Travel Photography with a MF Camera.

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by waynecrider, Oct 16, 2004.

  1. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    I will be doing alot of photo travel over the course of the next year beginning next month, and I wanted to ask your thoughts on your MF travel kit. My primary destinations are the southwest and west cost U.S. and then overseas to 3 or 4 countries in Europe. My plan is to enlarge my portfolio, 1. for sale of stock images and 2. for sale of individual prints thru art shows and other channels. To this end I have elected to carry a 6x6 as my primary camera system with a second system being a small 35mm one.

    My primary reason for choosing the MF system is 1. it is smaller and faster than my 4x5; and 2. I can crop an image and be left with enough film to enlarge to a reasonable size print over the 35mm system. I will be doing all my own b&w darkroom work with the color work farmed out. The 35mm system will most likely be used for slides only.

    I am looking for suggestions as to the what you consider must have lenses in your kit. This can be a highly subjective choice, so I will state that my primary interest are architecture being churches and local points of interest, people in the workplace, and for print sales, landscapes, villages, flowers etc. Right now I am looking at a 2 possibly 3 lens outfit, light tripod and 2 backs with a metering finder, although I do use a handheld meter often. Filters are pretty obvious to me. As far as bags are concerned, I already have 4 of them but I would prefer something less "photo equipment" obvious and to that end have been thinking about a standard (small) backpack and maybe Domke inserts. My travel will consist of car in the U.S. and rail overseas unless I pickup a motorcycle and sidecar. I plan is to stay in B&B's, friends homes and at church dormitories.

    Since the membership here is from all over the world, and some are professional traveling shooters, maybe you can share some insights as to your travel kits and to your experience carrying two systems. I would also ask as to your insurance and who it is with. Any other thoughts you have as to the need for lighting equipment, photo accessories and others things related to this "make money" enterprise will be much appreciated. As a final note, although I already own 3 other mf kits, 6x6 Rollei, RB67 and Mamiya 645, I have decided to carry a 501cm for lens rental availability when needed.
     
  2. 127

    127 Member

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    In the interests of keeping things light and simple, I'd consider a Fuji 645 zoom. I'd prefer 6x6, and it's obviously nice to have the flexability of a full system style camera but compromised have to be made - they're dirt cheap too. The Fuji will fit in your coat pocket, and do most of what a full system would.

    You could alternativly just take your Rollei - stick with the 75mm standard lens in MF, and use the 35mm to give you more flexability.

    Ian
     
  3. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    If you decide to carry an extensive 6x6 setup, make sure whatever backpack you choose fits well. It needn't be a photo backpack (and, in fact, I'd not take a backpack that looked like it might contain photo equipment to a lot of places), but a full MF system tends to be heavy and you'll appreciate a backpack that fits well. I carried a Bronica S2a system in Europe earlier this year, and I wish I'd had a backpack that fit better.

    With a little Velcro and some ingenuity, you can make any backpack into a suitable photo backpack.

    One thing that I carried and I'm glad I had with me was an Ultrapod. It's a table-top tripod with a Velcro strap on it. It will hold a surprising amount of weight, it can be strapped to any handy pole or railing to provide support, and it takes up no appreciable room in your backpack. In places where a tripod is forbidden, you can often find a place to sit one of these down and get a shot that would otherwise be impossible. Very much a good $15 investment.
     
  4. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    This is what I have in my hassy kit. 50mm lens, 80mm lens and 180mm lens. 2 backs, meter, red, blue, green, orange, yellow and a polarizer cable release, . It all fit in a Haselblad case I was lucky to buy on e bay (yep it was expensive as hell, but worht it) no bigger than a lap top.
    I would pack a bogen tripod, the small one, in the suit case with a domke bag that had the shoulder harness. I traveled for 5 years with this kit and never once failed me.

    OTOH, if your plan is to do stock photography, I would say you pay more attention to your 35 mm gear than the MF. Frankly if you have the money I would say dont even bother with film, the Kodak 14 Meg camera with a tamron 20 to 120 (I think this is correct, not sure, Dan Burkholder showed me his set up and it was incredible) will give you just as good quality as a 35 mm and allow you to take far more pictures. Of course, the flash cards etc are not cheap and you have to hope they dont get erased. It is a trade off.

    Let us see some of the pics when you get back.. :smile:
     
  5. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    I travel extensivly with my Bronica S2 system, I carry in a Pelican 1500 case and have also fit it all into a stardard looking backpack system that I use for backcountry camping and a bogen mono pod, the system I carry is a S2 body, two backs, 50mm, 75mm, 150mm and 200mm with a 2x teleconvertor, in addition to a close-up tube set and various filters and a chimminy finder,all told in the backpace it weighs in at about 30 pounds and still leaves room for some extra cloths and food if going overnight, I also carry a small tripod inside the pack just in case with some gaffers tape to add length to the tripod legs if needed.

    Dave Parker
    Satin Snow(TM) Ground Glass
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    My S2A travel kit is pretty much like Dave Parker's, but I usually also carry a 40mm and have the 135 instead of the 150, and I usually carry 5 backs, usually with three for zone system reasons, one with color, and one with a higher speed film (or film to be developed for higher speed). If I know I might need a big lens, I might bring a 300 or 500 and leave out the 200. My preferred shoulder bag of late for the S2A kit has been a large Perrin Kontur case made in the 1970s, which is sturdy, simple in design, and doesn't look like a modern photo bag.

    Then when I'm out and about, I'm usually carrying only 1-3 lenses, depending on my shooting plans for that outing. If I'm using one lens, it's usually the 50mm. If I'm carrying three, it's usually 40/75/135 and a short extension tube for the 135. If I bring a flash, I might leave out the 75 and 135 and bring the 105mm leaf shutter lens instead. I often leave the bag at home and wear clothes with large pockets for my spare lenses and backs, but not a photo vest.
     
  7. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Jorge, it's obvious that digital has been making hugh inroads into the stock realm, but I see the weight of carrying the extra equipment needed to download all the pictures taken. In fact, I do know that many digital photographers take their laptops as well for on road editing, so if you add this into the overall package, plus electric cords and chargers as well, it can get pretty large. Having toted my Rollei system around, I don't see a Hassey and a couple of lenses as being overly weighty or larger then some 35mm systems used. I guess I'll find out how good or bad it is. Changes will always be made.

    Btw, thanks Mongo for the UltraPod suggestion. It's the little things like this that can really help.

    So far my kit is beginning to look like a 50mm, 150mm and two backs. I think I'll get a smaller meter than my Minolta IV... I also use a foam insulated water bottle holder on it's own belt as a lens holder.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 16, 2004
  8. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member

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    I travel with a Mamiya 6, 50mm, 75mm and 150mm. I use a handful of filters and a gossen luna f meter. The whole thing fits into a sling style courier bag that has extra padding from a cannibalized laptop case. Included in the bag are around 20 rolls of film.

    When I travel most of my shots are street and architecture. The 6x6 format w/o pc lenses is not the best choice for architecture (possibly the worst) though.

    The must have lens for me is the 50.
    The must have camera is a RF (light, hand holdable, etc).
     
  9. david b

    david b Member

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    I have done several cross-country trips with my Hasselblad 503 and 50/80/150 kit as well as an extra A12, several filters, meter and lots of film.

    But I recently bought a Mamiya 7II and will be using this for my travel kit from now on. I have the 50 and 65 and I am looking for the 150.

    I am with mrcallow. The camera is light and easy to use and I get BIG negatives. And my favorite lens (right now) is the 50mm.
     
  10. fred

    fred Member

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    I've the same experience David.
    The M7II is the ideal MF travel/street photography camera.
    The meter is a plus.
    And with only one lens (f.e. 65mm or less) it is very "portable".

    fred
     
  11. david b

    david b Member

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    Yes, I love the 65mm. It's equal to a 32mm (on a 35mm camera). But I got the 50mm for a very good price so I could not pass it up. Otherwise I would have just kept the 65mm.
     
  12. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    I have the 43, 80, and the 150. When David goes to the Zion Workshop He will like both all three of those lenses. The 210 is and ok lens if you do landscape work. It is not good for closer focusing.
     
  13. gr82bart

    gr82bart Member

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    I travel everywhere with my Hassey. Bought a decent LowePro to help out as well. This way I can carry it aboard planes without too much hassle. I usually bring 3 lenses - my 40, 80 and 120 or 180 with me since I never know what I'll see.

    Art.
     
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  15. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    40mm vs 50mm

    Art, do you have any experience concerning the differences between the 40mm and 50mm lenses. I was seriously considering the 40 untill recently. I thought it might be more prudent to crop a 40, yet have the wider view when needed.
     
  16. gr82bart

    gr82bart Member

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    I have the "old style" 40 mm CFE. It has a floating lens element (FLE) at the front where it requires a two stage focussing process. First you focus normally, then look at the focal point and adjust the FLE according to the focus point and recheck the focus. The 50mm CFE has the same design. The 'new' 40mm IF CFE doesn't have the FLE and it's just a plain one stop focussing process. I just like the wider angle the 40mm gives me. Until recently I use to shoot with a rented 50mm all the time. Then one day, the rental place didn't have the 50 and said they'd rent me the 40 for the same price. What a difference! I bought a 40mm the next week. I should of waited a few more weeks for the new 40 mm IF. Drats! Go for the 40mm.

    Art.
     
  17. VoidoidRamone

    VoidoidRamone Subscriber

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    I just got back from Moab and I had to pack fairly lightly... All in a Lowepro mini-trekker- Mamiya RB67 w/ attached 90mm, 180mm (I wish I had a 50mm though), 2 backs (1 attached), pentax spotmeter, cable release, red, yellow, green, and pol. filters, and 25 rolls of film. I put the spent film in the outer pocket in a black bag and carried a notebook and tape with me, it all worked out nicely with a little bit of room to spare. -Grant
     
  18. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

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    I have to travel quite a bit for work assignments. Shortly after I bought my Bronica system, I bought a Delsey Pro 2 bag. Looking back, I should have bought the Pro 1, but I can still carry 2 bodies (1 with a speed grip attached), 4 lenses with hoods, 7 backs, a bunch of filters in both 67 and 77mm (I use stack caps), a Luna-Pro F, and gobs of film. If I really push it, I can get a third body in (with one of the lenses installed). When flying, I pack my Polaroid back, a small lightstand, and a tripod in my checked baggage.

    I've found that I can get away with a rather small Bogen 3001 tripod with a 2025 head, but I prefer to use a 3021 with a 3047 head. 35mm gear travels in a Lowepro Nature Trekker backpack. I keep a mid-size Tamrac bag in my checked baggage so I don't have to work out of the backpack on location (if it's a PJ job). My flash equipment travels in checked baggage in a Graflex case from on old Speed Graphic to which I added some heavy padding. I carry a Metz 60CT1 with dry-fit, and extra dry-fit battery, charger, a Sunpak 544 with a Quantum Turbo & charger, a Newton bracket, an old Larsen 17" soft box form a soff-shoulder, and a bunch of small accessories.
     
  19. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

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    This has nothing to do with camera gear, but...

    I'm not sure what kind of condition you are in physically, Wayne. If you're going to embark on any type of walking with a 30 lbs. backpack, you should really consider doing serious ab and back exercises. I agree that the backpack should be a really good fit, but you will still be hurting if you're not in shape. If you have back problems (most people do) then it will be even worse. There is nothing more inconvenient than having back pains while trying to shoot, etc. Also, make sure you wear socks designed for hiking. You don't want to deal with blisters either.
     
  20. fingel

    fingel Member

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    I have a really ugly green Lowepro Minitrekker backpack (size of a normal backpack kids take to school) with a Hasselblad, 2backs, bunch of filters, 160mm, 80mm, plus film, plus a Leica M4, 50mm, 35mm, 90mm, cable release, light meter all crammed into it. That is my small travel kit. :smile:

    If I really want to go light with medium format, I'll grab my Zeiss Ikonta 6x6 folder and a few rolls of film in my pocket.
     
  21. David Ruby

    David Ruby Member

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    I second the ultrapod idea. I took one on my last trip to Europe and it was amazing. I used it in all sorts of places where "No Tripod" signs were out and didn't get a look at all. They are small and don't cause the problems that a full size tripod does.

    One thing I didn't bring which I would recommend, is a shutter release. I had to use my timer, which often took much longer than it should have resulting in a few ruined shots from people wandering into the frame.
     
  22. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Good point Ara. Although I work hard in the a/c field, I still have a bad back that I have to watch. This is just the result of age which is now 52. So, I'll definetly have to work out again and get in better shape.

    I have a LowePro Classic backpack, but it's just a little too big for what I want to take. I'll probably wind up with either a regular backpack and some inserts or a smaller Trekker.
     
  23. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    check out the Tamrac day pack, 752. It is what I use, and it has plenty of room, plus straps for a tripod.
     
  24. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    Wayne, Good choice on bringing the 'blad. I have a century graphic for my MF 'travel' camera, because the lenses are cheap and interchangeable with my 4x5. I carry 2 backs, one for color and one for B&W. (I just got an Rb and I like how the backs fit my century)

    Anyway, 'blads dont focus close like our RB's do, so make sure to bring either an extention tube or a +1 filter. I would also reccomend a monopod.

    Oh, I dont know where you stand on film, but I've been into fast color film lately. Take a roll of fuji 800 NPZ and try it for street shots.
     
  25. Jeffrey A. Steinberg

    Jeffrey A. Steinberg Member

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    This is simple (in my eyes).

    Mamiya 7, 50mm lens and 80mm lens. 43 is too wide. With this lens and camera, you can do it all.

    I especially like setting the 50mm lens to hyperfocal distance. With that angle of view, pretty much everything from about 8 feet out (I can't remember exactly the measurement) to infinity is in focus.

    Great for street photgraphy. Also great for hiking. Hiked all over Israel twice with this camera and got back great negs that can be blown up really big.
     
  26. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    I used to do a lot of international travel in conjunction with the job I had then, and carried a Hassy kit similar to Jorge's - 50, 80, 110 (for macro) and 180, two A12s (color in one, B&W in the other), and assorted filters. It made for a heavy, but very versatile kit.

    A reasonable tripod, or at minimum a monopod is good, but I've also found a chainopod to be handy in places that dislike tripods. You just drop the chain, step on it, and pull up gently for stability. Not as good as a monopod, but it hides in a pocket.