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Tech: 2009 Route 66
© 2009 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Cameras    Tripods    Cases    Lenses    Filters  

Logs    Film & Scanning    Photoshop    Spares

What I Didn't Bring    Where I Got It All

2009 Route 66 Photos

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Leica M7

Leica M7.

Canon SD880

Canon SD880.

It helps me keep adding to this site when you use these links to Adorama, Amazon, B&H, Calumet, Ritz, J&R and eBay to get your goodies. Thanks! Ken.


February 2009      More Leica Reviews     RealRaw™      More Canon Reviews



Ritz Camera

I personally buy from Adorama, Amazon, Ritz, B&H, Calumet and J&R. I can't vouch for ads below.


This is how I shot my 2009 Route 66 Photos.

Cameras      top

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of carrying too much junk.

Photography is supposed to be fun. The less I'm carrying, the farther I can get.

I planned to be riding with others and checking in and out of a lot of motels on this trip, so all I brought was a small film camera, a spare lens or two, and a digital in my spare pocket.

I brought a Leica M7 manual-focus 35mm camera for it's small size, light weight and ease of use.

I shot in Auto mode, using manual only if I needed to lock an exposure down hard. I locked the auto exposure and moved the aperture ring or the composition if I needed to tweak exposure.

I used it because not only is it small, it shoots in RealRaw™ so I can get 25MP full-frame images in extraordinary color, and don't have to bring any memory cards, chargers, cords, laptop computers, or anything other than a spare lens or two.

I popped a Canon SD880 in a pocket. I liked the one I borrowed to take to New Mexico so much I bought my own for this trip. For under $250 today, I couldn't go wrong. I popped in a junk 2GB card and had more power and memory then I needed for the whole trip.

The Leica is nice because it's small, but for a lot less money a Nikon FE, worth about $69 used, will do at least as good a job. If yo love the colors I got, its because I shot Fuji Velvia 50 and used the right filters. You can get the same results with any old film camera.

I used to take a dozen cameras of every possible format on these trips. I wound up shooting everything seven times, once on every kind of camera I brought.

Now that I'm smart enough to bring just one camera and shoot in RealRaw™, I only shoot everything once. I spend the other 85% of my time shooting new things instead of shooting that same thing on every other camera. RealRaw™ lets me spend 100% of my time shooting new things and never wasting time looking back at my LCD of what's already been shot.

RealRaw™ is cheap: I'd have gotten the same results on any other manual-focus 35mm camera. You can pick up complete manual-focus 35mm camera systems for around $100 and up. Try that in digital!


Tripods      top

I don't need no stinking tripods, even with film.

My ISO 50 film becomes EI 40 with an 81A filter, and EI 32 with an 85C filter, but I know how to bracer myself when needed.

I did bring my 12-year-old Gitzo 1228 carbon fiber, and only used it if the exposures were longer than a few seconds at night.


Cases      top

I brought an small Tamrac waist pack from 1993.

It easily holds the tiny Leica, five lenses, film and filters, and it's just a small jogging pack.

You can't get nice, small waist packs like these anymore.

I rarely carried it.

I usually used the two-pocket-shuffle, whereby I simply throw either of two spare lenses in either side jacket pocket. The case was just for keeping things from destroying themselves when thrown in a trunk.

I have no idea why so many people carry giant backpacks. They weigh too much, they encourage you to take everything you own but won't ever use, and worst, you have to put them down in the mud to get anything out of them. See Carry Less.

The SD880 lived in my pants pocket, uncased.


Lenses      top

I brought three lenses for the Leica.

Leica 21mm f/2.8

Leica 21mm f/2.8 ASPH.

I brought a 21mm f/2.8 ASPH because that's what I shoot most of the time. It takes 55mm filters.

On the M7, it is a true 21mm ultra-wide lens, not the pathetic 28mm cropped equivalent I'd get on an M8.

On a Nikon, any of Nikon's 20mm lenses could have done the same thing for a lot less money. My favorites are any of the Nikkor 20mm f/4 AI, f/3.5 AI-s and 20mm f/2.8 AI-s models.


Leica 50mm f/2

Leica 50mm f/2 (1970).

I brought a 50mm f/2 from 1970. It takes 39mm filters.

I didn't use it much: I used the 21mm most of the time, and occasionally the 90mm.

Likewise, any Nikon 50mm lens from any era could have done the same thing.


Leica 90mm f/2 APO

Leica 90mm f/2 APO ASPH.

I also brought a big, fat 90mm f2 which takes 55mm filters.

I normally would have brought a tiny 90mm f/2.8 Tele instead that takes 39mm filters, but since we were expecting rain the whole time I figured that I be needing f/2 in murky light.

As it turned out, I didn't. As always, an f/2.8 lens would have been fine.

For Nikon, I'd use the 85mm f/2 AI-s instead.


Filters      top

I brought Hoya 81A and 85C warming filters and a Tiffen Grad ND 0.6 in screw-in mount.

I like the Hoya colored filters because they excellent, they are coated and they are inexpensive.

I use the Tiffen grads because they are glass and they really are neutral. Many other brands of grad shift the colors.

I also brought a polarizer I never used.

Normally I'd use a yellow filter for black-and-white in nice light, but I expected only to be shooting in murk. I only brought skylight or UV filters for shooting B&W, depending on what I had floating around in each size.


Logs and Reporting      top

I used an iPod touch for everything technical on the trip, like looking up the weather (which was always rain or snow).

I used its Notes feature to jot down any technical notes I thought you folks might like to know about the shots.

I kept one note for each roll.

I mailed each log to myself, copied it to text documents, and stored each with my film scans.



Film and Scanning      top

I shot Fuji Velvia 50 for color, and Kodak T-Max 100 for black-and-white.

I dropped everything at North Coast Photo, and they developed and scanned everything.

All my dozen or so rolls of color and black-and-white fit on just two DVDs. I popped them in my Mac, and everything was in my computer within minutes.

It was already backed-up on DVD as I picked it up from the lab. This is a lot easier than shooting digital and having to plug-in, transfer and then back up everything myself the old way. Screw that.

I was astounded: even the black-and-white scans looked great. I've never had B/W film printed, even as custom prints, by any lab and gotten results as good as the automated scans I got today. Bravo!

Of course the Velvia scans knocked me out of my desk chair. We had some epic light, and Velvia captures it unlike anything in digital.

The colors you see here can't do the original film justice, but even online you can see that you just don't get color rendition like this from digital cameras.


Photoshop      top

I don't need no stinking Photoshop.

Most of the images are exactly as they came out of the SD880, or as the scans came back from the lab.

On rare occasions I may have trimmed the levels (less than 10%) or cropped out some junk on the sides.


Spares      top

Leica M4-P

Leica M4-P (1980).

I brought a Leica M4-P from 1980 and its clip-on MR-4 meter as a spare body to shoot B&W film if things got really murky.

Since the 21mm finder usurps the hot shoe from the meter, I usually used a Gossen Digisix meter instead.

I set my Gossen Digisix to give 2/3 stop more exposure (lower ASA setting: ISO 64 for ISO 100, etc.) than its factory calibration.

I used EI 64 for unfiltered ISO 100 film and EI 32 for unfiltered ISO 50 film. (Actually I read the Gossen manual and recalibrated the meter internally without tweaking the ISO. I find most Gossen meters of any vintage lead me to underexpose by 2/3 of a stop for reflected readings, so I set my Gossens to overexpose by 2/3 of a stop to get what I want. Your tastes may vary/)

I also brought a Leica 135mm f/4 M that I was testing. I didn't plan to use it much, since I hadn't confirmed that it worked. I figured better to take it to Route 66 to try it out rather than make more photos of my neighbor's lawn furniture. It turns out it worked great.


What I Didn't Bring       top

I brought no other gear: no chargers, no computers, no backup hard drives, no blank DVDs, no blank CDs, no power cords, no memory cards and none of that garbage that digital shooters have to haul.

Digital is great in my studio where I want my images fast, but not when I have to haul everything with me or want the finest results.


Where I Got It All       top

Except for the new gold Canon SD880 I got from Amazon, I got everything else used from either Adorama or eBay for a fraction of its new cost.

See also Provisioning a Complete Leica M System.

Price doesn't really matter when you buy used, but if it does, I would have gotten exactly the same results with a complete Nikon FE or any other Nikon manual-focus camera system for just a couple of hundred bucks, including all the lenses.

This is another huge advantage of shooting RealRaw™: your gear can be bought used for next to nothing, especially when you consider that it can be sold for what you paid for it. You never have to pay top dollar for the latest new camera.



I support my growing family through this website.

If you find this as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me continue helping everyone.

If you've gotten your gear through one of my links or helped otherwise, you're family. It's great people like you who allow me to keep adding to this site full-time. Thanks!

If you haven't helped yet, please do, and consider helping me with a gift of $5.00.

The biggest help is to use these links to Adorama, Amazon, B&H, Calumet, Ritz, J&R and when you get your goodies. It costs you nothing and is a huge help to me. eBay is always a gamble, but all the other places have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.

Thanks for reading!


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