Monday, June 23, 2014

Putting together the perfect mirrorless camera travel kit

I am packing my bags for a two week trip around Spain and Portugal, and for the first time ever, I will not be taking a Nikon system with me. Instead, I will be traveling completely mirrorless. I really only need one system, but because I will be conducting a number of equipment tests along the way I will be carrying three different cameras.

My main system will be the Fuji X-T1, and because I always travel with a safety camera body backup I will also have the X-E2. Second, I will have a Leica M (240), and finally a new Sony RX100 III. I will also be carrying the Sirui T-025X carbon tripod, which I had recommended in a previous blog as a perfect compact tripod to carry with a small mirrorless system.  Let's look at each system separately:

Fuji X-T1:

I will have five lenses including the 55-200mm, 18-55mm, 35mm f/1.4 because I always want to have at least one really fast aperture lens with me, and both the 14mm and 10-24mm, although these last two are redundant. I am taking both because of tests I will be doing with them and a Zeiss Touit 12mm I can borrow from a traveling companion.

For filters, I have a polarizer, ND set in case I need to slow down some water, and a close-up filter for the 35mm instead of carting along a macro.  I rarely need a macro on a trip like this, but sometimes do like to take some closeups.

I am carrying the extra battery extension for the X-T1 even though it adds extra weight and bulk. I am terrible about remembering to have spare batteries, and this way I will at least have two with me always.

The whole system fits into the Jill-E Messenger bag I reviewed in a prior blog post. A photo vest would also suffice to carry the basic kit, since normally I wouldn't have both the 14mm and 10-24mm lenses or spare camera body at the same time as the basic outfit. The tripod is also optional during the day, but does come with a carrying sack that has a strap for wearing it messenger-style slung around onto your back.

This looks a little busier than it needs to be because there are several redundant items, such as the two super-wide lenses I will be taking to compare, and the X-E2 which serves as an emergency back-up camera that will remain in the hotel unless something really happens to knock out my X-T1. 

Leica M (24):

Some of my favorite travel shots have always been done with a Leica, and I often lug it along as a spare system whenever I travel. I will have five lenses -- the 135mm Telyt, 90mm Elmarit, 50mm Summilux, 35mm Summilux, and 21mm Elmarit. I debated whether to take a Leica-R 80-200mm instead of the 135mm and 90mm, but the sensational optics of the 135mm Telyt won out.

I have a set of close-up filters to use with the 50mm Summilux because close-up photography is now quite convenient with the EVF Leica finder and the M-lenses, having been made for a rangefinder camera, do not focus very close.

I have a very light weight older Lowepro messenger bag that is similar, but even lighter, to the Jill bag I am using for the Fuji. The Leica kit is so compact that I often carry it entirely in my photo vest.

This system really looks good, and practical. I only hope I don't regret not substituting the versatility of the Leica-R 80-200mm zoom for the shorter, but better quality, 135mm Telyt.

Sony RX100 III:

The new version of the compact Sony RX100 series, the model III,  just arrived in time for me to test it out on the trip. It is entirely self-contained with a Zeiss 24-70mm equivalent focal length f/1.8-2.8 zoom, plus pop-up EVF finder. This is the camera I always have with me when I think I don't need a camera or can't carry one conveniently. The RX100 fits comfortably into a pocket, has a 1" 20mp sensor, and delivers pro-quality images in a package the size of a typical point-and-shoot. The entire kit with spare battery, charger, and filters fit into the Mountainsmith Focus II gear pouch that is no longer available but has been replaced with a newer model.

Typically I would fit the RX100 with the Sony VFA-49R1 49mm Filter Adapter so I could carry a polarizer and close-up lens for it, but the newer fast aperture lens means a larger front opening and the current adapter will be too small. Guess I'll have to wait for an update to that accessory.

Sometimes I have to wonder if this is the only camera I ever really need.

Now that my camera systems are all squared away, I can turn my attention to packing some clothes. 


  1. Man, that is a LOT for a lightweight trip. That 10-24 is a beast, leave it back at the studio.
    AND an amazing and -- wow -- expensive Leica system as well????
    I love how your gear photos are styled as you would a stock photo. You really have in in your blood, don't you?

  2. Normally, Michael, I would take only one system, either the Fuji or the Leica, with me, and I would only take one wide angle for the Fuji. On this trip I will be conducting some specific tests of the different equipment for the blog. That is why it is so redundant. I only expect to carry one system with me at any given time. Otherwise, I'd also need to hire a pack mule for the trip.