What I’m Thinking


I’m thinking I need to lighten my load.

What you don’t see in this series of photographs is the rest of my daily gear. Leica, Blad, Polaroid. Why do I do this? Because I can’t stop shooting film cameras. I still prefer the negative to anything digital. I like the cameras themselves, the process of shooting analog, the limitations of analog, which I feel are what make it so great, and the archive of analog. Yes, I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my 40TB of digital data looming over my head. So on the chopping block is the 5D Mark III and three lenses, and in is the Canon s100. Without a doubt the 5D III is the better, more versatile camera that shoots much higher quality imagery and motion. But what is also indisputable is s100 is a lot smaller and lighter. When I started my current campaign with Blurb it was thought I would be shooting a lot of digital, at least at times, but I’m not. What I am doing is creating a stream of images for lesser needs, and continuing to capture most of the good stuff on film.
Speaking of film…On the way to San Francisco last week my film set off the TSA alarm for….explosives I think. Something. Anyway, I got the full court press, which was no big deal, but that was the first time it ever happened. They had me for about 15-20 minutes maybe. I got felt up, which is always great, and they got to see all my personal items. Sadly I had nothing exotic or even anything slightly amiss.

Oddly enough, traveling with film, at least for me, is easier than ever before. It’s such a rarity now that typically I get the “Cool, haven’t seen this in a while.” Followed by “Man, I really miss film.” Now, this does NOT apply when speaking of France or Switzerland where I’ve been grilled, threatened, insulted and yelled at for both carrying film and for being an American. Such is life. I kill them with kindness. Or I don’t say anything. Or I keep asking for a hand inspection until they threaten me with not getting on the plane. (This has happened numerous times.) This actually doesn’t bother me. What bothers me are the new rules about carry on bags. And weight. Returning from Australia a few months ago it was deemed, on a whim, that all three of my bags were overweight. The same bags I’d flown to Australia with no problem. Suddenly all my bags were an issue and they tried like Hell to get me to check my gear bags. I opened them up and asked “Would you want to check this?” “Ahhh, no,” was the reply and they let me on, but those days are fading.

So, it’s lighten the load time. I’m even contemplating an iPhone 6 Plus for my interview and podcast needs, which would allow me to leave recorder at home. If I could somehow get my junk down to ONE bag it would be ideal. I know I’m dreaming here because when my Blurb duties are over and I aim at the open spaces of Australia or Abilene, I’m going to want my film junk. What I will try to do is consolidate my backpack and roller bag into one backpack. Audio and visual gear in one bag. Time to call Tenba once again.

Or maybe, if I buy an iPhone 6 Plus I don’t even need this little camera? See, more confused than before.

21 responses to “What I’m Thinking”

  1. I’d go for the iPhone (which is a real workhorse, with quality also) and one Leica M + one lens and film. That’s all folks.

  2. Speaking of Polaroid, I’m using a Fujifilm Instax 210 wide which is lovely but lacks manual control…but take a look at this: https://mint-camera.com/TL70

  3. Mark Ivkovic says:

    Ha, haha hahah oooohhh no I’m not laughing at you, it’s haa haaaaa hahaha ha (splutter splutter, cough cough) giggle.
    What I love here is that you’re sharing this. Seriously, we all know deep down we’re all gear nerds. Try as we might to not constantly evaluate what we have and what we need, what we’d like and what we’d like to not need. We never, ever, seem to be able to break out of our constant second guessing.
    “Oh I’m going to use one camera, one lens this year” “It’s the most liberating of experience” Says the photographer who is secretly dying inside.
    “Oh I used to suffer from GAS, but I found my kit and I’m happy.” Says the photographer who has maxed out his credit card and is struggling to pay the rent.
    “Oh I sold all my big bulky DSLR gear and now just carry two mirrorless bodies with battery grip and 7 batteries and ipad and goPro and . . . . . . .” Says the photographer still paying the chiropractor to fix his back.

    Is there no end to our madness???

    Love to you Daniel as always, always good to see it happens to the best of us. . . . . . . . . . . . . .regularly 🙂

    Oh and the little pocket P&S cameras are still awesome. Any format dig/film. They let us just take pictures in the moment. Sure the quality might suck when printed “BIG” but if you got to choose technical quality or emotion content I’m pretty sure you’d be on the same side of the fence as me.

  4. Have you considered shipping gear ahead? Get some pelican cases and hand it over to FedEx.

    International/customs might make this a PITA, tho.

  5. Here is my viewpoint from a mostly film shooter. Treat the 5D3 like a film camera. That is, consider it the end game in your digital needs for at least the next 5-10 years. It has all the resolution needed to make large prints. It uses all the EOS lenses. Why not keep your kit together? The lenses will not lose their value. I am still using my 1D Mk3 from 2007 and it makes beautiful images. Its 10mp resolution only starts to become obvious if any major cropping happens.

    • Smogranch says:

      A 5D isn’t film. I end up with no negative to print from, and I’m tethering to the computer every time I shoot. And I have to carry the darn thing. Film is film. Cant’ fake it. It’s just a different experience. I think I’m getting an iPhone 6 and carrying my Polaroid and M4. And new, tiny, audio rig.

  6. Cody Priebe says:

    A camera for the job. Although no matter where or what I do I seem to bring my Leica MP. Your travels sound fun, enjoy!

  7. Daniel, I agree with Giacomo. I use an iPhone 6 Plus and use a photo app called “645 PRO” (creates TIFF files). The M6 and one lens (35 mm f/2.5 Summarit-M) are for projects and other serious personal work. When I travel, everything goes either in an old Timbuk2 backpack or medium messenger bag as carry-on. Travel toiletries, film, small notebook, and a few strategic clothing items make up the rest of the bag. Anything else is a distraction.

    • Smogranch says:

      Hey James,
      Sounds great. I have a variety of duties for work, photographically, so I need to consider them, and then I’ve got all my own baggage. Literally, baggage.

  8. Mike A says:

    Sometimes I think about camera equipment too much. Today I shot golf with a Nikon D4s and a 200-400 lens. An awesome combination, 11 fps shot thousands of photos today. I can hear that shutter rattling in my head right now. Trying to make that perfect shot. 3 cameras hanging off your body..shoot shoot shoot …making images… hoping they last more an hour or two. But there are days when I think a Leica and a 35 would be the greatest thing ever. Just walk the country shooting what you see. One day maybe I will.

  9. Sean B says:

    Ahh the hunt for the simple set up. I’ve been searching for a great *cycling* camera for a while (road cyclist are serious weight weenies!)

    I have one M6 (two lenses) for shooting film, and when out cycling I now take a tiny digital Lumix TZ60 with a *Leica* lens. It says it’s Leica but I’m not so sure.

  10. Frode Cactus says:

    Ah, the joyful moment of walking through a check-point with cameras and (quite a few rolls) of film in 2015.
    Sending hand luggage (and my Tri-X) once through X-ray surveillance, didn’t do anything to my film. But after a trip where I neglected to ask for a hand check on three different occasions — my film had funny fog-waves all over it after processing…

    Wherever you are in the world, they insist that anything below ISO 1600 will survive the X-ray machine. This misunderstanding has led me to mark my film bag with ISO 3200. It usually works, and they hand check the film without too much hassle.
    Still a bit stressful, though…

    • Smogranch says:

      TSA is somewhat uninformed. The misinformation they have been given in regard to film is laughable, but I get it. Not many folks using this anymore, and TSA could care less. I remember having a TSA guy tell me that Kodak came to the airport and ran high-speed black and white film through the machine 100 times with no effect. I worked for Kodak at that time and mentioned this to the agent. He panicked and tried to recant his story. They just make it up as they go along. Underpaid, undertrained and looking for path of least resistance. MOST of the time, they are great and will provide a hand inspection, but there are always a few folks who are just ticked off.

  11. Reiner says:


    iP 6plus: just leave the S100 @ home, not? I shoot the big one daily and I think it’s better. But: it’s all coming out of the one battery though… ( this is (pause) bad).

    I just hauled in my precious: Pentax 67+ 55mmf4+165mmf2.8. I think I will be buried beside it. It’s one word: MACHINE.
    Could be that 35mm goes on the way of less and less use. We’ll see.

    A big thank you for sharing your aging back adventures with us.

    • Smogranch says:

      Yes, but Plus at least has decent battery. My 5 as four charges a day. If I get crazy will get Mophie. Not sure how much the recording will kill battery but I’m sure it’s significant.

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