This ‘One-Lens Trip’ Is Making Me Reconsider My Kit for My Next Trip

Mathieu Stern has a great YouTube channel where he explores affordable and overlooked vintage lenses that may not be in the photographic community's zeitgeist quite yet. His latest video follows that same pattern but adds a small twist.

Stern decided to travel to Spain with one lens in his arsenal. It's the Konica Hexanon AR 35mm f/2 lens. It's a lens that seems to be in limited supply on a major secondary market like eBay and commands a higher price than his usual "cheap" finds and oddities. I've come across this lens once in the wild in my hunts and it sold fairly fast when I put it up for sale. I didn't really get a chance to use it so I don't have a lot to say about it's performance, but Stern has us covered there and it looks to bne another vintage film lens that performs quite well on today's digital sensors.

But the part of this video that intrigues me more is his use of it as a single lens for a trip. I haven't been traveling as much as I used to when I lived in Europe, but I have some trips planned in the upcoming months and I'm starting to ponder what gear to bring. It's that usual feeling of dread mixed with excitement. Should I bring a full kit with a vast focal range of options or pare it down to the must haves? Do I bring a film kit along with my digital stuff? And, even going so far as to bring one camera and lens and be done with it?

After watching his video, I'm definitely leaning into the one camera and one lens setup. I'm confident and know what I like to shoot. I've been through the process of this before and as is often the case, each trip has its own needs.

When I went to Iceland last year, I took everything. And it was worth it as the landscape is amazing and I needed so many options. A telephoto zoom, a normal zoom, an ultra-wide, and a fast prime. My film kit was simpler as I just took my trusty X-T2 and use it for some interesting panoramas. I also had the luxury of having a rental car so carrying a few bags of gear wasn't a problem. 

As a side note, go to Iceland. Just do it. And rent a car and drive yourself around. Do it in the winter and spend at least 10 days there. It's an amazing place and the photographic opportunities are near limitless. I can't recommend this enough.

So, for my next excursion, I don't need a crazy, complex group of gear. I think I'm going to ditch my large setup and embrace a one lens, one camera solution. It makes sense and I'm going to do it.

But maybe one extra lens won't hurt. And a film camera too. Yeah, that's the ticket. Just a couple of small options...

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11 Comments

I took a workshop awhile ago with a pretty famous conflict/documentary photographer, and he really drove home the need to use one lens, and getting to know and love it (28mm in his case). It will make you a better photographer, as you'll learn how to compose in your head much more easily, and just take the shot. It does require a lot of practice and time, though. I'm still working on it.

Studio 403's picture

Wonderful

This video isn’t a look at the challenges of traveling with one lens, but rather it’s an assessment of this vintage lens, which he took, all by itself, to Spain. Spoiler: He got many lovely shots.

One lens. One camera. Definitely the way to go. Many think it’s limiting. Reality is that it’s creative restraint becomes its benefit. For me I go with a nifty fifty. Love it and love what I can do with it. Go for it I say too...

Michael Holst's picture

Limitations are where creativity is born.

I see one lens as severely limiting, as I do not "see" in one focal length. I could easily travel with my 15-30 Tamron and my 70-200 Nikkor and two bodies. Adding film gear would be nice, but would also add significant weight (Nikon F4s). If I wanted to shoot only with one lens I would drag out my Yashica MAT and use it.

Very nice video of my neigbourhood. Need to go out more often.

In the 70's I traveled through Europe with only a Nikkormat and a 35mm f2 Nikkor. Was never limited.

Interesting, I guess it comes down to psychology. I can easily do without 35 or 25, rarely would use them anyway. Most everything that interests me is farther away. If stuck with a single, I'd probably think of at least 80..

Europe for me was about the landscape and architecture. Portraiture was uninteresting.
I also had an 85 f1.8 and left it home because I rarely used it.
However, the two together made a great wedding kit.

Watching this while planning a year in Asia and thinking I need flexibility and WR on my XT-1...

Maybe I just need to take my 35mm f2 WR...