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Thread: Trip to Iceland

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    Trip to Iceland

    Guys,

    I will travel to Iceland in few weeks and I am having a hard time deciding which camera should I bring: my Monochrom or my M8.2. I will bring a pocket camera as a backup, but I want to travel light and so I will carry only one M Camera with me.

    On a first thought, it seemed obvious to me that I should shoot color while in Iceland, so I can register it's wonderful nature colors and, if I get lucky, a colorful northern light. So the M8.2 should be my choice.
    However, if I take the Monochrom, I will be able to have higher ISO capabilities, a necessity in Iceland during winter time it seems, and be forced to take less obvious photos because highlighting nature colors won't be an option.

    The lenses I currently have are:
    - 35mm Lux asph
    - 40mm M Rokkor f/2
    - 28mm Zeiss Biogon f/2.8
    - 21-35mm M Hexanon f/3.4-4
    - 90mm M Rokkor f/4

    I am more used to street photography than landscape and nature, so this is the source of my struggle I guess. If you were on my shoes, which above gear would you bring with you?
    Thanks in advance !

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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    Plenty of nature photography is done in B&W.

    I alway bring what I most enjoy using. Why not drop your backup camera and take both Ms?
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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    Monochrome with the 21-35 and 90mm. Slow lenses but the monochrom is pretty amazing at high ISO. I'm assuming your backup camera will be color so that's covered too. But have a look at Flickr with a search and see if you like the color or black and white shots better.
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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    As mentioned above I would take both the M8.2 and the Monochrome. I would put the Zeiss 28mm on the Monochrome, the 35 Lux on the M8.2 so it would be close to a 50mm and the 90mm as the extra lens. Should all fit in a bag, or the extra lens in a jacket pocket. I would want the best gear on the trip since I was going to a fantastic place to photographs and spending the money for the trip.

    Anyway, that is what I would do, good luck with your decision and look forward to you posting some images from the trip.

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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    Monochrom and your favourite lenses.

    Iceland is likely to be much more interesting in B&W at this time of year IMO.

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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    Yes, no question, definitely take the Monochrom. Unless you are backpacking and carrying as little as possible, I'd also take the M8.2. It takes the same batteries and uses the same charger so makes more sense to me as a backup than any pocket camera.
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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    i went first week in December last year. i went with a fuji XE1, Leica MATE, CV40mm F1.4 and a sony SAL70400G. i can tell you the 70-400 was a waste of time and effort. visibility isnt high enough to use anything tele. i got some wonderful black and white photos from that trip. in fact 70% of the useful ones are all in B&W !
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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    Hi guys,

    Really nice feedback here. Thank you!
    My backup camera is a Ricoh GXR with the M module. So I can use M glass and get much better ISO performance. However, it lacks the rangefinder experience I love. Nonetheless, it's smaller and lighter than the M8.2.

    I also have a CV Nokton 50mm f/1.5 that I forgot to mention.

    My favorite lens currently is the lux 35mm as I use it a lot for street shots. I am considering bringing it along with the 90mm for occasions I need to get longer.

    Not made up my mind yet, but getting there! Thanks a lot for your contribution!

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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    you will have about 3 hours of full day light sunset and sunrise is about another 2 hours, so the rest of the day is pretty much rely on street light. so bring some fast lens with you.
    Keep It Simple.
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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    Half the fun of Iceland this time of year is Northern Lights. You need the 8.2 and a tripod for this. You can shoot Northern Lights with a Monochrom, but it's pretty uninteresting.

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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    I took my Monochrom to Iceland this spring, along with a 50 Summicron and 28 Elmarit, and I had a blast with it. I also brought along my Ricoh GR so that I had an option for colour. Looking back on my photos, I am glad I had the colour camera for certain scenes, but I would have been fine with just the Monochrom. I think that with your GXR and Monochrom you would be fine. I did wish I'd brought the 90mm lens for isolation of landscape elements, so it's good you're planning to bring that.

    If you do take your Monochrom, be sure to bring an orange filter because it makes a big difference in Iceland's light conditions. Also, don't miss out on the street shooting opportunities in Reykjavik, which is an amazing city.

    All the best in your camera choice. Either way you'll come back with fantastic photos. If it was me, I would leave behind one or two of the lenses (the Rokkor and the Hexanon) and perhaps take both Ms.
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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    Quote Originally Posted by TimothyHyde View Post
    Half the fun of Iceland this time of year is Northern Lights. You need the 8.2 and a tripod for this. You can shoot Northern Lights with a Monochrom, but it's pretty uninteresting.
    I had the same thought regarding the northern lights. However, following a suggestion of a forum member here, I checked online for B&W photos of Iceland. Surprisingly enough I found them beautiful, even the ones with the northern lights. It's a rather original view of a natural wonder.

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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    As someone who lives here, I would suggest you bring both a color and a black and white camera. The light can be very beautiful during the day, even though it is very short. To enjoy this however, it needs to be clear and you need to be somewhere outside in the open, as even low buildings or hills can easily block out the sun as it skids along the horizon.

    The lighting ratios can be very high contrast, so a camera like the Monochrom will be better at being able to capture detail in the shadows. At this time of year, however, you are not going to have much of a window to shoot "standard" landscapes, so you either have to do night photography or focus on other aspects of the land -- the form, patches of light and color etc. Depending on exactly what week you go, you will have a different experience. We lose 6 or 7 minutes of light a day at this time of year, so the first week in November will have dramatically more light than the first week in December, for example.

    Be prepared for very bad weather. You might get lucky and not have it, but this time of year is characterized by very heavy winds, driving rain or sleet (snow if you are lucky, but the temperature usually hovers right above and right below freezing) and darkness. There is a reason it is cheaper in November!! Still, you can have some lovely days if you get lucky. Street photography can be rather limited here, particularly in the winter...it is a very small city and most Icelanders drive, especially in the winter. But there should still be some interesting city scenes for you, but don't expect lots of people unless you are here during Airwaves, in which case most of them will be tourists. In fact, most people downtown are tourists now at nearly all times of year...that is just the reality now. If you are looking for the locals, try the side streets...Laugavegur, Austurstraeti, Bankastraeti, Skolavordustigur and anything around the pond are pretty touristy, but if you go off the main roads, you are more likely to catch the locals going about their day.

    Waterproof clothing and a weather sealed camera can help. Don't forget your hat and gloves!
    In terms of lens choice, definitely bring the 35mm lux as the angle and speed will be very useful, from there the 28 and 90 probably make sense. Or just the 90 and 35mm...it depends on how much of a wide angle shooter you are. The landscapes are incredibly wide here, but I find that pushes me towards standard and longer lenses...you don't need a wide angle to make the land look wide, and if you use a super wide angle to get everything in, things look too wide! At least that is my view. My most used lenses are from 35mm to 100mm equivalents.

    For the aurora, I would suggest a color camera with good ISO performance. I had the M8 and have the M9, and they are not great for the aurora unless it is really huge. Generally you want a good ISO 1600 or 3200 and plan on exposures around 15-30 seconds at f/2.8-f/4. You can take good aurora photos in black and white, but at times it can be difficult to tell them from clouds unless it is quite clear and the aurora is active. In general, color is easier. Make sure you just experience them though...they are better in person than in pictures, though they do not look nearly as vivid or dramatic unless you get very lucky. We had some huge active ones last night though, so maybe you will!
    My photos are here: http://www.stuartrichardson.com and more recent work here: http://stuartrichardson.tumblr.com/ Please have a look at my book!
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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    Stuart
    Thanks for all that info.

    If someone was going in late July/early August, what weather should one normally expect especially if heading up into the highlands and camping.

    Your comment on too wide a lens is advice I would never have thought of since I usiually use an 18 or 21 for wide open landscapes and often stitch those type of images.

    Is a lens longer than a 90 put to good use, like a 135 or 180?

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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    The weather can be unpredictable in the highlands at any time of year. I have been to Kárahnjúkar dam up in the highlands twice. Once in July and once in August. Both times it was 2 or 3 degrees and sleeting. It depends on how far up in the highlands you are, and where...generally, the closer you are to the glaciers and the interior, the colder it is, especially north of Vatnajökull. It could really be anywhere from -4 to 20. Most likely, however, it will be between 10 and 18, depending on the weather and where you are. Late July and early August is the warmest time, and also one of the driest, so it is a good time to be in the highlands. You still need to be very prepared though, as the weather can turn and there can be heavy storms. It is also important to realize that while the weather might be gorgeous in the valleys and the lowlands, it can be much rougher in the highlands. Having waterproof clothing, gloves and hats are important. Layers are key, as well as letting people know your plans and sticking to them or telling people of any changes. It is best to be with some others, and to not do anything too risky. For example, if the weather is turning, it is often safer to turn back, rather than to forge ahead and risk getting caught unprepared.
    Have a look at this site...it will get you started: Home - safetravel.is

    As for the lenses, different people have different visions, but as I said, I usually do most of my work with a 35mm to 100mm lens. Sometimes I use a 135mm (these are all equivalents, as I use the S system, so the most used lenses are the 35mm, 70mm and 120mm, I am adding a 45mm which I expect to use a lot). I generally find the S 180mm a bit less useful, but I use the 120 all the time.
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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    I spent 2 weeks there in July. You can see the results here: ISSUU - Colours of iceland by Paul Ashley
    Certainly at that time of year I would have missed a whole lot if I'd just used monochrome. Icelandic houses are distinctively brightly coloured and set off the landscape well, and the landscape greens are subtly varied.
    I took my M240, and mostly used a 28mm Elmarit, occasionally 35mm Summilux, and occasionally 90mm Apo Summicron. I'd have taken my 75mm instead of the 90, if it hadn't been under repair.

    Edit: as Stuart says, the weather is "mixed". It got up to 20C one day in Reykjavik, and we froze in our 4WD camper at Askja and near Jokulsarlon.
    Edit2: my M got wet with rain and spray near the waterfalls, especially near Dettifoss, but it dried well and caused no problems.
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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    Nicely done book.

    After not having your 75 did you still get plenty of satisifying shots with the 90? I would like to take my Macro 90 for weight instead if a 75. The 28/2.8 is a marvelous lens and packs nicely due to its diminutive size. Do I assume you found very little need for 1.4 lenses?

    Any filter suggestions?

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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    Thanks!

    I've just checked - I used the 90 mostly in town either where I wanted a tightly constrained background or to control DOF: the girl on the pink bicycle is an example of both. I could have done the same with the 75, which I find more versatile. I also used the 90 for the diving Arctic Terns - a real test of anticipating the decisive moment!

    I'm also a fan of the 28 Elmarit for its size and sharpness. For the few times I want better DOF control at wider angle I will use the 35 Summilux, but looking at what I actually took, I don't see evidence of that in practice. Making up the four lenses I took was a Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50/1.5, but I hardly touched it.

    At that time of year, handheld photography at midnight is possible: the shot at the end of the book of wildfowl in a sea lagoon used the 90, and is recorded in EXIF as 1138pm, 1/180s, f/4, ISO200, which seems scarcely believable.
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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    I am debating on just taking an M240 and MM plus all E39 filter size lenses-28/2.8; 35/2.0 Ver.IV; 50/2; 90/4; and perhaps an old 135/4. Just not sure if a real long lens will be used all that much and I might miss my 18 or 21 wides, but based on others comments they just might be too wide for Iceland. Then again perhaps the R 28-90 would be a good one to take along, however it is weighty, but could replace many primes.

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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    Sorry, I missed your question about filters. But in fact I hardly use them, and didn't in Iceland.
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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    Hi Stuart,

    Thank you so much for sharing such valuable information and first hand experience. I am still struggling to decide what camera to bring with me to Iceland! That's the problem of having to many cameras that you like (MM, M8.2, Sigma DP2 Merrill, LX100 and Ricoh GXR + M module). Perhaps I should start selling some gear to make easier choosing cameras in the future!

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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    Of course, I hope it helped. If you can't decide on a camera, I just upgraded to a Leica S, so I am selling my S2. Haha, you are welcome to buy that if you want. It's the perfect camera for Iceland...and pretty much everything else.
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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    Whatever you bring, don't forget lenses longer than 70mm. I used the 70-200 range A LOT.

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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    I would like to reinforce the comment made above that you need to take Iceland's weather fully into account in preparing for a trip there. It is a fabulous place for photography, but to fully enjoy it you will need to be confident that your equipment can function in wind-driven rain. Non-weather resistant digital Leicas, as much as I appreciate their many qualities, would not be my first, and certainly not my only, choices to take to this location. By all means bring one for days when you can enjoy shooting with one, but having shot there over a two week period with only only clear day, I would strongly advise having a second, solidly weather resistant body for the likely many more days when you are shooting in rain much of the day. Chris
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    Re: Trip to Iceland

    Hi Guys,

    I want to thanks everyone on this thread. I had an amazing time in Iceland! What a fantastic country it is.
    In the end, I brought with me only the Monochrom with a 35mm Lux asph and a Rokkor 90mm f/4. This setup was enough and amazingly light.

    Here are some photos I took while there. The whole set is on my website: http://carlospessoa.com/iceland_in_bw
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