Searching for the perfect 'travel camera' - the ongoing mission...
For the last few years, I've been squandering all my money/annual leave, trying to escape the Australian winter, by going on travels - and every year I try to determine the best 'travel camera' (as well as dragging around a 5x4" field camera - 'cos I'm a masochist).
My criteria are:
1. As large a negative as I can get without breaking my back = medium format
2. Something manual but quick to focus & easy framing
3. Something 'cool', because I actually enjoy random conversations with other equipment enthusiasts (and people mystified about the equipment) on travels
4. Quality - there is nothing like the delight of a super-sharp negative, but also you don't want to fret about finding a repair place in unfamiliar territory.
5. Fixed lens - let your feet do the zooming + one less thing to think of compositionally.
6. As few accessories as I can not regret bringing.
So far I have tried:
1. Miniature Speed Graphic - great 6x9cm negatives, but heavy, cumbersome and certainly not quick to focus or frame. Lots of fun to carry around though.
2. Rolleiflex MX circa 1954 - great 6x6cm negatives, but often slow to focus in crappy light - nice quiet/covert shutter, can use as a periscope, gets lots of attention.
3. Fuji GA645zi - surprisingly less impressive 6x4.5cm negs (other may disagree), and clunky autofocus system. Very quick though - which often means you can get a picture you would entirely miss with any other medium format camera...
4. Fuji GW680III - astonishingly sharp 6x8cm negatives, easy/quick to focus, large viewfinder, LOUD shutter, and big without being heavy.
Both the Fuji's have modern medium format film loading systems (the little red buttons to pop out the reels, etc), and so loading on the go is quicker.
I know I suffer from 'the last thing I've done is the best thing' from time to time - but I think I'm slighty enraptured by the giant Fuji rangefinder - it was very easy to carry around and quickly frame and shoot stuff - perhaps moreso than any of the others. It's also a 'comfortable' camera to carry around on travels, which is important. I have processed 21 of 100 or so rolls (mostly Neopan, a bit of Tri-X) I put through it so far, and the number of shots-I-wouldn't-mind-printing is very high compared to previous years.
Interesting, n'est ce pas? What are your travel-camera experiences, esp. in medium format?
I've been very happy with my Fuji GS645S. Simple meter and fully manual lens. The lens seems plenty sharp for the 16x20" enlargements I make. Although if I'm not walking very far I prefer my Mamiya C220 with metered prism just for the image quality and great bokeh of the 80mm blue dot lens.
Marc I think you have enough cameras to satisfy any traveller's fetish insofar as size matters. No idea if you cart all that stuff around but my personal choice is 6x7 for travel. Once all packed it carry-on size.
You have not mentioned the Wista; I would have thought that would be the very best of the choices, even if it is fiddly and slow.
A Blad with 80mm lens is an excellent travel camera. The lens is not fixed, but it is small and you can pretend it is fixed.
So uh.....folding cameras perhaps? How bout a whopping 6x9 neg from a Color-Skopar or Heliar lens (Bessa II and III). Or maybe a Zeiss Super Ikonta? Maybe a TLR? I hear Rolleiflexes are quite nice...
Just some thoughts.
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I would agree with Ian. A 'blad with an 80mm lens doesn't take up too much space.
No brainer - Plaubel Makina 67, 670 or 67W
I've been down the path you're on. Rolleiflex is very nice. Blad with 80 is ok. Speaking strictly travel, Perkeo II is better than either if you're ok with low contrast and resolution and old style shooting. But the PM 67 family simply does it all in the right size package. Funnily enough, I also take my 4x5, because I too am a masochist.
"There is a time and place for all things, the difficulty is to use them only in their proper time and places." -- Robert Henri
Try a Voigtlander Bessa III.... gets you 6x7 and 6x 6 negs and great Fujinon lens and it is pretty small...check it out at Camera Quest... oh, and it ain't cheap...
I played with the Bessa II and the Heliar....some of the best negs I have ever had. Period. And it fit in my breast pocket!
Probably a blad with a 80mm or the Bessa/Fuji Rangefinder.
However, I think the blad may be more versatile down the road if you intend to do different things with it.