2) Travel Gear


Need coffee in the morning? Traveling with coffee lovers make mornings an interesting and delightful experience. Here are some photos of Joon Lee and Rick Poon preparing their morning coffee during out camping trip to Big Sur, CA.

Feel free to check out my Instragram for more photos from the trip: Nostalgia Memoir




IMG_8247 IMG_8267


Motorcycle ride up Highway 1 (aka. PCH) is a pleasurable experience, but adding camping to the experience just perfects it. We were lucky enough to get a last minute camping spot at the Pfeiffer Big Sur camp ground, and the rest is history.

For more photos, you are welcome to visit our Instagram: MySelf, JBL, Rick Poon.

Bikes in Nature

It was great to see our bikes parked at our campsite, seeing them in their natural setting.

First priority, setting up our home for the weekend.

Once our rides were parked and living quarters established, it was time for us to start preparing for dinner.

First, get the charcoal going.


Prime Ribeye Stake and Corn on the Cob.



Not sure why we bought canned corn, but it was delicious!

These enamel bowl and cup from Best Made Co. can’t get any better for camp cooking!

The hand of a master.

The darkness came sooner than we were expecting so we ended up enjoying our beautifully firewood-smoked stake in dark. To our surprise, it was a great pleasure eating under our headlights, which also happened to produce some beautifully lit photos.


Steak and Corn on the Cob looks irresistible.


Such a surprising delight eating under a headlamp.



Quick Video of our Cooking Delight:

Recently returned from a 2 month long trip to Southeast Asia (SEA),  and I took the Lowepro Passport Sling bag as my main carry around bag.


The main reason I initially chose this bag was due to its  non-camera bag look. If you didn’t know about this bag, you wouldn’t know that this bag was carrying a $3,500 + camera gear inside it. My biggest concern for this trip was getting my camera stolen, so wanted my bag to be as discreet as possible.

Fellow traveler with the Passport Sling at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi, Vietnam. Definitely doesn't  look like a camera bag

Fellow traveler with the Passport Sling at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi, Vietnam.

When you are sleeping at multi-bed dorms, traveling on trains, buses, and etc, you really don’t want to draw any attention to your belongings, especially to your expensive camera, and this bag does a perfect job of being discrete. I couldn’t find any other dedicated camera bag that was this inconspicuous. The photo above shows how normal the bag looks in public


Backpacking means a lot of walking and carrying my bags around, so I was a little hesitant of having a sling bag on my shoulder with heavy camera equipments for the whole trip.

For the first week, (before I started my travel) when I just carried it around, I could feel my shoulders getting soar. “Uh oh” is what I though. But surprisingly after that, I didn’t feel any discomfort, and that’s how it was throughout the whole trip. This is the bag that never (almost literally) left my side (I even slept with it next to me) and always carried it with me, and I didn’t get tired from it.

Problem with sling bags is that they tend to slid forward when you are either bending down, or moving around a lot, but the Passport Sling managed to stay well fixated to the back, and at the same time it was easy to pull it forward when you wanted to.

Few discomforts came from the shoulder pad, which never stayed in place so always had to adjust them back to my shoulder. Also, when the load was a little too heavy, the strap adjuster would undo itself occasionally.


One thing I wish this bag had was a little more room. Mind you, this bag has PLENTY of room if you are using this bag as a photography trip, but since this was my backpacking trip, I had to carry a lot more than just regular photo gears. Every now and then, I wish this bag had an inch more space.

Regarding space, I don’t understand why this bag has an extension zipper. Its nice to make the bag smaller when you don’t need the space, but I didn’t think it was necessary. But this is just a personal taste.

I love how the camera padding is removable. Once its removed, the bag transforms into a regular messenger sling bag, with plenty of open space. There are two permanent mini slots inside which are big enough for few cables, and/or memory cards.

The bag has external pockets which are great for water bottles, & books.

The bag has external pockets which are great for water bottles, & books.

Externally, there are two side pockets, which are great of slipping maps, guide books and etc, and also there is a very spacious pocket on one end of the bag, which is perfect for water bottles (can fit 3 hand held bottles easily), and/or an umbrella.

To show the capacity potential of this bag, I’ve stuffed it as much as possible. Below is the result.

Things that went in the bag (from top left to right)

What 's inside the bag

What ‘s inside the bag

– T-Shirt (because I could fit it)

– Two water bottles

– Camera Padding (included in the bag)

– Canon 5d Mk ii with Canon 35mm f/1.4 L

– BlackRapid Sport Slim

– Canon original strap

– Accessory Bag with 5 filters and filter lens adaptor

– Accessory Bag:

– Charger for Canon5D

– Charger for Canon S95

– Silicon Power Rugged Armor 500GB HDD

– Canon S95 with Lowepro Case

Cullmann Nanomax 200T (click for separate review)

– Remote Trigger

– Book


Other Blog reviews of the Passport Sling Bag

1) Gear Review: Lowepro Passport Sling Camera Bag

2) A His and Her Review of the Lowepro Passport Sling Bag

V-Blog Links 

Travel stat of my recent solo trip through Southeast Asia (SEA) is as follows:

1) 54 Days traveled

2) 21 cities/islands in 5 countries (Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore)

3) 7,500 KM (4,600 Miles) & 170 Hours on buses, trains, cars, motorbikes, hitchhike!!! (excl. flights to&fro SEA)

Travel Gear-1

ABOVE: I still feel like I took too much. Don’t think I really needed much of the things on there.

Travel Gear-2

ABOVE: Way too much on toiletries. Actually, didn’t need to take anything on here. Everything I needed, including travel size shampoo, toothpaste, and etc are all readily available in Southeast Asia.

Travel Gear-3

ABOVE & BELOW: I think I had the smallest luggage out of any travelers, but somehow I felt I took too much!

Travel Gear-4

For the travel mentioned above, the items I took are as follows:


–  The North Face Patrol 35 Liter

– Lowepro Sling Passport (camera bag)


Canon 5d Mk ii

Canon 35mm f/1.4 L

– USB cable for 5D

– Canon S95 (point & shoot) w/Case

– Chargers for Canon 5d & S95

– Canon Original Strap

– BlackRapid rs-2 Sport Strap

– BlackRapid Case

– Hoya Circular Polarizer Lens

– Tiffen ND Filter

Cullmann Nanomaxx 200T Tripod

– Remote Shutter Release

– Lens Pen

– Blow

– 3x travel bags for camera acessories + hard drive

– Tripod Mount for iPod Touch

– 3x plug adaptor


– Compaq Laptop

– 500GB External Hard Drive w/USB Cables
– iPod Touch 5th Generation 32 GB

– 2x Headphones

– iPod charger cable w/plug adaptor


– Baseball Cap

– 6 pairs of underwear

– 5 t-shirts

– 1x regular shorts

– 1x basketball shorts (for sleeping)

– 1x Convertible Short/Pants

– 1x Flip Flop (not in photo)

– 1x Closed Toe Sport Sandal (not in photo)

– 3x Travel Organizer Bags for Clothes

Other Accessories

– small umbrella

– Sea to Summit Towel

– Bandana Handkerchief

– 1x combination lock

– 2x bicycle cable carabiniere lock

– Ray Ban prescription sunglasses w/case

– Travelrest inflatable pillow

– Eagle Creek wallet

– Nike Sports Wallet

– Blinders

– Ear Plugs

– Ziploc Bags

– Mosquito Repellent

– Leatherman Pocket Knife

– Wire Tape


– First Aid Kit

– Toiletrity Bag


Here is a list of gears I’m taking to a week long trip to Shanghai, China (listed from left to right, from top). Sorry about the photo quality. It was taken with my iPod touch. Both of my best cameras were busy posing for the photo!

Canon 5D Mkii Body

Canon 35mm f/1.4 L Lens 

– Ray Ban Wayfarer (prescription) with case

– Remote Shutter Release (RC-201)

Cullmann Nanomax 200T Tripod with case

Black Rapid R Sport Strap

Black Rapid Bryce Case

– Hoya Circular Polarized (CPL) Filter 72mm

– TIffen 0.9 Neutral Density (ND) Filter 72mm

– Chargers for Canon 5D & Canon S95

– Medium size Giotto Blower

– Small LensPen

– 500GB Silicone Power Rugged Armour Hard Drive

– Interface Cable

– Plug Adapters

– Canon S95

Not included in the photo:

-iPod Touch 5th Generation

– Lowepro Passport Sling Camera Bag

Used Canon 35mm f/1.4 L Lens Review (USED from B&H)

If you are planning to purchase a professional-grade DSLR lens (such as Canon’s L lens), there really isn’t a reason to buy a new lens. The very first place to check for good used cameras are reputable camera stores such as B&H or Adorama. They both have used departments both in-store location and online.  If you can’t find what you want in those stores, then Ebay is also a very good place to look for great used lens deals.  I’ve purchased numerous camera equipment from all these sources and haven’t been disappointed yet, including my recent purchase of Canon 35mm f/1.4 L lens from  B&H Photo Video.


The lens cost $1149.95, which is quite a good deal compared to the brand new price of $1329The used lens quality was rated at 9 (shows signs of use, but very clean), which is surprising because the only sign that showed it being used was a very tiny scratch on the lens hood, and a used sticker on the lens bag (see photos below).

The only downside with purchasing good used lenses (or any camera equipment) is that they are not always available. You will have to be patient/diligent and constantly look for the right product. Also, if you purchase used products from reliable sources, as mentioned above, then you really shouldn’t worry about being dissatisfied with your purchase, because they guarantee accurate product descriptions and in most case allow returns.

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Image Quality: There is nothing wrong with the image quality. Just as a 35mm f/1.4 L lens would, the image quality with this camera is second to none.

Click for:

Image Quality Samples

Video Test:

summer trip from Joon Lee on Vimeo.

First-Impression Gear Review of Cullmann Nanomax 200T Tripod

I purchased this tripod (from BHPhotovideo online for $59)  for my upcoming-extended backpacking travel through Southeast Asia. I needed something that was extremely portable & lightweight, but at the same time, reliable for my Canon 5d Mk ii  with 35mm f/1.4 lens.

The very first impression of this tripod was that this tripod is VERY small!!! A lot smaller than what I thought it would be through looking at the measurements and from photos online. It’s about the size of my forearm, both in length and in thickness. And can easily fit in any messenger bags or small sized backpacks. So it’s a five star in regards to portability and also weight as well.


Minimum folded  size can be noticed by comapring it to the Canon 5d Mk ii + Canon 35mm f/1.4 (the tipod comes with a good quality microfiber bag)


Minimum  usable size is about a foot (30 cm). The mount is very sturdy and can be locked at an angle without any problem. 

9 8

Full stretched out height is only about a waist high. You can give more stability by widening out the legs (right) 

Reliability & Stability should have been compromised given its portability and weight, but with the load capacity I use (Canon 5d mk ii with 35mm 1.4), its plenty stable. The max load capacity of this tripod is 4.4lb (2kg), so  for most DSLRs with mid-size lenses, it should’t be a problem. I was worried the ball head wouldn’t be able to support the weight of the camera, but once it was locked tight, it remained in place. All of the parts (expect the screw nobs and leg locks) are made of sturdy aluminium so the legs and the columns feels relatively stable even when they are expended to its max.

Of course, just because I said this is reliable & stable, doesn’t mean this is the best tripod for rough outdoor terrains, and unpredictable wind, and for overnight time-lapse shooting. I would NOT stand any further than an arms length from this tripod if my camera was mounted on it.

5 3 4

Usability is where the tripod scores the least points. When portability and weight was given priority, this is where all the compromise was made. First and foremost, the maximum extended height of the tripod with it’s central-column extended is 2.69′ (82 cm).

Yes you read it right, don’t expect to use this tripod standing up strait. I think this is the area I’m most concerned about for my trip, but since I’m expecting to use this tripod  rarely and mainly for occasional long-shutter landscape shoots, I’m hoping the height of the tripod won’t be an issue. I think this tripod would have been perfect if it was at least a foot or two taller, but as I mentioned before, portability is  most crucial for this trip so I’m pretty accepting of this handicap (maybe I’ll change my mind once I start using it in my trip).

Second downside with the tripod is the ball-head without the quick release. It’s an old fashioned screw so you’ll have to either turn your camera onto the tripod, or screw the tripod onto the camera. The best way I found was to just pull out the center column and screw it onto the camera,  because it’s easier to just turn the center column with your hand than trying to turn the whole tripod or the camera. This problem is easily solvable by replacing the original ball-head mount with a quick release ball head mount. Cullmann sells quick release mount for this tripod, but I’ve heard online that people just replace them with any mounts they have at home, or with ones they purchased elsewhere.

The third may not be a big of a downside, but the leg spread has only two option. It has the normal leg-spread stance, and a wide leg-spread stance, so it doesn’t have independent leg spread option, which I don’t see it as a problem to worry about.

The Nanomax 200T is NOT all bad in usability. If you don’t think about the handicap it has with its height and ball-head, the tripod if very friendly to use. The ball head and center column adjustment came be made very easily with screw nobs, and the leg length can be adjusted easily using the lock-clip mechanism it has. I’m pretty sure I can have the tripod fully extended in under 10 seconds.

Overall I am satisfied with the tripod. You have to understand that tripod is not for every occasion, but for someone without the essential need of a tripod and for who is traveling and needs minimum luggage, this tripod can’t be more perfect. If I would change one thing, I do wish the tripod had more height.


1) Very small/compact (folded length of 12 in (30cm)

2) Very lightweight (1.6 lbs (700 g)

3) Stable with full-framed DSLR + Lens mounted

4)  Easy to use

5) Affordable ($60 at

5) Anodized Aluminum Legs


1) Limited expended height (2.69′ (82 cm)

2) Inconvenient ball-head without the quick release

Full Tripod Spec from Cullmann

General Specificaion
Load Capacity 4.4 lbs (2 kg)
Maximum Height 2.69′ (82 cm)
Maximum Height w/o Column Extended Not specified by manufacturer
Minimum Height 7.67″ (19.5 cm)
Folded Length 11″ (28 cm) 
Weight 1.54 lbs (700 g)
Head Type Ballhead
Quick Release No
Material Aluminum
Leg Stages/Sections 4
Leg Lock Type Anti-twist
Independent Leg Spread No
Spiked/Retractable Feet Not specified by manufacturer
Center Brace No
Center Column
Center Column Type Rapid
Center Column Sections 1
Bubble Level No