Imitation is the sincerest form of theft . .
Early prototype for a film developing robot.
Kate and I recently spent 10 days in Paris and Belgium. We spent most of the time just wandering around and relaxing. With most of the film developed, if not scanned, it’s time for the after action report. Here’s the rundown:
I ended up taking one Hexar RF body with the 28mm and 50mm lenses, 20 rolls of Delta 400, and an extra set of batteries. Most days I carried the body and both lens and 4 extra rolls of film in a little LowePro 60 AW pouch. The pouch, a slightly larger version of the one mentioned by Colin in this post, worked out really well. It was light, well constructed and small, and the sliplock thingy allowed me to attach it to my belt. This didn’t look nearly as dorky as it sounds. I swear, go ask Kate.
The fans gather to see my sporty camera bag.
The 28 and 50 proved to be just about the right combo. I ended up doing more architectural photography than I had anticipated, so the 28 was definitely useful. I can see that I eventually might want something wider: the Konica 21-35 dual focal length lens might be just the ticket if all the M8 owners haven’t snapped them up. I probably could have gotten by with just the 35, but the dual lens set up was not as cumbersome as I had feared. Part of this might have been that I limited myself to one kind of film, Delta 400 (BTW, B&W film is still widely available in Paris. Even Delta 3200). Switching between film types would either have meant carrying two bodies or dealing with the anxiety of worrying if I had loaded the right kind of film. B&W handled almost everything, although color woud have been useful in Brussels. I think I was expecting the “whited sepulchre” of Heart of Darkness, but it’s actually quite a colorful city with some incredible light. Not a bad place to learn to paint perhaps, and a city that probably deserves to be seen in color. Maybe next time.
Color would have been good here.
The Hexar RF proved to be the only problematic piece of kit. It was down right leperous on this trip. The screw that holds on the frame preview lever fell off at one point. Luckily it fell to stone floor (don’t say that often in photography) where the sound alerted me before I walked away. On another occasion, the lens spontaneously dismounted. Our bus was bumping down the cobble stones at the time, so it’s possible that the camera, which wasn’t in the pouch, was banging against something. Both tragedies were narrowly averted, but disconcerting none the less. I’ve gotten used to regularly checking the eyepiece on my Hexars, so I guess I’ll just add a few more things to the list.
Other Assorted Useful Bits
Everything – clothes, camera bag, book, iPod etc – was carried in a Lowe Alpine Onyx 20 backpack. Kate and I bought these on sale before the trip. They ended up being a little smaller than we had thought, but that actually ended up for the best since hotel check in times and other vicissitudes of travel meant we often carried our backpacks for hours at a time. The Onyx proved to be comfortable and sturdy and generally friendly to our fairly flexible travel style. Rolling luggage would have been a disaster and checked luggage doubly so since weather conditions mangled our flight schedules.
I’m not allowed to use the map. It just confuses me.
We also took along a Molskine City Notebook for Paris. If you can get past the overblown marketing of these things – who the hell knows or cares who Bruce Chatwin is – they are actually pretty useful. The maps are detailed and well indexed, the little pocket in the back is a good place to stash some money, and the triple threat bookmarks make it easy to keep track of all the different map pages. The extensive notes section in the back is a bit more extensive than I require, but I can see filling it up over the course of many trips. After a while it would become a self-written travel guide, which is the only kind that is ever useful.