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Far from a dealer -- what to take


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So what would you guys take for a long trip far from a Leica dealer? I'll be trekking in distant off the beaten path portions of Nepal for a good chunk of this spring doing some documentary photography about how they are recovering after the earthquake. I'll be traveling with just a backpack and so I want to keep my gear weight and volume down.

 

I plan to take my:

- M-P,

- Summicron 28mm,

- Summilux 50mm,

- APO-Summicron 90mm (a Macro-Elmar would be a better choice for trips like this but I don't have one and don't have budget for one right now - someday),

- 15mm CV that is given. Of course I'm taking the M charger and a spare battery.

 

The thing is, I keep thinking about single points of failure. If something goes wrong with the M-P I'll be out of luck. Its not like traveling in Europe where I can find a Leica dealership not too far away. Should I take a spare body? Ideally, I would have a 2nd M body but I don't. It is good news and bad news: the M10 hasn't really undercut the value of the M240s very much so I can't really pick one of those up really cheaply.

 

A) I have a T. Should I bring the T, the 23mm and the M to L adapter.

Should I not worry about it and figure if something goes wrong go back to Kathmandu and get something shipped in from Hong Kong or Thailand or somewhere. Anybody have any experience with this?

C) Or should my plan B to find some camera shop and just buy whatever DSLR or mirrorless they have.

D) or should I just figure my iphone is my backup camera?

E) I could probably afford to pick up a M6 right now, would stuffing that in my pack be a good solution? But would they have film out there?

 

The charger is a single point of failure. Has anyone ever had one of these fail? How much should I worry? Loss is one thing- failure is another.

 

How much should I worry?

Am I being overly paranoid and overthinking things?

Anything that I missed?

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Peter Kilmister

There is an argument that says if you are going on a long walk, hike, call it want you want, then you take an absolute minimum. An M240 will last a long time and allow many shots on one battery charge. In old fashioned terms you took a camera and a couple of rolls of film and that was that. Use when necessary.   These days people seem obsessed by image quantity. In yesteryear image quality was the key.   So called iPhones and Smartphones add to this obsession with photographing everything. I

ramarren

Perhaps I think of this a bit differently.    - Am I going on this trip as part of a paid photographic job? If so, carry backup and spares.  - Am I going on this trip for my own personal portfolio development? If so, carry backup and spares. - Am I going on vacation to these places and looking to record my trip for posterity? If so, carry as little as possible and enjoy the trip.    In any event, the ultimate backup (and particularly for the third item above) is my iPhone and a couple of c

wattsy

A well used 240 which you can sell again when you return is IMO the best option. That will also provide the additional charger. Leaving the 90 APO at home would be one way of offsetting (some of) the additional weight that is entailed by carrying the M240 which, if all goes well, will be largely dead weight.     This is a reasonable strategy if you are in Nepal for months and will be returning to Kathmandu regularly. Your iPhone will be able to get you through any intervening period.

For a trip like yours I would want the insurance of having a 2nd body. Purchased an original Sony A7 to use as a film scanner with a Leica BEOON. Out of curiosity I picked up an M adapter to try out my Leica/Zeiss glass. I was surprised:

 

  • how well it handled M glass
  • how easy it was to focus with focus peaking
  • I didn't hate the EVF as much as I thought I would
  • how quickly the A7 eats batteries

A7's are pretty cheap today considering what they can do. 

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There are one or two reports of a charger failing. I would not go on such a trip without a spare. And backup. A NEX with adapter is a good cheap and light backup solution.

Didn't he say he has a T? What is the point to buy a NEX?

 

I would buy a second M240 and resell it after the trip!

 

 

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Sorry, missed that one. That is an excellent choice I should think.

 

BTW I do not think that taking a film camera as a backup is wise. It adds complication.

 

OTOH, going all film is another option. No batteries to worry about. Two bodies, three lenses and a bunch of film in a lead bag.

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Well, actually I use the M240 as my main camera, seeing that i am not quite  able to match the quality of my images with the Sony. The drawbacks of using Leica lenses on Sony cameras are well documented in this forum.

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Trekking? Backpacking? Option D. A good smartphone is an excellent backup in good light, which you should have. And you will have your eyes and the squishy matter behind them as an additional backup.

 

Once you start considering risks of failure, there is no reason to stop at two bodies, and that way lies a slipped disk. Balance the weight of your pack against how seriously your trip would be ruined if you just couldn't take Leica photos half way through. And the whole point of a Leica M is that it is small and compact; taking a spare body doubles its weight.

 

You don't ask about lenses, but four is also a lot to be carrying yourself along with everything else. My only concession to risk of failure might be a spare charger, as it is small and light

 

OTOH, if you are going on one of those off the beaten track, "backpacking" holidays where someone else carries much of your stuff during the day, leaving you to walk with just a a camera pack, then take what you like.

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Another thing to consider:

Your images will be priceless ( at least to you

) You must carry some kind of backup, separate from your camera. A card is easily pilfered or lost and card failures are not unknown. I would adivise against carrying a laptop for the sake of your back (although a Macbook Air 11" with external SSD  might just be acceptable), but there are compact and light HDD-based backup devices.
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Travel as light as possible, body one lens. The T could be a back up but means taking two chargers and two sets of batteries. I think I'd chance it and have the phone as back up OR a mechanical compact like an Olympus Trip and few rolls of film (less weight and volume than a body/charger/batteries/adaptor).

 

Alternatively you could hire a local photographer to accompany you on the trip and act as 'art director'.

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Possibly, James, but Nepal is both huge landscapes and people. I think one lens won't cut it.

A real alternative would be to leave (nearly) everything at home and take an X-Vario  and Leica C (or cheap Panasonic LZ1 used) as backup.

The last are as small and light as a packet of cigarettes and covers 28-200 with pretty decent IQ.

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I just read the OP again. It seems like the primary purpose of the trip is photography, in which case I guess it's a case of sacrificing other stuff to make room for photo gear.

 

In this case I would definitely take the M and 2 or 3 lenses and the T as the back up body. If I already had a film M I would take that instead but it's risky buying a new s/h camera unless you have time to thoroughly test it.

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28, 50, 90 essential. Skip the 15 if you want to limit your gear.

I agree with a backup M240 for imaging/sensor considtency. You could then use both cameras, one with a 28 and one with a 50 ready to go at all times, with the 90 in the bag.

A few spare batteries

A spare charger

.

I think mixing film and digital may be a mistake.

 

Or two film cameras. You could always get the M6 and save on the second body with a CL or Bessa or such, after all the film camera is just a black box in which you add the same film to each or mix B&W/Colour or Slow/Fast film.

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As a wide shooter, I would skip the 90 and make sure the 15 was there at all costs. The longest lens I carry is always the one with the last clicks on any trip, whether it's 75 or 90mm. The two with the most are the super wide, whichever it happens to be, 18 Super Elmar or 21 Elmarit, and the "normal" lens, which is either the 28 or 35. These days those two happen to be more the 18 and 28.

 

My 75mm f2 Summicron is a frustrating lens to use. The focus throw is so short that being a teeny, tiny amount off perfect with the rangefinder can make a world of difference in the results. The 90mm f2.8 Elmarit-M is a much more reliable lens for my eyes to focus, both accurately and consistently. 

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A well used 240 which you can sell again when you return is IMO the best option. That will also provide the additional charger. Leaving the 90 APO at home would be one way of offsetting (some of) the additional weight that is entailed by carrying the M240 which, if all goes well, will be largely dead weight.

 

Should I not worry about it and figure if something goes wrong go back to Kathmandu and get something shipped in from Hong Kong or Thailand or somewhere.

 

This is a reasonable strategy if you are in Nepal for months and will be returning to Kathmandu regularly. Your iPhone will be able to get you through any intervening period.

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In this kind of trip with trekking, I would take this photo gears:

- one M 240/262 with MATE 28-35-50 (340g and 3 focal lengths) mounted or one prime 28/35/50 of lightest kind to be choosen from other priorities

- one M 10/240/262 with Tele-Elmarit-M 2.8/90 (225g light) plus OUFRO for close-up if needed (usable on MATE also)

- two battery chargers with two more batteries

- twice SD cards as needed, not too huge GB each

 

2 bodies and 2 lenses (not to change lenses) those to be used everyday of that trip, so backups = everyday use

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Perhaps I think of this a bit differently. 

 

- Am I going on this trip as part of a paid photographic job? If so, carry backup and spares. 

- Am I going on this trip for my own personal portfolio development? If so, carry backup and spares.

- Am I going on vacation to these places and looking to record my trip for posterity? If so, carry as little as possible and enjoy the trip. 

 

In any event, the ultimate backup (and particularly for the third item above) is my iPhone and a couple of charged supplementary battery units. Basic rule of thumb is that if I'm traveling for a specific purpose, do everything I can to ensure that the purpose is fulfilled. If I'm vacationing, well, photos are of secondary importance and if my camera fails for some reason, I spend my time looking at things and recording the trip in my mind and journal rather than carrying double the weight in backup equipment. 

 

"The less I carry, the more I see."

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Another thing to consider:

Your images will be priceless ( at least to you

) You must carry some kind of backup, separate from your camera. A card is easily pilfered or lost and card failures are not unknown. I would adivise against carrying a laptop for the sake of your back (although a Macbook Air 11" with external SSD  might just be acceptable), but there are compact and light HDD-based backup devices.

Got that covered. I'm taking a new 13" MBP and a couple of large capacity thumb drives.

 

I did the analysis late January and early February. For this kind of trip, it really comes down to the current MB and the 13" MBP. The 11" MBA really doesn't cut it anymore. In addition to size and weight, two more things you need to consider are the size of storage and power. The newest 11" MBA is several years old now and the processors aren't very power efficient nor does it benefit from the latest advances in storage.

 

The current MB though it has comparatively slow processor does a good enough job on still photos to be useful on location. I haven't done the analysis but I believe that the Intel embedded graphics while not on par with the AMD or NVIDIA GPUs probably is powerful enough on the kind of operations used by Lightroom that it doesn't matter. It also is tiny and has a quite good screen and sips power. When you're charging mostly off of solar panels that you are carrying this matters.

 

I went with the 13" MBP though. Right now there is an anomaly in the market where newish pre-touchbar MBPs especially the high end ones with the GPUs are highly prized on the used market. They have a huge battery and all the ports that many people love vs. only USB-C. The current MBP have a much more power efficient processor and a battery to match but it is only really power efficient when it is doing very little like reading email or browsing the web. However, when you do something like a bunch of video editing or even modify a bunch of stills you can kill the new MBP's battery in as little as 45min. Anyway, I found that I could sell my fairly new MBP 15" with GPU and get more than enough back to get a 13" which with equivalent capability and is barely bigger than the current generation MB. If I wanted 2 personal computers in addition to all the ones for work, then the logic would have favored the MB.

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28, 50, 90 essential. Skip the 15 if you want to limit your gear.

I agree with a backup M240 for imaging/sensor considtency. You could then use both cameras, one with a 28 and one with a 50 ready to go at all times, with the 90 in the bag.

A few spare batteries

A spare charger

 

I agree with you sort of regarding the 15mm but CV15mm II is tiny and light unlike the CV15 III or the 18mm Leica.

What I really should have to save size and weight is a Macro-Elmar 90mm vs. the APO-Summicron ASPH.

 

I really like your idea of 2 M bodies in use most of the time, I hadn't considered that. It brings back memories of Vietnam era war reporters with three Leica's around their necks. That has been my long range plan so that one can go to the shop while I use the other. I can't quite swing that budget wise right now unless I do what some other person said and sell one when I get back. I hadn't considered that.

 

The T isn't the ideal backup camera because of the difference in the sensor size. The USB charging is really handy though. I wouldn't want to go without an external charger but having the option to charge in the camera provides a nice backup. I wish all Leica cameras could do that. The 15W that normal USB-C provides is more than enough to charge a camera battery.

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