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Thread: To LF or not to LF on vacation

  1. #1
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    To LF or not to LF on vacation

    In July, I will be visiting my family in OH for a week. I'm kind of thinking out loud on what equipment to bring. Despite what people say about equipment not mattering, I find that equipment choice has a major impact on photographic motivation, and vice versa. I also find that complicated equipment choices totally confound my flow, which is why I'm thinking about this ahead of time. I need to simplify my LF kit, or just leave it at home. This is made worse because I don't have a good LF kit tailored for travel.

    Normally these trips are great because rural OH can provide some good photos. But since I'm visiting my family, there will be a lot of family/outdoor activity/kid photos but also, when I'm able to get away by myself, landscape/still life/portrait LF photos. The problem with bringing LF is that it's not very useful for the first category, so I have to bring at least some 35mm gear anyway.

    I'm trying to avoid the temptation just to leave ALL my LF gear at home. Here's all my photo-gear:

    Tripods: monstrous surveying tripod/3047 head which I use for LF, and a cheap Slik tripod which works fine for 35mm, medium format, and maybe the speed graphic. Maybe.

    35mm: Plenty of gear. Very versatile, but I hate 35mm for "serious" pictures. The good thing is I can bring miles of film and never worry about running out or having to change film holders. I can either leave the tripods at home or do very well with the lightweight Slik tripod.

    My complicated, unportable Large format gear:

    Lenses: 135, 150, 210mm lenses, but only one working shutter between them. I also have a 90mm lens with a frozen shutter.

    Compact/lightweight box camera--the box camera has a dedicated 90mm lens because it's not practical to remove the lens from the focusing helical in the field. This camera is fairly usable with the cheap Slik tripod.

    Pacemaker speed graphic--I love 4x5 negatives, but my speed graphic tends to frustrate me for landscape because of no movements. A good MF would honestly be better because you still wouldn't have movements but at least would have increased DOF. There's always the option of throwing on the 90mm and stopping down, but is this really worth bringing the camera, when I have a dedicated 90mm box camera that is much smaller/lighter?

    Calumet CC400 monorail--because of no FP shutter, I don't have a 90mm lens and have to shuffle the lens elements into my working shutter. If I bring this camera, I have to bring my giant surveying tripod.

    All in all, I know that my equipment is going to frustrate my photography, because it's too complicated for travel. I need to do one of three things, before my trip. I can get a good field camera with movements, and a compact, quality tripod, which would probably cost nearly a thousand dollars. Or I could get a medium format SLR with a basic lens kit, and I could just bring that, use my Slik tripod and dispense with LF. This might be slightly cheaper but not much. Failing either of those, as it is, I'm seriously considering just going with 35mm, which wouldn't cost anything, but sure seems like a waste of an opportunity.
    Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer. Art is everything else we do.
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  2. #2
    Joshua Tree, California
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    Re: To LF or not to LF on vacation

    Is this a question? Or are you just discovering what you already know?

  3. #3
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    Re: To LF or not to LF on vacation

    Like I said, I'm kind of thinking out loud. In the past, I have always said that there is no point to medium format, because 35mm is more versatile, and LF is higher quality. Once the camera is on a tripod, you might as well use LF. Well, now I guess I'm wondering why I should even have LF stuff, when my kit is so unweildy for travel. And buying yet another LF camera just to have a setup suitable for travel seems like throwing good money after bad. It seems just as easy to get a hasselblad or RB67 kit or something. But then, you still don't have movements, so why not just load up a 35mm body with Acros and forsake the whole big-neg thing entirely? You see, this conflict is harming my photography.
    Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer. Art is everything else we do.
    --A=B by Petkovšek et. al.

  4. #4

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    Re: To LF or not to LF on vacation

    IMHO, FWIW, I would go for the medium format SLR if family activities dominate; the field camera if family activities are secondary. If I had to go with 35mm, I'd just bring my Nikon D90...

    Quote Originally Posted by BetterSense View Post
    I need to do one of three things, before my trip. I can get a good field camera with movements, and a compact, quality tripod, which would probably cost nearly a thousand dollars. Or I could get a medium format SLR with a basic lens kit, and I could just bring that, use my Slik tripod and dispense with LF. This might be slightly cheaper but not much. Failing either of those, as it is, I'm seriously considering just going with 35mm, which wouldn't cost anything, but sure seems like a waste of an opportunity.
    David Aimone Photography
    Critiques always welcome...

  5. #5
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    Re: To LF or not to LF on vacation

    If you're traveling by plane, forget the LF and 35mm outfits. Take a digicam and avoid the hassle.

    If by auto, take the minimum LF equipment you can pack. There might be some interesting scenes to photograph along the way.

  6. #6
    tgtaylor's Avatar
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    Re: To LF or not to LF on vacation

    If it was me I'd take my Toyo 45CF, Gitzo GT0540 tripod and G1177M head, a couple of lens, a box or two of film (color and B&W), Harrison Pup Tent, spot meter, and 5 or 6 film holders.

    All of the above will fit in a small rucksack or shoulder bag.

  7. #7

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    Re: To LF or not to LF on vacation

    Bring the speed and shoot portraits. Ohio will be around for a while. The kids and family won't.

  8. #8

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    Re: To LF or not to LF on vacation

    I'd bring whatever will work best for the family stuff and use it for whatever else you see as well. Some excellent photographs have actually been made over the years with gear other than large format.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  9. #9

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    Re: To LF or not to LF on vacation

    It's Ohio. Why are you worrying at all?

  10. #10
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    Re: To LF or not to LF on vacation

    I suggest the Pacemaker and the 35mm. The pacemaker does have a little front tilt, so just look for landscapes that will work with the camera instead of the other way around. There are an infinite number of possible landscape images, so the camera 's limited movements will not limit the possibilities. But I would look for a used tripod for Pacemaker, or just be very careful on the Silk.

    And you don't need movements for portraits. My feeling is that family will always be around (but constantly changing, of course) and recorded by others with digital wonders. But to slow things down a little and doing individual and group images with the 4x5 will be unique and memorial in this day and age. A chance to be creative rather than reactive to the moment.

    Good luck with your decision, and have fun!

    Vaughn

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