Packing for A South Africa Photography Adventure

Important note: In case you guys missed the big announcement, I have just recently joined the Olympus Visionary program. Thanks to everyone who gave congratulatory notes and kind remarks. I am still overwhelmed by the incredibly positive response. I will continue to do my best as a photographer and blogger, rest assured!

I will be travelling with a group of Asia-Pacific based Olympus Visionary photographers to South Africa from 7th to 14th December 2018. This photography-centric trip is fully organized and sponsored by Olympus, and I am privileged to be invited along other bigger names in the industry to this trip. I was informed that this trip was an annual event to connect and engage with the Olympus Asia Pacific community.

I was also fore-warned that during the duration of travel, there will be locations with extremely limited internet coverage, hence there is a high possibility I will not be able to answer emails or reply messages via any social media platforms. Do bear with me and I shall get back to everyone as soon as I can.

The flight hand-carry luggage weight limit is a strict 7kg, and in this blog entry, I will show you what I pack into my camera bag which will be my carry-on bag to my flights.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II - 574g (with battery)
Olympus BLH-1 spare battery - 74g
4 x 64GB SD cards and a small memory card hard case (weight negligible)

M.Zuiko 300mm F4 IS PRO - 1270g (without tripod collar)
M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO -  760g (without tripod collar)
MC-14 1.4x tele-converter, compatible with the above two lenses - 170g
M.Zuiko 7-14mm F2.8 PRO - 534g
M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 - 136g
M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 - 116g

Caden K11 camera messenger bag - 1360g
Oh yes, I got a new camera bag to fit in a lot more items. I found myself bringing more gear with me to actual paid shoots these days, my older bags just cannot fit everything anymore. 

Lenovo Yoga C930 - 1380g

Olympus limited edition Moleskine small notepad - 90g
Writing pens - weight negligible
Microfibre cloth - weight negligible
Fiio M3 High Resolution Audio Player - 40g
JBL Earphones - weight negligible
Memory Card Reader (not pictured) - weight negligible


Here are some tips on travelling light, packing as much as possible and optimizing the luggage weight limit. It helps if you use smaller and lighter camera system.

I cannot imagine packing the equivalent 600mm, 70-200mm and 14-28mm lenses using full frame camera system into a bag with a 7kg limit! How do you guys manage? The lightest 600mm full frame lens is close to 4kg already.

Having a laptop that is ultra light and slim also helps in ensuring minimal load as well as easy packing without taking too much space of the bag.

Pack the laptop charger, camera battery charger, all cables and accessories separately and put them into the main check-in luggage.

Leave the tripod collars behind if you do not need them. If you must use tripod, you can store the collars in your check in luggage.

If you need to bring a tripod, opt for a lightweight version, but also sturdy enough for travel purposes. I am stowing away the tripod into my main check in luggage bag.

To save space so that you can fit more items in your hand-carry bag, leave all the hoods behind. The Olympus 40-150mm PRO lens hood is huge, taking it out will free up precious space for other smaller items, such as the tiny prime lenses.

Perhaps I can opt for a lighter bag, but this particular bag has extra thick padding and sturdy partitions to ensure proper separation and storage of all the items. The bag has to be strong enough to carry the camera, lenses and laptop.

I am good to go for my South Africa adventure! I shall see you guys again in about a week. My hands are getting unbearably itchy for some shutter clicking action!!


  1. Hi Robin, Wish I knew your itinerary - I live in South Africa and would love to have the chance to do some shutter therapy with you

    1. Hi Mr T, unfortunately, I would not be able to spend time outside of the program. It is after all, a sponsored trip, so I have to follow the team. The first day (now) I am in Johannesburg and will be traveling to Madikwe Game Reserve for the remaining trip. I wish I can make time, I would have opened up a meet session with my readers if I could.

  2. Thanks Robin, I am in Johannesburg. Enjoy your trip to Madikwe. If you are spending your last night in Johannesburg I would gladly join you for a cup of coffee and a chat. Regards Keith Temlett

    1. I think we are heading to the airport immediately! So sorry. But South Africa is such a beautiful place. I will surely come back one day.

  3. Wow! Olympus visionary & Africa, within the same week!?! Living the (our) dream! Looking forward to viewing your work.. Safe travels my friend..

    1. Thanks! The South Africa trip is part of Olympus Visionary thing, I am not the only photographer going. I shall be doing my best!

  4. Robin, can i know the Caden K11 bag is S or L size?

  5. Good advice Robin. I'll be keeping this post in mind when I travel.

    I tend to leave too much behind or pack to heavy when I travel. I've only switched to an OMD-EM1 this past year and so far I doubt I'll travel much with anything larger.

    1. Hi Bill, I think switching to E-M1 will help you so much more when it comes to minimal packing!

  6. Hi!
    I‘m following your blogs since years as I‘m also a long time Olympus shooter.
    Preparing my equipment for 2 longer photo trips to Australia & South Africa (landscape + wildlife photography) I came up with the idea of "optimizing" your gear list even more:
    2 E-M1 Mk 2 bodies + 12-100 PRO (for landscape + environmentals) + 300 PRO&1,4 extender (far away animals / close ups).
    This could reduce wheight even more without losing too much (I guess).

    I'd appreciate your assessment (pros/cons).

    BTW: Thanks for that many inspirational pictures especially from Africa!

    Regards Carsten