Another travel kit thread

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by Lawrence A., Dec 1, 2015.

  1. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. SC All-Pro

    Nov 8, 2012
    New Mexico
    Real Name:
    There are any number of discussions about what kit to travel with and the decision is as personal as choosing any other equipment. I'm traveling to Laos at the end of the week until December 23rd, and have fussed for weeks about what cameras would be the best to take. There is no perfect solution, at least on a travel budget that forbids further expenditures on equipment.

    My current cameras to choose from are: EM-5, X-Pro 1, Leica X-1 and Olympus Stylus 1. My goal is to carry as capable a kit as possible while still traveling light. My first trip to Laos I brought a huge photo back pack with just about everything I owned. It proved to be a very capable pain in the butt, and I've become even less tolerant of travel over-kill in the 4 years since. In an ideal world, I'd love to take my Hasselblad and lenses and packs of 120 black and white film, but I know I'd be tired of it by the time I got through security in Älbuquerque and L.A., long before I arrived at my destination. Last year I left home with the E-M5 and the 14-42EZ along with the Olympus 45mm, and that's it. I got some good shots, and have no IQ complaints about the pancake, but it is slower than I want to use this time, as I know I'll be shooting a Hmong New Year carnival at night.

    So... wanting, small, capable,fast (in both senses of the word), and light, I settled upon the following: The Stylus 1 for telephoto reach and real wide angle. I'll be watching some New Year bull fights (not as lethal as the Spanish variety, not even when you can interest the bulls in engaging each other, which can be a trick), so I wanted the reach. The Stylus 1 will also do duty for anything wider than a 35mm equivalent. It will sit on my hip in a small belt case, so easy to carry. It focuses quickly and does a good job within the range of the expected compromises.

    I imagine 90% of my shooting will be done with the E-M5 and either the Olympus 25mm or the 45mm, and the Leica X-1. A classic 35, 50, and 90 kit of primes, with, granted, a slow focusing 35mm in the Leica. Some would prefer 28mm, but I love shooting the X1; it just feels right. Together those items fit in a very small shoulder bag. I decided three primes would be great to have, and that the Leica X1 is so small and light, it would be perfect for the slighly wide shots. It slips into about 1 1/2 inches of the case, with it's accessory viewfinder on. I chose it in part because I've found I don't enjoy changing lenses when I'm traveling. As it is, the only lens change I'm likely to make is to throw on the 45m for some portraits I know I want to take. Otherwise, it's a matter of grabbing the body that fits the shot. I've done some practice runs locally with the kit, and have found I like how it works. It's not fiddly; it's not fussy. Choose focal length and camera at the same time; the rest is taking the shot.

    I've thought for some time that I'd enjoy shooting with a bunch of small, fixed lense cameras where I'd choose the body and focal length at the same time and be done with changing lenses except for the very long and very wide end. It may be the solution I'll be looking for in the coming year. Meantime, this gets as close as I can to it with what I have at hand.

    Small as the entire kit is, it is unlikely I'll have all of it with me all the time. I've been pleasantly surprised with the image quality from the Stylus 1, especially shooting raw as I do, and it will likely be my "don't leave the room without it" camera. It or the X-1 have been my camera on my hip, don't leave home without it choices for some time now.

    The X-Pro 1, alas, will stay at home. I love shooting with it, and the 35mm lens is simply lovely, but the E-M5 remains the most versatile tool I have; the in body IS is a godsend in dark Buddhist temples, and the auto focus will nail a shot of running, bouncing, bumper car driving children at the Hmong carnival.

    Interested, as always in how others like to travel. I've discovered my needs are as physical as they are photographic. I need something it doesn't annoy me to carry, and I suppose that getting old and grouchy, I'm more easily annoyed than I was years ago, when hiking for miles with a monorail 4x5 and 30 loaded film holders was a positive delight.
  2. ajramirez

    ajramirez SC All-Pro

    Jul 9, 2010
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    Real Name:
    Last real trip I went on (a week in Paris) I shot with a Leica M9P and three lenses: 24mm, 35mm, and 50mm. I also brought a 90mm but not once did it leave the hotel room. Camera around the neck with a strap, and one lens in each coat pocket. Not worrying about a camera bag was extremely liberating, and not once did I yearn for any of the other kit I left at home.
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  3. donlaw

    donlaw SC All-Pro

    Sep 14, 2012
    Real Name:
    I have been doing a lot of traveling this year (work). But usually find some photo time. Mostly take the EM-1 with the Olympus 12, 75, and either the 25 or 45. Was tempted to pick up one of the 12-40 zooms, but just can't get passed how much I like the prime lenses.
    If I know there will be little time to actually think about photos, then I just carry the Nikon Coolpix A.
    I really wanted to take my Nikon Df, but with packing everything I need for a week long trip, it just seems too bulky.
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  4. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Real Name:
    Bill Palmer
    One point, oft overlooked, when considering packing different cameras for travel is battery cross-compatibility and charging. Here Fuji scores highly for me; I can pack any two of the ILC bodies - X-Pro + XM1, for example, or X-Pro & X-T -and a single charger. There are advantages to the trend for in-camera charging, too. This facility exists on two of my cameras, the X100T and Ricoh GR and again means no need to pack a charger. The X100 and Ricoh GXR share the same battery, so that's goodness too - one charger, two different bodies.
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  5. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    Jun 10, 2013
    During our last trip to Australia, I used the 35mm FFeq 80% of the time, the 300mm 15% of the time and 20mm and 58mm 5% of the time. So I thought about bringing just one camera one lens set with me next time. In a way, it is liberating to be forced to look at the world with one focal length.

    But in the end I would probably also say "what if I see this..." and take either more lenses or more camera with me. ;-) Hopefully I will be able to stick to 2 cameras with 2 different focal lengths.

    To me an ideal set would consist of 24mm, 35mm, 50/60mm and 300mm.
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  6. mattia

    mattia SC Regular

    Dec 20, 2013
    Really depends on the kind of trip for me - when I headed 'down under' for two months, I took an E-M1, the )12-40, the 50-200 SWD for telephoto, and the A7r, FE 16-35 and FE 55 for all the land-based shooting. Plus an RX100 and scuba housing because, well, great barrier reef. If I had to do it again, I would leave the 12-40 at home, but still take the rest, because it was the kind of trip that offered a really broad range of subjects. If I go on a city trip, I'm usually fine just taking an ultra wide zoom and a 35 or 50-ish fast prime; for people and places that's more than adequate, but I do enjoy a bit of wildlife shooting when the opportunity presents itself.
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  7. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    Real Name:
    you should be able to figure it out...

    If you took the DF with a small 24 f2.8 (AIS, AF-D, whatever), a small 50 f1.4 or 1.8, and something like an old 75-150 f3.5, you'd be surprised how small that kit can be. I can get all that plus a Voigtlander 20mm in an Ona Bowery, which is a SMALL bag... Nothing wrong with an m43 kit, but if you WANT to take your DF, you can still travel real light if you're OK with MF at the longer end...

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  8. Tillman Bennett

    Tillman Bennett SC Rookie

    Jul 15, 2015
    Real Name:
    Tillman Bennett
    I used to carry a backpack style camera bag with lenses (wide angle, standard prime, macro), a flash, a big telephoto, etc. This is fun if you're either by yourself or with another photographer. Rarely am I alone and often I am not with another photographer, so I do not typically take the time to mess with intricate set ups and multiple takes, and I very rarely use my tripod when I'm traveling. Having four kids, two of those being toddlers, my wife and I often have at least a backpack with spare outfits, diapers, snacks, etc. when we are out on a trip for the day, so over the years I've whittled my kit down quite a bit through convenience and necessity.

    With all that being said, I travel about as light as I can get away with. I have a Samsung NX300 with the 30mm f2 attached 95% of the time. This camera is amazing, and with the 30mm pancake lens attached it fits in my pocket (I usually wear cargo shorts/pants) without a lot of bulk. If I'm going to be indoors I might grab my Samyang 12mm f2 which is also fairly compact.

    I used to try and have a kit that had the right photographic tool for every situation I could possibly imagine. I missed more fun shots (spontaneous things happening, kids goofing around, etc) because I was digging around for the perfect lens/camera/accessory and then the moment would be lost. I think for me the most important thing is a good fast prime in a field of view that is equal to about 40-55mm in full frame. Sure, you may not get every shot you want, but you will get a lot of them or find another to re-position to make whatever you've got work. I think of my Grandfathers as well as my Father, all of which were interested in photography and did more than simple snapshots with brownie cameras. They used high quality equipment (I still shoot with my Grandpa's Kodak Retina IIIc which I inherited) but rarely carried multiple lenses, and have a library of examples that show this did not hinder their abilities.

    So in a very long winded way, I think you should carry a camera you enjoy using, get a couple nice fast primes for it, and go take the pictures you can with what you have with you and not worry about having something for every situation under the sun. Have fun, take pictures of it.
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  9. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. SC All-Pro

    Nov 8, 2012
    New Mexico
    Real Name:
    After finally getting to Phonsavan about an hour ago, but having passed a day in Vientiane, I'm using the Stylus 1 and the Leica 1 one for the most part so far. I neglected to download my Adobe subscription to the small Surface Pro 1 I'm traveling with, so unless I can remember my name and password I'm going to have trouble editing photos to post. But I'll try once I'm settled in and can stop living out of a suitcase for a 9 or 10 days.
  10. rbelyell

    rbelyell SC Top Veteran

    May 14, 2013
    NY Mtns
    personally, i dont like changing lenses in 'the field'. i find i miss too many opportunities that demand quick action. so typically i take either my x100 or rd1+leica 21 for wide shots and whatever interchangeable lens digital i'm using at the time + either my leica 50 or 75 for close up/portrait shots. both fit easily in my ona bowery. if im going to be in a messy physical environment i am loathe to bring any interchangeable lens camera (though this may now change as i just procured an xt1), so in those environs i take a single cam, either the x100 or the x10.