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02-12-2011, 01:50 AM   #1
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Travelling with medium format gear

G'day,
In a short while I will be travelling internationally on my first completely photography oriented trip. I'm really looking forward to it, however I would appreciate some guidance on a couple of things...

First of all, I plan to take 3 systems: Digital, 135 film and medium format (67). Do I sound crazy?
Digital will be for convenience and for covering an airshow that I will be attending. It will also come in handy for snapshots and wildlife.
35mm film will be for when I want to pack light, and also for a bit of street shooting and snapshots. However if I had to lose a system, it might be 35mm.
Lastly will be medium format with the Pentax 67. I am only new to the 67 and 120 film, but already love it. I can see myself shooting a large amount of film, both colour and black and white. Main uses will be for landscape and static photos at the airshow.

As you would realise, all this will amount to a lot of bulk and weight. So I am curious as to how others go about this.
To be a bit more specific, my setup will be something like this:

1) 35mm film with MX, M50/1.4, M20/4, M135/3.5
2) Digital with K5(*) + grip, 60-250(*), DA35ltd, DA15ltd
3) MF film with 67 + WLF, 55/4, 105/2.4, short tele lens(*)
And of course accessories: couple of filters, LOTS of film, batteries, tripod, monopod, etc.

* means something I don't have yet but are planning to buy.

So, am I crazy?? I could easily take even more. Do others pack a similar amount on trips like this? Any suggestions for getting flights without items being stolen or damaged? I think it's inevitable that I will be pushing the boundaries with what I can get onto a plane (here it's 7kg max), so sometime soon I will contact the airline to see if there are any options.

Thanks,
Jason

02-12-2011, 02:08 AM   #2
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yes, you sound completely crazy but i guess we are all nuts out there ...

I'm not sure that 7kg of luggage will be enought ... because, juste photo gear will bring you up to 5 i guess... just take one underwear, and a t-shirt, and it will be okay :P
02-12-2011, 02:23 AM   #3
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Bonjour aurele,

Yes I know I am at least partly crazy
Just to clarify - 7kg is just for what I can take on the plane, ie. hand luggage. I can have 23kg checked luggage in my suitcase. More than likely, the suitcase will be carrying a couple of the more rugged photography items too!

Thanks for your reply.
02-12-2011, 02:34 AM   #4
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Indeed it looks a bit much! When traveling overseas I take only gear that uses the same film, and/or takes the same lenses, for convenience. In your situation you have specific different uses in mind, but I'd be tempted to take just the K5 gear and leave the rest behind. The P67, much as I love it, and I have taken it on both air and road trips, is a chore to pack for and carry. Film: How will you decide whether to load B&W or color, and what happens when you have one loaded and need the other? I would take either B&W or color, not both. Too confusing. Keep it simple!

02-12-2011, 08:39 AM   #5
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Jason,

It does not sound reasonable. I travelled with a P645, back, 3 lenses, film,.. that contains into a smallish backpack that I could take with me in the plane no problem. I had a LX with one lens on its Eveready case around my neck/shoulder. The tripod and head went into my suitcase. In theory you should be able to take a tripod of less than 30" in cabin. Did I want to try this? No way I would risk to have a lout from the project that was dropped in a security uniform tell me that it is not possible to take it with me (in the middle of the buzz of Heathrow Airport). I would be tempted to bash his head with it to prove him right.
With all this gear you might have a hard time getting it into the cabin and you might have to carry it in something not very convenient for normal use. You will then need to leave some of your stuff in your hotel room for the day, depending the hotel it might not be wise. Likewise when you are carrying the gear, do you want to be in the middle of a crowd in a shady neighborhood with three packs of gear and your wallet and your passport and your wife to care about?

If I may suggest the following.
1) backpack
67 plus two lenses
Your long digital lens
B&W Film...
(you might want to consider the Lowepro backpack that open from the back of the pack)
2) K5 with DA15 in an Eveready case slung over your shoulder under your jacket
3) Tripod in your suitcase plus a tripod bag (Domke is great)

When your are traveling you need some convenience otherwise you won't even feel like taking a shot.

Cheers,

Luc
02-12-2011, 09:18 AM   #6
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Way too much. Take your 67 and two lenses. For me, that would be it. Maybe add your DSLR and one zoom or two primes. But no more. You want to feel like a traveler, not a pack horse. With the list you have, you will return with most of the equipment unused.
02-12-2011, 11:00 AM   #7
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Another thing you want to keep in mind is you don't want your un-processed film going through the X-ray scanners. You film will get fogged. It's always a hassle with security at the airports. So you might want to process your film before you carry them.

I would just go with the 67 and couple of lenses as someone suggested, or just go with the digital and a few lenses.
02-12-2011, 11:16 AM   #8
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Ive travelled with my 645 three lenses three film backs dslr and two zooms a whack of filters and film
Film i pack in a clear ziplock back and ask for a hand inspection on it never hadto have it scanned yet
Tripod in luggage along with filters and film backs (unloaded) and a smaller day bag
Always end up overweight by the return trip
Carry on i have a full camera bag and laptop
Medium format ends up planned outings digital is walkabout

02-12-2011, 12:28 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by shrinba Quote
Another thing you want to keep in mind is you don't want your un-processed film going through the X-ray scanners. You film will get fogged. It's always a hassle with security at the airports. So you might want to process your film before you carry them.

I would just go with the 67 and couple of lenses as someone suggested, or just go with the digital and a few lenses.
I have several Domke Xray pouches. They work great and the film can go through the security check without any issue. But never put the film in your checked luggage, they use very powerful scanners and the film is very likely to be ruined..

Cheers,

Luc
02-12-2011, 01:05 PM   #10
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I'd say you're over-planning and the 135 should be left behind if you want to shoot that 6x7. Get it all to fit one backpack that is manageable.
02-12-2011, 01:13 PM   #11
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I have routinely travelled with medium-format film, usually 400 ISO. The scanners used with checked luggage will fog your film. The scanners for carry-on are film safe, even for multiple scans. Some places will not allow you to use X-ray bags. If you want your film to be hand inspected, have it in a container that will make the process easier--I have also had sealed film boxes opened. Since the security does not handle the film with any great care, I really don't mind having film go through the scanner--better than light leaks from them pinching the roll.
02-12-2011, 02:07 PM   #12
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I used to travel with two systems on me-a Canon digital and a Leica R film.
As I mostly fly Lufthansa, and they are very strict on carry-on policies(no more than 8kg for the piece), keeping my photo stuff close to me is always a potential problem. I never carry tripods on board-extra bulk and discomfort isn't worth it in my case.
As of now, I'm planning to travel with medium format(two systems), so it gets a bit more complicated.
My way of handling the situation is relatively easy:
in the past I used either the Lowepro Computrekker backpack - at 1.4kg of weight you can fit huge amount of stuff in it - and even fully stuffed it doesn't attract too much attention as it isn't very big. You can also fit a 13" Macbook or a 14" ThinkPad in it if needed.
In case of medium format, the Computrekker fits my 67 system perfectly still staying relatively light. I can also fit a 645 body instead of a tele lens if I need a backup camera.
Right now as I plan to travel with medium format exclusively, I've settled on a Lowepro CompuTrekker Plus, a monster of a backpack, which is also light, and easily fits my 67 with the lenses and my 645n plus whatever film and other misc. stuff I may need. It's still within carry-on limitations - and many U.S. airlines aren't that strict on the carry-on weight limitations as the germans.

There's one thing to consider, though. Lowepro ceased production of both Computrekkers, regular as well as Plus - and replaced the line with the Pro Runner series.
The Pro Runner 300 and 350 are the new versions of the smaller Computrekker, but the 300 doesn't have a laptop compartment. The 450AW is a new Computrekker Plus which is the same size, slight difference in design.
I've figured that I'd better be safe than sorry, and ordered myself one regular computrekker and one plus to sit in the closet until the older ones die-this way I won't have to even think about transport issues with my gear.

Hope that was of some help.
02-12-2011, 03:13 PM   #13
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I used to travel with one medium format (Mamiya 6 X 6, TLR), three medium format Mamiya lenses, two Pentax 35 mm SLR bodies and about 4 35mm lenses.

I always used my car (76 Impala...last of the real big Detroit Iron) or my 97 Chevy Astro...a mid sized , rear wheel drive van....lot's of space in either one. Camera bags and cases, on vehicle seats (cushion reduces vibration transfer) and seat belted in.

Airplane...never the medium format...but the two 35mm slr bodies and 4 lenses....one aluminum camera case and one soft bodied camera bag. I checked out the aluminum case to ensure it could fit under the seat and the bag was overhead baggage. Not sure if you can store under the seat anymore...haven't flown on a commercial jet since '85....but have been on bush planes (DeHavilland Otters/Beavers).
02-12-2011, 09:32 PM   #14
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Second that. Though no experience with film I've on 2 occasions been called from the gate to security for checked baggage containing equipment which they found suspicious in checked luggage and wanted explanations for - both times due to the internal characteristics of a integrated circuit component on test equipment I was carrying. If they have machines strong enough to pass through the 1mm zinc cladding of that component I wouldn't want to put film through it at all.

QuoteOriginally posted by lbenac Quote
But never put the film in your checked luggage, they use very powerful scanners and the film is very likely to be ruined.
02-13-2011, 03:49 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by lbenac Quote
Jason,

It does not sound reasonable. I travelled with a P645, back, 3 lenses, film,.. that contains into a smallish backpack that I could take with me in the plane no problem. I had a LX with one lens on its Eveready case around my neck/shoulder. The tripod and head went into my suitcase. In theory you should be able to take a tripod of less than 30" in cabin. Did I want to try this? No way I would risk to have a lout from the project that was dropped in a security uniform tell me that it is not possible to take it with me (in the middle of the buzz of Heathrow Airport). I would be tempted to bash his head with it to prove him right.
With all this gear you might have a hard time getting it into the cabin and you might have to carry it in something not very convenient for normal use. You will then need to leave some of your stuff in your hotel room for the day, depending the hotel it might not be wise. Likewise when you are carrying the gear, do you want to be in the middle of a crowd in a shady neighborhood with three packs of gear and your wallet and your passport and your wife to care about?

If I may suggest the following.
1) backpack
67 plus two lenses
Your long digital lens
B&W Film...
(you might want to consider the Lowepro backpack that open from the back of the pack)
2) K5 with DA15 in an Eveready case slung over your shoulder under your jacket
3) Tripod in your suitcase plus a tripod bag (Domke is great)

When your are traveling you need some convenience otherwise you won't even feel like taking a shot.

Cheers,

Luc
I can only second that. When I was in Rome last year for a photo shoot with a cabdriver, I had way too much with me, almost the exact amount of gear you think of taking with you, Jason. Only that I use Nikon 35mm cameras, not Pentax.

Walking around in Rome with all that gear was exhausting, I definetely can't recommend it. Among other things I should have left the Nikon F100 at home, the monopod and a couple of lenses that I did not need. I missed my tripod, though. The 67 is best with the 45 or 55 lens, the 100 or 105 and maybe something inbetween. Not sure about tele lenses - I rarely use them on my 67. With the zoom 55-100 you are on the safe side and carry just one lens.

You do your back a huge favor if you get yourself a great bag and some accessories that makes it easier and more comfortable to carry around the 67 and your K5 at once. I use Lowepro and sunsniper but there are sure other good systems out there.

Where are you travelling to?

Last edited by phonoline; 02-13-2011 at 03:55 PM.
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