The Leica Meet Blog



by Tina Manley

When you are planning a photography trip, how do you decide what to pack? There are several things to consider before you decide what to put in your camera bag. What kind of photos do you plan to take? What equipment do you have available? How long will you be gone? How much weight can you carry? Will you have to carry your equipment long distances?   How will you protect everything from loss, theft, and weather?

HONDURAS, EL LIMON: Martir Lopez fans himself with his hat on a hot day in the mountains of Honduras. The women of El Limon make pottery and are involved in HPI’s Women in Livestock Development projects.

For over 30 years I worked as a documentary photography for non-governmental organizations in developing countries. I traveled to 67 countries photographing people. The photographs were used by agencies to raise money for self-development projects.

My cameras have always been Leica rangefinders. The cameras are unobtrusive, quiet, durable, and wonderful for low light photography. Since I carried all of my own equipment and stayed with local families, often without electricity, the rangefinders and their fast lenses were perfect.

For most of those years, I would also carry about 300 rolls of film for a two week trip. Now I carry computer equipment, battery chargers, cables, memory cards and hard drives.

I have learned through the years what is essential and what can be left at home. I just returned from a month in Cuba where I took 16,000 photos that I am still editing. All of my equipment fit in a Tamrac backpack and a Travelon purse (guys might want to carry a waist belt or vest). Here is my packing list:

Here is my packing list:

Visible Dust’s Artic Butterfly sensor cleaner I carried one camera on my shoulder, one in my purse, and one in the backpack. The purse has a steel cable strap and I carried steel retractable cables to secure my backpack.

I’ve never had anything stolen in all of my travels. A rain poncho covered everything, including the backpack, in bad weather. I kept the same lenses on my 3 cameras most of the time. The 35 Summicron was on my M240, the 50 Summilux on my MM, and the 24 Summicron on my M9. For low light conditions I would switch to the Summilux and Noctilux versions.

I love to photograph people and try to hang around long enough that they forget I’m taking photos. I’m very good at disappearing into the background! If I were planning to shoot sports or landscapes, my lens and camera list would be totally different, but for people, the list is perfect for me.

HONDURAS, EL LIMON: Martir, Kevin Jose and Raquel Lopez in their rural home in the mountains of Honduras. The women of El Limon make pottery and are involved in HPI’s Women in Livestock Development projects.

HONDURAS, GRACIAS A DIOS: Dr. Frank Strait examines a baby as the community looks on in a remote, rural village in Honduras. Providence Presbytery and HPI provide health promoter training and medicines for clinics in Honduras.


HONDURAS, OLOAS: Tiburcio Monueles blesses a breakfast of tortillas and beans with his two youngest children. Erlinda and Tiburcio Monueles are community leaders who participate in Heifer Project International workshops in their rural farming community in the mountains of Honduras. The Monueles had 18 children but only 9 are living.


For those who will be in NYC for the Leica Meet on June 11, I hope you will be able to stick around for my lecture at the International Center for Photography on June 12. I’ll be showing photos from Cuba and talking more about how to pack. NYLUG’15: PHOTOGRAPHY COLLOQUIUM – information here: To see my documentary photos: Photos from Cuba: