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  1. #1

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    Travelling with a rf

    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. #2

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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. #3
    Lee L's Avatar
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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 Lee L; 09-11-2008 at 03:52 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  4. #4

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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.
    "Technology is a big destroyer of emotion and truth. Opportunity doesn't do anything for creativity. Yeah, it makes it easier and you can get home sooner, but it doesn't make you a more creative person. That's the disease you have to fight in any creative field.. ease of use." - Jack White

  5. #5

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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. #6
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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 frank; 09-11-2008 at 04:31 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    My blog / photo website: http://frankfoto.jimdo.com/

  7. #7

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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. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by f/stopblues View Post
    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.
    Just out of interest Chris can I ask what kit you use for your documentary work. Absolutely top class work by the way.

  9. #9
    TheDreadPirateRobins's Avatar
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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. #10

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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.

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