What’s in my bag for Southeast Asia?

YouTube is cluttered with videos where some person unpacks their bag to show us what they carry around. I’m not going to make a video. But here’s my gear list.

My travel kit, October 2019


Olympus E-M1 Mark II

Panasonic GX9

iPhone X

Extra batteries for both. Chargers for the Olympus (the Panasonic charges it’s battery in the camera – sweet).

The Olympus and Panasonic are both micro 4/3 cameras, meaning that they share lenses and other accessories. That’s very convenient. For this trip, I expect the E-M1.2 will shoulder the bulk of the work, and the GX9 will be a backup and what I carry when I want something small and light.

Don’t laugh at the iPhone. The image on this page is from the iPhone. It takes great pictures when used properly.


Olympus 12-100 mm f/4 zoom

Olympus 17mm f/1.8

Olympus 45mm f/1.8

The zoom is a new acquisition. In the past I usually brought two zooms, 12-35mm and 35-100mm, both f/2.8. The new zoom covers the entire range, is heavier than either but lighter than both together, and gives up a stop of light. My testing with it this week suggests the image quality and handling are both all I need. But we’ll see!


Circular polarizer to cut glare from the sun and on water.

Variable Neutral Density filter in case I want to slow my shutter speed for moving water effects, etc. I don’t really expect to use this.

Both filters will only fit on the zoom lens, which isn’t a problem.

Other stuff

About 15 SanDisk SD memory cards, either 64 or 32 gigabytes.

A Bogen tabletop tripod. I don’t really expect to use a tripod, but this thing is tiny. If I want to take a picture of us, this will make it better than a typical selfie.

A Peak Design wrist strap and shoulder strap. They use a neat connector system which allows me to move them from camera to camera, or to the Think Tank camera bag.

A Think Tank Mirrorless Mover 30i shoulder bag (I don’t make up the names, folks). This is what I’ll use to walk around every day. It holds the camera, a couple of lenses, extra batteries, sunglasses, etc. I pack this in my checked suitcase – full of stuff, of course – when we’re flying.

A LowePro BP-150 backpack (shown above). This is my transport bag to get all of my gear from city to city on airplanes.

Charging and power stuff: a battery pack, mains adaptor, and Lightning cables to keep the iPhone and iPad alive while we’re in transit. There’s more of this in my suitcase for use in hotels.

Backup and editing

When I travel I like to blog (as you can tell if you’re reading this). I also like to travel as light as possible. So my editing workflow is iPad based – I haven’t owned a laptop since my MacBook died of old age around 2011.

iPad Pro 12.9″ – this is where the photo editing and blog writing takes place. That’s where I’m writing this. The main apps are:

– Adobe Lightroom for photo processing

– WordPress for the blog

– PhotoGrid for making the collages in the blog

Samsung T5 500GB SSD – I’m an old IT guy, and I started my career as a database guy. I learned there are two kinds of people: those who have lost data because a device failed, and those who will lose data when a device fails (or they make a stupid mistake – it happens). So I backup all those SD cards to this storage device each day. And the Olympus camera makes copies of the pictures on two SD cards as I shoot. Yes, I’m paranoid. But even paranoids have enemies.

Post mortum

As expected, the E-M1.2 carried virtually all of the load. The GX9 came out when we went for lunch or dinner, and I only took a few dozen images with it. Only a few made it into any of the blog posts.

Of the lenses, the 12-100 was the workhorse. All of the sightseeing, and most of the on-the-water scenes were shot with this.

The 17mm came out for street photography, and so was useful and would definitely be in the bag next time. It was also mounted when we went for dinner.

I think the 45mm lens never came out of the bag.

I used the CPL for a lot of the sightseeing shots, to try and cut the glare from buildings and other stuff in the tropical sun. I can’t really say how effective it was. I used the VND for some waterfall pictures.

The mini-tripod made it for stabilization for the waterfall shots and some of the night stops.

Both bags – the backpack for traveling, and the shoulder bag for daily use – worked exactly as planned. The Peak Design straps also worked well.

I never exhausted a battery, and only got below 40% a couple of times. All of the charging stuff worked as expected.

Since I took a little more than 3,000 shots, the raw files fit easily onto two 64GB cards, while the jpegs are all on one. The downside of loading that many images on a card is the time to load the previews onto my iPad before importing them. It’s not onerous only a minute or two, but it gets annoying when you have to repeatedly do it in a session as you move between the Photos library and the card.

Once I got the hang of it, backing up to the Samsung T5 SSD was straightforward, although a bit tedious. AFAICT, iOS won’t automatically skip duplicates so you need to carefully select the new image files before each copy. Workable, but not streamlined. Trying to edit directly from the SSD is not workable, however. You can’t quickly browse through the the images, you need to select each one to view separately. And you can’t open the images from LR, you need to Send it to LR from the Files app.