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Thread: Medium format travel kit for a week in Kyoto, Japan.

  1. #1
    Jeff Laitila

    Medium format travel kit for a week in Kyoto, Japan.

    Having lived in Japan for about 10 years now, Iíve been to Kyoto quite a few times, (I go a couple of items each year) but this will be the first time that I will be shooting (digital) medium format. Usually I shoot SLR (5D or D700) or Rangefinder (M8), but this time I decided to go for maximum image quality over light weight.

    Hereís what I plan to bring:

    Mamiya AFDII
    Mamiya ZD back
    Kodak DCS Pro Back 645M as a backup
    Mamiya 35mm f3.5
    Mamiya 55mm f2.8
    Hasselblad Zeiss 110mm f2

    In place of the 110mm f2, I was going to bring a Mamiya 80mm f1.9 and 150mm f3.5, but the 110mm takes up less space than the two Mamiya lenses, and I will have enough pixels to crop up to an equivalent 150mm if need be. Iíll also be checking out the sued camera shops in Kyoto and Osaka to see if I can find a good deal on a Mamiya 200mm f2.8.

    I also have a Mamiya 45mm f2.8 and 80mm f2.8, but they seem to be somewhat redundant based on my current kit, so I donít plan on taking them.

    All of this fits nicely into a Lowepro Micro Trekker 200, which is my favorite backpack to use. I may change bags and instead use a Domke wax-wear F2, it depends if it looks like there will be rain as the Domke is very water resistant.

    I actually prefer the colors and overall ďlookĒ of the Kodak files compared to the ZD files, but since I have not really put the ZD back through its paces yet this should be a good opportunity to really see what it can do.

    To date Iíve only used this medium format setup for single day type shooting (6-8 hours at a stretch) so I think I have a pretty good idea about what to expect as far as weight goes. But I am still a bit concerned, but I do also know that the results will quickly make me forget about the increase in weight compared to a DSLR kit.

    But I do also have a backup plan/sanity check: I will also take along an Olympus E-P1 with a 20mm f1.7 and 14-42 kit zoom. This will serve as my backup in case I donít feel like carrying so much gear on any particular day. The PEN will also serve as my nighttime low light camera.

    Since this is a solo trip, and the only point is to take photos, explore more of Kyoto, and relax, I donít think Iím going too nuts here with the gear I am bringing.

    I just wanted some other peopleís perspectives about this plan. Given the same choice of gear, would you do the same thing?

    My alternative DLS setup is a D700 with some fast primes: 14/2.8, 35/2, 50/1.4, 85/1.4, and 180/2.8

  2. #2
    Anthony N. Chandler

    Re: Medium format travel kit for a week in Kyoto, Japan.


    I just returned from a similar trip to Japan where I also shot with my Mamiya 645 afd, a 150mm AF lens and the stock 80mm. I was shooting film only, but I found the gear to never be a real problem weightwise. I took a ThinkTank backback, though.

    You can check out my shots on my website under "My Nightmares are in Japanese" at

    I used mostly the 80mm, but the 150 was better for the geisha shots. There is lots of time to shoot things in Japan, as there are few people to get in your way - you will find that you are mostly ignored.

    I think you might be disappointed in the price of used lenses over there. In Tokyo and Kyoto I only found high prices on so-so equipment, and there was not that much of it out there. Most local photographers I saw there were using Nikon, especially at the Gundam on Odaiba.

    Best of luck!

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