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Thread: Traveling with an M9

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    Senior Member The Smoking Camera's Avatar
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    Traveling with an M9

    Posted this in MF, but thought I should ask here. I was all set to take my H4d-40 and 28mm lens along with a Nikon d700 and Fuji x100 for a two week trip to North Vietnam and Cambodia. However, I now have an opportunity to take a Leica M9, 21mm f/1.4 Summilux and possibly 28mm f/2 Summilux. Is the Leica kit a better option than the Hassy and x100? Certainly a lighter option. I have limited experience using an M9, but plan to play with it for a week or so before the trip. Thanks.
    ........................................
    Joe Marquez
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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    Hi Joe.

    I have experience traveling with an M8. Size wise almost same as the M9.

    Specifically in the countries you mention, the M9 would be an ideal travel

    companion. The humidity and pollution never presented a problem for me;

    of course with a bit of care.

    The FLs you mention, I have only the cron 28 asph. I paired that with

    a cron 75 apo. Wouldn't want for anything else.

    Night/Temples, I found I was struggling with my M8. But the M9 would be

    better.

    Go for it, enjoy and show us the pics. Be smart with your luggage, you should

    have no issues.

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    I'm not a Leica user, but I travel regularly in the two countries you mention, and I would clearly prefer the compact solution that Leica represents. The large aperture 21mm is ideal since there's little light inside temples and nit much street lighting. If I should choose, I would add a 35 and a 75mm, the first for general photography and the latter for portraits etc.

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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    I would bring the Hassy and the Leica.
    If you travel around a lot Iwould bring just the Leica.

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    Super Duper
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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    One more thing: If you are new to Leica M then I wouldnot take it for such a trip.
    Rangefinder is different and the risk that you are not really used to it is too big IMO.
    It even starts that I allways would focus test all lenses on the specific body.

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    Senior Member Gary Clennan's Avatar
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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    I'm going to go against the grain here and recommend you take the X100 and D700. Is using a RF new to you? If not, the D700 and M9 may be a better choice. Whichever route you take, make sure to bring a back up. Have fun - I really enjoyed those two countries (especially the North) a lot.

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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    Tough call (at least for me). Weight wise I'd opt for the M9 and as many lenses that I owned. The M9 will give you the image quality while saving a ton of weight. Small, compact, great IQ. The downside only shows up after you've returned home and begin processing the images for printing. I found a size limitation in printing from my M9 and felt the largest I felt comfortable was 30x24 which is on the small size of what I normally do. At 40-mexapixels you wouldn't have a print size issue however you'd be carrying a much larger camera.

    If you go for the larger bigger and never need it you won't miss it. However that ONE image you really want to show off to its full potential with a 50x30 or larger then you'll be wondering what if.

    As I said tough call. Me? Since I sold my M9 for a Phase DF I'd take the DF and wonder if I should include the Cambo WRS.

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    Senior Member The Smoking Camera's Avatar
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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    Wonderful responses and suggestions. I am a little concerned with my RF inexperience. Used an M9 in NYC for a day and enjoyed it more than I imagined. Planning to use the M9 again this weekend to determine my comfort level. My trip is in two weeks so I need to make a decision soon.
    ........................................
    Joe Marquez
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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    I would take just the x100 or just the M9. The last thing you want to do is be dragging a huge heavy camera (or multiple) around the tropics. The M9 or X100 will be less intimidating, less attention grabbing and just less to worry about in general. I am currently travelling with the M9 and brought a 35mm and 75mm lens, I have only used the 35mm. If I had to do it again, I probably would have just brought a 50mm. I am in a city though, for you 35/75 would be a good combo, or just the 28. 21/28 seems pretty loaded towards the wides...do you really need both? The 28/2 should do the job really well on its own. Bringing a 50mm or 75mm with it would round it out a bit.

    I would not worry too much about the lack of RF experience...it's not rocket science. Just make the two little images become one. Framing is fast and loose...just go with it. It's a vacation, right? Also, as for missing "THE SHOT" that only 40 megapixels can make...well, I would not give that an instant's thought. And X100 or M9 can both be printed very large with excellent quality. 40mp will be better, but if you have taken a great photo with the smaller cameras, you can still print it very large. I bet you will take much better photos with either the X100 or an M9 than you would with your H4 for this kind of trip, just on the basis that they are so much more discreet, less intimidating to the subjects, quicker and more handy in use, and just the fact that you are more likely to carry one around with you everywhere than you would a hulking medium format camera. And I say this as a guy who loves his hulking 40mp medium format camera!!
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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    My advice. Listen to your heart. Screw the head. What ever you think you

    would like to have with you.

    Our suggestions are ours. They are just to inform you, maybe help you towards

    an informed decision. But do not over analyze.

    Take what you feel deep down you want to. Your pictures shall tell the story.

    Have a safe and lovely trip.

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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    Hi Joe! Great to see you here. I'd take the M9 and leave the rest behind ....maybe, the x100 as a back up.... The HD-40 would be cumbersome while travelling, though some places like Halong bay would be perfect for the Hassy. For your style, the m9 with a 28 and 50, maybe 90 would be ideal and compact
    Ashwin Rao
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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    The old adage is still true: Mozart on a boombox is still Mozart.

    Salgado on a postcard or in newsprint is still Salgado.

    The camera is important, but it's not as important as the photographic content. A good image can be taken with a surprisingly poor camera and remain recognizable as a brilliant photograph. The most important part is to take the photograph in the first place, and to that end simply being there with a camera in hand is the critical part. This is the part that should never be compromised. When traveling most photography tends to be opportunistic, and a camera left in the hotel safe because you don't foresee needing it isn't going to be the tool of brilliant work. At least not while traveling in unfamiliar territory.

    The M9 is an excellent travel camera, in that it's very high fidelity while still compact enough to have on hand at all times.

  13. #13
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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    I traveled for three months this fall, and all I used was an M9 with nothing longer than a 50mm. Everything fit in a small Billingham, and when I was around others with SLRs like the 60D, they were the ones getting the "expensive camera" remarks. When I travel again in a few months, I'll be leaving the SLR kit behind again, and I won't feel like I'm missing a thing.

    This is all moot if you aren't confident in your rangefinder usage. The learning curve can be steep, but any competent photographer should be able to ease into it fairly quickly. Whether you'll be confident enough to bank on it for your entire trip, however, is something only you can answer.

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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    I don't know how often you get to go to Vietnam and Cambodia. If you go there from time to time it may not matter if you lost any photographic opportunities due to equipment failure. However, if it is an important trip you may not have a chance to go back again any time soon, you may want to plan on the safe side.

    Suppose it is the second case mentioned above, you may want to bring the M9 plus Hassy or Nikon as you backup. But do use the M9 a lot before the trip and try it in all kinds of situations so you get familiar with it. It's almost like breaking-in a pair of hiking boots before you head into the mountain for a week long hike.

    If you ended up using only the M9 all along so much the better. The extra weight of your backup equipment is for peace of mind.
    Phil

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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    It's hard to advise others on what they ought to carry as I don't know them, don't know what their goals are or what they like to do in their photography. But I can say what I'd do.

    What I want for travel is light weight and compactness. What I've been reaching for through all the different kits and systems the past decade is to achieve what I once had with 35mm film cameras in digital cameras.

    My last three-week travel trip, I carried the Ricoh GXR-M and Color-Skopar 21mm f/4, Nokton 40mm f/1.4, M-Rokkor 90mm f/4 lenses. It was a near perfect kit ... everything (including the iPad 2 and all accessories) fit comfortably into a small satchel bag (Black Label Bag "Oskar's One Day Bag Mark II" or A&A ACAM 7100) that weighed less than 7 lbs. That bag was convenient enough to *never* be left behind, although sometimes I'd leave the iPad behind when I was out on a shooting session.

    Were I to leave tomorrow, I'd stick the same lenses and other stuff in the bag and then toss a coin as to whether to put in the M9 or GXR-M body. With the M9, I like the wider FoV of the same three lenses.

    Having once traveled with a full 35mm SLR kit AND a full Hasselblad kit "for fun", I swore after getting home that I'd never do that again unless someone was paying me for the burden.

    My rule of thumb: One bag. If the bag with everything in it weighs over 8 lbs, I've got too much stuff. The only acceptable addition is a light tripod.

    It goes without saying...
    if my thing was doing wildlife photography and my "vacation" was a safari on the African savannah, the above kit would be mostly useless so of course I'd change gears. And hire someone to schlep it all for me ... :-)

    === Oh yeah === backup ...

    Funny, but in 40+ years of photography, I've only had one camera fail and that was my own damn fault. For backup, I plan to either borrow or buy something in the places I like to go if the camera fails. After all, if I'm not getting paid and I'm on vacation, I can just enjoy the trip and forget the bloody photography if the camera craps out. And I'm sure I'll have my iPhone with me anyway for the memories in happy snaps. There are more important things in life than making every possible photograph I can.

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    So much of this depends on the photographer and the type of work they will be doing. You have to make some assumptions . I have shot with each of your alternatives and do most of my shooting in concentrated trips of one to two weeks . Since this is your first trip to SEA I would assume you want to take it all in and will be shooting as a travel photographer ...a good mixture of city/sea/landscape,people and street scenes .

    For this type of work the M9 is the ideal kit . It provides very high IQ in a small discrete and easily handled package . I could shoot this type of trip with a 28 and a 50 but I would t discount the potential of a 21 and a 90 but those would be less than 20% of my images .

    My experience in working with MF on the street is ...you have to work really hard and you will miss the moment many times ...but when you nail one it can be that iconic image we all strive for.

    I always take a backup and the x100 is a nice one . Its also a little better at high ISO and maybe a better alternative for night shooting . Really depends on if you can secure your equipment in your hotel .

    Your other issue is your computer equipment ,batteries,chargers ,cards etc. When I travel they equal the size of my camera kit and I am careful about how I secure them . Lots of alternative strategies .

    Point being there are two considerations beyond ..what works best (1) portability of kit while working and (2) security of kit and computer stuff during the trip.

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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    .. For this type of work the M9 is the ideal kit . It provides very high IQ in a small discrete and easily handled package . I could shoot this type of trip with a 28 and a 50 but I would t discount the potential of a 21 and a 90 but those would be less than 20% of my images .
    ...
    Your other issue is your computer equipment ,batteries,chargers ,cards etc. When I travel they equal the size of my camera kit and I am careful about how I secure them . Lots of alternative strategies . ...
    just to add my observations...
    Analyzing my photos from the trip I mentioned above with the GXR, the 40 made the vast majority, the 21 made most of the rest, but the 90 was invaluable at the air show I attended.

    For me, on the M9, the M-Rokkor 40/2 is so much my preference that sometimes I think it's welded to the lens mount. :-)

    Computer equipment on the last trip was the iPad 2, Camera Connection kit and charger. I tossed the Apple Wireless Keyboard into my checked luggage and used it occasionally. I made sure that when I left I had 35G+ of free storage space. It was SO much less burden and trouble to manage than the laptop...!

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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    Quote Originally Posted by The Smoking Camera View Post
    Wonderful responses and suggestions. I am a little concerned with my RF inexperience. Used an M9 in NYC for a day and enjoyed it more than I imagined. Planning to use the M9 again this weekend to determine my comfort level. My trip is in two weeks so I need to make a decision soon.
    Hi Joe
    I'm not going to make recommendations - but if you like using an M9 and the focus is good after a little practice then I wouldn't be concerned. Added to which it really is a perfect way to get to know the camera.

    I've taken M9's on many trips They're wonderfully light, and the IQ is just excellent . . . unless, as Don says, you are going to print really really big prints. (mine will do A2+ with consummate ease).

    I've just taken mine ski-ing in -20C, and they performed splendidly!

    PS, fwiw we're just planning a trip to China in March, and I'll be taking the M9s

    Just this guy you know

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    Senior Member The Smoking Camera's Avatar
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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    Appreciate the advice. I know it is impossible to tell someone what or what not to take but it certainly is helpful to get everyone's perspective. Will pick up the M9 today and play with it a few days.
    ........................................
    Joe Marquez
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    Senior Member KeithL's Avatar
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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    I have to say as a photographer who has been working with film and digital medium format cameras for more years than I care to remember, lugging them around villages built into the sides of mountains and in heat that would wilt a tripod, that I would, if I were the OP, in the blink of an eye and without hesitation, take the M9.

    Also posted in the MF forum.

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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    I can't speak for Vietnam but I've toured Cambodia quite a lot and the guides (read gear carriers also) at $20 a day including transport overcome the weight and heat problems and they are plentiful, knowledgeable and very friendly. I travel with a Canon 5D MK2 and an assortment of fast glass without any problems.

    Did I mention I'm 65 years of age!

    Enjoy your trip. The Cambodians are wonderful, generous and fun loving people.

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    Senior Member 4season's Avatar
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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    Are you traveling independently or as part of a group? If going with a group, cut back your gear and plan on working relatively quickly with whatever light you can get (and what you get may be a lot of 10 AM - 2 PM light). I did a 3-week Vietnam-Cambodia trip with a Hawaii-based group a couple of years back. Fun, even though as photographers, we might wish to be on-site at dawn and dusk and skip a few nonessentials, like meals.

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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    I have been fortunate to visit Thailand now about 10 times for business/pleasure over the past four years. First two visits were with the 5DII and L lenses and later Zeiss ZE glass. Weight and ergonomics got to me, and made me feel uncomfortable in getting close to people and it showed in my style of street and village portraits. Almost 2 years ago, I opted for the M9 and it really did take some practice to feel fully comfortable with the gear and PPing of the shots.

    I now fully appreciate the M9 as being part of me when I sit down with people in villages/streets to connect with and chat, and then continue to take some shots. My backup is now a M9-P funded by selling all my 5DII and lenses/equipment. I am only now starting to appreciate the philosophy and thinking behind the Leica M's.

    Keeping light, a good lens combo would be 21 Lux or 28 Cron, 50 Lux and maybe a 75. Depending of course on your favourite FL. The 50 Lux is brilliant for low light work, easy to use. The 75 Cron/Lux, IMO I would choose over the 90 Cron for the sole reason of MFD of 0.7m versus 1.0m which allows better versatility in the smaller streets.

    If you taking the M9 and M lenses, having a backup would be very helpful
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    Senior Member The Smoking Camera's Avatar
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    Re: Traveling with an M9

    Thanks everyone for your advice.
    FYI, I decided to use my H4d-40 instead of the Leica m9.
    If you are interested, I posted some Angkor Wat images in the Fun With MF images thread.
    Thanks again.
    ........................................
    Joe Marquez
    www.thesmokingcamera.com

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