Before traveling to Tibet in 2006, I was still shooting film. I’d only owned two cameras up to this point: the Minolta X-370, my first camera, and the Sigma SA7, my first automatic camera. However, I was concerned about the effect of X-rays on film and the potential difficulty of finding film once in China, so I decided it was time to go digital. I wasn’t completing ready for a DSLR, so I went with the Fujifilm FinePix S9000, which was marketed as a “prosumer” camera designed to bridge the gap between fixed lens compacts and interchangeable lens DSLRs. It was smaller and lighter than a DSLR and had a lens that was equivalent to a 28-300mm. I consider this my first travel camera and it was my companion for over five years, around my neck as I visited nearly thirty countries and when I met my wife.
As digital cameras are essentially computers with lenses, they need to be upgraded every so often as the technology improves. Especially in the early days when megapixels were single-digit and low light shooting resulted in a lot of digital noise. I’d also started to notice that I wanted a lens that would zoom out more than 28mm. So that led me to my first DSLR, the Nikon D7000, and my first ultra wide-angle lens, which was equivalent to 15-30mm. That focal range has been my mainstay to this day.
After around another five years I moved to the Nikon Df, which was Nikon’s smallest and lightest full-frame sensor camera at the time. I’d been shooting crop-sensor up till then, but I’d switched to full-frame for my studio work and was getting tired of having two sets of lenses, one for my full-frame studio camera and one for my crop-sensor D7000. This meant finding a full-frame equivalent in the 15-30mm range, which was not as easy as I thought it would be.
Now I’ve switched to mirrorless with the Nikon Z6. I only started using this camera for travel in Summer of 2019 though it’s been my favorite travel camera by far. I’ve also added Leica’s compact CL to the mix, though have not been able to travel with it yet. As each of these cameras have followed my travels, I started keeping track of the countries and territories each camera has accompanied me to. It’s a nice way to track both my travels and my cameras.
The eye should learn to listen before it looks.
— Robert Frank