Post Reply 
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
Apr 17, 2011, 17:31 (This post was last modified: Apr 18, 2011 06:52 by paskelius.)
Post: #1
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
If you are not an unrepentant gear-head, you may want to stop reading this thread right now...

Still here? OK - let's go for it.

At Shuttertalk, we have a rich history of travel threads, where someone planning a vacation outlines what gear that he is planning to take, and we all discuss it ad infinitum. Who can forget threads like: Travelling through Asia & Europe, Packing for New York, Two Cameras, Five Lenses, Ten Days, and Quick Trip: New York?

As you all know, I am planning 2 major vacations this year. The first is a month in Italy with my wife, which begins shortly, followed later in the year by a 3 week exploration of Iceland, including a 4 day backpacking trip between Lanmannalaugar and Thorsmork. The trips are quite different, but hopefully, the planning that I have done gear-wise will suffice for both trips.

Camera and Lenses

My choice here is obvious. I will be taking my Leica M9 and 3 lenses:

1. Leica Summicron-M 50mm f/2: This is my standard prime that lives on my camera about 75% of the time. It is the sharpest lens that I have ever owned, and I have owned some lovely glass in my life. It has a slide out lens hood (which I love). If I have any qualms about this lens, it is that it can flare occasionally - particularly where the photo is underexposed and a bright light source lies just outside of the shot. The lesson learned here is "the lens has an internal hood - use it".

2. Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH: Another wonderful lens, sharp as a tack and the smallest M lens made by Leica. This photo was taken with the 28. It has a clip on lens hood that is so unobtrusive that I never take it off. Leaving it on all the time is easy because the lens comes with 2 separate lens caps - a normal one (if you hate hoods), and a separate rectangular one that fits the front of the hood.

3. Leica 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M: A murderously sharp and wonderful piece of glass with amazing contrast, zero artifacts / aberrations and once again my favorite feature - the slide-out lens hood. This lens was discontinued in 2008 - primarily to make room in the lineup for the Leica APO-Summicron-M f/2 ASPH which is one stop faster, 50% larger, and about twice the price of the Elmarit-M when it was new. Truth be told, I actually own both the Elmarit-M featured in this thread and also a Leica 90mm f/2.8 Leitz Tele-Elmarit ( manuf:1968) in mint condition that I picked up for a song on eBay. One of my 90s will be sold soon with little danger of losing any money. The Elmarit-M is sharper in both the corners and sides, but is significantly larger and costs twice as much. At the end of the day, they are both damn fine lenses. Anyway I digress...

Here's what they look like in their relaxed and fully erect states:

[Image: M9 and Lenses Final.jpg]

Flash??

I am of 2 minds about taking a flash. I tend to use it occasionally when I travel - mostly to take photos of hotel rooms before I mess them up. I would never carry one on the street or to a church / museum. I would be interested in the experiences of others about whether to take a flash or not. If I do take one, it will be my Nikon SB-800, which is compatible with the M9 in aperture and manual modes.

[Image: Leica M9 with Nikon SB-800 Flash.jpg]

Camera Bag

One of the beautiful things about the M9 and the lenses that I am taking is that they make a very trim package to carry on the street. I struggled for a long time with the decision about what bag I should carry and asked for a lot of advice. Matt sent me some exceptional detail on Billingham bags and my old friends at Kata offered me a wide variety of their newest bags to field test. At the end of it all, I went with something I already owned and modified it to taste.

My Italy/Iceland bag will be the Kata AP-321 which I reviewed at Shuttertalk in early 2010. I have modified it a bit with some extra padding and internal dividers that I swiped from my R-102 backpack and a third party shoulder strap. While researching a new suitcase, I came upon the Claw Shoulder Strap which turned out to be a perfect match for the AP-321. It looks great, and *never* slips.

[Image: Kata AP-321.jpg]

The dividers contain the 2 lenses that are not currently in action and cushion them from the M9 body and attached lens which slides nicely into the space between them. I have positioned the dividers to accept the M9 with the largest lens attached. All other combos work equally well.

[Image: Kata Inside.jpg]

In the side and top-flap pouches, I can store my iPhone, an extra lens cap, a few business cards, a clip-on mesh bag (for sunglasses) and a few odds and ends that I use for videos (more about this later).

Stabilization

To tripod or not to tripod? When I used to shoot Velvia back in the day, I never went anywhere without a full-size tripod. These days, I really only use a tripod for shooting around the house (i.e. the pictures for this thread). Having said that, I know that there are occasions when one is required such as night shooting and low-light interiors.

I determined early that I was not going to take a full-size tripod with me to Europe. I just can't see myself dragging one through the streets of Naples or across Iceland. I started to look for smaller alternatives.

One of them that I came up with is the Gorillapod SLR Zoom. This table-top sized tripod has the additional advantage of having grippy arms that allow it to be attached to a sign post or tree branch - or as in the example below - the back of a chair.

[Image: Gorillapod SLR Zoom.jpg]

Will I use it? I dunno but its not very big - even with my old Manfrotto 482 mini-ballhead attached to it. Italy will be the test of the Gorillapod's usefulness. If I never use it, it won't make the trip to Iceland.

The other trick that I have up my sleeve is the string monopod. These have been used by photographers since the 1900s as a cheap and cheerful way to gain back an extra stop or 2 in low light conditions. The idea is that you attach one end of a string to a fixed place (your foot or belt) and the other end to the tripod mounting screw of your camera. When you take a picture, you pull upwards on the string - the theory is that the upward tension gives you approximately the same amount of one dimensional stability that you would get from a monopod. In reality, its not quite as good as a monopod, but at least you can put the whole rig in your pocket and forget about it until needed.

The string monopod is modeled by some devilishly handsome rogue below:

[Image: String Monopod.jpg]

Whatever the value of a string monopod is to still photography, it is hugely valuable for video. It allows you to pan smoothly in any direction without jitter - just as long as you keep the string tight.

Video

So what about video? I have been teasing so far about the fact that I plan to do some video on these trips, but to be honest, I am not planning to carry a separate video rig. The iPhone 4 to the rescue. Since I have owned my i4, I have been frankly quite impressed by the quality of the videos it takes. 720p resolution with good auto-focus capabilities, and the option to manually focus via the touch screen. It isn't a full video rig by any means, but it is totally adequate for those snippets of life for which still photos don't do justice.

What are the drawbacks associated with using the iPhone 4 for video? Well, the sound sucks for one. Also, stabilization really is required. Unstabilized video from the iPhone looks pretty jittery. So how am I trying to solve these problems?

[Image: Mocie Accessories.jpg]

This funny little trio of doohickies is my iPhone movie studio. I am sure that you recognize my homemade string monopod from my earlier description. It works great for panning without jitters.

The little thing on the right is the Brando Workshops Directional Microphone which plugs-in to the iPhone's earplug jack and can be tilted in whatever direction is required. I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about a $17 external microphone, but it wasn't much of an investment, and to my great surprise, it works *really* well. They claim a 10 DB increase in gain over the regular iPhone microphone, and while I can't vouch for that, it does greatly increase the sound volume and quality when making video. Rather surprising for something that cheap and about the size of a thimble.

The third thing is the Glif manufactured by Studio Neat. Basically, it is just a mechanism for attaching an iPhone to a tripod. It works great and attaches securely to both the Gorillapod and the String Monopod. It can also be used as a stand for the iPhone and holds it upright in both landscape and portrait modes.

The photo below shows the full rig of "21st Century Toad Film Studios" in all of its professional glory.

[Image: iPhone Movie Studio.jpg]

OK, OK - so it doesn't look that professional, but at least, the whole thing fits in my pocket (other than the Gorillapod of course).

Computing Power

This one was never in doubt for me. My iPhone 4 is unlocked and a local SIM card will keep me in contact with my peeps at home. I also have the NAVMII Italy app to provide me GPS navigation throughout Italy. This app is full-function and cost me only $4.99. Do you remember when GPS navigation software costed hundreds? I sure do.

The other component is my eeePC 1002HA. It runs Windows XP, has a 10" screen, 160GB of disk space and an integral SD card slot. That will allow me to easily download my photos to the eeePC every night. I have installed LightRoom 2 on the eeePC, so I can browse my work and do light touchups on the fly. The whole unit is the size of a couple of magazines and best of all, it doesn't require its own suitcase.

[Image: EEEPC and iPhone 4.jpg]

Accessories

Who can forget the usual pile of power and communication junk that we carry with us to make the rest of our gear work right? I can't.

[Image: Accessories.jpg]

From top left - clockwise-order:

1. Power cord - fits both Leica charger and eeePC power brick
2. Leica battery charger
3. Zagg Smartbud headphones (in leather case)
4. USB charger - powers from both AC outlets and from car cigarette lighter.
5. European power outlet converter (for Italy and Iceland anyway)
6. Ethernet cable: (yellow) for the few places that don't have Wi-Fi yet
7. A couple of thumb drives
8. iPhone charger cable
9. eeePC power brick
10. Not shown: extra SD card or 2

For Iceland Only

There are a couple of more things that I won't be taking to Italy, but that will be useful in Iceland - particularly while backpacking:

[Image: Garmin Oregon 450 and Freeloader Pro.jpg]

1. Garmin Oregon 450 weatherproof GPS unit loaded with topographic maps of Iceland. The braided lanyard was made by my son of parachute cord. In an emergency, it can be unwound to give you 50 feet of high tensile rope.

2. Solar battery. The Freeloader Pro can be charged via USB or via its attached solar panels (very slowly). It can provide enough power to recharge USB devices or the Leica's camera battery (via the included camera battery charger - not shown).

Conclusion

Remember - I did warn you not to read this thread if you aren't a serious gear head. Comments and suggestions welcome.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 18, 2011, 00:08
Post: #2
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
Huzzah! Big Grin
Absolute meat and drink of a thread; thank you so much for this Toad! I'll assume Matthew is salivating as much as I am.

First, the kit: this about as good as it gets. My, I'm seriously thinking of crash/burning and going all Leica...I won't have the cojones though, to forego my ultrawise and tele ends. Blistering, Toad, just blistering....!
And yet...as soon as I was nodding along with enthusiasm for your choice of kit on grounds of IQ(!) and weight-saving...I began to see the pounds gain(weight, not cash) and am thinking that you are actually taking along such a faff of weighty accessories, that my IDs mammoth is becoming lightweight by comparison. Now, this is only my gut response not to your decisions, but as if I myself were in role and doing the same trip(and how I wish I were!). Mind you, I appreciate that all the accompanying caravans of baggage will not actually be deployed from your shoulder out in the field...your actual daily shoulder-weight should be stonkingly light.
To pod or not to pod: again, my own subjective decision on these is to ditch the pod in Italy certainly, unless one wishes to uses ND filters to capture crowd-free and apocalyptically empty exterior spaces: with the amount of leeway in these sensors and the amount of light bouncing around...and the software upon our return, I've found the tripod can be largely made redundant if one chooses this path. Now, I'm not quite sure about the Gorillapod: after investigation, I decided not to get one of these as the combined weights upon it would not work for me...whether it would for the much lighter Leica, would be interesting.
One thing you've not addressed here is the degree of "light awareness" needed for an Italy trip: yes, I know this is an experience-thang: There is a lot of it about. Ambient and reflected light in Italy bounces around in a mannner I'd not seen before, giving glows and shimmers that are outstanding, deserving of always shooting in raw(which I know you do anyway)...also, there is so much light knocking about that it is almost worth setting exposure compensation permanantly to +1.5 for good measure. Any form of polariser I've found to be completely redundant and adding so much shadow blocking as to work against me.
Aw...I'm running out of time here Toad, and I've not couched things as clearly as I might have: I've not forgotten either your skill or experience or the fact that you've visited Italy already, so forgive me if I've "taught granny to suck eggs". I've got a busy day ahead, so will come back and have another think in about 24 hrs.
Stonking!
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 18, 2011, 06:39 (This post was last modified: Apr 18, 2011 06:48 by paskelius.)
Post: #3
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
Thanks Zig for your good observations and hint on exposure compensation.

I know what you mean about the weight of accessories, and I am strongly considering ditching the flash (I rarely use it at home), and the Gorillapod is already on probation. The rest of the accessories (if you exclude the 3 "tiny" video attachments) are all "stay in the room" things. It doesn't really show in the photos, but the eeePC is minuscule and I won't be carrying it or the other miscellaneous junk in the street.

With my clothes, toiletries, and reading material, everything fits nicely in my smallish carry-on suitcase and the Kata. For Iceland, I substitute a backpack for the carry-on, and I will also be storing non-essential gear at my hotel during the backpacking trip.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 18, 2011, 09:25
Post: #4
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
Awright...now, Iceland I'd reckon one would be saddling up a flash and tripod for, what with all sorts of effluvia like water, dirt, snow, lava all a-pouring about and all manner of slow shutter/rear curtain temptations...but I digress. Gosh mate: just about perfect for Italy to be honest.
D'you know, once I'd resigned my self to the fact that absolutely no lens on earth would ever be wide enough or long enough for Italy(one always sees the shot that is just beyond the extremes of one's widest and longest lens...a good argument for taking a max of 3 and having done with it, else one starts eating into the actual enjoyment of being there...!), I started to loosen up in Italy.
The other thing I found was that shots only started to sing once I got them home...they seemed almost lacklustre as I'd taken them, as if I was always going to fail to capture the inner light that seems to accompany Italian shots; I now recognise that inner lights as being that ambient/reflected glow I was referring to above.
I mean, I was in San Gimignano behind a wall, facing contrejour...and yet there was still the burnt siena glow this side of the walll, that should have been in the blockiest shadow. Now, in the days of my Pentax 67 visit with Fuji film, I'd have been stuffed...but good ol' raw and a full frame sensor is a mammoth leap forward in terms of capture. And I have to say, where that glow really mattered...where the glow was so ephemeral you doubted whether it was outside the confines of your head....it was ONLY a really superior lens that could capture it. You're quids-in there, our Toad. I'd even suggest sometimes that 3 lenses is too many...cos as you get hit between the eyes time and time again by Italian vistas, you'll maybe want to capture them in a multitude of passes with every lens at your disposal. Heck, I tried that once in the Piazza in Florence..almost killed myself and then 4 hours had gone, and I hadn't moved 20 yards past the Uffizi.
Yep, ditch the flash; ditch the polariser; ditch the tripod but keep the Gorillapod if it behaves itself, eats its bananas and desists from both defecating and pleasuring tself in public.
I wanna Leica now, and it's all your fault. Lol
Seriously Rob, what a special time you're gonna have. I took about 30GB of CF cards in small denominations rather than a few mammoths: if one loses one, or it gets corrupted, one is rather stuffed and sick.
Other items: a soft sable/squirrel paintbrush for sensor cleaning: (a lotta tripe about scratching sensors...it's glass for goodness' sake); microfibre or silk lens cloths; high-deet mozzie repellent; sunscreen yer ankles and top of feet if yer wearin' sandals...I'll trust you're not dork enough to wear socks with sandals Rob! On at least one perambulation of whatever city centre you're in, set a backtracker/satnav, throw away all maps and deliberately get yourself totally lost: being out of control really sharpens the eye, and there's no way you'll be lost really.
If you're south of Florence in any city apart from Siena, wear your backpack back to front(on your chest): pickpockets! I find it easy to deter pickpockets by taking a photographer's waistcoat(honestly!): it cons the locals into believing you're a photgrapher with knowledge and not a Yank tourist...and street dubious types hate the camera like vampires hate garlicand sunlight: they think you're doing a feature on them: point and they run!
Mate, I'm really gonna be there with you in spirit...I really hope and trust you and your lady wife have the utmost time....so glad you opened this thread up, as it really gets me in role by proxy! And I'm all ears to hear any other comments by folks too...adds to the excitement!
Oh finally...make sure to get a Leonardo t-shirt from the Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence...AND don't forget to walk up the hill to San Miniato di Monte from there: most cretinous tourists have a quick gawp and snap from the Piazzale and don't know what they's missin'......and try and get to Fiesole, as it's only 20 mins by bus: you'll believe you have the eyes of Da Vinco himself...
I'll shut up now, as I'm developing Stendhalismo by proxy....
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 18, 2011, 09:59 (This post was last modified: Apr 18, 2011 10:00 by paskelius.)
Post: #5
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
Zig Wrote:...a good argument for taking a max of 3 and having done with it, else one starts eating into the actual enjoyment of being there...!), I started to loosen up in Italy.
Yeah - I hate changing lenses with a passion, and even though I am carrying 3, I plan to resist second guessing every shot I take, and just relax and enjoy myself.

Zig Wrote:The other thing I found was that shots only started to sing once I got them home...they seemed almost lacklustre as I'd taken them...
That's RAW for you. A wonderous tool - but loses all sizzle when coming right out of the camera.


Zig Wrote:ONLY a really superior lens that could capture it. You're quids-in there, our Toad.
I hope so - I had to sell my son into slavery for this gear...

Zig Wrote:I'd even suggest sometimes that 3 lenses is too many
You know, I really worry about that. I would like to just loosen up and use what comes to hand - and not make every shot into a separate decision point.

Zig Wrote:Yep, ditch the flash; ditch the polariser; ditch the tripod but keep the Gorillapod if it behaves itself, eats its bananas and desists from both defecating and pleasuring tself in public.
Since I wrote this article yesterday, I have dropped the flash from my list. I will be taking the Gorillapod (for now), but likely not carrying it in the street. Very funny comment btw.

Zig Wrote:I wanna Leica now, and it's all your fault. Lol
Sorry

Zig Wrote: Other items: a soft sable/squirrel paintbrush for sensor cleaning:
Can't believe I forgot that from my list.

Zig Wrote:I'll trust you're not dork enough to wear socks with sandals Rob!
Safe there.

Zig Wrote:throw away all maps and deliberately get yourself totally lost: being out of control really sharpens the eye, and there's no way you'll be lost really.
Yeah - for sure

Zig Wrote:If you're south of Florence in any city apart from Siena, wear your backpack back to front(on your chest): pickpockets!
Agreed. That's why I always use sling packs.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 18, 2011, 15:43
Post: #6
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
Wow, looks like a pretty sweet setup Rob. Your daypack looks amazingly, enviously compact.

I was going to say too that my flash didn't see as much usage as I originally thought when I was travelling in europe - only because in most indoor cathedrals, galleries etc, flash photography (or photography full stop) is prohibited. The only times were to capture shots during dinner, and I those were very few and far between.


So, when is my airplane ticket coming in the mail? You did buy one for me too, didn't you? Big Grin Big Grin

Minigizmo - Gadget News and Reviews
BookHoot - Ebook News
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 18, 2011, 16:04
Post: #7
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
shuttertalk Wrote:So, when is my airplane ticket coming in the mail? You did buy one for me too, didn't you? Big Grin Big Grin
Damn! I knew I forgot something...
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 18, 2011, 16:05
Post: #8
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
Just a thought with regards to batteries (didn't see it mentioned in your post) - apparently they last a lot shorter in extreme cold. Perhaps a spare set might be useful for your trek in Iceland? Some keep a spare battery in an inner pocket to warm it up and swap it out when necessary.

Minigizmo - Gadget News and Reviews
BookHoot - Ebook News
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 18, 2011, 16:47
Post: #9
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
Shouldn't be that much of a problem, Jules. I'm going in August. Temperatures should be mid teens to low 20s.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 18, 2011, 17:41
Post: #10
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
Wow, I'm pretty late to the party here - fantastic thread.

My choice here is obvious. I will be taking my Leica M9 and 3 lenses:

It would be hard to leave the Leica at home. Lol

Three lenses is the perfect number. If you use one 75% of the time, then you can't use the others for more than one photo in four, and you'll probably favour one more than the other. But three is enough that each one can have a distinct role, while a fourth just wouldn't be on the camera enough to be worth carrying.

Although if you were to include a cheap ultra-wide, I wouldn't blame you.

I would be interested in the experiences of others about whether to take a flash or not.

I'd say no to the flash. I've never travelled with one and never missed it, even though I have used one occasionally when I'm out and about. Not only does it add size and gear, but the care and feeding of its batteries are a nuisance – especially if you're running a fifth AA in the piggy-back pack.

My Italy/Iceland bag will be the Kata AP-321 which I reviewed at Shuttertalk in early 2010.

Good call. It looks about the same size as the little Billingham, but a little more willing to take some abuse. And it's always good to use the things that are already paid for.

One of them that I came up with is the Gorillapod SLR Zoom.

I own the SLR Zoom – and the smaller SLR as well – and I'd vote no for it. They're handy and very versatile, but they never get any smaller. I was looking at bringing one on my trip to Chicago, since it would have let me hang my audio recorder in interesting places, but they're tough to carry. The best I came up with was wrapping it around my shoulder strap, but that's clumsy and not particularly subtle in the tourist areas.

If you're leaving it in the hotel room, that makes it a little different, but I'd rather improvise with what's available. After all, hotel-room photos aren't why you're travelling, and the M9 is capable of some decent results in lower light. I did take one night photo from the hotel window with a tripod while I was in New York last october (with a tripod that I bought there) but it wasn't something meaningful.

Rather than the Gorillapod, what I might endorse would be the "Ultrapod II". It's a simple plastic tripod that takes up very little space, and has a velcro strap to lash it to something; it's certainly strong enough for the M9. Mine is umpteen years old – bought from MEC, where it currently sells for $21 – and I'm considering carrying it for my audio recorder on my next trip. It's still not great for fitting into a small camera bag, but it's much lighter than the Manfrotto 345 set, which is my favourite small tripod.

The other trick that I have up my sleeve is the string monopod.

That's great. The trick of attaching it to your belt instead of standing on the bitter end is brilliant.

This funny little trio of doohickies is my iPhone movie studio.

I was worried about the video, but it looks like you've got it set up perfectly. That seems to be a clever balance between quality and size, and I'm glad to hear that it surpasses the little microphone that I bought ages ago.

I love the braided lanyard.

Something that I'm not seeing on your list is a small flashlight. I'd claim that I have one for each camera bag, but I actually have more than that, and these days I have a favourite that I just carry with me no matter which bag I use. They're not necessarily photographic accessories, but they're tremendously useful for travel and great to have in strange hotel rooms. Especially ones that don't have decent reading lights. :|
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 18, 2011, 21:35
Post: #11
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
matthew Wrote:Wow, I'm pretty late to the party here - fantastic thread.
Thank you. I was inspired to do it largely by similar threads by you and Kombi.

matthew Wrote:Three lenses is the perfect number. If you use one 75% of the time, then you can't use the others for more than one photo in four, and you'll probably favour one more than the other. But three is enough that each one can have a distinct role, while a fourth just wouldn't be on the camera enough to be worth carrying...Although if you were to include a cheap ultra-wide, I wouldn't blame you.
In the Leica cosmos, there isn't that large a choice of focal lengths. Before I bought the M9, I already knew which 3 lenses would be my essential kit, and I bought them all via eBay over the last year. In a perfect world, I would have substituted a 21 or 24 for the 28, but that would have involved using an external viewfinder as 28 is the widest range for the OVF on the M9. Simple is better.

matthew Wrote:I'd say no to the flash...care and feeding of its batteries are a nuisance – especially if you're running a fifth AA in the piggy-back pack.
Everybody seems to be in agreement about that one including me. The flash is officially dropped from the trip roster....and yes, I am running a fifth battery in the piggy-back.

matthew Wrote:I own the SLR Zoom – and the smaller SLR as well – and I'd vote no for it.
I think that I will take it with me, and trot it out only when I am pretty sure that I will need it - for long exposures and the like. Strangely enough, it attaches quite unobtrusively to the back to the Kata bag. There are a couple of fold-away Velcro connectors there used to attach the pouch onto the AP system belt, and they hold the Gorillapod in place very well. So if I am going to a viewpoint in the evening, for example, its no real hassle to carry with me.

matthew Wrote:The other trick that I have up my sleeve is the string monopod.

That's great. The trick of attaching it to your belt instead of standing on the bitter end is brilliant.
Thanks - I am quite happy with my little optimization on the foot loop - makes the whole rig MUCH smaller and keeps it cleaner. I tried it both ways and the stabilization is about the same. I'm actually wondering if I will use it more often than the Gorillapod - if for no other reason than that it will be with me more often. I think it will work really well for video panning - which is always a hassle to do well hand-held.

matthew Wrote:I love the braided lanyard.
So do I - its useful as well as attractive.

matthew Wrote:Something that I'm not seeing on your list is a small flashlight.
Good catch. I always carry one when I travel. I just didn't think about it in the thread as it usually lives in my toiletries bag.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 18, 2011, 23:29
Post: #12
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
...n your toiletries bag...I'm not even going to ask.... :|
The piece of string for bracing up for a shot is a neat idea; I might have guessed a marketeer would enoble it(and inflate its price?) by called it a lanyard. Oo ar me hearty.
( I never knew that about wides on a Leica M: are finders for 21/24 very cumbersome, Toad?)
I'd missed the obvious point made by Jules about indoor flash. I found I was given a frown for having a camera that looks like a large camera..the Leica must have so many advantages of not turning heads, in a sense.
I know I keep repeating myself...but, such a cool system you have, mate.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 19, 2011, 06:35 (This post was last modified: Apr 19, 2011 06:43 by paskelius.)
Post: #13
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
Zig Wrote:...n your toiletries bag...I'm not even going to ask.... :|
I'm sure you have some other term for it in the UK - its where I keep my shaving "tackle", toothbrush, etc.

Zig Wrote:( I never knew that about wides on a Leica M: are finders for 21/24 very cumbersome, Toad?)
Not particularly. Its just one more piece of expensive kit though. I might consider one at some point - but right now, I am going to see how far I can go with the 28.

Zig Wrote:I know I keep repeating myself...but, such a cool system you have, mate.
Feel free to repeat - I am very proud of it (another of the 7 deadly sins)
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 19, 2011, 10:58
Post: #14
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
matthew Wrote:Although if you were to include a cheap ultra-wide, I wouldn't blame you.
With my Nikon I didn't use my ultrawide 12-24 (18-36 equiv) as much as I thought that I would and when I did use it, I almost always used it at its widest setting. This would imply to me that if I was seriously considering the addition of a 4th focal length to my stable, I would go directly to something in the 18-21 range.

Realistically, that means either the Leica Super-Elmar-M 18mm f/3.8 ASPH or the Zeiss Biogon 21mm f/2.8 ZM (the kid brother of Zig's beloved 21mm Distagon). The Zeiss is less than a third of the price of the equivalent Leica 21mm and most reviewers give it comparable marks.

As I said, though, simpler is better, and I am not really considering an ultrawide (and associated external viewfinder) until such point as I am finding 28mm too limiting., but like the desert menu at a restaurant, I like to look at it even when I;'m not hungry.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 20, 2011, 03:18
Post: #15
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
WOW! What a great sharing with us dear Robert, thank you so much. And also for everybody in here Smile

It seems that these travels would be so exciting and so nice, have a nice and enjoyable days!

with my love,
nia
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 20, 2011, 06:29
Post: #16
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
Thanks nia.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 20, 2011, 17:02
Post: #17
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
The 28/50/90 combination is classic. I can't imagine carrying anything else, especially considering the length of your trip(s). That duration does make a big difference, so I can see carrying the little tripod as needed – more diverse opportunities and enough time to take advantage of them.

But completely as a lark, and not as a serious suggestion, there is the Voigtlanger 15mm – actually, there are two of them. The cheaper one comes with a screw-mount, so it needs an M-mount adapter, but also includes a 15mm external viewfinder. The more expensive one needs the viewfinder, bringing the total costs (B&H) to $430 or $700. (All are showing as "temporarily unavailable", and are made in Japan.) But still, I bet that they could be bought, used, and then sold for not a great loss.

(I'm my own worst enemy – my widest M-mount lens is a 35mm, and now I'm looking at some of the cheap wides for myself… but I did say that I wouldn't buy anything new for my next trip to New York. Of course, I said it very quietly to myself.)

I didn't see a mention of a second camera battery…?

I like the fact that you're carrying the little netbook. I can't imagine leaving my little laptop behind on a longer trip, just like I couldn't imagine carrying my bigger old one around. Size makes a huge difference. But does this mean that you won't be completely absent here when you're on the road?
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 20, 2011, 19:11
Post: #18
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
I actually looked at the 2 Voigtlanders, but Ken Rockwell claims that they don't work too well on the M9 because the rear lens node is too close to the sensor plane and leads to weird color shifts on the left and right sides. Not applicable to film and the edges were invisible on previous Leica digitals before the full-frame M9. The same is apparently true of the Voigtlander 12 mm. This is the price you pay for having a full frame sensor in such a small camera, I suppose - a reliance on *paired* lenses. Believe me, I would likely already own one of the Voigtlanders otherwise.

If I wanted the absolute best (and who doesn't), I suppose that I could always spring for the $6K Leica 16-18-21 which has that 3 fixed focal lengths (not a zoom). That is supposedly unbelievably good - but just between you and me, I can't see that happening any time soon. Knowing myself, I would probably always shoot it at 16... Big Grin

I don't actually have a second camera battery, but its not a bad idea. The fact that I haven't come close to draining the current one in a single day's shooting probably won't be relevant to the amount of shooting I will be doing in Italy and Iceland.

The netbook is pretty much non-negotiable in my opinion. Its the absolute perfect balance of size and functionality as a travel computer. In Morocco in 2009, I used it constantly to book hotels a day ahead of my unscripted travel schedule...and yes, I am sure that I will be checking in at Shuttertalk throughout the trip.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 22, 2011, 04:16
Post: #19
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
I think your list is great Toad - but I would need something wider personally.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 24, 2011, 00:30
Post: #20
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
I know that personally speaking, I echo Chris totally. I guess if I had open account, the patience of a slab of Carrara marble(and a roadie!) and was anticipating a career sideline as a contortionist, the Canon 17mm TSE might occasionally jockey the 21mm out of the way.
I must also add(again, subjective experience only) that I've found a trade-off, the wider I've gone: the increased distortion has often been useful, equally often not: yes, the tilt/shift comes into its own yet to my mind adds a degree of "over-rectilinearity" and sameness to shots. And when I get onto the angst-curve of Needing to be Wider, I find(anno domini here?) that the amount of buggerance versus results to be a finely-balanced affair, particularly when against the baseline of enjoyment. Also, horror upon horrors, I have invariably and always found that the "perfect wide composition" in Italian cityscapes can always exist a few millimetres beyond the widest lens I have.
Y'know, in terms of civic planning, those bluff old despotic medieval city-state dictators just about had the perfect solution: throw infinite amounts of cash at skilled artisans and engineers, colossal amounts of elbow at the Great Unwashed, and it was possible to design an exterior space that worked. And by "worked", we're talking of the ability to engineer 180 degree "perfect ratio" compositions that tie in ever-moving foregrounds(as you perambulate with the dukes you wish to impress) with the topography of ditant hills, mountains and the diurnal play of shadows. Thus, in Italian cityscapes, looking in any direction, because of the mathematical way exterior design worked with pots of cash to move stuff around, one can find the same "compostions" and mathematical ratios, repeated fractally. That is, slap on a 200mm, take a few shots; exchange lenses all through the options you have(click: 90mm; click: 70mm...etcetera...down to the widest you have...)...and without stepping more than a foot away from where you first started, you have captured a multiplicity of well-composed shots(and not especially as one's a brilliant snapper, but because the same mathematical ratios exist in what you're looking, repeated, enlarged, widened, as your lens picks up on whatever fractal iteration you're framing at the time.
I'm a little simplistic here, but I made the throwaway point in a response above that "no lens is wide or long enough" for an Italian exterior civic space: the other way of looking at it is that(again subjectively In My Humble, etcWink if one merely had one lens, and a whacky one at that, like a 42mm(!), I'm pretty convinced that one's shooting experience would be pretty akin to one having the perfect catch-all kit.
Big Grin
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 24, 2011, 18:18
Post: #21
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
Zig - you crack me up Smile
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 24, 2011, 22:50 (This post was last modified: Apr 25, 2011 06:38 by paskelius.)
Post: #22
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
For those of you that are still interested, I have made a last minute substitution in the lineup. I have decided (at least for today) to sell the 90mm Elmarit-M (featured in the photos at the front of this thread) and keep the much cheaper and not as optically perfect 1968 Tele-Elmarit F/2.8.

Its not about the money - I've already spent it - so selling the shaper lens is an odd decision - yes?

I have spent the last week doing exhaustive pixel peeping tests of the 2 - 90s trying to decide which one to keep and which to sell, but it was never a real test. I knew from the start that I would be keeping the more expensive Elmarit-M. Every review praises it for its sharpness at all apertures - its felt to be one of the best Leica telephoto lenses,

Stopped right down, there was nothing to choose - both looked great, and, as expected, at F2.8, the Tele-Elmarit was softer everywhere - particularly in the left bottom corner and on the right edge. Seems like a no-brainer - the Elmarit-M is sharper wide open.

But a funny thing started happening during the tests. I started seeing a completely subjective phenomena occurring where some of the test photos were simply more pleasing to the eye. When I looked at the exif, the surprising fact was that I was liking the photos of the cheaper and softer Tele-Elmarit better in almost every case. WTF??

Here's what I discovered. Its all about how the lenses render the scene, and I just prefer the look of the Tele-Elmarit. To start with, its bokeh is creamy smooth, and the sharper Elmarit-M's feels somehow clinical in comparison - sharp but with no soul.

I realize that this is completely subjective - but these 100% crop photos taken at the minimum focus point (approx 1 meter) should illustrate: Other than sizing for the web and cropping, they are untouched.

Elmarit-M: F/23 ISO 200 1/2 sec

[Image: Elmarit-M F23 -2.jpg]

Tele-Elmarit: F/16 ISO 200 1/3 sec

[Image: Triscuit.jpg]

Notice how the Tele-Elmarit renders the scene with more naturalistic color/contrast and how it feels somehow more 3-D? Maybe, I'm the only one seeing it, but for me, the Tele-Elmarit simply renders the scene in a more pleasing manner. I also find the bokeh on the Tele-Elmarit to have a lovely dream-like quality.

Other things:

- The Tele-Elmarit is way smaller, and so in that sense, it is a much more *correct* interpretation of the Leica philosophy.

- My copy doesn't have a lens hood,but strangely enough, the lens hood from my 28 fits on it and works just fine.

- The Tele-Elmarit is the exact same lens cap and filter size as my 50 and 28 - whereas the Elmarit-M was the odd duck out at 46mm as opposed to the 39mm filter/lens cap size of the other 3.

- Small as my rig is, I know that there will be many times (at night, in a crowd, out to dinner) where I will only want to carry the M9 with a single lens mounted. When I do this at home, I take a smaller bag (Kata AP-325) that fits the M9 with attached 50 or 28 perfectly - but which is too small for the Elmarit-M. It fits the M9 with Tele-Elmarit attached, however - so my thinking is that this will increase the number of times that I carry it. The best lens is the one you have with you, right?

So, am I crazy to sell the sharper lens and keep the 1968 workhorse?
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 25, 2011, 16:53
Post: #23
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
If you like the one that's smaller and a better match for the rest of your system, that's great; if it happens to be the cheaper one as well, that's awesome. While I know that Leica lenses don't follow all of the normal expectations for resale, surely you'll do better to divest the one with the better reputation.

Besides, owning a Leica gives you the right to have it both ways. Exceptional optics are a given, and an 18MP full-frame body with no anti-aliasing filter is a perfect platform for them. But nobody who's using a rangefinder will doubt your decision to keep an older and more modest lens when you use words like 'smooth' 'render' and 'pleasing', even if novice DSLR users are still looking for the test-chart that measures 'character'.

For what it's worth, I completely agree about both overall size and filter size. My 85mm is too long to fit in the same compartments as my 35 or 50, making me less likely to carry it and less likely to put it on the camera when I have it. My two standards also have different filter sizes, so when I wanted to buy contrast filters for B&W I first needed to decide what subject each lens would be most likely to face. Commonality would have been a real advantage.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 25, 2011, 17:38
Post: #24
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
Matt: Thanks for the vote of confidence. Its nice to know that I'm not completely off-track.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Apr 26, 2011, 04:49
Post: #25
Italy and Iceland: What Photo Gear am I Taking?
What!
No! Have you gone completely insane?

Big Grin
Only joking Rob.
Mate, you have, as Matthew has discerningly observed(he'd make a grand photographer, that chap!) a Leica. Leonardo had genius... and could with total impunity insult Michelangelo in the street, leave all his masterpieces unfinished and be as mad as a snake. As a Leica owner, you could graft a monkey's head onto the M9 and attract savant nods from the chin-strokers. The Leica Passport fully entitles the bearer to slap on a toilet-roll with a jamjar taped to the end, saying "actually, my first camera is a Holga," wax poetical about the anaologue-style rendering and have one's photo-cred soar like an eagle as a result.
Er, sorry...where was I...?
...Ah yes: you make an excellent point about rendering quailty as opposed to razorlike IQ. This is something that only alighted like a dove wrapped between 2 bricks and a slice of lemon in the forehead, upon getting the Zeiss. It struck me forcibly that Matthew said pretty much the same thing when he bought his Zeiss...that there is something in the very drawing-quality that captures "essence" which butters more parsnips than ice-cold clinical sharpness. Matthew did not use the word "essence", however(hmmm... Big Grin ) Me, I'm an essence guy through and through...my aim is to use the words "essence" and "fecundity" in the same sentence...!...omygawsh I just have...!! Tongue
If I can wrestle my bi-polarity into momentary submission for a mo here:
I realise talk of "glow" and rendering quality can be shot through with all sorts of urban myth...yet I do believe that it may have something either to do with elements in the glass such as arsenic, cadmium amd lead, or(more likely) the coatings that are applied to the lens during manufacture. I've found, yes, that my Zeiss has a warmer "cast"(practically meaningless to me as a raw shooter)...yet it also has a something else in terms of how it captures light. It seems to capture what is behind and within the shot.whereas my Canon lenses "merely" take a perfect reproduction of what is physically there.
I know I've gone from lunacy to the esoteric here, yet I most definitely agree with your sentiments about the 2 shots above. If I were asked to quantify the difference, I would say the first one is "Canon", the second one "Zeiss" in my own parlance; if asked to qualify this, I'd mumble something about "warmth" and "microcontrast". The second has that extra squeeze of "information", width of tone, and sheer ability to resolve low-contrast detail that is ever-so-slightly not there in the first. I have no doubt that the "age" and lens coating is the key difference...which is exactly what Zeiss says about their lenses and their use of time-honoured lens coatings(and even arguably the glass itself).
Anyway: no, you are certainly not imagining this; on the contrary, I think you have really maximised your chances of capturing the Italy-within-Italy experience.
I know you'll have absolutely no time(and perhaps no inclination) for this, yet if you had a further browse at my Italy shots on PBase, keeping an eye on which are Canon, which are Zeiss, you'd see exactly the same indefinable difference as you have above. Well done that man.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply 


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread: Author Replies: Views: Last Post
  How important is your Gear? Daniel_Champion 1 149 Today 14:08
Last Post: MrB
  Photo editor for tablets? Daniel_Champion 2 228 Sep 15, 2014 11:09
Last Post: IainWilkie
  Taking Control of Brightness Jeffbridge 0 213 Sep 12, 2014 04:32
Last Post: Jeffbridge
  Free Photo Editing Software EdMak 0 1,865 Aug 7, 2014 11:19
Last Post: EdMak
  10 Reasons Why You Shoot Like an Amateur Even With Professional Gear Jeffbridge 0 1,855 Aug 5, 2014 08:43
Last Post: Jeffbridge
  Photo guidance for night time F1 grand prix Freeman 1 427 Jul 29, 2014 08:34
Last Post: EdMak
  How do I take a photo that creates a 'string' effect (picture attached kendals 10 2,842 Jun 7, 2014 06:42
Last Post: zoshart
  REMOTE BEACH PHOTO SUGGESTIONS bobster1964 11 1,965 May 27, 2014 04:23
Last Post: Barbara G.
  Photo Editing Donald 13 1,350 Apr 23, 2014 06:31
Last Post: Chip
  4 of the Most Common Photo Editing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them Jeffbridge 2 2,231 Apr 3, 2014 04:05
Last Post: WDHewson

Forum Jump:


User(s) browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)