Travel cameras

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by grunzweig photography, Jul 15, 1998.

  1. Hi, I'm interested in starting a thread on travel cameras that Medium Format photogs take along when they can't bring the all the good, but heavy equipment. Personally, I've used the Yasica T4, but find it pretty limited. Like to get some other thoughts?
     
  2. Hi, FWIW, I use a Rollei TLR. While not pocketable, you can stow it into a small purse, shopping bag or whatever, and it is quiet and inconspicious to use (if you are used to it, it is even fast). None of the limitations of 35 mm P&S:s (I own a Nikon 35 Ti, but even that was too restricted). Fuji used to make a small, folding 6x4.5; if I stumbled across a good one, I4d probably buy it. In 35 mm, I4d use a Leica M with collapsible 50mm lens.
    Regards, Per
     
  3. A Hasselblad 500C/M with 4.0/50 and 4.0/150 mm lens is usually my travel combination. If this is too much to carry I use an Olympus OM-1N with e.g. 2.8/28 and 2.8/100 lenses or the Olympus XA. The Olympus SLRs and lenses are small, lightweight and tough.
     
  4. There's a lot of factors to balance out.

    <p>

    How are you travelling, and for how long? Where do you expect to be, and hence what subjects do you expect to present themselves? Can you live with one or at most two lenses? And then you have to factor in what form of camera support is essential. Then there is the question of what you have, or can afford. The best camera for any job is the one you already have :cool:

    <p>

    In medium format I have, or can borrow, a YashicaMat or a Mamiya M6. Both are compact, portable, and decent quality. The 'Mat is less valuable, but the M6 is a dream to use. And add a table-top tripod or Ultrapod II.

    <p>

    But just because I like my choice doesn't make it particularly good!
     
  5. For extremely light travel, I take two light nikon bodies FM and FE and a 28mm, 55mm micro and 75-150 zoom and a very light tripod slik 500 and an Olympus P&S. Also a very small auto flash, and 52mm filter assortment. I've carried this on European trips traveling by train, cab and on foot.

    <p>

    I'm leaving Sat for a week trip to Maine-New Hampshire. I will have a rental car so I will take Pentax67, three lenses and heavy tripod. For back up I will carry Nikon FE and 55mm micro in case I have to hike a great distance.
     
  6. After carrying a 4x5 system on an 11-mile hike, I purchased a Yashica Mat for backpacking trips. The 4x5 comes with me for short trips, but the TLR is now my long-distance camera. I am seriously considering ditching it all and buying either a used Hassleblad on a new Bronica SQ system.
     
  7. For vacations, etc., I carry a Canon GIII QL 17. It's a 35mm rangefinder with 40mm 1.7 lens, choice of shutter-priority automatic exposure or complete manual setting. Hot shoe and PC contact. (I use a Vivitar 102 manual flash about as big as a pack of cigarettes.) It's a very sharp lens and focuses down to a couple of feet. Rangefinder/viewfinder has automatic parallax correction. It's circa 1970-1975. Bought this one at a swap meet for $35 but when I was a teenager I worked part-time at a library that owned one and this model was the first 35mm camera I ever used back then.

    <p>

    My normal MF is a Yashicamat 124G though I also use Nikon F2 and FM and a Calumet 4x5.

    <p>

    I used to take the full Nikon bag on vacations/travel but not since I've gotten married and had two kids.

    <p>

    Craig Shearman/Baltimore
     
  8. I have taken a Yashica T5 with me previously, but I did find it a bit limiting. My main MF system is too heavy for all except car-based travel, so I had a look at some Fuji rangefinders earlier in the year. I found that the 670 wasn't a lot heavier than the 645s (although a little bigger). I bought one. I've got a small LowePro bag which fits the 670, foldable tabletop tripod, meter and film and is pretty light. I find the 670 standard lens pretty flexible for travel. Faced with the choice of getting 95% of the shots I want using 35mm and a zoom, or just 80% but on 6x7 is no choice at all.

    I'm planning a trip to East Africa later in the year and will probably take this and a Canon EOS5 with a telephoto.
     
  9. My travel cameras is still my 500C/M. When I travel by air I carry the full range of lenses and accesories. When I go biking or backpacking I only carry the 80 normal lens and extra film back. The 500C/M is barely bulkier than a 35mm SLR and a bit heavier, that is but it's more phychological than physical. I always carry the 500C/M no matter what, including boating. Except parties and sports.
     
  10. Usually a Rollei TLR. For lighter travel, an Ikonta A. For very
    light, a Rollei 35.

    <p>

    I expect to replace the Ikonta A (tessar lens) with a Super Ikonta A
    later this summer, so the former will be for sale -- Email me if
    interested.
     
  11. Since my MF gear is relatively light and compact (Mamiya 7 and Rolleicord), I probably have no excuses for not having one or the other with me at all times ... but when I don't, I use a Contax G2 with 35 and 90 lenses (no weight savings there!) or Ricoh GR1. The latter is a terrific P&S with a great (tho wide -- 28mm) lens: it's about the size of a pack of cards and has exposure compensation and aperture priority auto plus the ability to turn off the built-in flash.
     
  12. For compact size and ruggedness, a Voigtlander Bessa I folder with the 105mm f3.5 Color Skopar lens in a Super-Compur shutter. It takes beautiful, crisp 6x9 chromes (or twice as many shots on 645 with a simple spring-steel insert mask) and can be had for under $200 occasionally. Drawbacks: no meter, viewfinder almost unusably small, and focal distance must be estimated and manually set (which is not as difficult as it sounds). But the results are astoundingly great! <p>A step up (in convenience and cost) is the Bessa II with the same lens and a linked viewfinder/rangefinder system. In clean, sound condition, these sell for $400-$600 and are worth every penny. With either Bessa, make sure the front standard is tight and not wobbly or loose. <p>For those who are not afraid to travel with a $3,000 basic camera, it is hard to beat the Mamiya 7 (6x7 format). We baby ours, which means we often don't have it with us when we should. I suppose if we were well-to-do, we wouldn't care if it got wet or dusty or bounced around a lot. But we're not, so we do. <p>The YashicaMat 124G is a great $150-$300 camera, but considering how much better a Rolleiflex is, I'm surprised more people aren't willing to spend just a little more to get one. Rolleiflex "E" and earlier models can often be picked up in excellent condition for $400 or less. The more desirable "F" models run from about $500 to $1500 depending on lens, features and condition. <p>No one has mentioned the psychological aspects, but the type of camera you carry and use when traveling makes a huge difference in how you are treated. If you are in the backcountry, of course, no one cares. But in town, a vintage Rolleiflex makes an entirely different statement than a modern SLR with a big zoom lens. Rolleis are good conversation starters.
     
  13. Wow! a lot of variety. It is frustrating to use anything that doesn't produce excellent images, but when you can't carry a lot of gear a single camera and lens is the way to go. I like all of the answers and the variety of approaches. I've tried to bring my F3 along, but always want more than 1 lens. I think I'll take a look at the 645 folder. Thanks for all of the input, keng
     
  14. I usually bring a phototrekker AW pack filled w/ a Rollei 6008i, spare magazine, schneider 40/3.5, 90/4apo, 180/2.8 lenses (the latter two are over 4" in diameter), a 1.4x teleconverter, accessories, a Fuji G617, and gitzo carbon tripod. There's nothing more frustrating than telling yourself, "If only I had brought my
    xxx, I could get a great shot!" This is my standard, overseas travel setup (I walk or take public transpo).

    <p>

    When I go somewhere that I've been before (and know what lenses to use), I can leave some equipment at home. I've packed this combo up a 9000 ft mountain (my concession to weight savings was to leave the gitzo 410 at home :)). If I'm hiking in an area where fantastic landscapes are expected, I leave the 180/2.8 at home and take a 300/4 and they weigh nearly the same. For parties, I go w/ a zeiss 80/2.8 w/ schneider 180/2.8.

    <p>

    I haven't really encountered a really compact MF camera that's really fast (ie, basically P&S) and is larger than 6x4.5. The Mamiya 7 is still way to bulky, a TLR doesn't fit well in one's pocket due to its awkward shape, etc. The Mamiya 6 would probably work, but it's no longer manufactured. Right now, the leading contender is still a Fuji GA645i for speed/size/lightweight, but I'll wait to see what Kyocera (Contax/Yashica) introduces this fall, as I hear they are introducing a 120 format camera. This might be the ticket.
     
  15. You've started something here, judging by the number of responses you've got!

    <p>

    Just to add another alternative - I've just come back from travelling throughout Vietnam and Sarawak equipped with OM4-T, 24mm, 50mm and 135mm lenses allowing me to forgo the tripod and travel light. The OM4-t is very tough and survived numerous knocks and bangs, coupled with the excellent Zuiko optics, I came back with some excellant shots. In fact, I only regretted not having the luxury of a tripod a couple of times.

    <p>

    In an ideal world, I would have loved to have been able to take my medium format equipment along but it would have compromised flexibility and increased the risk of theft.
     
  16. I just got back from a business trip to England and Germany that lasted for 11 days (I had a weekend in England to myself). I could only take one roll-around carry-on bag with me (for my clothes, camera and a SLIK 444 Sport tripod). I took along my Hasselblad 500 C/M, 150 mm C and an A12 back. I rented a 50 mm CF and a shop in Birmingham, England for 17 pounds/day (including insurance). The shop loaned me a new Tamrac bag to put it all in for free! The SLIK tripod is barely sturdy enough for the Hasselblad and comes with a sad little head, but it worked. I got some great shots of the Cotswald-area towns and countryside.

    <p>

    I definitely recommend this type of equipment for travel. The fact that you can rent Hasselblad equipment almost anywhere (check their website) makes the Hassy a great choice. That way you don't have to lug all that stuff through airports, etc.
     
  17. I travel all the time for business. When I'm traveling on business and I don't think I'll have any time for real photography, I take only a compact 35mm with a zoom.

    <p>

    If I'm traveling and I think I will have time for photography (which includes essentially all my vacation travel!), I take as much as I can, unless there is some real weight/size limit (like airplane / safari). If the point is photography -- then I want to be ready, not sorry.

    <p>

    When I was in Kenya and Uganda on a month's safari, I only took 35mm for lightness, but I did take body, 20-35, 50, 24-120, 70-300, and 500. How can you tell beforehand what you're really going to see and feel?

    <p>

    Travelling by car, I usually take *both* systems -- 35mm and 6x6, and all my lenses. I have two separate cases, one for each system, plus a third case of common odds and ends. All this fits the car well. I take out, for the day's shooting, what I plan/think I'll need for that day. Sometimes wrong / sometimes right. Yes, it's about 35 kg
    total, but the car doesn't mind.

    <p>

    I have taken all my MF gear in a Lowepro Photo-trekker AW on business trips all over the world. It is about 20 kg, but it is fine on the back for short distances (thru airports and such). Then, at destination -- no problem.

    <p>

    Is this nuts?

    <p>

    I absolutely hate to get caught with "look at that shot, if I only
    had the xxx mm with me, then ...".
     
  18. You probably have more than enough information already, but FWIW I thought I'd add my two cents worth. Generally I prefer to travel with 35mm equipment for obvious size and weight reasons. But I occasionally travel with a Mamiya 645, and when I want to "travel light" I take only two lenses: the 45mm wide angle and the 105 to 210 zoom. This is a compromise, of course, but I have been able to live with it. The other thing that I have done is to carry only one camera back and a few film inserts. I lose the ability to change emulsions in mid roll, but with loaded inserts on hand I retain the ability for quick, convenient reloads.
     
  19. Hallo MF-traveller,

    <p>

    I've some experience with 6x6 SLR Cameras and Traveling. As long as you don't have to carry the equipment all the time, I think it's OK, to take a Hblad 500 oder Bronica with 50,80,150. But if it's a rucksack-tour you quickly forget about. I changed now to the Mamiya M6 with 50,75,150mm (not the M7, because it's much to bulky)
    There are two main advantages and one disadvantage of this to my opinion unique MF-Trafel-Equipment.
    - The M6 (not the M7) can be pushed to a very convenient size. The M7 in comparison is much more inconvenient to carry around!
    - The vibrations of the M6 are minimal, so you can use a very lightweight tripod without any restrictions (only wind might be a problem)
    - The only restriction is the minimal distance of the lenses 50mm (1m) and the 150mm (1,7m).

    <p>

    Werner
     
  20. I am suprised that there has not been more discussion of the Fuji Folder. I am a serious amature, and I use a Mamiya 7 whenever possible, but even the M7 with extra lens, spot meter, filters, etc. is too bulky for travel, particularly business trips when extra room in brief cases and suitcases is a premium. I recently purchased a Fuji Folder, and I think it is the perfect travel camera. It can literally fit in a pocket, and the lens is superb. There is nothing else like it: The new Fuji 645's are barely less bulky than the M7, with much less negative size, and other older folders, such as the Zeiss Super Ikonta, cannot compare in terms of lens performance. It is a shame that Fuji does not make the camera any more, and is no longer supporting the manfacture of replacement bellows
     
  21. When I traveled for business and taking airplane, I will carry a Rolleiflex TLR and Stylus Epic. No tripod. I also like to carry a
    Jansport backpack (not a photo backpack) which allows me to carry a hat, a jacket, filters, lens hood, light meter, and water. I like to
    do night scene with these 2 cameras without tripod. The slow sync
    flash (night scene) from epic turn out to be very good. I can do 1/15 sec hand-hold my TLR and if I can found a sturdy support then I can do what ever speed I want to do. Good or bad the TLR did draw
    a lot attention/conversation from other people. Travel light!
     
  22. I recently returned from a trip to California and had a chance to go to Yosemite NP and the coast just south of San francisco (Big Sur). For this trip, I took my MF and 35mm setup. In a Lowe Pro Trekker Classic I carried my Pentax 67 with 55mm and 135mm lenses, and my Nikon 6006 with 35-80mm and 70-210 lenses. I also had a Bogen 3205 tripod and about 20 rolls of film. It wasn't too bad for short hikes, but if I had to bring along lots of water, a pullover, and a few of other basic items I would have been overweight. And there's no way I would walk though New York City (or any other big city) with that much gear strapped to my back. I'd be a sitting duck.

    <p>

    Some good travel rigs would be the Mamiya 6 or 7 with standard lens. I've also thought the Pentax 67 with the 90mm lens (Pentax's smallest and lightest) would't be too bad.

    <p>

    I think an ideal travel MF camera is the Fuji folding camera (GA or GS?), as someone mentioned above. It's a 6x4.5, but it must be the smallest MF camera in existance. I don't have one, but it seems to be the ideal "one camera, one lens" solution. It has a leaf shutter, so there's no mirror vibration (had holdable) and no noise (stealth mode). The only problem would be that, since it's a rangefinder, it won't be good at closeups. Also, does it have a light meter, or would you have to carry one of those, too? The Fuji GW670II would also be worth considering for the larger negatives, but I think it's considerably larger.

    <p>

    As for 35mm, I would think a Leica M would be best size to photo quality tradeoff. Too bad they cost so much.

    <p>

    Joel Collins | jwc3@mindspring.com | http://www.mindspring.com/~jwc3
     
  23. The Fuji folder referred to above may or may not have a built-in meter, depending on the model. It probably is the most compact MF of recent vintage (barely 1.5" thick with the "clamshell" cover closed), but I found it somewhat "fiddly" as the British would say, because the aperture and shutter-speed rings, which are very narrow, are right next to each other at the front of the lens. I also found that prices tended to be quite high, often upwards of $750. A search on MFD for "Fuji 645" will turn up many articles about experiences with this apparently high-maintenance camera.

    <p>

    The newer 6x4.5 Fuji is outstanding if you can stand the AF noise (and in general are comfortable with a camera where auto is the default mode). It has been favorably discussed in Rangefinder On-line and Photo Techniques. While it is true that the Fuji is nearly as large as the Mamiya 7 body, the important difference of course is that with a flick of the power switch the Fuji's retractable lens extends and one is ready to shoot, whereas one would normally not carry the 7 without a lens attached and expect to be able to fire away on moment's notice.

    <p>

    By the way, the Mamiya 6 hardly represents a considerable savings in bulk over the 7. The lens-mount can be pushed into the body with a lens attached, but it saves at most 3/4" in depth -- not much. Height and width are essentially the same.

    <p>

    As far as Leica M's are concerned, if one is willing to go with an older M not in pristine cosmetic condition and lenses of design a generation prior to the current, a nice one body, two lens outfit can be put together for well under $2000 (hardly pocket change, of course, but for those accustomed to MF prices, not insurmountable).
     
  24. Over the past nine years, I have made two lengthy trips to Europe and on both I ditched my medium format stuff for much more portable 35mm. I took An Olympus OM2n with light weight 35-70 mm zoom and for back up, a 50 mm standard lens. Sure was glad I brought the 50mm lens along on the first trip as the somthing in the zoom came loose making it unusable. I used this camera for color print film. Additionally, I carried a pocket sized Olympus XA camera with all the necessary controls but not an interchangable lens. Its 35 mm wide angle lens was adequate for most of my shots, and I kept this camera filled with slide film. I would have liked more lenses at times, but for minimal work, this was just fine. These were both sightseeing trips, not photo expaditions. My next trip, already in the planning stage, will be a real photographic journey, and I will take the medium formats along. Bet I'll still take that little pocket sized Olympus XA along though. Always take two cameras--always take some sort of backup for any other unexpected problem. But travel as lightly as possible. Always take a lead bag for your film, and remember that your camera, if loaded should be put into a lead bag too. New scanning equipment located at some of the major airports is death on fillm.
     
  25. Kenneth,
    You opened Pandora's box, let's keep it simple.
    1. Got to the closet designated "camera closet".
    2. Set your Lowepro Supertrekker on the floor.
    3. Fill it with camera equipment, when full stop, if you can still lift it your done.
    4. Fill fanny pack with film.
    5. Get in the Truck and go some where neat.
    6. oh yeah take the wife, you get to go further.
    <R>s
     
  26. On my Swiss Bike trip I took a my Rollie MX TLR,400 TMax and my Pentax spot. Great conversation piece! No tripod so some of the pics I wanted had a little blur. I wish I had my Horseman 980 and tripod but not the weight schlepping up the passes.
    George Nedleman
     

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