It's actually just past midnight... but technically it is already the 24th. This past night I watched the videos I had shot on mini-DV while I had the Canon GL1, and it reaffirmed my belief that a camcorder will be necessary on this trip. There was video of Kido and Sol when they were still puppies, and pictures alone would not be able to convey what the little video clips could. I can't state enough how much more significant photos are to me, but I still see a place for video in parts of my life, and so I need a new video camera. I also spent a little time on Lan's computer editing the video clips to burn onto a VCD (VideoCD) which can be played on most DVD players. This gave me a little idea for the presentation of the photographs and video that I will be shooting during my trip across the US. I was already planning on doing a nice little photo essay on the trip, but now I've decided to also do a more personal VCD for friends and family which will mix my video clips and photos into a short movie that can be watched on TV. This will not be a substitute for viewing the photographs live, of course, but will be a great way to send something back to the people in California to see. So now I need to get a camcorder. I don't want to spend too much money on it because I need the money of rmy Leica gear and I will not use video even 1/100th the amount that I will shoot stills, but I don't want junk that I won't use either.
I think I've pretty much narrowed my choices down to 2 camcorders, the Canon ZR20 and the ZR40. They are cheap ($350 for the ZR20 and $450 for the ZR40 on eBay) and very small, and have all the features I need, which are very few. All I want is a cheap, small, mini-DV camcorder with Firewire interface and black and white mode. I was looking for good low light capability too, but that was lower on my priority list and ended up losing out to the other features, and mostly to the price of the Canons. Sony has the best low light performance with their infrared technology, but they have no cheap small camcorders. Oh well, sorry Sony.
So I got an offer recently for an M6 in absolutely mint condition, with a 50mm summilux for only $1850. I can also go pick it up in LA so there will be no shipping charge. It's very tempting. VERY tempting. However, there are good reasons for me to turn it down. First, Grant Heffernan, the guy selling me his M6 (he's holding it until I have the $$) has been very accomodating, waiting for the $$, so it would not be cool to back out and go with someone else's camera. The kicker is that the other one is supposed to be like new, where Grant's has a little paint damage and has been used quite a bit. The 50mm Summilux is quite tempting, but I think I'll go with the Voigtlander lenses first so I can figure out which focal lengths I like the best, then when I can afford it I will get the Leica glass that I need, along with probably another M6, hopefully I can find one in new condition.
So, the current plan is an M6 classic, 50mm f/1.5 Nokton, 35mm f/1.7 Ultron, 21mm f/4 Color-Skopar, Canon Powershot S100 digital camera and Canon ZR20 camcorder. This all with the Minilux will be a complete setup for me and my trip. I had originally planned on getting a Bessa R2 as a backup body to the M6, and more importantly as a way to walk around with 2 focal lengths easily accessible, but with the purchases of the camcorder and digital camera, that's just no longer possible. Oh well. Maybe later when I have a job.
Good news!!! Someone actually chose the Buy It Now option on my G2 system (not to say it's not worth what I got for it, just that I didn't think anyone would want it with the problem the 90mm has), which means I will be getting more for it than I planned, which means I will probably be getting the Bessa R2 body after all. I want the R2 as a backup for many reasons, though I'm still not 100% decided on it. First, I want it as a backup body, in case anything happens to my M6 (I'm sure the chances of this are slim, but they exist). I also want it to bring to places I might not want to bring the M6. --- OK, I was sitting here after typing that line trying to think of places I'd rather bring the R2 because I'd be afraid to bring the M6, and I can't really think of one. I was thinking maybe parties. But 1, I don't go to parties, and 2, the M6's strap would never leave my neck. I guess this isn't a valid reason --- I also want to have a second body to hold another lens to make it quicker for me to switch focal lengths on the street. I could have the 35 and 21, or the 50 and 21. But then again, would I really want to carry 3 cameras around with me? I always have the Bessa L with 15mm Heliar in my bag. But maybe I shouldn't. How often do I use 15mm anyway? I think walking around the street I could have the M6 with the 21mm around my neck and the R2 with the 50 or 35 in my Domke F803 in case I need a longer lens. Damnit!
I really hate obsessing over equipment. Every time I go and sell equipment and buy different stuff I go through the same damn thing. I have told myself this will be the last sell of and new purhase though, because where else am I gonna go in 35mm from Leica? And I know that when I do start using medium format I still won't abandon 35mm. So I will only add to my Leica system, not trade it for something else. That I can live with. I just can't wait until this switch is done. I really won't know exactly what equipment I'm going to have until it's all in my hands. When I started this out, I was planning on getting an M6 TTL with a Noctilux and 21mm Elmarit. I don't even know where I thought I'd get the money for that kit. Anyway, I think I should at least stop writing about this crap in the journal. I don't need to record the pain I went through in choosing my equipment, I will know the final result when it happens.