In your bag No: 1552 – Alex Nelson

Alex makes me green with envy with some sweet custom glass in this lovely bag shot.

My name is Alex Nelson and I thought I’d share the kit I’m bringing on a business trip to Europe this week.

I am based in Los Angeles, where I design and build lenses for cinematography. The two big lenses in the upper right corner of the photo are movie lenses (30mm and 50mm) from the late 1930’s that I built into new mechanical housings for modern digital movie cameras. I’m pairing them with a Sony A7RII using a PL mount adapter. The 30mm only covers APS-C (which is close to 35mm motion-picture film), but the 50mm covers a full-frame sensor and it looks incredible wide open (f/2.3), with really nice flares.

I’m also bringing two Nikon FM bodies, which are about as light and simple as you can get for metered analog SLRs. Having one chrome and one black body makes it easy to grab the one with the emulsion I want, without having to look at the box tab on the back. The two focal lengths I use the most are the 50mm f1.4 and 24mm f2.8, since those cover pretty much any situation I encounter while traveling.

I’m also bringing my single-stroke Leica M3 with a 50mm Summicron DR, 35mm f3.5 Summaron, and collapsible 90mm f4 Elmar. Most people like to shoot street photography with wide primes, or a 50mm lens at the longest, but I really like the 90mm because you can throw it in your pocket and it’s great at isolating your subject in a busy urban setting. The relatively slow stop means focus isn’t really an issue and it’s excellent paired with a fast film.

I tend to shoot Kodak Portra (400 or 800), but I always try to keep one body loaded with Ilford HP5. I also have Cinestill 800 in the bag, since it’s such a fun and unpredictable stock to play with.

The bag is a Barbour/Universal Works messenger with a Domke insert to keep everything from knocking around. It can get a little heavy when it’s all loaded up, but it doesn’t look like a photo bag, which can be a great asset when shooting on busy streets.

Thanks for letting me share! You can check out my shots on Instagram at


Alex Nelson

Thanks for sharing with us your setup for going on the road Alex. Very well thought out and can’t wait to see more images from those cine lenses!

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