March 25th, 2012, 06:46 PM
An open monologue, a rant, and a question
This is my camera. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
Chicago -> Dusseldorf -> Paris -> Nice -> Florence -> Tunis -> Marrakech
That's my itinerary from mid June to mid August. It's a much needed solo backpacking trip, a great break from the 9-5, and chance to reflect.
A chance to wake up every morning and live like a local. You'd think with two months I could do more, but no tourist attractions for me, I'm here for the city and the people.
I want routine in a foreign city. Be a regular at the local bar. And most importantly, be completely invisible.
Just a backpack. A decision and an effort any minimalist would gush over the very idea. Just clothes, dop bag, a journal, my Kindle, and a camera.
Choosing the right camera for a trip like this is to me just as important to taking the trip all together. If it's one thing I've learned we photographers all share, is a frame of mind. It's a way of looking at the world through small and wide aperture blades. I want something thoughtful, simple, and something that can give me creative freedom.
My first instinct is to bring two cameras: my Nikon D80, complete with a fast prime, wide angle zoom, and maybe the additional purchase of a telephoto. Then, I'd invest in a quality serious compact (pun intended) like a Canon S100 or Ricoh GRD.
However, the idea of bringing a big DSLR body and lenses, ruins my minimalist vibe, man. Less is more. I want to be free. Plus, pulling out a big lens pointing at someone's face isn't the easiest thing to pull off when you're trying to act like a local.
I don't want to invest in a new smaller interchangeable lens system, not at the expense of getting a smaller sensor than my DSLR, with even lower low-light capabilities. Sure, I could get adapters, but frankly, I've grown to appreciate auto-focusing lenses.
I've definitely looked at the Sony NEX system...slimmer than most micro 4/3rds, but dramatically more expensive... a cost that puts me nearer to the Fujifilm X100... which let's me honest, is a killer camera, no matter what you currently shoot.
Then there's the new Canon G1X and the other similar bridge cameras. Jury's out on those.
So my question to the forum is how have some recent members dealt with traveling light for long 2+ month escapes? What did you bring?
Has anyone left the DSLR at home and gone full monty with the X100? What about the X10? Alternatives? Did you bring a smaller compact?
Lets keep things under $1200 if you've got other recommendations.
March 25th, 2012, 07:21 PM
I love the x100 and have taken a couple of short trips with it, but nothing like you're about to embark on! I'm so jealous! For myself, I do miss having different focal lengths, but that's just me. For a trip like you're about to take something like the x10 sounds like a pretty good choice. What a great adventure you're about to take! Good luck!
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March 25th, 2012, 07:33 PM
If I were contemplating such a trip and wanted flexibility, decent photo quality, and light weight, I would pack my X10 and GRD III - the same gear I take along on mundane business trips today. Or, as an alternative, I might opt for the X100 and the Canon S90/95/100. Each pairing has one fixed focal length and one zoom - hedging bets against not being able to do it all with one FL. Good luck on your journey!
March 25th, 2012, 07:36 PM
I did a three week trip with the X100 as my primary camera. Light, easy to carry all day long (in a small shoulder bag for me) - on paper it was ideal and in practice it mostly lived up to that ideal, save for two issues.
1) I discovered that being limited to one field of view wasn't ideal, for me. I'd have preferred slightly wider if limited to one lens (I like 28mm), but for three weeks on the road my real preference is to have at least one another perspective available - normal or short tele. This was a minor problem in the grand scheme of things... you just shoot what you have.
2) My camera failed during the trip with the sticky aperture blade issue. Big time bummer. This was a very significant issue.
Had I been more aware of the potential of the SAB problem, I would have brought a small film camera as a last resort backup, my minuscule Rollei 35 TE. I'd actually prefer that to using a small digital DSLR which is what I had on hand for a fall back, fully expecting never to use it once (we were not travelling light on this trip). Today... I think I might choose a GRD as both a backup and useful second camera, but definitely would take a film Rollei compact over a DSLR, travelling light or not.
In your shoes I would not take the GXR and a bag of lenses because I don't think you could achieve as much with your 1200$ budget while also including a backup. In my shoes I'm happy taking a GXR and two lenses if travelling "light" but the GXR and two lenses and M mount still adds up to about 1,000 grams give or take.
My story won't help you with gear selection. I share just to urge anyone to bring along as small a backup as possible that you can be happy with relying upon as your *only* camera if something goes completely wrong (broke, stolen, whatever) with your intended primary camera.
Some of us bought into "serious compacts" no doubt as backups for other systems we use; to me it feels a little funny now contemplating a small backup for a compact used as a primary camera. A DSLR used to be the small backup for my medium format gear. A GRD makes a nice backup for a GXR shooter. I guess an iPhone could be a backup for a GRD. What backs up a James Bond watch-cam?
Last edited by adanac; March 26th, 2012 at 12:15 AM.
Mike | Vancouver BC
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March 25th, 2012, 07:41 PM
I'd go with the S100 or a G12 (more external controls and both offer lots of focal lengths) and some extra batteries.
March 25th, 2012, 07:46 PM
any serious compact should be fine....I also wouldn't rule out a superzoom if you like telephoto stuff. The Fuji X-S1 would be cool...one camera and EVERY focal length covered. But I think the X10 would cover most of it.
March 25th, 2012, 07:52 PM
Haven't had the opportunity for such an escape lately, but I "live" with the X100 and find it very well suited for urban settings like you've mentioned: Wide enough to capture urban scenery and skylines, discreet enough to let you photograph "locals" without looking like a tourist.
Many other good options, obviously.
(I don't think you should be too worried about a backup camera, even the smallest places you mentioned (Nice & Florence) stock any camera you might want if the need arise).
Last edited by Julien; March 25th, 2012 at 07:57 PM.
March 25th, 2012, 07:56 PM
That's some great advice.
I have a Nikon N65 I could bring as a film backup (why don't they make full frame DSLRs that small and simple?)
I share your appreciation for film - while planning for the trip I was trying to seriously contemplate whether or not to bring my Mamiya 645 Pro TL - that's obviously not an option now ;)
Just out of curiosity, what was your GXR kit?
And did you travel with both your GXR and X100?
March 25th, 2012, 08:00 PM
That's an option I did not consider. Thanks for the tip. I think I'd prefer the X100/S90 combo.
March 25th, 2012, 08:40 PM
On a three week trip to Costa Rica last summer (with a group so not traveling so light) I took the X100, the GXR and a Nikon D7000. When all was said and done I had taken 90% or more of my pictures with the X100. I could have left the other two at home and not missed them. I found a belt pouch that fit the X100 perfectly, and had it on all the time. I used it for videos, pans, HDR, & close-ups as well as straight photography. Hard to beat it for the price.
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