Travelling with a rf

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by redmike, Sep 11, 2008.

  1. redmike

    redmike Member

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    I am soon to go travelling around the world and don't want the hassle, or the unwanted attention of a bulky dslr kit. I want to take landscapes and documentary type pictures. I need the resulting images to be of sufficient quality to use professionally if they are good enough i.e. image libraries, magazines etc. I am seriously considering selling up my digital kit and taking the following:

    Voigtlander bessa r4m with 50mm lens
    Lee Filter Kit rf45
    Light Tripod
    Bulk 35mm film loader
    Lots of film

    I plan to develop and scan the film at various convenient stages in my trip.

    Any comments would be much appreciated
     
  2. Richard Wasserman

    Richard Wasserman Member

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    The only thing I feel qualified to comment on is that I think you might feel limited by only having one lens. I would consider something wider and perhaps a longer lens also. My do everything 35mm rangefinder kit is 21mm, 35mm, and 75mm.

    Richard Wasserman
     
  3. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Why the R4M if you're taking only a 50mm lens? Are you planning on acquiring other lenses along the way or later?

    The R4 models have a 0.52 magnification finder, so everything looks about 1/2 life size, and the effective rangefinder baseline is smaller and therefore less accurate. If you're planning on shooting with a lot of wide angle lenses in the future with shorter than 35mm focal length, go for the R4M. If you want to use 40mm and longer lenses, or the 50mm primarily, then go for the R3M. It has a 1:1 finder (1.00 magnification), which is great for fast shooting and has a longer effective baseline than the R2M or R4M for more accurate focusing.

    It's hard to describe how different it is to work with a 1:1 viewfinder. You can keep both eyes open and see the "whole world" you normally see, but with the framelines and focusing patch floating in front of you. This allows you to see what's happening outside the frame and predict when things will enter or exit the frame, and allows you to see alternative framings quickly. Working this way really has to be experienced to appreciate its advantages. The larger magnification also makes it easier to find compositional edges.

    My suggestion would be:

    50mm only (or 40mm and longer lenses) get the R3M
    35mm and longer lenses, get the R2M
    wider than 35mm for primary or majority use, get the R4M

    It's a matter of personal taste and preferences, but you might want to consider the 40mm Nokton as your normal rather than the 50mm. It can look wider and still feel almost as tight as a 50mm when you need it. I carried a rangefinder with a 40mm and 90mm almost 30 years ago for much of my travel in Europe. The 40mm was a great compromise as a single lens, and I rarely used the 90mm. Like Richard, I'd take a 75mm along instead of the 90mm these days. The 75mm Heliar is a very fine lens, and the 40mm and 75mm with the R3M/A make a great kit. (But again, like Richard, I'd throw in the tiny C/V 21mm f:4.)

    Lee
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2008
  4. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    If you've worked with a rangefinder before, ignore the following!

    However, if you haven't I would suggest allowing some time to get used to it. There's a learning curve for the focusing system, as it's quite fast but certainly a different beast than your (I'm assuming) dSLR. Really, the same advice goes for any change of kit. Give yourself some time to make it feel like an extension of you. That's when the good pictures start flowing. It sounds like a big trip you could get a lot of wonderful photos from.
     
  5. redmike

    redmike Member

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    Superb advice, Im going to need some time to do a little research. I had originally considered the r4m because its totally manual and i could use the wide angle frame lines for landscape work. Ive heard good things about the bessas and the fact you can get some very nice lenses for the range has swung me. Not that I can really afford it but a leica would draw a little too much attention and I dont want to be looking over my shoulder the whole trip. The bessa seem a much more discreet camera.

    But the advantage of a life size view is certainly appealing and would suit me very much I think. Its a pity these cameras are not widely available because I would like see and try the range for size before purchasing. If I was a little closer to Robert Whites Id go there but i live hundreds of miles away. I will probably end up buying based on recommendations.

    I will look into the 40mm nokton and will probably take an additional lens. If anyone has any more recommendations for lenses old or new I would be grateful to hear from them.
     
  6. frank

    frank Subscriber

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    , but again, focal length choice is a highly personal decisionHi. I envy your travel opportunity!
    As previously mentioned, your camera body choice and single lens choice don't match up well. The R4m's finder is meant to accommodate wide angle lenses as wide as 21mm. It is not the ideal or best choice for using only a 50mm lens. For a single travel lens, most folks would find a 50mm lens a bit confining, but that is purely a personal choice. A single lens choice that I'd make is the CV40f1.4. It has the advantage of being fast as well as being affordable compared to Leica and Zeiss alternatives at that speed.
    What really confuses me is that you say you want to travel light, but you're taking along a bulk film loader?

    edit: Just read your post. For 2 lenses, a 28 or 35mm makes a good companion to a 50mm lens for travel, but again, lens focal length choice is a highly personal decision.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2008
  7. redmike

    redmike Member

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    just thought a bulk loader would take up less space and be a more economical option than lots of seperate films
     
  8. redmike

    redmike Member

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    Just out of interest Chris can I ask what kit you use for your documentary work. Absolutely top class work by the way.
     
  9. TheDreadPirateRobins

    TheDreadPirateRobins Member

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    Wow, I just checked out some pics and info of this camera and this looks like a nice setup. If I take my big round-the-world trip some day I may have to get something like that, only don't tell my Spotmatic because it might get jealous.

    I don't think you have much to worry about taking just one lens. I have gone whole years shooting basically just with my 50mm lens. I find that I tend to look for better shots and enjoy my trip more than I might otherwise, where I would be obsessing about what lens to take with me on which day trip and would spend a lot of time changing them.
     
  10. elekm

    elekm Member

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    My basic RF kit is 35, 50 and 135.

    If the camera needs batteries, be sure to have two extra sets with you. They aren't that expensive, and if you never use them, so what. But if your batteries die, then you'll be very disappointed.

    If you can afford it, pick up a wide-angle lens. It will be a nice addition.

    I think that you're on the right track with your thinking. Travel light, and you won't be weighed down by your gear.
     
  11. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    The OP seems to be concentrating on the M versions of these cameras. They have mechanical shutters and only need the batteries for TTL metering, so as long as he can get close enough on the exposure with his brain or an external light meter, his cameras will be ready to go.

    I'd have an R3M myself if they'd introduced it with the original R3A, but I can't complain. The batteries in the C/V Bessas are easy to find, and are also used in my SLRs, so I order some of the best over the internet in quantity at a huge discount over local stores, and always have spares in all my camera bags.

    Lee
     
  12. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    This above line is the sticker for me.

    If I had a nickel for every pro travel kit that I've read about that eclipse your intended kit by a factor of 5 I'd be a rich man. My feeling is that either you go with the intention of creating images as a pro and for sale or you go as a tourist with something smaller to remind you of the experience. Not everyone can take a trip like this, and if travel method (ship?) can provide you with a place to store stuff I'd personally be taking the kitchen sink along as well. If your backpacking it, that's another story.

    Personally if I was taking just one lens, and that would never happen, it would be a top of the line wide to medium telephoto in a 35mm slr system. Something in the 35mm to 120mm FL range or thereabouts. I prefer a wide and a short telephoto lens, you may like normals lenses and longs, who knows, your pick. A body or system choice is the big one. Pro's take bodies and multiple lenses, travelers take a camera. For such a trip I'd have to consider a MF camera although I don't like them. A compromise would be the rangefinder for the documentary work if about the people and a MF camera with a wide (and maybe a medium) for the landscapes. Landscapes are broad subjects and you need to pull detail which a MF camera will give you. It's a hard choice really and much depends on the travel arrangements. Thinking about it for a second, and for a one camera kit, probably a Pentax 645 NII and 3 lenses. The internal metering would do it for me and the lenses top rate. On trips I either go to shoot or go to travel. The choice dictates the kit for me. Luck with your choice.
     
  13. Paul.A

    Paul.A Member

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    I spent a wonderful time in China last year shooting editorial and stock images with my Bessa R2, the 35 mm Color Skopar and the 75 mm Color Heliar. I packed a few filters and loads of film and I was set to go. I like to travel light and walking around Beijing with a spare lens and a couple of rolls of film in my pockets is my definition of light. I did contemplate taking the Pentax 645 and a couple of lenses but it did n't fit with what I ultimately wanted to do.
     
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  15. frank

    frank Subscriber

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    Just for giggles, here's a pic of the gear that I took with me on a 4 week family vacation to England and France (from Canada) this past summer: [​IMG]
    Here's one of the pics I took with the 6x7 camera. It will make a great 16x20 if I choose to do that. [​IMG]

    Now, I was not backpacking. I always had a home base (hotel, apartment, car) to leave gear that I did not feel like carrying on any day. Having said that, I actually did carry around all this gear on almost every day. (It was a big commitment but I'm very committed to photography.)
     
  16. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    If you've not already bought the gear, give some though to a MF rangefinder, such as Mamiya 6/7 or Pentax.

    6x7 is a lot of negative to work with; and these cameras' lenses are first rate.
     
  17. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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  18. redmike

    redmike Member

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    Its been great to read everyone's comments, thanks for the interest. To answer a few queries, I will be taking a manual camera as intend to go a bit off the beaten track in places and dont want to worry about the batteries dying on me. I do have an old pentax digital spotmeter which I am considering taking to help me with the metering for landscapes, it has a belt holster and is quite lightweight. Having given it some thought I will be opting for the wider 40mm instead of the 50mm i originally intended taking and will probably go for a 75mm as well depending on how much Ive got left in the kitty.

    One more question I would ask you learned fellows is whether you would trust your developing to labs or would you wait and develop the film yourself? I'm not thrilled about the idea of carrying chemicals but if I must so be it. If it makes any difference I will be shooting soley b+w.
     
  19. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    One more question I would ask you learned fellows is whether you would trust your developing to labs or would you wait and develop the film yourself? I'm not thrilled about the idea of carrying chemicals but if I must so be it. If it makes any difference I will be shooting soley b+w.[/QUOTE]

    Depends on countries you will visiting, how long will be staying at each location, and where you will staying, hotel, hostel, other accomdations, and your budget. Most large 1st and 2nd world cities will have good local labs, you may want to shot 35mm B@W C 41 and have the negatives developed at a mimi lab then either scan or print once you are back home. Developing on the road is doable, you need to tank large enough for the number of rolls you plan to shoot in a day, a changing bag, in some cities distilled water, and a supply of chemicals. I use to carry Dinafine and standard fixer in the quart sizes, a small bottles of photoflow. Buy glass quart beer bottles, (cheap- easy to clean and of course you need make sure the beer does not go to wast) to store the developer and fixer, use at any temp, shoot TriX at 1600, no stop bath. Dump it before I move on along and toss the bottles, meaning more beer. I have not seen Dinafine in quart sizes in a few years, but it does show up on ebay.
     
  20. KenR

    KenR Member

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    Bessa R4

    I echo the prior comments about the Bessa R4. To me, it seems to be a camera made for the 28mm lens. This lens seems to match perfectly to the viewfinder on the R4. The ability to also use the 21mm on one end of the spectrum and the 50mm on the other, make this an ideal travel camera. That said, the focus accuracy of the rangefinder and the 50mm lens seems to be off, likely because of the viewfinder magnification and the wide open apertures that I often find myself using with this lens (generally for available light portraits). Have a great trip.
     
  21. Chaplain Jeff

    Chaplain Jeff Member

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  22. Chaplain Jeff

    Chaplain Jeff Member

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    When in third world countries like Afghanistan and even not-so-third world countries like Egypt and Kuwait, I have mailed film back home through Fed Ex or one of the other major shippers. I mark the box FILM and have never had an issue with X-rays or the film getting home before I did.

    I HAVE had issues in the US with high doses of radiation, even inside the airports while hand carrying film (not in luggage). The worst airport was Houston-X, where they refused to hand inspect my film, even when I showed them TSA regulations stating that they must.

    Good luck and let us know what you do.

    Jeff M
     
  23. Paul.A

    Paul.A Member

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    I shoot XP 2 and have it developed at mini labs as I travel. I was only once refused by a lab, in Kathmandu, they did not know what it was and the boss wasn't there to ask.
     
  24. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Since the OP is new to this stuff, it should be noted that the 40mm lens that came with the Leica CL is a 40mm f:2 Summicron-C, and labelled as such on the lens bezel. There have been 5 versions of the 50 Summicron optics, starting with 7 element designs and then changing to 6 element double Gauss designs in 1969 or so. The 40 Summicron-C is also a 6 element double Gauss design. Jeff's statement should be construed as his personal take on the lens' performance relative to his 50 Summicron, not to mean that the 40mm Summicron-C isn't labelled as such.

    The Minolta version of this lens is labelled M-Rokkor.

    Lee
     
  25. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    hi redmike

    it sounds like you have a nice trip planned.
    i spent 3 weeks overseas recently and took only a
    leica m3+50mm sumawhatefveritwascalled
    and a graflex slr. no one noticed the leica in the big / small
    cities that i was in and having one lens was nice and easy.
    i have gotten fond of just using one lens, be it on
    a big camera or small one, it is easy to get used to how it sees.
    i wouldn't bother bring your own chemicals either, especially these days
    when even in clearly marked packages the airports and others might
    be given the opportunity to give you a hard time. i wouldn't worry about
    xrays at the airport either, unless you are putting your film in the belly of the plane.
    i've been on trips where my film ( asa 25-800 ) was scanned/xrayed
    countless times without a problem. i read somewhere that "cosmic rays"
    from the airplane being at high alititudes probably will do "stuff" to your film
    more than airport xrays/scanners.

    if you have the $$ shipping your film home to a friend is a great choice too.

    good luck, and have a great! trip.

    john
     
  26. Chaplain Jeff

    Chaplain Jeff Member

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    That's true - and what I meant. :D

    Jeff M