Gear Theory

How Many Cameras to Take on Holiday? – by Sroyon

May 30, 2022

Well, is this a first-world problem or what! Not only are we talking about going on vacation, but also about the “problem” of choosing between multiple cameras for said vacation. To be fair, I’m sure it’s a decision which many 35mmc readers have faced (this is a site about cameras and photography, after all). But still, a little perspective never hurt anyone!

Until about ten years ago, I only had one digital camera at a time, so I never even faced this dilemma. Then my dad gave me his Minolta SLR; now I had two cameras – film and digital. In the last four years, I’ve acquired a few more. And that means I have to make choices, which is especially tricky when it comes to holidays.

In this post I’m not going to try and come up with any universal answer (the universal answer, as we all know, is 42). Rather, I want to talk about what I took for a recent trip to Mumbai and Goa, how I weighed my camera options in light of my own priorities, and how I feel about my choices in hindsight. I’m also curious to know how you weigh your options, and if your approach is similar or different to mine.

What’s so special about holidays?

Holidays are interesting in that there are good reasons both for taking lots of gear, and for taking very little. For most of us, holidays only come once in a while, and often present a wide range of possibilities. As such, there’s a temptation to pack everything: DSLR for versatility, film cameras because we love film, Velvia for sunsets, Delta 3200 for nightclubs, wide-angle lenses for scenery, telephoto for wildlife, and so on.

But unless you have your own caravan (or at least a car), the take-it-all approach is not really feasible. Besides, holiday photo-ops feel unique, but the truth is that good photo-ops in our own towns and neighbourhoods are often just as unique and unrepeatable. Elliott Erwitt’s iconic photo of a bulldog on a porch was made just around the corner from his studio in Manhattan. He didn’t even have his camera; he borrowed his friend Hiroji Kubota’s Leica and quickly shot over half a roll of Tri-X.

What if I could somehow carry a vast amount of gear to cover every shooting possibility? In reality it would probably just get in the way. Carrying and using a lot of gear is both a physical and a mental challenge – the paradox of choice.

Marc Riboud, Eiffel Tower Painter (1953) from Magnum Contact Sheets (read our book review here)

Marc Riboud had just one camera, one lens and a single roll of film when he made his unforgettable photograph of a painter on the Eiffel Tower. This is how he tells the story:

In 1953, I leave Lyon for Paris. These are my first steps in the capital, and in photography. With my Leica and only one film, I’m strolling near the Eiffel Tower, which is being repainted. I suddenly notice these paintbrush-bearing acrobats, and wishing to see them more closely … I [walk] up the tower… Hanging onto the little spiral staircase with only my 50mm lens, I can’t take close-ups or wide-angle shots, so I have only one choice left: that of the right moment. These constraints, these limited means, were my good luck… That painter was joyful, singing as he worked. I think photographers should behave like him – he was free and carried little equipment.”

I haven’t quite reached Riboud’s level of simplicity, but when I go on holiday, I’ve found that my personal limit is two cameras and a phone. Feeling free, carrying little equipment.

Which cameras?

So what kind of cameras? For me, it depends on the kind of holiday, what I expect to see and do, and how I’m feeling in the moment. Sometimes I’ll just take one or two film cameras; sometimes one film and one digital.

And which cameras specifically? With digital, the choice is easier since I only have two:

  • DSLR: Nikon D5200
  • Small underwater camera: Nikon Coolpix AW120.

Goa is on India’s western coast, and we had booked a villa by the beach, so I thought the underwater camera – recently acquired from eBay for just £39 – would be more fun than the DSLR.

As for film, I have nine(!) cameras, all functional. In my head, I divide them into three categories:

  • Workhorse cameras: Minolta X-370s (35mm SLR), Leica M3 (35mm rangefinder) and Minolta Autocord (medium-format TLR).
  • Indulgence cameras: Cameras which I don’t use regularly, but which I keep around because they are fun, unique or have sentimental value (I have three of these).
  • Superfluous cameras: Cameras which I intend to donate or sell (I have three of these too).

I also have half a dozen homemade pinhole cameras, but I have never taken one of these on holiday (come to think of it, maybe I should!)

Of the workhorse cameras, I love the Autocord, but I find it heavier and slower to use than a 35mm camera, and as such, less well-suited for taking on holiday. It’s also a fixed-lens camera, whereas I have multiple lenses for both the Leica (28–50–135) and the Minolta (20–28–50).

Of the latter two, I chose the Minolta for a technical (and somewhat boring) reason. On my trip I planned to try out a black-and-white reversal (slide) film. The Leica M3, as you may know, does not have a light-meter. Normally I just guess the exposure, or sometimes use a phone app. These slapdash methods work well enough with negative film, but slide film is less forgiving. The Minolta on the other hand has a very reliable built-in meter, and after more than a decade of regular use, I have a good understanding of when to trust it (most of the time), and when I need to compensate.

Hindsight: the bad news

So how did it go? I’ll give you the bad news first.

Ruined film

Compared to most other film photographers I’ve spoken to, I shoot quite slowly. On a ten-day trip, I finished three rolls of film – and I ruined one of those through a stupid processing error.

I’ve seen social-media posts by people saying they poured fixer before developer by mistake, and while I was obviously sympathetic, deep down I always thought, “This would never happen to me.” I’m quite organised you see, and I label and store my chemicals nicely. But of course, this only works if you label them correctly in the first place. Turns out I had mislabelled my fixer as “ID-11 stock”, so my first roll of film (Ilford HP5) came out completely blank.

I didn’t even realise until I was done processing. The moment when you open the developing tank and get your first glimpse of the freshly-developed film is always special. In this case, the film had nothing on it at all. It took a few moments to sink in – a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach as I realised what had happened, and what I had lost: photos from my 34-hour cross-country train journey with friends, walks by the beach in Mumbai, churches and bars in Old Goa. Truth be told, I am still not fully over it.

Digital has its risks too; for example, memory cards can fail or get misplaced. But film – even though I’ve shot hundreds of rolls – always feels like more of a gamble. If the camera is malfunctioning, or a photo is improperly focused or exposed, you often don’t find out until it’s too late. And even if film is exposed properly, it can be subsequently ruined by extreme temperatures, airport X-rays, or – as in my case – by development errors. For holidays, if you choose the “safer” option of digital, I don’t blame you. But I like film – and film cameras – too much, so I will persevere. I just need to be more careful when labelling my chemicals.

Flamingoes

Did I regret not bringing my DSLR? Just once, when my friend and I went to a flamingo sanctuary in Mumbai. This was an impromptu trip; had I known, I might have got my DSLR and tele lens just for this. In the event, I did the best I could with my Nikon Coolpix underwater camera, with its tiny sensor and 24-120 mm (full-frame equivalent) lens.

The first one is a wide shot, but the detail is not as good as what I’d get with a DSLR. Still, you get a sense of the sheer mind-boggling number of flamingoes. This year, around 54,000 flamingoes came to the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary – a river of pink amidst the blue seawater.

The real limitation was at the tele end. For my DSLR, I have a zoom lens which tops out at 300mm (full-frame equivalent); it would have been perfect for capturing these magnificent birds in flight.

Hindsight: the good news

Otherwise, I was happy with my equipment choices. Let’s talk about the three cameras in turn.

Phone

My phone, a Google Pixel 2, is quite old, but I really like its camera (I’m sure the newer models have even better cameras, but I am slow to upgrade). Since I got the Pixel, sometimes I’ll just rely on my phone camera, leaving my DSLR at home which frees me to take film cameras instead.

For certain things, the DSLR is obviously superior: wildlife, portraits and low-light photography, to name a few. Well… I say low-light, but in Night Mode, and if there are no fast-moving objects, the Pixel 2 is surprisingly good. Here’s a Night Mode photo of Mumbai, taken from a monorail station.

I edited the photo a bit; you can see a comparison below. The original photo had some distortion – see how the buildings at either end are splayed outwards – as well as a bluish cast. I fixed these in GIMP, which is free and open-source. Editing took about five minutes (I assume most readers know more about digital editing than I do, but if you want more details, feel free to ask in comments).

In general, the brighter the light, the less editing is required. 15 years ago, I would not have believed that you can get this sort of quality from a phone.

My phone even doubles up as a stereoscopic (3D) camera. I wrote another article which goes into more detail about my recent interest in stereoscopic photography, but in short, stereo photos are created by taking two photos from slightly different angles, and presenting a different channel to each eye.

On this trip I took several stereo photos with my phone. When seen through a 3D viewer – or with the naked eye, if you know how to ‘free-view’ – the two images below merge into a single 3D image.

Here’s an anaglyph version of the same image; this one looks 3D when viewed through red-blue glasses.

Underwater digicam

“Real photographers” may scoff, but I like my phone camera. For wide-angle shots, the Pixel 2 – outdated as it is – might actually outperform the Nikon Coolpix AW120. But the Coolpix can do one thing which my phone can’t: go in the water. The camera is not just “splashproof”, but waterproof down to 18m. I didn’t do any diving or snorkeling on this trip, but I did use it to take photos in the sea.

Okay, the last photo is technically not in the sea. But even on the beach, using a normal camera can be stressful – protecting it from sand, making sure your hands are dry, and so forth. It was nice being able to use the Coolpix without fear. Wet hands? No problem. Sand on the lens? Just wash it off.

35mm film camera

Earlier in this article I talked about the roll which I ruined through a processing error. That was Ilford HP5, which I thought I can develop in my sleep. The other two rolls were Argenti Scale-X, which I processed as B&W slides using the Adox Scala B&W Reversal Kit. This is far trickier than processing B&W negatives, but ironically, these turned out completely fine.

I have three lenses for my Minolta SLR:

The 50/1.7 is the one I use most (my grandfather got it from Japan in the early 1980s). It’s a great lens – small and versatile, with a sharp but gentle rendering.

Our Goa holiday group was quite big – a dozen adults (my friends from college and some of their partners) plus four babies. I love taking pictures of babies and children. They are fun to interact with, and not too camera-conscious. I used the 28mm lens more than I usually do – getting up close and into the thick of the action.

The 20mm is an impact lens. I use it sparingly, but especially up close, ultra-wides have a certain look which you simply can’t get with longer lenses. They take a bit of getting used to, but they’re super fun to use.

Final thoughts

So that was my last holiday! The next one I’m sure will be different, and I will have to go through the decision process all over again. I’m tempted to try something new, like taking my Minolta Autocord TLR (which I generally use in my own city) or a homemade pinhole camera. If you have more than one camera, how do you decide? Do you take just 1–2 cameras like me, or do you pack more? Have you ever regretted bringing too little or too much?

Thanks for reading. For more of my work – including but not limited to holiday photos – please feel free to check out my Instagram.

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54 Comments

  • Reply
    Stevenson Gawen
    May 30, 2022 at 10:58 am

    Hi Sroyon, I enjoyed this. Choosing is something I tend to struggle with. I often end up taking (for a trip – not necessarily a holiday) the camera that I think will be give the most options. In my case this means a mirrorless with a zoom. But I’m starting to realize that something more limiting or specific almost forces me to take better photos – even if it means I miss out on some shots!
    Just a few thoughts. Thanks for the article!

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      May 31, 2022 at 7:44 am

      Well compared to what some people bring, a mirrorless with a zoom is not much at all! But yes it’s always an interesting exercise to try and pare it down a bit more (though I don’t always manage to…)

  • Reply
    Markus Larjomaa
    May 30, 2022 at 11:25 am

    Although I do have several (too many) cameras in both 135 and 120 formats, the choice for traveling is always easy. It’s always one camera, one lens, plus a backup body for the same system. And since I have multiple camera bodies for only one system… a Barnack Leica it is.

    Well, OK, I actually bring two lenses but both the same focal length, 50mm. A Leica II with its 50/3.5 Elmar and a IIIf with a Canon 50/1.8. And the latter isn’t only a backup either… it’s the slower lens and slower B&W film (ISO 50-200) for daytime/outdoors, and fast lens paired with HP5+ pushed to 1600 or more.

    Every once in a while I think I should perhaps use only one film stock, but then, I just happen to like my “dual mode” setup.

    And sure, sometimes I end up thinking that a wider or a longer focal length could suit a certain situation better. But I’ve made my choice and there’s nothing I could do about it right then, so regretting wouldn’t really help. In the past I have been carrying multiple focal lengths and even several different format cameras on a holiday. The result? I fumble with my equipment choices and lose the moment I wanted to capture in the first place.

    Sure, I like my Minolta Autocord, too! And my baby-Linhof! And my M42 Pentax system! But I only carry one at a time. Having no gear choices to make frees me to make better choices at capturing the right moments.

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      May 31, 2022 at 8:15 am

      Yes, I know what you mean! But personally I almost always feel like I need a digital option in addition to film…

      • Reply
        Markus Larjomaa
        May 31, 2022 at 12:13 pm

        Life is full of choises. And to each their own 🙂

  • Reply
    Ken Rowin
    May 30, 2022 at 1:11 pm

    Great article as we ALL struggle with this problem. As I have gotten older and find my stamina not the same as it was in my youth, I concentrate more and more on one format, one reliable body, two lenses and one film with only a couple of rolls of fast film for evening walks. Very limited, but I am much happier as I am not laden down like a pack mule. My spouse has her cellphone for sunsets and video and she is even happier as she is not holding my extraneous equipment.

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      May 31, 2022 at 8:16 am

      Reading these comments, I think what would be really insightful is to have an article on this topic from the spouse’s perspective 🙂

  • Reply
    Doug Anderson
    May 30, 2022 at 6:05 pm

    My standard camera for traveling is a Leica IIIc with a 50/2 collapsible Summicron and an SBOOI viewfinder. I have one FILCA cassette loaded with Tri-X in the camera and another one in my jeans watch pocket. Even on a two-week trip I have never used all 72 exposures. I also carry a backup camera in the form of the iPhone that I use as a light meter.

    I do not use a camera bag when traveling. If the Leica is not on my bedside table it is hanging from my right shoulder on a Domke Gripper strap, under a zipper jacket in cool or cold weather or under an unbuttoned long-sleeve sun shirt in warm or hot weather. The strap length is adjusted so I can steady the camera by pulling against the strap when I bring it up to my eye.

    (I have been using the wartime red-curtain IIIc instead of my newer Barnack Leicas because it has by far the most sensitive shutter release – just a touch and it fires. It is worth at least a full stop of usable slower shutter speed.)

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      May 31, 2022 at 8:17 am

      Sounds like you’ve found your ideal setup 🙂

  • Reply
    Charlie B.
    May 30, 2022 at 6:13 pm

    Definitely a conundrum we all struggle with.

    My wife and I are planning to go to Europe later this summer and she capped me on how many cameras I can bring. I’m pretty sure I’ve got my list nailed down: Digital mirrorless with 2-3 lenses for zoom, regular photography, etc; Olympus 35 RC (compact rangefinder) loaded with B&W film for street photography; and a TLR loaded with color film for landscapes.

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      May 31, 2022 at 8:05 am

      That’s actually a good idea, having a clear plan as to what cameras you’ll use in specific situations.

  • Reply
    Stefan Wilde
    May 30, 2022 at 9:16 pm

    Hi Sroyon,

    Sorry about the lost film! Maybe that means you need to take the trip again one day?
    As for cameras on holidays I agree, it’s a tough choice. I brought my Rolleiflex to my last holiday trips to the Alps and to Rome, along with a Rollei 35s and a phone. In the digital years before that it used to be a micro four thirds camera with a 24-200 equivalent zoom. If I compare the digitak tobthe analogue travel experience I have to say that I of course took way more pictures with the digital camera and the convenience of that zoom lens is unbeatable. And it’s just really nice to only have one camera, it spares you so much useless pondering about which camera is right now… When I changed back to analogze for travels, I would at first bring an SLR with a 50 mm, but then I changed to bring the Rolleiflex. It is a lot more fun than any other camera I own and it is such a conversation starter. I also brought the Rollei 35s as sort of a photography sketch book and the phone to send some impressions around. I found that I used the Rollei 35s very lttle though, so I will probably stop bringing it. So, a TLR and a phone are a fine setup for me 😊
    Anyway, great pictures and a very nice article, thanks so much for posting!

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      May 31, 2022 at 8:02 am

      I like your setup! I think I need to invest in a screen replacement for my Autocord, the taking lens is excellent but the WLF is quite hard to see which makes it difficult to work with.

  • Reply
    Daniel Rider
    May 31, 2022 at 2:22 am

    Fantastic article Sroyon. I just got an Olympus TG870, very similar to your waterproof zoom camera, the Nikon Coolpix. Yes, zooming way in on my computer the shots are really grainy/noisey in a bad way, but I’m not printing posters from my travels. I’m headed to Bangkok soon, and was facing this same dilemma. Thank you for this great article.

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      May 31, 2022 at 7:43 am

      Thanks! The Olympus was also on my radar (I believe it’s more advanced in some ways), but a cheap Nikon came up first on eBay so I went for it 🙂 Have fun in Bangkok!

  • Reply
    Hamish
    May 31, 2022 at 7:26 am

    I’m pretty certain I’ve decided on my summer holiday cameras already.
    Sony RX100vii and Leica Ic with 28 and 40mm voigtlander lenses. Problem is, I don’t own the Sony yet…

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      May 31, 2022 at 7:37 am

      Leica 1c 😍

    • Reply
      Markus Larjomaa
      May 31, 2022 at 3:14 pm

      This is a bit OT, but… Hamish, how do you like the new Voigtländer 40mm? I’ve been thinking of maybe getting one… It used to be my go-to focal length (Canonet QL17, Oly 35SP, OM 40/2… also the Autocord’s 75mm is closer to 40 than 50mm in 35mm terms) but now, having been shooting mainly Barnack Leicas for a couple years I’ve really grown accustomed to the 50mm. But 40mm would/could be kind of a “Goldilocks” lens. It can almost be both 50 and 35mm. Except that I happen to like the ever so slight compression 50mm gives. And I haven’t a 35mm lens in LTM.

      In other words, I’m thinking whether to find a 35mm lens (and which one?!?) or ditch both 35 and 50 in favour of the 40mm. Which, on the other hand, could lead to the need to carry a short tele with me all the time just in case. Oh my… 😀

      • Reply
        Hamish Gill
        May 31, 2022 at 5:01 pm

        Honestly, I haven’t shot with it yet. In theory, I quite like 40mm as a focal length, but for me this is more about size on the little LTM camera.
        For shooting with me m4-p, for eg, I’d much rather have a 50
        Does that help…?

        • Reply
          Markus Larjomaa
          May 31, 2022 at 5:57 pm

          The only thing that actually helps would be to stop reading camera articles and just go out and shoot with what I have 😉

          The collapsible 5cm Elmar is as small it can practically get, so my reasons for the new Heliar wouldn’t be size but rather speed and ease of use. But, frankly my view is that fast, easy and convenient doesn’t necessarily mean good. So I guess I’ll just stick with my 50s which is the perfect FL for about 95% of my photography and usable for the remaining five percent as well, and then some day if I really, really feel I need a wider view I’ll source a decent 35mm lens – instead of trying to replace both FLs with an in-between 40mm and compromise pretty much everything.

          It’s beginning to look like I’m – at least mentally – firmly in the one camera one lens camp, although I still do possess way too many cameras and lenses, isn’t it 🙂

  • Reply
    Philip Ahlquist
    May 31, 2022 at 7:34 am

    Another great article – thanks, Sroyon. I was asking myself this question recently and came up with the answer that I definitely needed seven cameras on holiday – a DSLR and a 500cm for when I can get out for photo trips; a Fuji mirrorless and a 35mm SLR for family days out; my 6×9 folder for my coat pocket; and two pinhole cameras with different aspect ratios and ‘focal lengths’. I can justify them all but the outcome is clearly absurd, because it ends up as everything in my collection! But on the other hand, all the cameras have a specific use which justifies me keeping them: for example I have the 6×9 folder for when I can’t carry the Hasselblad and want to shoot with 120 film, which is almost all of the time at the moment. I suspect that in the end I will just have to see how much I can get into my camera bag! But maybe I should read your article a couple more times to help…
    PS – I feel your pain with the HP5. I shot a roll of FP4 by the sea last summer, possibly my best ever roll of compositions in a favourite location, only to find at the end that the film hadn’t been winding on properly. I knew that it would be completely blank when I developed it but I did so anyway because I couldn’t bear to admit that I’d lost them all!

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      May 31, 2022 at 8:00 am

      Thanks Philip! I’m sure some people have the ability (and desire!) to juggle all those cameras, which I respect – but I certainly couldn’t 😀

  • Reply
    Tim Bradshaw
    May 31, 2022 at 9:36 am

    For a long time (before I was really aware this was a thing other people thought about) I’ve answered this question for myself: one camera, one 40-50mm lens, one type of film. My wife has sensibly forced me to widen this to that and also a backup camera in case things break. The great advantage of this, for me, is two things: there are no choices in gear, and using the camera & lens can become instinctive: the whole thing can vanish as it should.

    Obviously this is just what I do.

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      May 31, 2022 at 1:19 pm

      Ah, the one-camera-one-lens approach! I’ve seen it recommended a lot, and I do think it really hones your vision and skill, but I personally don’t have the discipline to stick to it 😅

      • Reply
        Tim Bradshaw
        May 31, 2022 at 7:34 pm

        Ah, but the whole trick is you don’t need discipline. In fact the reason I do it is because I essentially have no discipline at all (I mean, I’ve just spent several days creating an alternative-history website to avoid doing the housework …). So the trick is to put yourself in a position where *all you have* is one option: then however much you’d like to spend your time switching cameras & lenses … you can’t, because you have only one of each. So you go out and make pictures.

        Of course, you then end up spending a week working out which one combination to take, and which backup. (Film is easy: HP5 since TXP is now about £900/roll, and I know the main camera, but I will now agonise for a week over the backup camera between the one I want to take and the one I took all my best pictures with … I may have to create another fake-history website …)

        • Reply
          Sroyon
          June 2, 2022 at 3:34 am

          Yes, like Ulysses tied to the mast! I guess what I meant is, I generally lack the willpower to constrain myself like that in the first place. But I should try it, if only as an experiment.

  • Reply
    Jasper T Kauth
    May 31, 2022 at 10:55 am

    This was such a brilliant and very relatable read. Thank you for sharing. I always have a hard time choosing which cameras to take on a trip – even though I never seem to really regret my choice. It took me a while, but I now find that I only ‘see’ the shots that work with the camera I have with me anyway.
    The wide-angle baby portraits are phenomenal. I think I need to dust off my 24mm lens and try some of my own 😉

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      May 31, 2022 at 1:28 pm

      Thanks Jasper! Contrary to what a lot of people say, I really like wide-angle lenses for portraits – including of adults! Like this short series by Veronika Chikalova. You make a good point about only seeing the shots which are possible with the camera/lens we have. I’ve experienced this too. There’s this saying attributed to Edward Weston, who of course worked with bulky large-format equipment: “Anything more than 500 yards from the car just isn’t photogenic.”

  • Reply
    Lee
    May 31, 2022 at 3:50 pm

    The least gear I ever brought on holiday was in 2017 when I brought my Nikon D700 DSLR with 17-35mm and 70-300mm lenses and tripod to Italy. I used the tripod a couple of times, but it was mostly left in the rental car as we drove around. The camera and lenses were with me everywhere.

    The most gear I ever brought on a trip was to Costa Rica in 2018 when I brought a combination of film and digital. I brought my D700, 17-35mm, 70-300mm, and 50mm lenses. I also brought a Nikon W100 underwater point and shoot for the kids, and my Nikon FE2 film SLR, plus film. Also in the bag was a tripod, a YN-560III speedlight, radio triggers, collapsible 24 inch square softbox, a 36 inch collapsible reflector, and 15 inch laptop. I only ever carried a portion of the gear at once because we had a rental condo for a home-base, at which the balance of my gear was kept during the trip.

    Since the second half of 2018, I have traveled while shooting film exclusively. I usually bring two cameras, either a medium format camera and a 35mm SLR, or a 35mm SLR and a point and shoot. Last year I traveled to attend a cousin’s wedding, bringing only my Canon 7, Jupiter 8, and Jupiter 12 lenses.

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      June 1, 2022 at 5:44 am

      Wow, even a lighting rig! I’ve never done that…

      • Reply
        Lee
        June 1, 2022 at 2:56 pm

        I took some flash portraits on the beach in Costa Rica at sunset. The photos turned out pretty well and my friends/family who had portraits taken were really happy with them. I had one of my kids or friends hold the softbox while I took the photos. My wife took photos of me taking these flash portraits, and in the background you can see some other folks on the beach snapping pics of our elaborate setup with their phones. It was a circus.

  • Reply
    david hill
    May 31, 2022 at 4:35 pm

    I’m starting to pare things down. I used to bring a full courier bag with 3 bodies, motor drive, multiple lenses .. but lately I’m carrying a little Domke bag, and I take what fits. The ever useful iPhone is in my pocket, and in the bag are the Fuji X100 for digital. Ma’s old Rollei 35S, because that’s also compact and has a sweet lens. My Canon P, with its 50/1.8 and a Jupiter-12 (35). And I’m prone to toss in the Nikon FM with 50 and 135, which is ostensibly my wife’s but I like it, and I can always hope she’ll be inspired to use the damned thing. And the NIkon has a working meter, which is a surprisingly useful feature. Film.. usually Ilford HP5+, plus I have rolls of expired color film I’m still using up. I figure out what goes into what as it happens.

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      June 1, 2022 at 5:45 am

      I’m amazed you can fit all that in a little Domke bag!

  • Reply
    Alan
    May 31, 2022 at 10:44 pm

    The solution is just to take ALL the cameras! For my next trip to Nepal, I kid you not, I am considering taking:

    Contax N1 with 17-35, 24-85, 70-300 lenses (for general everything, everywhere shots, including landscape)
    Leica M7 with Summicron 50 and 35 (for colour street shots)
    Minolta CLE with M-Rokkor 40 and 28 lenses (for black and white street shots)
    Olympus 35RC with small Rollei flash (for daytime fill-in or nighttime flash street photography)
    Contax TVS (for quick snap shots, obvs)
    Fujifilm X-Pro 1 with 35, 18 and 18-55 (as a digital back up, or for night time street photography)
    Yashica-mat 124g (medium format square street photography)
    Bronica RF645 with 45 and 65 lenses, and RF645 flash (for medium format street photography, with the option of daytime fill-in flash)

    Either I have a problem, or this is actually a very well thought out plan.

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      June 1, 2022 at 5:48 am

      Oh wow, I would never be able to cope with at all that 😅 But if it works for you, it works for you!

  • Reply
    Hans Gustafsson
    June 1, 2022 at 7:04 am

    Hi Sroyon! Intresting read and great pictures. The wide angle portraits in particular.
    I’m going on a three week hike in the Swedish mountains this summer and have spent a silly amount of time pondering over what to bring. As I am predominantly a bird/nature photographer, leaving the DSLR and supertele lens at home just isn’t an option. However there is a limit to what I can carry and that combo obvs doesn’t lend itself to any kind of wider shots.
    I thought of adding a 18-200 zoom lens but then you also have to factor in the weather. Weather in the mountains changes quickly so there is a need to be able to stow the camera quickly and also, carrying a heavy DSRL around your neck for three weeks isn’t all that tempting.
    So, I’ve finally decided that i will pack my D500 with 300PF and 1.4TC easily accessible in the backpack and a Sony RX100ii in the leg pocket.

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      June 2, 2022 at 3:43 am

      I think that’s a great choice for what you’re planning to do. I’m a big fan of the Cyber-shot series, so small and light but punching well above their weight in terms of image quality. Nice to handle too. And this way you can leave the super-tele mounted on the DSLR; I think changing lenses, especially such bulky lenses, would be a pain while hiking. I hope you have a good time!

  • Reply
    Charles Higham
    June 1, 2022 at 2:40 pm

    I enjoyed your post Sroyon, it’s well done, thought provoking and helpful. It’s inspired me to submit my own post about choosing and using cameras for a holiday. I went to Athens pre-pandemic so did exactly that as wanted to shoot both film and digital. Sorry to hear about your lost images from the Ilford HP5 roll. I lost a series of frames using a Pentax ME at the Parthenon because of a shutter curtain malfunction. Only discovered it when the negs came back. Fortunately it corrected itself so at least got more than half of the exposures ok.

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      June 2, 2022 at 3:50 am

      Thank you, that’s exactly what I was hoping to do – provoke some thoughts! And maybe induce people to share them too 😉 I hope you write a post about it, I really liked your Puzzlewood and Vivitar UWA photos (among others!)

  • Reply
    David Morgans
    June 1, 2022 at 5:25 pm

    When on holiday here in the uS it is quite a rarity to see anyone carrying a camera at all. Yesterday I travelled up Pikes Peak in Colorado by cog railway and although the train was fully booked, I was the only one carrying a camera. Everyone else and I mean virtually everyone, was using a camera on their mobile phones. Over tat last three days I have only seen three other cameras, all being carried by older generation folks – like me! My son in law using a i-Phone with five fixed lenses.

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      June 2, 2022 at 3:58 am

      Yes, I do wonder about the future of dedicated cameras (mass appeal I mean, obviously enthusiasts and pros will continue to use them…) But that’s a big topic which I don’t know much about!

  • Reply
    Daniel Castelli
    June 1, 2022 at 11:05 pm

    Hi Sroyon,
    I like this article…it provokes great comments, plus you get insight as to what other people carry and how they solve the photo travel problem.
    I don’t change up my style or approach when I travel. Walking through Central Park of hanging out at Speaker’s Corner in London, it’s all the same to me. I’m a people-centric photographer, and I like to find the common bonds that we all share.
    I carry a M2 or M4-P with just a 35mm wide angle; HP-5, and good walking shoes. Back in our hotel room I’ve got an Olympus XA or a Leitz-Minolta CL with a 40mm f/2.0 lens. I have the Domke F5 ripstop nylon bag that everything fits into. I allocate two rolls per day: one 36 exp. & one 24 exp. A really good piece of chocolate for emergency energy. I’m GTG.
    Old injuries and arthritis have slowed me a bit, so I tend not to get my subject upset, because even a short-legged Corgi could probably outrun me.
    My bigger concern is the state of the new x-ray equipment that can damage film even with one pass through the machine.

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      June 2, 2022 at 4:01 am

      Yes, the comments really enriched the article! The chocolate is a great tip, I need to add that to my camera bag 🙂

  • Reply
    Jay Dann Walker in Melbourne
    June 4, 2022 at 8:01 am

    Huh. What a hornet’s nest you may have stirred up with this post…

    Film or digital?? Or both?? A vacation purely or mostly for photography, or for other reasons with photography as a secondary purpose?? Whichever you opt for, it will mean a different approach to the gear you carry.

    In the past I took everything with me. Also at least 50-60 rolls of film. Thankfully, except for the obvious fact that I’m now much older and far less able to carry all the photo equipment I own, I try to be more sensible with the gear I pack. Airport Xray scanners are now so lethal, I no longer take film when I go overseas. This is sad, but an inevitable part of 21st century life. So digital it is.

    One camera – in my case a Nikon D700 or D800 or a more recent purchase, a Fujifilm XT2. Two lenses, max – again, in my situation, a wide angle (28 or 25, depending on what you shoot most of, the former for architecture and static shots like landscapes, the latter for street and people work) and a short tele (my Nikon 85/1.8 does it all for me, but you may be happier with a 180). Lens. As the French say, “chest tout!!” – this combo will do everything you want it to. Also hoods and filters. Cards, of course. And that’s it.

    In your case, the Minolta and three lenses would be, I reckon, an ideal film kit. It will do everything for you, but will be more bulky as you also have to carry film with you. Al this said, unless you are almost 75 as I am, you will get by, even with a heavy backpack.

    Comments to this story are very sensible. Of those, I think Daniel Castelli is the best of the lot, at least for my needs. One camera, one lens, and film. (Then I read he also keeps a couple of back-ups at his hotel, but hey, his total kit is still light).I can see myself taking his good advice and taking my Contax G1s and two lenses, 28 and 90, altho’ the latter is not exactly the best short tele ever made – maybe even two cameras, not all four G1s which I own.

    Unlike Daniel I’ve never had anyone’s dog try to chop me into bite-size bits, but I once had someone’s cat go feral on me during a portrait session, and got thoroughly scratched in the process. I had Nikon D 60/2.8 and likely got too close for feline comfort…

    To sum all this u, vacations are highly personal experiences and most are often far too short in duration for our liking, so it’s vitally important for us carefully consider and plan what gear we take. The KISS principle is, at least to me, the best ever – keep it all as simple as possible, enjoy your photography but concentrate on the journey.

    From Dann in Melbourne, Australia

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      June 6, 2022 at 9:28 am

      Thanks Dann for your very thoughtful comment! Yes if I could limit myself to digital only, it gets a lot easier; I could make do with just one camera and 2-3 lenses. Thankfully I shoot quite slowly, especially on film, so half a dozen rolls are generally enough.

  • Reply
    Florian
    June 5, 2022 at 6:41 am

    Sroyon, thank you so much for this article, it was a joy to read. I struggle through this “equipment culling” as well but tbh as stressful as it is – in hindsight this is also a great pleasure to plan ahead, sweat and then later on enjoy great satisfaction when the plan worked. Or try-learn-repeat and have more experience next time 🤘🏻 Keep up your work, I’m eager to read more from you 😀

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      June 6, 2022 at 9:30 am

      Thanks for reading Florian! I always have article ideas sloshing around in my head, just need to sit down and bash them out 😅

  • Reply
    Kevin T
    June 5, 2022 at 2:12 pm

    Glad I’m not the only one that goes through this 😁😁 With grandkids 1000 miles in 2 different directions, and a couple of trips overseas, I’ve come to where I only take 3 cameras (unless water is involved then it’s 4). A digital (currently a Micro 4/3), an SLR , and a pocket camera, with an underwater camera if called for. This years trip to the grandkids will probably be a Nikon FE, a Rollei 35s, and a Sea and Sea underwater cam in addition to the Lumix GX85. As I’ve gotten older, I tend to take lighter cameras 😁😁

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      June 6, 2022 at 9:34 am

      That’s not bad! Similar to my approach, except I’m not so much into pocket cameras. I’m actually planning to sell my Rollei 35 – great camera in general but doesn’t really suit me personally, so I rarely use it…

  • Reply
    Baladino
    June 7, 2022 at 2:42 pm

    How about using a digital camera and backing the contents onto your phone ? And then backing the images onto the cloud ? Small digital cameras have been available for some time eg. GRiii and X100V. There is always a risk when using film. However much gear you lug with you unless you’re on assignment is never used entirely. Waste of weight and space. One film camera with 1 or 2 lenses and 1 digital camera is possibly the best option. Or just a single digital camera. More cameras and more lenses doesn’t necessarily mean better pictures. Enjoy the holiday and make pictures when you can or want to. Perhaps take a leaf from Hamish and bring a M camera and 2 lenses. A Zeiss 50mm F1.5 Sonnar and either a 28mm or 35mm Summicron.

    • Reply
      Sroyon
      June 7, 2022 at 2:48 pm

      I like film, so I don’t really see myself taking digital only, at least not in the foreseeable future. And I really think the “best option” depends on each individual…

      • Reply
        Baladino
        June 10, 2022 at 4:53 pm

        Well Sroyon, there isn’t a best option. There’s always something better. Something better may not necessarily yield better images. But is the point of a holiday to take better images ? Peculiar since your article examines and analyses what to bring during a holiday. Perhaps just bring anything you have. You don’t necessarily need to ape Hamish. Perhaps you misunderstood. Or take the challenge of just bringing a pinhole camera and throw caution to the wind. A pinhole camera on vacation sounds like a good article already. By the way many people like film too.

        • Reply
          Sroyon
          June 10, 2022 at 5:04 pm

          What’s peculiar? The point of my article was to share my thoughts on my own choices, and elicit others’ thoughts on how they choose. Not to give advice (or seek advice, for that matter…)

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