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Do You Have a Secret for Selecting the Kit Other Than Liking the Gear You Select?


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I am 71 years old and have been battling with the issue of what gear to take while traveling since I started either photography or traveling.  Now I don't expect any great revelations because it probably does come down to the gear we like to use and all of us like different types of gear (except since you are on this forum you probably like Leicas).  I have traveled with one camera and one lens or with multiple cameras and lenses under a wide variety of conditions.  I am usually happy with some of the images I produce.

I have a 95 mile walk planned in May through the Highlands and North Coast  of Scotland.  I just purchased a new MP and new 21mm and 50mm lenses.  They join a M4 with 35mm, 90mm and  135mm lenses,  and a Ricoh GR3, and a Fuji X-T5 with numerous focal lengths for digital with the very latest technology.  Being 71 and walking 95 miles, logic dictates I go as light as possible which would just be the GR3.  However, the heart says the new MP and a couple lenses.  So, how do you decide?  Is there a secret I have missed in over 50 years of photography?  My standard Leica travel kit is a M body with 35f2.8 C Biogon and 90f2.8 Tele Elmarit M.

If I was a professional and had to bring home a certain type of image, that would dictate equipment choice.  However, I have been a hobbyist since 1975 when I traded being a professional photojournalist to being a professional pilot.  Sorting gear is part of the process and I guess fun of travel and photography.  I just have to wonder if there is something I am missing.  And as I don't have any professionals to talk to, this forum provides a means for feedback.

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Posted (edited)

Ya, I have given lots of thought to becoming a film purest again and selling the Fuji X-T5 kit and perhaps the M4 since I honestly don't need two film bodies.  I have been traveling the last four months through the Philippines, NZ and Hong Kong with just the GR3 and honestly it is so nice just to stick it in a pant pocket and go about my business.

And I admit to giving into GAS with the new MP.

Edited by ktmrider2
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Not being a professional, a few years older than you, and a former traveller and hiker I can fully appreciate your question. I used to solve it by often leaving my Leica gear at home and taking a Nikon SLR with a zoom. It served me well. If I was doing what you have planned, I think I'd take the MP, the 21 and 35. If you are accompanied on the hike, I'd probably add the 50 for some personal shots. Whatever you decide, have a great trip!

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Before a trip/travel I usually try to imagine which things and situations I would want to photograph during it, and then ask myself which camera I would enjoy to use for that.

I dont know how extreme the trip is and how much your backpack weights allready. 

I usually like to bring one small camera (like your GR3) and something else, like a Leica M.

Maybe 21-35-90 or 21-50 for such a hiking trip. Gr3 + Fuji+Midrangezoom would be an option as well.

Your need to know if the additional "bulk" is worth the fun for you to use the M camera. But if you own it, use it and dont let it collect dust in the shelve.

 

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30 minutes ago, ktmrider2 said:

IMy standard Leica travel kit is a M body with 35f2.8 C Biogon and 90f2.8 Tele Elmarit M.

The images are what is important.  Take what you know.  Familiarity allows for transparency in the use of the equipment.  

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The nice thing about hiking in Europe vice the USA is a great system of B&B's.  My pack will consist of a sweater, rain gear (Scotland!), and perhaps a sandwich depending on the day.  I will be staying in a B&B every night and my luggage will be hauled to the next destination each day.  Honestly, at 71 I don't think a hiking trip hauling 40-50 lbs of gear is in my future any more.

I have traveled with an M with 35/90 or an M with just a 50 when I am lazy.  I picked up a 50f2.8 Elmar Collapsable in Hong Kong and it is the lightest lens Leica ever made at just 6 oz.  I am thinking 21/50/90 which would be a bit different than my usual 35/50/90 three lens kit or perhaps 21/50/135 for something really different.  Since I won't be carrying a heavy pack, I think I have room for the MP.  My last hike in Scotland was five years ago and we circumnavigated Loch Ness and I carried the M4 with 35/90.  And a few years before Loch Ness, we did the West Highland Way with an M9.

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When I toured Scotland by tandem bicycle around 1980, I carried a Leica CL (film) with its tiny 40 & 90 lenses, I used the 40 at least 95% of the time, and never felt I needed other lenses. Of course my entire M4 kit in those years was 35,50, & 90 - so I wasn't used to a larger selection.

On a study tour of Israel/Jordan in 2006 I just took a Panasonic super zoom and enjoyed the range and freedom of the lens. The trip included a lot of hiking, so size & weight were again a concern. While most would scoff at its 8MP images, they looked pretty good projected large in presentations I gave for a few years.

I'd agree that just taking a 35 and finding the right pictures for it makes sense.

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Again, I was not asking so much as to what gear.  I was asking if there is something I was missing in the decision making process.  I suspect gear selection simply comes down to what we like within certain perimeters.  Using the gear I listed, there really is not a wrong decision except to take ALL of it.

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Using but one kind of film and but one lens for one single outing has several advantages. One, you will never have the wrong one at hand when you see a subject worth taking a photograph of. Two, the photographs of the same outing will have at least the looks provided by the film and by the field of view and the rendering of your lens in common. This prevents  the set of photographs from falling apart into individual shots taken of things during that time. I find that having defined the focal length beforehand makes the framing of the shots of one outing more consistent.

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Posted (edited)

I tend to focus on lenses first. I normally try to minimize the weight by taking more lenses and fewer bodies to reduce weight and space.

My go to usually for gravel is a Gr3 and (1) M body with a 21mm/35mm and 50mm lenses.

Over time I've noticed that I use the the Gr3 and a 35mm lens most of the time.

Edited by twogun
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I use the same small Lowepro- Bag for about 20 years now.

What is not fiiting inside there is too much.

It takes one Rolleiflex and a M with one or to lenses, two Ms ore my OM-D  with the 12-100.

I would take the the MP with a 35 and the GR. 

 

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@ktmrider2

I‘m usually selecting what to take with me by 2 major questions:

- what is reasonable to carry

- where am I going to take photos 

On a hike in the alps, I did reduce my gear to 35mm + 90mm + MP together with a very small tripod, due to light weight, low volume and the capability to catch most situations out there in nature.

If there are a lot of indoor situations to be captured, with people a small digital one might be more handy due to low light capability w/o flash.

If I would be on no a motorized trip with a car my R9 with almost all of the 8 lenses will be on the backseat 😀

It is always a compromise, however when hiking light and small has some priority

Hope that gives you an idea…

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I have no secret, just adapt at best my photo gear to the trip.

- as usual some compromises * must be accepted

- in your shoes, I'd take the new MP and one or two lenses (for pleasure), as when on hiking charging batteries would be very difficult task, so not digital

- a set of batteries (silver or lithium) for MP should do with a spare in case.

- film can be a challenge but traveling with a dozen of rolls (without carton boxes) must be doable

- which film type can be another challenge

 

* I travelled with film ( Xpan + M ! ) and digital for a while,

now I take only digital Ms ( my wife choosed digital M, so I adapted myself ) with too many M lenses.

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4 hours ago, ktmrider2 said:

Is there a secret I have missed in over 50 years of photography?  My standard Leica travel kit is a M body with 35f2.8 C Biogon and 90f2.8 Tele Elmarit M.

The lightest film kit I can imagine is the Leica CL (classic) with the lenses you mention. Or with the original Summicron 40C and Elmar 90 C.
If you want to go with one lens, the Summicron 35 and 40C or even a Summicron 50 will be great.

If you need digital, I would take my TL2 with M adapter, and use the same lenses (crop factor 1,5) or maybe take a Elmarit 28... The CL would work even better because of its integrated EVF.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, ktmrider2 said:

...Being 71 and walking 95 miles, logic dictates I go as light as possible which would just be the GR3.  However, the heart says the new MP and a couple lenses.  So, how do you decide?  Is there a secret I have missed in over 50 years of photography?...

 The relative weight & size of lenses - especially with a view to being used during travel in foreign parts - has, for me, always been a consideration right up there in terms of importance with rendering. As such taking my usual set of 'holiday' lenses (35 Summilux v2 / 50 Summicron v4 / 90mm Tele-Elmarit-M) adds up to a mere 604g / 21oz for all three. As far as size goes they are each about the shortest, smallest lenses in their respective focal lengths. I'm sure their performance isn't quite up to the latest APO-ASPH-FLE (etc.) levels but that hardly matters to me.

I'm not sure that this thought process could, by any stretch of the definition, be described as a "secret" but it is an approach which, IMO, has paid-off in spades.

Good luck and I trust you have a great trip!

Philip.

EDIT : Just to put this subject of weight into a bit of perspective. My own personal favourite 90mm is a v3 Summicron in silver-chrome finish. It tips the scales at 684g; i.e. on its own it weighs 20% more than that of the three lenses mentioned earlier...

Edited by pippy
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Posted (edited)

Faced with the same challenge I'd buy a Nikon film camera that can do AF (like an F80), and then a suitable lens (like a Nikkor 24-85 AF G)  and stop worrying (full disclosure I have them). You won't see any appreciable difference in image quality between that and a Leica lens on film, and it will cut out a lot of lenses in-between. But that is a response to the practical side if you want to stick with film. I wouldn't recommend it entirely though, for an adventure and with no prior thoughts about what you expect to do (I guess hence the question) take a digital camera and a compact film camera as a backup.

Edited by 250swb
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Present thought for Scotland is MP with 21/35/50/90 but carry only 35/90 leaving 21 and 50 in luggage until needed or switch out 35/50 for 50 depending on mood I am in.  And put the GR3 in a pocket.  I go round and round on whether 35 or 50 is my favorite focal length.  

And this thread is confirming that equipment choices simply come down to what gear we like-digital or film, 35 or medium format, rangefinder or SLR, etc.

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11 hours ago, ktmrider2 said:

Sorting gear is part of the process and I guess fun of travel and photography.

That's it in a nutshell.

You'll have planned the walk and envisaged what you'll see and experience. Without doubt, with 50 years of photographic experience behind you, you've then gone on to think about the sort of pictures you'd like to return home with and how you'll treat them.

As you ask about the decision-making process, it seems to me you have your own answer. Each trip, each travel experience is different. Personally, we all have times when one thing seems good, and other times when something else is the bee's knees. Personally, before a trip I reflect on where I'm going and what sort of pictures I'd like to return home with, whether I'm going to go with a lot of gear or minimal etc etc. I think we all likely do that. Then it's fun - we just make the choices that seem to suit us best at this time and roll with it. There's no secret and no magic formula. As you say, photography done while traveling is fun - and we all probably deliberately choose what is appropriate so that fun is prioritized.

Your walk sounds brilliant. Have a great trip!

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