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Next summer I am planning a trip to England with my family. It is a family trip so I pretty sure I'm not taking my 4x5 Speed Graphic. I have 2 MF SLRs but they seem too heavy and complex to take. Photography is never out of my mind though, so I will be taking some cameras for some serious photography. Here's what I had planned to take. Any suggestions or comments about camera slection or travel photography would be appreciated.
1.) Rolleicord III with upgraded screen for contemplative MF B+W, I'm also thinking unobtrusive street photography with the waist level finder.
2.) Fuji GS645W for wide angle B+W, unfortunately with such a loud shutter release, discrete street photography is out, I'll just have to be straight up about it (though I am shy about street photography)
3.) Konica Hexar AF with fixed 35mm lens for fast/intuitive 35mm B+W
4.) Minox GT for colour slides/ 35mm B+W backup
Just yesterday I installed a third party upgraded screen and went out shooting. I must wear glasses for distance and another pair for closeup (I really need to get bi-focals) and I had more trouble with the Rollei than I expected. The screen is much much brighter than the original (which is almost useless, it's so dark) but I still had trouble focussing. The screen in my Rolleiflex E is darker but more contrasty/grainier, and easier to focus. (I could swap screens between them.) I blame my eyesight not the new focussing screen.
Anyway this focussing trouble got me to thinking about my Rolleicord choice. I could take the Rolleiflex instead but it is heavier and more complex. The beautiy of the 'cord is it's simplicity. The other option is to take my Mamiya 6 with normal lens instead of a TLR. The advantage would be easier use, with built in light meter and auto exposure (setting the aperture first) and a consistent camera type - rangefinder/scale focus. The advantage of the TLR is that it is a different camera type with waist level viewing which may be better suited to some conditions.
This is a deliciously wonderful "problem" to have though, isn't it? If only all my problems were this serious! It is a very pleasant problem to consider, and I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts or first hand experience with a situation like mine?
I'm going up North (Point Reyes in California) for 5 days in 2-3 weeks (can't wait...) and will be in a similar situation to yours. I will be doing some hiking, portraits and 'town-/steet shots').
I have about 25-30 cameras or so, mostly rangefinders, and also a Mamiya 6 such as yourself (6MF but same difference).
My 'travel kit' at this point is;
- Leica M3 w/ 50/2 lens for street/hiking shots, and
- Hasselblad w/ 80 and 150 lens for portraits/scenic stuff.
That's about it. I've noticed with my self that I always seem to have ONE favourite camera and use that 'as much as I can' and then the second one comes in. Hardly do I see myself chosing between three camera bodies.
You have a great selection to chose from.
I would be tempted to pack;
- The Rollei(cord/flex) and use it for pretty much everything and then,
- any of the 35mm cameras to supplement when you don't feel like lugging around the Rollei (I may lean towards the Hexar as you then also get the nice, wide lens).
Btw I've always been intrigued by the Rolleiflex...IF I would get a new body next year that might very well be the camera I'd want. A nice 2.8F would be great as weight is not really a worry.
My Rolleicord has an f3.5 Xenar lens, and the 'Flex has an f3.5 Planar lens. I can heartily recommend the 3.5Planar. I can't see the 2.8 being anything but simply more expensive. The 3.5Planar lens on the Rollei gives me better results than my Hasselblad with its 80mm Planar.
I have simply got to take the Fuji GS 645W camera. Wide angle MF has an even greater superiority over 35mm than normal MF has over normal-lens 35mm. (Did that make sense?)
As for also taking the Minox GT 35, it's size and weight is miniscule and its performance is significant.
Frank, first and foremost keep in kind that it's a family holiday. Even though your family will no doubt put up with a lot of your antics (I know mine does :) ), they might not be totally appreciative of too much emphasis on photography from you. So I'd suggest to keep things simple. Try to travel as light as possible camera-wise. IMO that'd mean no more than 2 cameras, 1 or 2 lenses per camera, no flash, no tripod, and a smallish camera bag. Consider realistically what you'll shoot, the ratio of use of one camera or lens over another, and heavy the kit will be. I find that I usually shoot 95% with 1 camera and 1 lens, that I shoot mostly normal to wide angle, and that I leave extra kit in the hotel if it doesn't fit in a belly pouch while going out.
So, in my case I have my Bessa R with J-8 50/2 around my neck, and the Bessa L with CV 25/4 in the belly pack.
Next trip things might be a little different as I now have the tiny CL with Rokkor 40/2. I could end up bringing the 40/2, the CV 25/4, and my J-9 85/2. So, 1 camera and 3 lenses, but still only 4 pieces of gear.
Originally posted by RML
I could end up bringing the 40/2, the CV 25/4, and my J-9 85/2. So, 1 camera and 3 lenses, but still only 4 pieces of gear.
Thanks for your insight. I too am only planning on 4 pieces of gear, however they are all cameras with fixed lenses! I would not take a trip of this magnitude (I live in Canada) with just one camera body, even if it is a Leica.
"unfortunately with such a loud shutter release, discrete street photography is out"
It is worth noting that holding a camera close to the head makes a shutter release seem much louder for the photographer than the person being photographed. Most of the time (depending on the ambient noise level) it is not as noticeable as it seems.
if it were me?
i'd go with the mamiya 6 and the hexar.
taking 4 cameras would drive me crazy, too many decisions - b&w, medium format, slides, 35 mm, colour prints...
2 cameras that you could easily carry with you at the same time.
for me it would only be b&w film so the biggest decision would be what speed?
going for a name change eh?
isn't that mamiya 6 your wife's?
Frank, I'd try to keep to the same kind/size of film, take two cameras. If the Fuji GS has to go along (good thinking!) then the other camera could be either the 'Cord or the Mamiya 6, preferably the latter for me. (Personally, I just don't like TLRs or waist-level viewing).
The two 645 RFs would make a killer combo!
Joe, yeah just changed ;)
And...eh..yes it's the wife's. Sad story about the Mamiya 6MF is that right now neither of us is using it. We've had it for over a year now and maybe put 3-4 rolls through it. Personally I didn't find it to be as 'fun' to use as the Leica, 'blad and Olympus-es.
Originally posted by Rich Silfver
I didn't find it to be as 'fun' to use as the Leica, 'blad and Olympus-es.
Richard, I just can't get over the feeling when I'm taking a picture with a 35mm camera that I wish I were doing it with MF instead. Developing and printing my own B+W negs makes me feel that way. Enlarging a MF neg is soooooooo much nicer than a teeny 35mm one. (Of course this is not true for those times where a 35mm camera is necessary in order to get the picture in the first place, such as in macro, sports, extreme telephoto, shooting transparencies to project later, and super quick response situations.)
Frank, I must admit that often I feel the same way. Using a MF camera almost ensures me that I will get what I want in terms of tonality and details - using a 35mm will always be secondary to that regardless of how good the lens is. I would never use a 35mm on a tripod for instance - it's for 'grabbing' shots that would not be possible with a MF.
If it's a 'planned/staged/set' photo I need to use a MF camera or I feel that I' not getting as good as I can get.
Originally posted by FrankS
Richard, I just can't get over the feeling when I'm taking a picture with a 35mm camera that I wish I were doing it with MF instead. Frank, I often feel the same; if a picture opportunity is worth the effort, isn't it worth a respectable negative size? :angel:
This first occurred years ago in considering to use my half-frame camera; what advantage does the smaller neg have?
P C Headland
If you had to narrow it down to two, I'd consider the Mamiya (do you have any other lenses - if so the wide and portrait lenses) and the Minox 35GT. Heck you could almost not count the GT, it's so small. It makes an excellent travel camera, and mine exposes slides perfectly. In fact, using that reasoning, take the Fuji as well.
To travel really light, take the Fuji and the Minox.
As for the TLR and focus problems, have you considered wearing contacts? Maybe get some daily disposables for days when you want to use the Rolleicord. (I hate wearing glasses, and especially when I want to take pictures!)
BTW, you can use the GT for street shots, as no-one really seems to notice it since it is small, black and "plastic", and the shutter is almost inaudible. Just set it to f8 and 20ft and fire away.
Enjoy your trip!
I'd never go with a Minox but without the Hexar, because
a family trip is where you get together with family, isn't it? This may mean spending time indoors as well as outdoors. This may mean low light levels indoors. The possibility to add a bitof flash that you get with the Hexar AF is a big plus. If you have the extended features where you can set the flash guide number on the Hexar, you can even do flash exposure compensation.
It's also very fast and accurate in focussing (will even work in a blacked out coal cellar) which is great for spontaneous people pictures.
If you have to get by with scale focussing as on the Minox, indoors is just a pain with the necessity for small apertures to cover focus errors.
For me going overseas means one SLR and 2 to three primes and no flash. I learned the hard way that I had to carry all this gear ( wife was not interested in being a pack mule) . I could easily sub a RF body for the SLR. No flash because museums and the like generally do not allow it. As medium format stuff is bigger and heavier and it is easy to get carried away with the gear aspect I guess I am saying simple is better on a family vacation as opposed to a dedicated photo safari.
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