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I'm going to Rio for 4 weeks - any advice about equipment, photography and travel?
Old 12-29-2005   #1
Hlynur's Avatar
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I'm going to Rio for 4 weeks - any advice about equipment, photography and travel?

Hi everybody!

On january 6th I'm flying to Rio de Janeiro (from Reykjavik, Iceland) with a 12 hour stop over in Paris. I'm going to spend 4 weeks in Rio and some neighbouring cities (towns) with my girlfriend, Aline. She is Brasilian and we are going to spend our time with her family and friends...and of course siteseeing. Rio is an amazing city, beautiful, with diverse culture, but also unfortunately quite dangerous as is well known. We will spend a day in Rochina 'favela' (slum), the biggest slum in S-America with 150.000 inhabitants.
I've never been to Brazil before, so it's going to be very exciting...it's very very different from Iceland.

The photo gear I will take is:
Konica Hexar AF (black)...as my main camera.
Olympus mju-II (Stylus epic)...black. Good for when Hexar is to big.
Lomo LC-A...(maybe for shooting slides for cross-processing). I hate the hype around lomo, but I do like this little camera.

I also have a digital Canon G3 (4 megapixels), that i'm not sure i should bring. My girlfriend has a much smaller digicam Canon Ixus (5 megapixels) that should be enough for digital snapshots. I took my G3 on a trip to Rome and took some beautiful pictures, but was ultimately disappointed with the digital image quality...noise, purple fringes and limited resolution. I don't want to capture magnificent things with just consumer digicam again.
I also have an old Olympus OM-10 (aperture priority only) SLR with 50mm zuiko lens, but I don't know if i should bring it along. I want to travel light.
My Zorki-4 stays home for sure.

So what do you guys think about this gear for this trip?

Film is outrageously expensive in Iceland (single pack of color print film around 10$ - 3pack for 18$...slide films are 2 times that!), and the selection of film brands/types very limited here,
so I will have to find photo stores in Rio (or in Paris) to buy the films i need. Any film suggestions are welcome!

How would you spend an afternoon (7-8 hours) alone in Paris between flights? Any photo museums (or photoshops) there you recommend?

...okey this is a bit long and not very specific post...
I'm just so excited about this trip, i wanted to tell you all about it and get some advise maybe on the equipment and film to use. Or any useful photography and travel related advise.

Takk & bless,

Hlynur T.

Konica Hexar AF
Lomo LC-A
Olympus XA
Olympus mju-ll
Olympus OM-10 w. 1.8/50mm
Zorki-4 w. Jupiter-8
Pentax Spotmatic (not working 100%)
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Old 12-29-2005   #2
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When I travel I prefer to take just one camera with me. I like to travel light and I've found that I can capture more worthwhile photos if I'm not trying to decide which camera to use. It also helps you blend in to your surroundings a little better if you don't have a bunch of equipment with you. My suggestion from the cameras you have would be to take either the Hexar or the OM-10, a cable release, and a pocket tripod with the mju as a backup unit if you feel you need to have a second camera.

I'd try to stick with one type of film (color or B&W) and maybe just one speed as well, say 400, so you can go indoors and outdoors without too much worry about not having the right film for the situation. It sounds limiting but I find it liberating as well, again allowing me to focus on what I can do with what I have.

YMMV, of course.
Doug K.
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Old 12-29-2005   #3
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When I went to Europe in the summer, this was before my Canonet and my Fuji, so I brought a pair of Nikons and a bunch of lenses, and standardized on Astia 100F and Delta 400. Actual film choices is probably irrelevant, pick what works for you, but the combination of fast and slow and black & white and color was very useful to me. If I was only bringing one body, this would have been much more awkward though.

My suggestion for "best travel accessory" is a bean bag. I sewed my own, took about ten minutes and a pound of beans, and I stabilized shots down to a second by putting the bean bag on something stable and putting the camera on the bean bag. Never got hassled by security for it, either, which is apparently not the case for tripods. #2 on my list was a Nikon shift lens which was incredibly useful for the architecture in Europe--but probably not that relevant for what you're doing and anyway you don't own one.

Now, with your specific examples, the Hexar has a superb reputation and would make an excellent main camera. I own an example of the Olympus you have, and I loathe its metering system; while the actual exposure that results is superb, the program mode is deathly afraid of camera shake and will fire the lens wide open even in good light. But perhaps this won't affect you very much. I don't know anything about Lomos.

I bought my film and had it shipped FedEx to the hotel, and then shipped it back before I got on the plane home--that was not cheap but it worked very well. You might be able to buy some film internationally and have it shipped to you, but apparently this is inconvenient and you want to buy it in Rio. Provided you find a reputable shop this is probably sound, but I cannot help you in finding a reputable shop.

As for what to shoot, I'm presuming you shoot color negative film? The Hexar has a top shutter speed of something like 1/250th of a second as I recall, which is very inconvenient with 400 speed film in daylight. Sadly I know of no useful 200 speed color negative films, so you might have to go with a split between 100 and 400 as I did--or, depending on what you like to shoot, you might be able to get by with 100 and a bean bag indoors if you're not planning on shooting things that like to run away.

Have fun!
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Old 12-29-2005   #4
CK Dexter Haven
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Hello, Hylnur.
I'll be there, as well, on January 17. I just bought a black Hexar AF, specifically for use in Rio. Yes, it is a very dangerous city, and i think your choice of equipment is quite appropriate.

If you like, feel free to send me a private email for more specific information. For now, though, i'll just share a few thoughts.

Be sure not to carry anything that looks like a camera bag/case. Keep your gear in a worn-looking, simple shoulder bag or backpack. A Hexar looks like an old digital camera from any distance, so that won't attract too much unwanted attention. But, still, you shouldn't walk around with any camera around your neck. Keep it concealed until you're ready to use it. The exceptions, of course, are in heavily tourist-populated areas, such as tours to Christo Redentor or Sugar Loaf, etc.

If you go to Rocinha, go with a guide. I have a friend there i may be able to recommend. He's a Brasilian driver, but he speaks perfect (slang-laden) English, having spent some time in the US. As well, ask someone experienced and knowledgeable about the current 'situation' in Rocinha. There are times when it's safe to visit, and times when it is not. I took one trip there, and ascended/descended on the back of motorcycle taxis. Steep, narrow roads, and drivers without regard to 'lanes' - quite exhilerating....

Be sure to try the tandem hanggliding at Asa Delta / San Conrado. Beautiful views. I have a few pictures of Rocinha from the air.

You're going to love Rio and Brasil. I've been almost twenty times, and i would be living there if i were without 'financial responsibilities.'
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Old 12-29-2005   #5
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I'd travel light but ready.

I bring the Konica and the Oly SLR and ask your partner to bring her digital.

Load the Konica with B&W neg for the "arty" shots and put color print film in the Oly. Meanwhile, let your partner take the digital "snapshots" everyone will want to ooh an aah at! in the LC display.

Remember, you are visiting her family and friends - taking some nice color pics of them with the Oly for the photo albumn will make sure you remain nice and warm and comfy when you come back to Icelandic nights!

Nothing like mounting pics in the albumn while snuggling b/w the sheets!

As for film - buy it when you get there. It will be a heck of a lot cheaper and probably fresher. And then you only have to worry about a one-way x-ray!

Have fun on Ipanema,

Last edited by copake_ham : 12-29-2005 at 20:02.
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Old 12-29-2005   #6
Bryan Lee
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The first thing is safty, If you are going into bad areas try and do it in the morning say between a half hour after sunrise till 10am. Thats when the real people are up getting ready for the day anyway and before the drunk lunch crowd. Ive found it to be a good time in every country ive ever been to. The light is better early anyway. If you have first class accomidations hotel security shouldnt be a issue, If your staying at a budget place try and stay where there are a few nice restraunts, They are hooked up and keep the street a little safer than say a normal business street where everything closes at 5pm. After dark only go to places you already checked out for dinner and stay close to your hotel, The earlier you go to your room the less problems you should have. It makes it easier to start early the next day too.

As far as cameras the first thing is a ugly camera bag or some kind of ugly cover to make it look worthless. I like surplus military bags washed with a little bleach to make them look old. The dirtier you look the less likely you are to be robbed. I like to carry 2 bodys with a fast and normal 35mm lense set and a 90mm in my pocket. Two 50s would be great to, one for in the shade or in markets where there is not normal daylight. A point and shoot cheep digital is always a fun extra so you can email all your friend instant pictures while you are still on location. good luck.
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Old 12-30-2005   #7
Screw Loose & Fancy-Free
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Take lots of Ziplock storage bags. They're good for everything.
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Old 12-30-2005   #8
Frank Granovski
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Wear a money belt stuffed with American Express travelers checks, zippered pockets, dress like the locals; and keep your camera gear light. Have fun!
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Old 12-30-2005   #9
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Hi Hlynur, I just came back from a 20 day work trip to Brasil, brasilians are the friendliest and happiest people I've ever met (sadly, I can't say the same for the people in Paris ) so don't worry too much. It also has a very big ethnic mix, so you can blend in well as long as you dress accordingly, even with a camera under your arm. What worked for me was to look as I was photographing for an important reason. (which I was, but the point is to have that look ) Be observant of the people around you, if someone is staring at you, look back at him/her, smile and stick your thumb up. (try this, at least once, you'll like it )

As for the gear and film, take the Hexar, the Mju and the powershot, I took very similar gear (Hexar RF w/50 and 35, a Yashica T4 and an Ixus 700) and it was more than enough without being heavy or cumbersome. My local producer shipped the film (all Portra 160nc) from Sao Paulo to Rio but I'm sure you can get film there because I saw a couple of stores during my errands.

Yes, Rio is a big city and as all big cities it can have dangerous places but I think that as long as you are aware of your surroundings and look confident, you'll be ok.

Have a fun trip.

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Old 12-30-2005   #10
Doctor Zero
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Not much to add - just hope you have good weather! I was in Brasil for three weeks in November 2004, and a strange weatherfront that meant dull grey skies and rain followed me around. Continuously. Copacabana and Ipanema beaches in the rain are, well, empty and boring and not photogenic at all!

It's a fun place, though. Walk lots. Keep your wits about you (although I never felt threatened). It'll be great.

Doctor Zero
Actively using Olympus E-M5 II with 12-40, 45, 40-150 and 9 mm pancake.
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Old 12-30-2005   #11
Diapers 'n Film
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In Paris, I'd just walk around the Latin Quarter and sit in cafes, best use of your photo time (else the Louvre). In Rio, watch your back, try noy to stick out, there are lots of tourrist hunters on the prowl. If you get a chance to go to Sao Paolo, check out the weekend flea market for some excellent deals on old cameras. Also, the beach road beet'n Rio and SP is great, lots of places to stop on the way, especially Parati, regardless of the tourist hordes. Visconde de Maua is an alpine village a couple hours from Rio which we really enjoyed ; try the fondue place and the eggplant marmalade next door. Feel free to contact me directly if you want morre details. Enjoy!
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Old 12-30-2005   #12
Screw Loose & Fancy-Free
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Take candy bars and Marlboros to enchant the local natives.
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Old 12-30-2005   #13
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Ya know, there's something that doesn't make any sense about this whole trip thing.

Why would you want to leave the long, dark and cold Icelandic nights right now and expose yourself to all of that warm Brazilian sunshine?

You could get melanoma for goodness sakes!

Have a great trip - wish it were me!
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