If you aren't travelling to make pictures, then it doesn't make sense to carry 4 kilos of load worth about a lakh or two on your back. You should simply carry a point and shoot camera to take an occasional snap on your tour. But if you are travelling to see places and to make good pictures of them, and would be spending about Rs. 10,000-30,000 on your trip, then it's a worthwhile idea to carry good equipment with you.

For a start, I would suggest the following as your SLR kit.

a. Primary body: This is your best (and most expensive) body and you will be taking most of your pictures with it. This will be the top-of-the-line model that you can afford.

b. Backup body: This is your inpensive second body. It will serve you as your back up body in case the first one fails completely. And if you prefer using only prime lenses, then shooting with two bodies is a good idea. Make sure that the second body is similar in functioning, if not exact, to your primary body. This will avoid you from having to learn the controls all over again and will make the shift smooth.

c. Waiter camera: This is a cheap automatic point and shoot camera. You will carry this everywhere and wouldn't regret if you happen to lose it or break it. I call this the 'waiter camera' because it's so simple to use that you hand it to anyone and ask them to take your picture.

d. Lenses: An assortment of lenses depending on what you want to shoot. But if you want the minimum and yet cover the entire range, then you must carry a wide-angle lens (eg. 12-24mm, 20mm), a normal lens (eg. 35mm, 50mm) and a tele lens (eg. 70-200mm, 85mm). Some people may want to skip the normal focal length. But if you love streets (like I do) then you would be using 35mm/ 50mm for 80% of the shots!

e. Flash: You decide depending on your style.

f. Tripod: It's usually a good idea to take a tripod along. But in case of long hikes and walks, it may get tiresome to carry a bulky tripod. If you decide not to carry one, try to be creative and jack the camera for those still shots. However, if you are shooting wildlife, then it's a must.

g. Etc: Make sure you have a good backpack that can fit all this stuff into it. Try to get the circular polariser. UV filter protects your lens front element (although I would give it a skip). Other filters are optional. If you are shooting digital, get 4Gb / 8Gb memory card. If not, get the 2Gb memory card and lug along a laptop everywhere. Don't forget two batteries, charger and USB cord. You can also stuff some tissue papers, guidebook, etc. in your backpack.

Suggestions in Aug 2008? I would choose the following digital kit:

Primary camera
Secondary camera
Waiter camera
Nikon D700
Nikon D300
Canon Powershot G9
20mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm
Maybe no
Maybe yes
National Geographic NG5162

The film is dead. But in case I went with film, it would be:

Primary camera
Secondary camera
Waiter camera
Nikon F100 / Nikon FM3A
Nikon F65 / Nikon FE10
Nikon P&S
20mm, 50mm, 85mm

Updated: Aug 2008