're scared of shooting in Japan because it's just not the kind of country where you take half an hour setting up one shot. It's the best country in the world for street shooters, event reporters (me!), documentary shooters... not so much for the pixel-peeping lab guys.

bhf3737

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Re: Headed to Japan: gear/locations/advice needed
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2018, 11:32:05 PM »
Current entire loadout is presently slated as follows:

...

But none of the missing stuff above makes it into the bag unless something on the top list of equal space makes way.  But don't let that discourage you -- sell me on it!

Thoughts?

- A
I took same lens set and a similar camera (5DSR). I didn't want to worry about battery life so I took the vertical grip, too. Further, I took M5, lens adapter and EOS-M 22mm lens as backup. Actually, I ended up using M5 a lot instead of 5D for indoors and shots in tight places. At the end about 30% of pictures were taken by M5. In addition, I took a 2TB pocket size hard drive for nightly back up of photos.

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Re: Headed to Japan: gear/locations/advice needed
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2018, 11:32:05 PM »