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Iceland, February - XF or Alpa?

4*Paul

Member
My main camera for the trip will be the reputedly weathersealed Nikon D850 which, as Mr D Dolde frequently tells us, should produce perfectly adequate images.
But I really want to take along my IQ3100 to get some proper MF high res landscape shots which will be printed nice and large.
I doubt that it would come out very often - and only when there is no precipitation (which may mean never, of course) but my dilemma is whether to take my favourite Alpa STC + 40mm HR Alpagon or the XF + WLF + (hired) 35mm SK BR.
I will only allow myself one MF lens and body but which one?
The weight, simplicity and my own preference steers me in the direction of the Alpa but the slightly wider aperture, focal length and ruggedness of the SK 35mm towards the XF!
We will be doing some night photography which probably suits the XF better but I'm not sure that I would want all that weight in my rucksack (plus Nikon, WA lenses, filters etc.) for the time we will be trekking.
I always use the ES for landscapes on the IQ3 and, of course, there are a lot of settings that need to be done via the DB's touch screen. Probably more on the Alpa than the XF. Will this be affected by the cold? My fingers certainly will!
So advice and opinion would be greatly appreciated from anyone with experience of using either of these with an IQ3100 or similar in the, potentially very, cold conditions.
Which one would you go for?
 
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kdphotography

Well-known member
I went to Iceland earlier this year during the winter---end of January into February. I purchased the Fuji GFX system only because of this trip. I did not want to deal with the weight of the XF, even though Phase had kindly offered providing equipment to our group. I also figured that I did not want to deal with clamoring or the scramble over focal lengths with borrowed lenses. I bought the Fuji because I *thought* I would need more reach than the lenses I had for my Cambo. I was wrong.

I would have much preferred to have my Cambo with me than the Fuji, though the Fuji is much better for those informal snaps. I did have a small Canon G9x which would have more than sufficed for lighter fare. I missed having the movements and no doubt in my mind there were several images that would have been better and easier had I brought the Cambo. If I were to have chosen one lens, it would have been the HR40 t/s. I could easily have used the Cambo instead of the Fuji GFX, but Dante scoffed, and lo and behold a new camera system was welcomed into the studio. No regrets, though, as the Fuji has proven itself as a good addition elsewhere, particularly since I have moved away from 35mm DSLR/2:3 format completely, despite Doug Dolde's enthusiastic endorsement of the Nikon D850. :rolleyes::grin:

It's cold but not as bad as I expected. Good base layer, mid layer, and a windproof jacket---tech in clothing has come a long way, albeit expensive. Bring along the chemical hand-warmers and good photographer's gloves.

Some may consider a good DSLR "easier" and it may very well be. But I tend to work quickly and the difference between setting up my Fuji GFX and the Cambo WRS 1600 with IQ3 100 is negligible. I would have used the same tripod and Wine Country filter system on either.

Have a great trip!

ken

p.s. Peter's recommendation on the Vallerret gloves is good----I would have bought them but there were on intergalactic back-order!
 

earburner

Member
The 35mm SK BR is a stunning lens, Just pack your donkey :)
I have travelled with my xf and my alpa. I found I took far more with the XF but the weight.... :bugeyes:
 
Good question.

I did Iceland about 4-years ago with my Phase One 645AF & P25, plus all my lenses. No issue with the weight, but after the first stop, I decided to only carry the two lenses I thought would be best for the location, and left the rest in the car.

However, now that I have an XF, and BR lenses, I am contemplating leaving most of them home, taking only the 28mm, 35mm br, 55mm br, and 80mm br., plus the accessories.
 

hcubell

Well-known member
Here's how I would evaluate what to bring. Take a look at this little photo from a recent workshop I was on in SEPTEMBER in Iceland with Bruce Percy. Ask yourself what would work for you in these kinds of conditions. Iceland is either the first or second windiest country in the world. When it's not blowing rain, it will be blowing snow, and when it is not blowing either rain or snow, it will be blowing black volcanic sand/dust. There was a photographer with us shooting a GFX with the 32-64 zoom, and it performed flawlessly. So did my X1D, but a zoom would have been helpful so as to minimize lens changes.
Have a great trip.


IMG_0377-1.jpg
 

baudolino

Active member
I went to Iceland last Summer with the GFX, the 32-64 zoom and the 23mm. Most of my images were taken with the zoom, which performed flawlessly, in any sort of weather. Not having to change the lens was a real bonus - as others have said, rain, drizzle or dust were present all the time. Gitzo 3542 LS tripod, Arca P0 head. For me the most important investment though was rental of a self-drive Arctic Truck super jeep (approx US$7000 for 10 days, not a self-drive option in Winter, even though you can ask Arctic Experience to take you up on the glaciers with their guides). The truck (coming with corresponding insurance policy) allowed me to venture into the highlands, ford some scary rivers and avoid the selfie stick crowds who have in recent years overwhelmed all the top sites, especially on the ring road. Not sure about the crowds in February....but there have been so many people with cameras to Iceland in recent years, resulting in a proliferation of very similar images from all the popular sites, that researching less visited locations ahead of time and spending money on getting there would be a more useful consideration to me now than exactly what super duper camera I should bring next time I go (which may be next Summer, with my own RAM Power Wagon, on the Norona ferry :). Shown below is an image of Lake Hagavatn...not accessible other than with a proper 4x4.

 

GrahamWelland

Subscriber & Workshop Member
I’ve been to Iceland several times and have also traveled with very similar gear combinations as discussed here:

Night photography in April: full Nikon D800 outfit + IQ260 / Alpa STC + 32/90HR + Leica M9 kit

Summer midnight sun: IQ3100 XF/ 32 / 75-150 / 240LS + Leica M10 / 16-21 / 35lux / 90 elmarit-M

September: Fuji GFX / 23 / 32-64 / 120 / 200mm Mamiya APO + Leica M10 kit.

My experiences were as follows:

1) I found many opportunities to break out the Alpa and in fact it was my daytime preference even in cold conditions (which was always). Fortunately I didn’t have to deal with much horizontal weather and when I did I used the Nikon gear. Obviously for Astro work it was all Nikon.

2) When I took the XF kit it was mid summer. That said, plenty of wind and rain but it held up well but I would more often than not shoot with the Leica unless I was shooting close to the van. When I shot with the XF I definitely missed the utility of movements from my technical camera but I was able to shoot anywhere, any time.

3) The most recent trip was with the Fuji GFX and it basically replaced any equivalent DSLR and unlike the XF didnt feel like a sack of bricks everyday.

Again though, I missed having movements from a technical camera. Unfortunately I only have a Cambo Actus DB2 these days and as much as I was tempted to bring it with the IQ3100 it wouldn’t have been practical in the windy/wet conditions. However, I would not have been concerned in the same conditions with the Alpa along with appropriate care in keeping it dry.

4) Don’t underestimate the need for a very stable tripod - my RRS and Gitzos have spiked feet which really helped in Icelandic conditions.

5) Consider the travel weight, especially if carrying on all of your gear. The airlines are pretty strict about size & weight. I got away with it with these kits although I had to bring a Pelican case for the Phase 240LS and other gear. If you can pack a Nikon DSLR AND XF kit even with just the 32mm you’ll be doing better than I could.

In summary, I’d recommend taking the Alpa alongside the DSLR for those special opportunities. The back, body and single lens can pack down very well and you’ll never regret having it with you.
 

GrahamWelland

Subscriber & Workshop Member
Here's how I would evaluate what to bring. Take a look at this little photo from a recent workshop I was on in SEPTEMBER in Iceland with Bruce Percy. Ask yourself what would work for you in these kinds of conditions. {snip}


View attachment 138159
Those that know me, know that I wouldn’t hesitate to shoot with either Alpa or XF in conditions like that. The only one I’d have trouble with is the Actus due to the bellows construction (aka the wind sail). ;)

Keep an eye on your gear and regularly cover/dry it and you can use your tech cam gear in most any condition in my experience. :thumbup:
 

dchew

Well-known member
Howard and I have a long-standing, tomato-tossing argument about this.

Take the Alpa. It works well with snowshoes on.
:D

 

kdphotography

Well-known member
For a tripod, I used a RRS TVC-24 with the new Arca Swiss L-60 "Mini-Cube"---which worked great with the Fuji GFX. I used tripod "rock claws" which worked great on the ice. There is definitely a time to skimp---and I couldn't bring myself to buy the RRS version of the rock claws. I spent one-third the price on a third party set and these worked great. I bought another set from Leofoto for my other tripod legs and these look to be very good quality. For whatever reason, 3p claws can be difficult to find. Spikes not so much.

See, https://prophotographygear.com/products/set-of-three-ice-rock-claws-shoes-for-tripod

ken
 

4*Paul

Member
Many thanks to everyone who has answered my questions.
With the Xmas spirit (in my hand!) it's genuinely heartwarming to get such good advice from experienced people. And it has made me look forward to the trip even more.

Ken made me smile with the Dante/GFX reference because that's exactly where my mind started to go when I was weighing up my options. Fortunately I was held back from impulsive GAS action by the prospect of having to forfeit another few years from my life expectancy so that the pension pot doesn't run out. So the gear I have now will have to last me until one of us expires - and I'm not complaining.

Good news on keeping my hands warm. There was a pair of Valleret gloves under the Xmas tree this morning - just as recommended by Peter and Ken. My subtle :angel: hints must have hit home.

Comments by Peter, Ken, Will, Berthold and Dan certainly hit the spot with me as I just love using the STC and the prospect of having along my favourite camera with tilt and shift just feels good.
The picture Howard posted was probably as close to my mental image of Iceland conditions as possible. I'm surprised that there isn't a rain cover (or shower cap) in sight. I imagined that these would be common in that sort of weather. Is there something I've overlooked?
I can't imagine the XF or STC surviving long without some protection in wind blown sand or snow like that.

As always, Graham's post is very informative and keeps me motivated to take along the STC. I have a Gitzo with spiked feet which will travel in my checked-in suitcase so that my rucksack stays within the weight limit. Which BA state is 22kg - and that's pretty heavy!

Some great and entertaining photos from Baudolino and Dave as well.
So, at the moment it's definitely the Alpa. And I may be able to sneak in the 90mm or 120mm as well - just to give me a few more options!
Thanks to you all.
Paul.
 

kdphotography

Well-known member
Since you already have the Nikon D850---it's not like you're really skimping. It probably is the best DSLR offering at the moment. And it is Doug Dolde approved. :D Just remember, that more importantly, the Fuji GFX is Dante-approved. :ROTFL:

My only regrets about Iceland were not spending a bit more time than I had set aside to spend there.

Have a great trip! :thumbup:

Ken
 

algrove

Well-known member
Howard and I have a long-standing, tomato-tossing argument about this.

Take the Alpa. It works well with snowshoes on.
:D

OK Dave, I have to ask.
Snowshoes on both photographer and the tripod legs?

I remember shooting in Bryce January 2017 (the year of the big snowstorms) and without snowshoes fell into a snow drift I did not see and the could not get up with camera and self to capture to shot where I wanted so I just sat in the snow and hoped for the best using ES on my IQ3100. Of course I was alone with no one in sight. That's what makes me think tripod snowshoes can come in handy not to mention snowshoes for humans.
 

GrahamWelland

Subscriber & Workshop Member
OK Dave, I have to ask.
Snowshoes on both photographer and the tripod legs?

I remember shooting in Bryce January 2017 (the year of the big snowstorms) and without snowshoes fell into a snow drift I did not see and the could not get up with camera and self to capture to shot where I wanted so I just sat in the snow and hoped for the best using ES on my IQ3100. Of course I was alone with no one in sight. That's what makes me think tripod snowshoes can come in handy not to mention snowshoes for humans.
if you can’t make it, no amount of camera protection will make it!
 
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vsbhk

Member
My main camera for the trip will be the reputedly weathersealed Nikon D850 which, as Mr D Dolde frequently tells us, should produce perfectly adequate images.
But I really want to take along my IQ3100 to get some proper MF high res landscape shots which will be printed nice and large.
I doubt that it would come out very often - and only when there is no precipitation (which may mean never, of course) but my dilemma is whether to take my favourite Alpa STC + 40mm HR Alpagon or the XF + WLF + (hired) 35mm SK BR.
I will only allow myself one MF lens and body but which one?
The weight, simplicity and my own preference steers me in the direction of the Alpa but the slightly wider aperture, focal length and ruggedness of the SK 35mm towards the XF!
We will be doing some night photography which probably suits the XF better but I'm not sure that I would want all that weight in my rucksack (plus Nikon, WA lenses, filters etc.) for the time we will be trekking.
I always use the ES for landscapes on the IQ3 and, of course, there are a lot of settings that need to be done via the DB's touch screen. Probably more on the Alpa than the XF. Will this be affected by the cold? My fingers certainly will!
So advice and opinion would be greatly appreciated from anyone with experience of using either of these with an IQ3100 or similar in the, potentially very, cold conditions.
Which one would you go for?
Keep things simple and use what you already have. The STC is the perfect tool for the job. Note that Iceland and is not always (no longer ?) that cold in the winter. 40mm and 90mm would be ideal in my view. Use the Nikon for long night exposures.
 
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