gettin' tired of carrying around 100lbs of camera gear.

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by jordanstarr, Jul 5, 2007.

  1. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    as the title suggests i have a problem being able to condense my gear when i hit the field. anytime i go somewhere long distance to take photos i end up packing about 9 lenses, 2 bodies, 4 backs and other medium format and 35mm slr equipment. it doesn't help that i'm shooting with contax and hasselblad all metal cameras with big, heavy fast lenses. and everytime i say "i'm just going to take a few lenses and one format" i end up getting slightly annoyed that i'm missing certain shots because i didn't bring everything.

    now, i've never used rangefinders before. i don't know many photographers in general that i can borrow their rangefinders and don't have a ton of money to test all the different kinds out there. i've been on countless sites and forums and galleries looking at examples of photos from some of these gems and of course the ones i'm most pleased with come out to thousands of dollars (such as leica, voigtlander, mamiya 6, etc).

    now my budget for a rangefinder with a 35 and 50mm lens would be something like $500 and even another wider lens. any suggestions?
    i'd also be interested in a 6x6 or 6x9 rangefinder. any suggestions with that?

    i shoot almost exclusively black and white and the smallest prints i make is 8x10. i shoot a lot of urban stuff in less-than-desirable lighting conditions most of the time.

    thanks in advance for the advice.
     
  2. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    Take a look at the Cosina Voigtlander Bessa R series of cameras (R, R2, R2a, R2m, R3a, R3m) and lenses. You are bound to find a body/lens combination to suit your need.
    I use an R3M with Nokton 40/1.4, 50/2 and 90/3.5 lenses.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 5, 2007
  3. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Sounds as if the problem is mind over matter! I'm not clear what advantage you would hope for from a rangefinder camera that you wouldn't have by just taking your Contax and 2 lenses. I think if you did buy a rangefinder camera, it would be a good idea to buy one with a fixed lens so that there would be no temptation to make the outfit bigger. Certainly a Voigtländer would also be a good choice, for the total minimal approach why not a screw-thread Leica with a collapsible lens? Fits in the pocket, no bag needed. It certainly sounds as if your present gear is an impediment rather than an asset.

    Regards,

    David
     
  4. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Get a baby jogging stroller to lug your gear around. Cheaper. HA.

    It's what I use when shooting Large Format.
     
  5. DBP

    DBP Member

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    The best way to resist the urge to carry more lenses is to make that impossible. Pick up something with a fixed lens, like a Canonet.
     
  6. David Henderson

    David Henderson Member

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    Why do you have a budget of $500? If you buy a MF rangefinder - for example a Mamiya 7 - you can partly finance that by selling one of your MF slr systems since you patently don't want to carry both. This still leaves you with a rangefinder system you could use handheld and in places where an slr makes you overweight and conspicuous, and an slr for when you need precision, or grads.

    Incidentally my Bronica outfit with several lenses weighs about 20lb plus tripod. My Mamiya 7ii kit weighs 10lb plus tripod.
     
  7. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Hmmm ...

    Photo equipment is getting too heavy to carry ...​
    Have you considered getting a Jeep to carry your equipment? Then you could add LF and/or ULF to your suite.​

    My bad.

    Steve

    Seriously, carry less equipment. One camera and a few lenses.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 5, 2007
  8. Chris Breitenstein

    Chris Breitenstein Member

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    Perhaps the answer is not in new gear, but in less gear. Find a body, lens, and back system that you feel you can make the most photographs with and omit everything else. Edward Weston during the Guggenheim years carried 1 camera, lens, darkcloth, meter, tripod, and twelve film holders. And thats it! Some of the most spectacular images ever came out of that very basic set up. Even contemporaries like Michael and Paula work in the same fashion, Just a few more lenses. James Nechtwey, one of the greatest contemporary photojournalists, travels with two cameras (digital and film), a laptop, and a very small assortment of lenses. After the basics are covered more gear will NEVER make better photos.

    Cut back to 1 camera, 1 lens, and 1 back. I believe you will become more productive and realize the endless visual possibilities.
     
  9. Denis P.

    Denis P. Member

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    I had a problem like that last summer before taking off for summer vacations:

    "Do I take LF gear with couple of lenses? Or MF gear with couple of lenses? Or take both systems, each with couple of lenses... Or a Leica and couple of lenses to make the load lighter? But those tiny negs will always be lacking, despite the Leica glass... I want my LF!
    Oh, s**t, I just can't make up my mind, could be some photo-ops where I'll miss my longer lens, or my wide lens, or... But I don't want to lug two HEAVY bags around in the tropical heat....."

    I ended up deciding on a ONE fixed-lens Rolleiflex and a couple of FILTERS, not lenses :smile: That way I intentionally restricted myself to a fixed-lens camera, but it was MF, so I knew I could get some nice stuff - even crop if necessary.

    Turned out to be a good decision, some of my best summer shots were taken with that Rolleiflex (plus a cable release and a very light tripod). It also made for a VERY light package and a lot less sweat :smile:

    Denis
     
  10. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Member

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    I have to agree with Chis. Less is really more when it come to gear in the field. Until recently I had only 1 large format lens I used with two backs and a half darkslide. Worked out great and it helped me to concentrate on seeing and exploring on the groundglass. I have 3 lenses now but rarely take more than 2 with me. Camera, tripod, 2 lenses, 4x5 back, Film holders, meter, couple filters, darkcloth and gaffer's tape works great for me.
     
  11. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    I understand your dilemma - I took three cameras (F-100, R2S and D-70) for a weekend wedding trip. Carried four lenses - two for the SLR/DSLR set up and two for the RF. It was overkill; even though I DIDN'T include the Hassey etc.!

    What you and I both need to do is learn some discipline - such as Chris and Shawn suggest. We have to learn that just because we have all this gear doesn't mean we need to drag all of it along every time. [BTW: those three cameras are just a small sample of my total arsenal!]

    I have resolved (I hope to follow through) with the idea that I just choose one format and one or two lenses for most shooting. Yes, I might "miss the shot of the century" because I didn't have my [________] with me at the time. But that's life!

    I'm not a minimalist so cannot get down to just one, fixed-lens, RF - but I do want to get better discipline and not think I have to drag along EVERYTHING!
     
  12. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    I'm a 35 or 50 shooter in 35mm, so when I'm taking pictures, I usually only carry the lens I'm in the mood for on the body I want that specific day. I have wider and longer lenses, but I realized that they were more for photographs that I plan, rather than for photographs that just happen. I don't feel like carrying a 135mm "just in case" especially because of the weight of all-metal screwmount Takumars, and because I seldom take pictures with that focal. But when I need it, I really need it.

    I find that choosing just one lens is like deciding what key you're playing music in. I wake up, I decide: today is a 50mm day. Anything that does not happen within the range of that lens is not a lost shot: it simply DOES NOT exist. Was it Winogrand who said that when he reloads his camera, there are no pictures happening? I feel pretty much the same. If I'm not taking it, it's not a picture.

    I agonize over the quality of the pictures I took rather than over the quality of those I missed.

    So my best advice to you is: plan ahead what you think you're going to photograph. It doesn't have to be very specific, but if you just "set the key" right from the beginning, you won't even care about missing a great bird photo while you're doing street shots because you didn't bring the 20kg 400mm f/2.8.

    If I'm going somewhere, I will bring more equipment than I care to carry on myself, but at the moment of taking picture, I don't want to have more than one camera with a lens attached, and MAYBE a secondary lens, but only if I had planned to use it.
     
  13. rkmiec

    rkmiec Member

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    the more gear i take the less i shoot.so i got an agfa billy record.it is a 6x9 folder.picked it up for 20 bucks with shipping.lens isnt perfect but thats ok.if i like it i will shell out for a refurbished one with a good lens.i like the fact that it will fit in my rear poket or in a cargo pocket.wieght wont be an issue when lugging a 4x5 and when at home i keep it by the door and if the mood strikes i throw it in my pocket.if you do a search here for it you will find a link to a guy who does refurbs on these cameras and everyone says he does an excellent job.you can always crop and a decent 6x9 will rival or beat a great 35mm.just an opinion.good luck.
     
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  15. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I'm also in agreement with a number of folks here with the "less is more" theory. Sometimes also called, "addition by subtraction."

    In any case, don't think about what you're missing because you didn't bring a particular lens. Instead, look at the world in a new way. Force yourself to go out with just two lenses ... or maybe even one. Challenge your own creativity by limiting your choices.
     
  16. alan c. davis

    alan c. davis Member

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    A few years ago I realised my photographic output (purely amateur) had become almost dormant because everytime I looked at my huge camera bag of 2 slr bodies and multiple lenses, I found excuses not to take it out with me. So I bought a Hexar RF rangefinder and 50mm lens to get back to a simple go with me anywhere system. But life being what it is this soon became a 2 lens outfit, then a 3 lens kit....bottomming out when a Leica M6ttl became a second body and the lenses totalled 6. So right back at square one almost. Solution?. Now unless I'm going away on a motoring trip, I never venture out with more than one body and 2 lenses. Actually it's kind of liberating.
     
  17. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    When I added an MF camera to the lot I was undecisive about what to take out shooting. i wanted to do 35mm Macro colorslides and MF B&W landscapes. All I got from carrying both systems was a sour back. I learned to decide what I wanted to shoot and which location to go to for those subjects. When Im after closeups in color I look for those and go B&W landscape blind :smile: Concentrate on what you can do not on what you miss.
    Cheers
    Søren
     
  18. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    My minimalist approach is to carry a Nikon FM with a 50mm F1.8 pancake lens and a Contax T3 which comes with a 35mm F2.8 lens. Contax T3 is, believe or not, a very small and useful computerized rangefinder camera once you get used to it. Then if I need one more lens, I add a Nikkor 35mm F2.8 and/or F2 AiS lens to this kit, and that's all I need.

    Leica M3 weighs about the same and takes up about the same amount of space as the FM, but the Nikkor pacake lens weighs far less than an old collapsible Summicron 50mm F2 lens. And Contax T3 is just one of the questest cameras I know besides Leica and other rangefinder cameras from the 60's, but it's far more compact and light weight than those regular rangefinder cameras.
     
  19. Rich Ullsmith

    Rich Ullsmith Subscriber

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    Bet you can find a Contax G2 with a 28mm for around $500. It's not much bigger than a P&S, so folks don't get too alarmed when you wave it around in a crowd.
     
  20. Craig

    Craig Subscriber

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    I think its a lot about mindset and deciding what you're going to shoot. I've got everything from 8x10 to 35mm, and what I want to shoot determines what I bring. If I go out with the 8x10, then I'm only looking for photo opportunities that suit the gear. If I happen to see something that would have only worked with a 35mm slr with a highspeed tele, I just consider it part of living life, rather than a missed photo.

    Mind you, I've also come to the conclusion that I don't want to experience things through a viewfinder, espcially on holidays. Some days I deliberately didn't take the camera, but rather just enjoyed the scenery and the memories I took away.
     
  21. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    you guys all sound like my girlfriend -haha.
    she always says "why do you have to have every possible combination? let me decide what you take!". i haven't let her yet, but maybe i will. however, with her knowledge of photo equipment i might as well put all my equipment in a hat and draw it out. we're going out for a couple days on a hiking today actually. maybe i'll put her to the test.

    however, for someone who is interested in getting into medium format and 35mm rangefinders are there any suggestions on a medium-sized budget? i was considering the mamiya 6 for MF, but it might be a little much unless i sell my bronica system. also was thinkin a contax g1 system with the 28,50,90 combo for 35mm.
     
  22. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    You have the wrong girlfriend.

    Mine encourages me to take what equipment I want. Encourages me to take photographs and never complains about waiting. And if I decide not to take camera equipment thats ok too.

    Time to trade in your girlfriend for a newer model.:surprised:

    Steve
     
  23. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Consider an older model instead. They tend to be more "rounded" and less costly on the maintenance. :tongue:


    When I travel with my girlfriend for anything but a pure photography trip, I bring only one bag of photo gear.

    It's amazing what you can fit in one of those big LowePro bags! :D
     
  24. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Agreed! This is a wise approach to assuring a blissful relationship.

    My current LowePro bag is large enough that when not in use - I rent it out as a studio apartment in Manhattan! :wink:
     
  25. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Shhhhh... don't let the big secret out. Most younger guys (and some older guys as well) wouldn't believe that there is any truth to this great advise.
     
  26. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Being happily married for the last 12 or so years, I have no current experience with these issues, but...

    IIRC, it is not a good idea to tell any girlfriend that she is "well rounded, and less costly on the maintenance".

    Especially the "well rounded" part.

    "Knowledgeable and always right" might work though. :smile: :smile:

    Matt