The feasibility of international travel with FE2/film?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by lahuasteca, Jul 4, 2020.

  1. I recently posted re. Nikon FE2 - the thread received about 120 responses. Purchased the FE2 and posted some images under Wednesday Nikon. For me I like the small footprint and shooting landscape hyperfocal with the small primes. OK, film is somewhat practical for domestic use - but international travel? The weak links I see are (1.) the airport scanners and (2.) shipping off the film to be developed and returned (increased chances for losing all the images). Yes, I've posted a lot on what to take - if COVID 19 ever abates I'm off to Tikal and the El Peten of Guatemala for some La Ruta Maya fine art photography, once in a lifetime stuff. D700 and associated lenses - big footprint. In the old days I did these trips with FE2 and 24, 35, and 85 primes. Yes, I've looked at a Z6, but as soon as the S-lenses are mounted - big footprint. Crazy to travel with FE2, film, and three primes these days?
  2. Dunno. It got done before. If any x-ray machine fogs PanF during a single path through it, rumors would be online, right? Why not go for the real thing and process your film on the road?
    Trying to be honest: I see little sense in doing film for any other reason that you(!) want to do film. Period! Do I as an average makeshift lab rat recommend an excessive once in a lifetime trip with 35mm BW negs to "kind of maybe someday print yourself"? - Nope. Those rolls will entangle you, like the snakes did Laocoon... Odds you'l have something or much to show later will be low.

    I'm not a Nikon guy but the FE is in doubt the same or bigger as my old Pentaxes. The current(ish) Df wouldn't be much bigger. If I was to do such a trip, I'd like to have some kind of backup with me; a 2nd body maybe 5 light lenses in total.
    I feel challenged to understand how whatever you'll sink in films processing and shipping wouldn't buy a half decent APS camera with stabilized lens instead. - Mine were about 250€/$. A new one with 2 zooms 500€ and there is nothing overly wrong about your D700 either.
    What would I pack? Two k-mount Samsungs, if I'd feel "not safe" in the environment. My Leicas otherwise (for snobisms sake?) or just old Fujis. Do i see a 35mm film advantage? - No. Not against Fujis. Otherwise just in the outsourcing of work. But even TAHT can be done with digital...
    Again: Your trip, cash, time, memories, living history bliss, shooting pleasure... So do your thing!
    Albin''s images likes this.
  3. There has been a discussion in the Travel forum about the kinds of hazards that airport x-rays pose to film these days. I have some in-depth experience with this subject and posted several times on this thread: Airport X-Rays
  4. Looked hard at both Z50 and Z6. Like the size of Z50 but lenses limited. Z6 with non existent pancakes would be perfect.
  5. Yes, just checked out the most recent thread re. film and travel in that forum. Sounds like somewhere along the route someone is going to send the film through x-rays. Can’t risk it. Better to save the film for road travel and take something small and light digital for international.
  6. I have not travelled to the USA but with Europe and Asia I've not seen any x-ray damage for myself. Sometimes I have for eg .. flew from NZ to Singapore and then to Malaysia and then to Thailand and back to Singapore and then back to NZ. I don't use checked luggage.

    Since you have mentioned about digital. Myself as a Nikon film user (FM2N) and a D600 digital user. If I wanted to compact like my FM2N then it is not even the Z Nikon series. The Z lenses are not that compact and while the camera body is around 650g it is just that bit more chunkier but the Z series have better ergonomics, maybe they were designed for that SLR user in mind. So for myself to go compact it is really Fuji APS-C or Micro Four Thirds, I just went for Fuji b/c the sensor was a bit larger but the camera body was the same weight and dimensions as long as I stayed away from the big / fast zooms. The Fuji F2 prime lenses are quite compact like the 23/2 and 50/2 and now they have a even cheaper XC 35/2; those are the FF equivalent to the 35/50/75 lenses. They also make a 40mm ish equiv pancake F2.8, also a 28mm eqiuiv. 43mm filter threads if I am not mistaken.

    Edit, there is a equiv 24mm, the 16 F2.8 is the more compact one under the Fuji line up. There is also M4/3 but to me Fuji are quite compact enough with the right lenses. Sony A6000 is yet another but I found their lens options were better than Nikon for DX, I felt that Sony had more lens options for their full frame cameras, also if one was concerned about being compact, they wouldn't want to use full frame lenses on their A6000 series camera.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2020
  7. Here are two small crops (about 1/6th of the frame width) comparing a D700 with T-Max 100 film, which I consider has the finest grain/speed ratio of any B&W film you can buy.

    The same prime lens was used on each camera, at the same subject distance.

    In my view the IQ of the D700 beats film hands down. And the extra bulk of several cassettes of film easily outweighs the extra bulk of the D700 over an FE2.

    If scanned digital files are your final target, then there is absolutely no advantage or point in getting there via 35mm film IMO. Direct printing to Silver-gelatine paper from 120 rollfilm might be superior, but Giclee prints from 35mm? No way!

    However it's your choice to make.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2020
  8. You can travel with the FE2 but the reason you said for compactness that is no reason.
  9. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If you are talking about the 58mm/f0.95, that is certainly huge for a 50mm type lens, but the 24-70mm/f4 S is not huge, neither is my 35mm/f1.8 S, etc.

    When you are talking about the FE2, which I bought in 1978 and still own it today, you need to take the film you are traveling with into account. Way back in 1998, I have travelled with like 120 rolls of 35mm film for 3 weeks. That footprint is not exactly small.

    I don't know how many rolls of film you need to travel with, and it could be a major pain in case you run out. Moreover, undeveloped film in hot weather is not good. It is one thing to shoot some film and quickly get it developed at home. Travelling with a bunch of film is an issue I am more than happy that I no longer need to deal with in the last 15 or so years. The ability to change ISO from frame to frame is another major advantage I am totally spoiled by.
  10. Like the vast majority travelling to cities and towns, film isn't too much an issue. Carrying film or even additional lenses you just cart it around at the airport. Into the hotel or motel you can then pack a smaller kit outside with you .... Many people just shoot a few rolls a day, I do half a roll prob why I shoot with medium format what I do. The film, you can store it in the fridge in your room ..... OTOH if you are going on a dedicated photography focused trip it would be a lot different.
  11. The reasoning behind taking the FE2 was small unobtrusive size for the possibility of doing some candid street. My 50 mm is the 1.8 AI, much smaller than current offerings. Outside of getting a Leica (not going to happen), most logical thing is to take the D700 for the archaeological ruins, and the FE2 if the opportunity for some street photos in the highlands. I liked the FE2 for size - Even the Df is big in comparison
  12. If you just want a seamless efficient set-up and that is compact. Maybe just pick up a used mirrorless body and see how it goes, you won't lose anything if you pick up a good deal. If you don't like just sell it. Any camera from the year 2013 are superb anyway for amateur photography and if compared to film - I say that being a film photographer. Pick up your most used prime lens and have a go.

    I have thought and thought about travelling and wanting it compact. My travels are more travel based and photography is takes position number 2. My D600 was just bulky, on the plane, on the bus and train, around the city, around the tourist attractions. Sure it is more comfy but it has a decent physical size to it. I can understand if one was going away to do just photography or photography is number 1. Myself I just broke down and got a Ricoh GR and a Fuji X-T1. By myself I guess I just complain to myself but the turning point for me was when I was with family who actually encouraged me to bring more stuff and I was silly to listen to them. I took my 18-35, my 70-200/4 and my 50/1.8, a speedlight thinking I could get all these awesome portraits of the family and even at night time to combine HKG / Guangzhou, Taiwan night photography of a buzzling city with flash hahah. I was even silly enough to take my dSLR, my F100 for slides and my FM2N for b.w film after a few days I resorted to just one body and one lens.

    The disadvantage I find with a D3000 and D5000 dSLR is that it is still a bit more chunkier than a mirrorless but also you don't have so much lenses to choose from and if you want everything compact as well. The most compact prime is maybe the NIkon 35mm DX F1.8 giving you a 50mm equiv. Your manual lenses I don't think they would meter with it.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020
  13. Yes - I’ve read every comment plus a myriad of others. Considered just getting a Z5 plus 24-200 and calling it a day. But don’t want to learn a new system menus and all the new AF options. Will go with my D700 and 24-120 in one small shoulder bag, and the FE2 and 3 small primes 24, 35, and 85 tucked somewhere. Interchangeable with the D700. One of the factors which concerned me about the Z5 and other new mirrorless is changing lenses in the heat, humidity and dust.
  14. I'm not sure what may have changed since I left in 2007 but I used to work for a cruise line and had film go through security X-ray machines multiple times with no ill effects, even some T-Max 3200.

    Eric Sande
  15. For many times I have been in the very same circumstance... wanted to have it all, everywhere.
    Now, I just take one camera and one lens, either film or digital. Personally, to carry with both systems and several lenses is simply unpractical. Just my experience.
    I use to take primes for film, wide for street/indoors, standard for mountains. Just a few rolls (I cannot take dozens) and shooting very carefully. Limitation is part of the fun, a challenge.
    If mirrorless digital, a standard lens, and -maybe-, a proper converter (wide if indoors, tele if I take the opportunity to get some portraits). Aperture priority, JPEG images, shooting without limits.
    DSLRs for speed and/or edition, here zooms are the key. If I were planning to take a DSLR for a trip, for sure I'd take a 24-120, two batteries and four cards. That's all. Loads of images, great for unexpected scenarios.
    This way I can concentrate on the trip and the images I'm taking. If not, it's all about changing lenses, loading gear and worrying about equipment.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2020
  16. Mmm... who cares about quality... ? :p
    Film is beautiful and film cameras a pleasure to use... But I agree, IMO shooting film for scanning limit the experience to camera use, losing the soul of the medium.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2020
  17. I had my film scanned in my carry-on for years and never had it damaged. I have not flown recently so I don’t know if the x-ray machines are more powerful today or not.
    James Bryant likes this.
  18. I went through a similar analysis last year for a bucket list 3 week trip through Europe that did have much walking including dragging all of our stuff occasionally for miles. Weight and bulk were the enemy! Although I had Nikon DSLRs and a Sony A7RII, I sold the A7RII to fund a Z6 & 70-300E, and rented a 14-30. This turned out to be an outstanding setup. I liked the 14-30 enough to buy it upon return.

    Also, I took the tiny 40/1.4 Voigtlander and Canon 100/3.5 Leica mount lenses. The Canon 100 is not as good as the 105/2.5 Nikon LTM optically, but good enough and much lighter. For the 2nd or 3rd day in a city, often I would go out with 14-30 mounted and 100 in a belt pouch that was big enough for the 14-30. After a day of much walking, mount the tiny 40 and leave everything else in the room for the evening meals and walking.

    I have not yet found a 20 or 24mm LTM that is good on the digital sensor and small and light to match the 40 and 100, though there may be choices now. For the OP, your 24, 35 & 85 Nikkor lenses mounted on a Z adaptor would not result in a camera/lens setup significantly bulkier/heavier than on an FE2. I used the excellent high ISO and VR capabilities of the Z6 extensively on my trip, no single 35mm film/camera could match the versatility of low ISO in sunlight then easy switch to ISO 6000+/- when indoors or at night. Also, those lenses can be focused much more accurately at open apertures easily on the Z than with your D700.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2020
  19. Carry-on X-Ray machines don't pose a significant risk to film. The dosage is low to protect operators and passengers alike, and threat detection increasingly relies on AI and advanced screen displays. Kodak released a study a few years ago in which it would take 100 passes to increase the fog level of ISO 400 film by 1 stop. Machines used to screen checked bags are much more powerful, and will ruin film on a single pass.

    The last time I traveled extensively with film was in 2001, carrying about 150 rolls of 35 mm. It wasn't practical to have the film developed (traveling with a touring orchestra), so every roll I started with returned with me. I only carried about 10 rolls on a given day, leaving the rest in my room. However I had to carry 150 rolls on each leg of the trip between towns, whether by air or bus.

    Moving ahead 20 years, I took nearly 10,000 images in Ireland, stored on 12 SD cards in a case the size of my hand. On the other hand, carrying about 30 pounds of gear, including two bodies plus a tripod, was a bit much for foot travel. I pared the load down to a zoom single lens (maybe two) and body, depending on the subject. The rest remained in the room or car. A big f/2.8 zoom is still a lot dangling on a strap, so I now carry a few lightweight primes in a fanny pack, one on the camera. I like the results, and my back appreciates the relief.

    In 2001, I used a Nikon F3 and F100, both relatively small and light (for Nikon). Now I use Sony A7xxx bodies, which are nearly the same size as a Leica M or the F3. I'm not sure I would risk the "trip of a lifetime" on a 30+ year old camera and shopping bag full of film.
  20. I agree, which is why I use this Cotton Carrier

    Cotton Carrier CCS G3 Harness-1 (Gray)

    It gets the weight off my neck and places it on my shoulders. Makes waling around with my D750 and 70-200 f/2.8 easy. I have also used it with the Tamron 150-600 and Nikon 200-500 for several hours while testing the lenses. Much easier than a camera strap.

    They usually go on sale around the Holidays for at least 25% off.

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