A lot of people are worried about their gear and that it might not be suitable for a longer travel.
Facing a more than 3 months long travel through Southeast Asia I felt the same. Should I buy another camera, or is my Fuji X100F enough to capture all the photographs that I am looking for?
As a Street Photographer from Berlin, I am already familiar with using only one camera and getting great results. So I decided to just bring the X100F with me and rely on this on this one focal length. This may look crazy to some and sound like I missed a lot of shots because that camera features only a fixed focal length and is unable to change lenses.
After completing my journey, I can confidently say that I didn’t regret my choice a single moment.
Here are the results of my trip.
If You are still struggling with the decision which camera You should bring with You on a longer trip, I would always suggest just to go with the gear You already use at home.
Even if a longer travel is a very special experience and You don’t want to miss anything, investing in new gear just to be on the “safe side” to cover any possible scene isn’t worth it.
You won’t get the same results with unfamiliar gear and rather than enjoying the moment, You will be struggling with the new lens, or camera and might even be more frustrated than without any camera.
The gear that You already have is sufficient for Your photography enjoyment at home. So it will yield even better results when You are more inspired by a new environment.
The first destination was Vietnam and its northern city Hanoi. At first, the city was a real struggle for me. Everything was new, the traffic is crazy compared to European standards and was more focused on surviving, than taking pictures.
On the other hand, there is nothing with exploring a new city without a camera for the first one or two days. You can take in the atmosphere and just be in the moment.
Overwhelmed by all the new impressions, I needed a few days to really enjoy the sun.
Once accustomed to the new city, I really enjoyed wandering through the street with my camera and absorbing the evening light.
The X100F felt ideal for that situation. I was able to take the camera with me for the whole day and the light weight really did come into play positively.
Looking at the pictures, I didn’t feel that I missed any interesting situation due to the fixed focal length, but was able to catch everything I wanted.
After leaving the big cities of Vietnam, the Indonesian was one of my next stations and I was curious how the camera would hold up in this new conditions.
As a Street Photographer, I was already familiar with the city life, but how well-suited is the camera for more remote places?
It turned out that all the challenges that were on my road were absolutely no problem for the camera, but have a look Yourself.
In the evening of the second day that I arrived in the village, my homestay host offered me to visit the wedding of his cousin. Of course, I was interested in documenting a traditional Javanese wedding.
So in addition to my X100F I also took an external flash with me, because I wanted to be prepared for difficult light situations and the early sunset.
The wedding was as exciting as expected with hundreds of guests celebrating the marriage. The venue was very small and got very crowded as the bridal pair arrived.
Nonetheless, with the right set-up, I was able to get the shots I wanted. While in the crowd, I zone-focused and used the flash to capture the festive mood.
Of course, photographing like that is very hit or miss and You need to take pictures non-stop.
The biggest challenge was without a doubt to document the sulfur miners at the Mount Ijen.
Toxic smoke, dust and very steep paths posed a real threat to the equipment, as well as to me.
Worried that the camera might not handle the smoke very well for the first time, I didn’t want to risk going close to the actual mining zone and was more comfortable to document the workers inside the crater.
On their way to the top of the crater, they carry around 70 Kg on their back. They don’t finish this challenging route once, but usually four times during a normal workday.
As I came home from my first trip to the sulfur mines, the camera was in pretty good condition, so I decided for the next visit I want to get as close to the miners as possible and be right in the middle of the action.
The sulfur smoke is highly toxic and only with a gas mask bearable for a very limited time. The eyes start to burn, it gets very difficult to breathe and also the camera has to endure this stress.
I already noticed the thin layer of yellow smoke on the camera as I finished shooting in what felt like living hell and went my way up to the crater again.
To my surprise, the X100F didn’t take any damage from the use of the smoke and is still in very good condition. The fixed focal lens must be an advantage here because it gives less room for the dust to enter the body.
So if You think, that You need a DSLR for those tougher situations, then this series proves that mirrorless cameras are already very sturdy and survive even those harsh conditions.
Next on my list was finally something more relaxing as I was leaving Indonesia and heading to the north of Thailand.
The area around Chiang Mai is notorious for its Elephant sanctuaries. Places, where elephants don’t have to entertain tourists or let them ride on them, but can pretty much live an undisturbed life.
After a long drive from the city center to the mountains, we were already welcomed by a small group of elephants. Those are lead by the food, that their keepers provide and as elephants eat most of the day, they are very willing to follow the food traces.
Animal Photography is normally not in my program and the tour guide already warned everyone that, while elephants are very friendly, they are also massive and their waggling ears can already cause some severe injury.
So I was afraid that the 35mm focal length might be a little too short and that I couldn’t come very close to the elephants and focus on taking photographs at the same time. Seeing that the local photographer from the sanctuary used a Tele-lense I was a little worried.
My doubts vanished as I got more comfortable around the elephants and found some decent spots to get close and take my pictures.
Some photographs needed a little more cropping, due to the distance, but the image quality is still great and absolutely no problem for me.
As You can see, You don’t need a specialized camera for each scenario or a broad range of equipment. A single camera with a fixed focal length can already go a long way.