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Small luggage when traveling: Experiences with Fuji and Nikon
Reading time: 12 minutes - February 15, 2024 - by Hans-J?rgen Sommer

Small luggage when traveling - experiences with Fuji and Nikon

A year ago, we spoke to photographer Hans-J?rgen Sommer about the fascination of street photography in a very exciting interview. At the time, he told us: "It's the challenge of capturing the right moment that fascinates him so much about photography. He also likes to take unusual paths. As with these unique shots, which he took with the help of extremely fast manual lenses:

Photo: Hans-J?rgen Sommer

Years ago, I had to take a backpack with my camera and several lenses when I traveled. For example, I made my way through Mexico, Thailand and Cuba. This always involved a lot of effort beforehand: When traveling abroad, you should declare expensive new equipment to customs at home in advance so that there are no problems when you re-enter the country.

In Mexico, I had my blessed DSLR Nikon D700 with attached battery handle with me. Combined with the Nikkor 28-300mm superzoom, I was well equipped, but also sensational. In the coastal town of Playa del Carmen, some locals shouted "paparazzi" after me. During the day my beloved super zoom, a fixed focal length, in the evening a zoom with a continuous 2.8 and a macro. So I was equipped for all eventualities.

Photo: Hans-J?rgen Sommer

Customs also seem to "like" big cameras. When I left Cuba, I was first waved out and interrogated in Spanish. My wife speaks Spanish and asked what was going on. Then I was able to leave.

On our trip to Thailand, I learned something new and left the battery grip for my new Nikon D800 and some lenses at home. Having slimmed down quite a bit, I never had any more problems at customs.

Technological development is progressing, so I bought a Fuji X-Pro2 in 2016. "Only" with a crop sensor, but much more compact than my big DSLR, and lighter. In the run-up to a vacation in Andalusia, I also stocked up on lenses for the Fuji. I also needed a Zeiss lens, because I was already a Zeiss fan in my SLR days. I have never regretted buying the Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8. I took some beautiful flamenco shots in Andalusia with it and of course others. The autofocus is a little slow, but the optical quality is outstanding.

Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8

  • the perspective of the human eye
  • optimized for APS-C sensors
  • low weight and compact size
  • extremely fast
  • suitable for Fujifilm X
Photo: Hans-J?rgen Sommer
Photo: Hans-J?rgen Sommer

After two years, I bought another Fuji X-T2 on special offer. The handling is a little different to the X Pro2.
At first I only ever had the X-Pro2 with me when traveling and I have to admit that in 99% of all cases the crop sensor is sufficient. Perhaps the bokeh is a little more extreme from my street musicians in Andalusia with a full-frame camera, but that comes at the price of size. I usually shoot stopped down on vacation.

At that time I bought a bag from Think Tank. It's still the only bag I take with me on my travels today, as it fits into my normal Deuter rucksack. The days of a huge photo backpack are definitely over.

Photo: Hans-J?rgen Sommer

Some time ago, my Nikon D800 and the Fujis were joined by a Nikon Z6 II, which I am still delighted with. It's a relatively compact system camera with a full-frame sensor and its operation is based on the old Nikons. I particularly love the joystick for adjusting the focus point, just like on my Fujis.

One disadvantage of the full-frame Nikon is the fact that the lenses are relatively large. Only the camera with the lens attached fits in my much-loved bag. In contrast to my two Fujis; here both cams fit relatively well because the lenses are not so big.

Photo: Hans-J?rgen Sommer

Why do I always want to have two cameras with me when traveling? I have an allergy to dust, dust on the sensor. I only change my lenses indoors. This quirk has proved its worth, I've never had to have my sensor cleaned in the last few years.

Of course, I could also take another lens with me in my quiver, I've already done that. But as life goes, there's no indoor space to change lenses.

In the past, I had to have a zoom, of which I have a few for Nikon and Fuji. In recent years, however, I have moved away from superzooms. But not because of the quality, which was completely sufficient for me. Except for my diva, the D800, which demands excellent glass. It's simply the fact that I shoot differently with fixed focal lengths. I have more ideas for finding the right framing when trying to find the optimal perspective. Although I can only do some things with a long focal length, I have noticed that my pictures have become better for me.

Photo: Hans-J?rgen Sommer

On our trip to Berlin, I actually wanted to film more than take photos, but then the photographer came through in Berlin. However, I only had the X-T2 with the Fujifilm 23mm f/1.4 and the Fuji 35mm f/1.4 with me. I had to go twice to some of the photo spots because I didn't want to change lenses while I was enjoying myself and caf?s are sometimes few and far between there. One of our first stops was the Holocaust memorial in Berlin. With a relatively wide angle, I took some great shots with the 23.

The next day we came back, this time with the 35mm and so I was able to photograph the memorial with the Reichstag in the background. For Berlin, the 35mm turned out to be an all-rounder. But I have to admit: 50mm is simply my focal length. The 35 Fuji is about the same. The AF on both is not particularly fast, but that's not why I'm buying the successor, I can live with that. The image quality never ceases to amaze me, really extremely sharp. After excursions into the world of manual, fast lenses, I know what I'm talking or writing about when it comes to sharpness and micro-contrasts.

I was thrilled by the 35 mm in a particular scene: we were near the Berlin Wall Museum and I saw a watchtower from the GDR era. A construction fence blocked the view of the whole tower. There was barbed wire on the fence and, coincidentally, a balloon from the newspaper "Die Welt" in the background. A perfect composition for me, which captivated and inspired me.

Photo: Hans-J?rgen Sommer
Photo: Hans-J?rgen Sommer

We usually fly or take the train on vacation, so I have to limit myself to the two Fujis or a Nikon. We went to the Baltic Sea by car, as that gives us more flexibility. On this trip I used the Z6 II with FTZ adapter and my beloved Zeiss Milvus 50mm for the F-mount. I also had other lenses in our car, such as a superzoom, which I never used.

Thanks to the image stabilizer in the camera, the Zeiss is in top form. A great combination, but of course also huge in terms of dimensions.

Photo: Hans-J?rgen Sommer

One year Husum on the North Sea was on our travel list. This time again by car and again with the Nikon Z6 II. At that time I had just treated myself to a new lens: Manual and relatively compact, I packed a Voigtl?nder APO Lanthar 50mm f/2. What this lens lacked in speed, it more than made up for in sharpness and micro-contrast.

I was thrilled by the North Sea coast - and Husum in particular is worth a visit. I recommend a visit to the local museum and the House of Photography, where I have also exhibited.

If you go traveling, you should limit yourself - your back will thank you for it. When comparing the two systems Fuji and Nikon, I am always struck by how small the differences are. If you look at what you see on the computer when you're at home, there are nuances that separate the two brands. My Nikon only shows its strengths at home, where I occasionally shoot flamenco with very fast manual lenses. Here, the cropping ability of the full-frame camera and a 50mm f/0.95 or 90mm f/1.25 is already extreme.

But when traveling, you usually use the lens stopped down. However, I have to admit that I don't attach much importance to perfect image quality out of cam. If I don't see any shortcomings in post-processing, they are corrected and I overlook them.

An opulent range of lenses is more important to me than always having the latest body.

About Hans-J?rgen Sommer

Born in Speyer am Rhein in the summer of 1969 and raised in the provinces around Ludwigshafen, Hans-J?rgen Sommer turned to the fine arts at an early age. He enjoyed painting, but discovered photography at the age of 15. He was fascinated by capturing the right moment. A photograph was precious in those analog times. As a result, he had to deal intensively with every picture, even at the planning stage. He still benefits from this today.

With the advent of digital photography, he lives out his passion even more intensively and has been able to incorporate his experience in the field of information technology into his workflow. This opened up new creative possibilities for him.

Hans-J?rgen Sommer does not adhere to the usual conventions in photography. If the quality is right, selective coloration also makes it into his narrow selection of images.

He has exhibition experience and has also been involved in charity work in the past.


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