Travel: Deciding what photographic gear to pack
When travelling it is always difficult to decide what photographic gear to pack. The more cameras you own, the worse the decision making process. There is a strong tendency to take everything, just in case, but this is seldom feasible.
I am now about to leave London for the annual summer break in Greece: Lots of sun, lots of dust and the inevitable winds of the Cyclades. As always, I agonise over what cameras and lenses to pack. Many of my friends face the same dilemma whenever travel beckons; there is a fear of leaving something behind that might just be needed.
Only George James, among my photographer friends, has an enviable clarity of thought and a dedicated focus on Leica. For him it is a choice between his M9 and the Monochrome. But even that can be difficult, not to mention the dilemma over which lens or lenses to add to the mix. Nevertheless, I admire his sense of purpose and relative immunity from Gear Acquisition Syndrome.
Back to the packing list in hand. As a good all-purpose carry-round street camera it has to be the Leica X Vario. The 28-70mm Vario-Elmar is a great lens, equal to primes at all focal lengths, and the camera will give me the versatility I need in addition to the discipline of the one-camera-one-lens M. If I owned a Leica T it would have been an even better choice because it would have given me the opportunity to add a T prime or use the odd M prime. For this reason I needed something more than the XV.
For full-frame goodness and low-light performance I was torn between the Leica M and the Sony A7r. Both are capable of amazing results with the right lenses. I toyed with taking the Sony and a stable of Leica M optics, possibly adding the only EF-mount lens I possess, the 35mm f/2.8. I even considered packing the 28-70mm Vario-Elmar-R to add a bit of flexibility to the package. But it was all looking a bit weighty and would perhaps present too many choices on a day-to-day basis. I am influenced by the weight because all this gear has to go into hand luggage alongside a rather hefty 15-in MacBook Pro Retina.
In the end I settled on a really pure solution: The Leica M and just one lens. George will be proud of me. This single optic has to be the 50mm Summilux for its all-round capabilities, including love of low-light evening work. The advantage of this purity is that I will not be tempted to change lenses in dusty conditions and I will be able to focus on getting the best out of just one focal length, always A Good Thing. Last summer, I remember, I took just the Leica Monochrome and a couple of lenses, including the 75mm Apo Summicron which proved its worth as a general street lens, contrary to received wisdom. Since I had no choice once I got to my destination I was content and I got some good shots.
Finally, in the interests of research, I decided to throw in the new kid on the block, the little Canon EOS M. From what I have already experienced of the 22mm (35mm equivalent) f/2 prime, the Canon can give the Fuji X100S a run for its money in the streettog stakes. And the 29-88mm-equivalent zoom is an adequate if not stellar performer for general work. It will be interesting to see how it stacks up against the known excellence of the X Vario’s lens. The Canon will be something to stick in the pocket when I don't want to carry a bag.
So, against all odds, it seems I have made a decision, despite opting for two more cameras than I really need.It's not quite one-camera-one-lens, but it give me something to do. I had better get all the gear packed away before I change my mind. All rights to change reserved, of course.