View Full Version : Travel Kit - opportunity for new gear?
I'm planning to spend 3 months or so travelling around Indochina and Thailand later this year and am thinking about what photo gear to take. I'm not looking to replicate the sort of photos one sees in tourist brochures (as I have attempted on previous trips in the past) so thought I'd leave the dSLR at home and take Leicas instead. I'm planning on mainly shooting B&W but will take some Superia as I'm sure the colours out there will be worth capturing.
I have an M7 and M3 and plan to take my 35 & 75 summicron's for the M7 and my CZ Sonnar 50/1.5 for the M3.
My concern is about the M3: it's recently been CLA'd by Leica MK but is an old camera (formerly owned by a professional so well used). I'm very tempted by an MP as a replacement. I'm not happy taking the M7 on its own due to past experiences where I've inadvertantly found myself leaving it on and running down the batterie, so will need a second body.
Should I rely on the M3 or go for the MP, considering the demands of the trip?
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"I'm planning on mainly shooting B&W but will take some Superia as I'm sure the colours out there will be worth capturing."
---- what about some chromes? Velvia 50? :D
Have fun and be safe on your trip!
An MP, the 35 and 75 combo would do it for my tastes except I'd take a 90 rather than the 75. No battery worries apart from a meter, and you can work round that easily enough. A fast(ish) 35 will take you a long way with the 75 for when you just need that more selective framing. Is that 2/3 stop or so speed advantage from the Sonnar worth the weight penalty?
Anyway, all the best for the trip and I'll look forward to the pictures. I can heartily agree with avoiding the brochure (aka travel phototgraphy :rolleyes: ) type shots.
I wouldn't worry about the M3 or M7 causing any trouble.
Just enjoy your trip and take interesting photos.
Like Raid said - a CLA'ed M3 will be reliable. M3 with 75 works
quite well, too.
Maybe get a 35mm finder in case the M7 breaks down and you are
"stuck" with the M3.
I'm always hesitant to take new gear on longer trips - chances are
something happens you cann't predict.
Enjoy your vacations ... Cheers,
I am thinking of taking with me on an upcoming [short] trip a basic set only to keep things simple.
Leica M6 + 50mm Summicron + Elmar 90mm/4
Natura Black (24mm/1.9) ==> very small camera; the size of a cell phone.
The trip is short, so a light kit is more suitable. I expect to mainly use the Summicron. For special scenes, the very sharp 24mm lens in the Natura will some in handy. I doubt it that I really will need the 90mm lens, but the Elmar is so light and small that I will not feel it.
The point here is also having confidence in the set.
I used the M6 in my last trip, and it did well.
I used the Natura last week, and it did well.
I used the Canon P during a six week trip, and it was great.
I have tested the Summicron repatedly against other lenses, and it did well.
Brian Sweeney tested my Elmar and then I used it successfully.
It is important to travel with equipment that you trust. As Roland has pointed out, it would be risky to take brand new untried equipment on a trip.
Raid - your points are well made. I've not done a trip of this length for about five years and I won't be taking the camera I took with me then (Nikon F80), so I don't really know how I'll get on with this kit - I've only used them for week or fortnight long holidays in Europe before now, on one of which I was planning on taking the M7 but I discovered the batteries were flat on the morning of departure so took the M3 instead (and got some pleasing shots with it).
Magus, my M7 is 0.72 so I was thinking of a 0.58 MP (I have a 1.25x magnifier). Oh, and I'll probably also take my VC 25mm as it's so small and light.
Don't worry about the M3, it will be fine. I took a trip to Asia 2 years ago and only took a Minolta 35 type II RF and a 35mm Ultron. I'd be more concerned about something totally reliant on batteries rather than the M3, IMHO that is. Cheers Andrew.
I would go for the MP 0.58 (or even a used M6 TTL 0,58) and leave the M7 home.Tropical jungles tend to play havoc with electronic cameras and service facilities are far and few between in that part of the world. The M3 would be the "long" lens kit with the 50/75 and the 0,58 would be the wide kit. The 25f4 is not a bad idea as you can use the 28 finder in the 0.58 as a guide (not a precise frame as such, but then rangefinder cameras are never that precise anyway).
Depending how you are travelling, try to keep it as light as possible! In hot climats cameras tend start adding a couple of pounds in percieved weight with every 5-10% percentage points of humdity and degrees of heat. Take a Pelican type case with Silica gel and use it for storage during the night. Take the lens off and allow the gel to absorb some of the excess moisture. Just in case, take a small hand-held meter along too for incident metering and when the batteries run out in the MP/M6TTL (and they will - at the most inopportune time!)
If you are going for as long as three month, try to figure out a way to have film processed "in situ" as it will a/ give you an idea how the cameras are doing and b/avoiding heat and humidity problems with unprocessed film. If this is not possible - buy some color negative film at regular interval (2-3 weeks) and run it through the cameras (same subject, just vary speed from slow to high) and have it processed at a local lab. This will give you a good idea about problems like shutter capping or speeds going off.
Another old trick is to number the rolls (felt marker is fine) and then process the odd numbered on one day and the even numbered on another day - this way, if the lab screws up you at least get 50% of what you shot in sequence.
A good way of keeping track of things is to get a small piece of the eraserable white board and a couple of markers. Write the number of the roll on it and the which camera as well as location - shoot a close up of it as the first frame or two. You be surprised how confusing editing a couple of 100 rolls can be without this info.
Good luck with your travel and we all expect to see great shots when you are back!
Oh, I forgot. Also bring some black or colored "gaffers tape" - this is the type of tape the movie guys use for everything. Not too much sticky residue behind. You be amazed at what you will fix with it.
Also, dont forget a spare take up spool for the M3! Murphy's law works particularly well on trips. You drop the spool and it will fall in a river filled with hungry fish or snakes or roll into an open sewer and disappear.
err, how about taking lots of batteries instead. I reckon 30 batteries ought to do the trick and it'd still be cheaper. I mean, honestly, if u need an excuse for GAS, by all means go ahead. If u wanna be practical, i'd just get the batteries. The main problem in SE Asia is probably the humidity causing havoc on your lenses (read fungal growth). The electronics tend to stay fine as long as u don't go use them in a downpour. Oh, and bring lots of heavy duty ziploc bags. It'll keep your kit dry and your papers too!
I would agree with just taking a lot of batteries, if the trip was only two to thre weeks. When you go for 3 month, the stress on the equipment is far more as you most likely will shoot more, much more than when at home and you will most likely move in areas that have higher humidity and stay longer. The chances of something going wrong is higher under these circumstances. This is also the kind of trip that is difficult to duplicate if something goes wrong and it is always better to err on the side of caution. For trips like that. I tend to back up even the back ups!
I'd think that CLA'd M3 would be a very reliable camera to have, at it is a fully mechanical and these proved themselves to be one not to worry about . Even M6 would be a great option as it only need battery for a meter. Meter dies - you still have a fully manual camera. M7, while will give you a couple of speeds, makes it a very limited option. Just my opinion.
I think both bodies should go, and lots of M7 batteries. I went through a set in each M7 this last time in 24 rolls (each body). This is the only drawback of the M7 that bothers me, though the 1/3N batteries are getting more available locally at long last.
I'm a big fan of shipping film by Fed-Ex back home, but I haven't travelled out of country in a very long time, don't know how that might change Fed-Ex reliability. Shipped raw films to my sister this last time and she popped them in the fridge, then shipped them home the evening before I got on the plane via Fed-Ex 3day. Got home & unpacked and then my films arrived. No hassles with hand inspection of films nor worry of x-ray fog (Fed-Ex has 'photo-sensitive materials' labels they can give you).
sods law states that u can never be prepared enough. so why not buy out your local leica stock. Honestly, as much as i respect tom's advice, get the batts. If u really want a backup, just get a bessa R2M or something. Chances are u'll never have to use it anyway so why spend more money then u have to. There's nothing to say that MPs won't break down under sod's law.
Back in 1976-77 I spent a year travelling through Asia. My photographic outfit then consisted of a Yashica TL SLR with a 50 lens. An all manual camera that only required batteries for the meter. The only film I took was K64 and I allways posted them back home for processing by registered mail. Remarkably, I never lost a film. More than 30 years on with all this experience behind me, if setting out today, what would I take? My all manual M6, a spare set of batteries or two, maybe a 35mm and a 50mm or 75mm lens. And film? Velvia 100 and hopefully pick up B&W film along the way. I can never reiterate more the importance when travelling in the Third World to travel light.
I agree with those who think it makes more sense to bring some extra batteries and your recently CLA'd M3 for backup, rather than buying a new MP more or less for backup. If I were making your trip (sadly not) with your gear and my money, I would add a ZM 25/2.8 long before considering another body. It's brilliant and, I would expect, well suited for many subjects you will encounter.
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Considering the tropical environment and the challenges on your equipment, it may be a good idea to [also] get a basic and easy to use mechanical P&S camera that does not require any "training" before leaving home for the trip. I am thinking of a Rollei 35 or similar camera[Konica S2] that does not require batteries and that allows quick film loading while having a very sharp lens.
Still, traveling light is important, so don't go overboard. Since you already have such fine camera equipment I would not at this time buy a camera like the MP.
i would think that the M3 + M7 combo is a very capable combo, but hey any half decent excuse to get an MP is a good excuse right? :)
as far as your destinations goes, Ive lived in thailand the last 2 years, and worked/travelled around rural indochina extensively. BRING BATTERIES! and if you dont have a case you might want to think about getting them for the cameras (sweat plays havoc on the grip, and cases helps lkeep lower profile as well, esp for silver cameras). having a comfortable bag will help matters as well.
you definitely want to pack some colour films as well.
Thanks for all the thoughts - some interesting ideas there. I do like my M3 a lot so would feel bad about not taking it. I may well follow the suggestion of getting that wonderful Zeiss 25mm and half a dozen batteries rather than the MP.
So that would give me:
M3, M7 + 25mm Zeiss; 35mm 'cron; 50mm Sonnar; 75mm cron. That doesn't sound like too many lenses or kit.
I know it's a "how long is a piece of string" type question, but how many rolls should I pack given the availability of film in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia? I was thinking of around 20 FP4+, 10 HP5+, 20 Superia (or Velvia!), so 50 films for a 90 day trip, buying locally if I need more.
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