Well I have just about packed my bags, my wife’s iPad has now hit 27 hours and still going trying to backup a measly 4Gb of apps and music – see my last post – according to my calculations it will take at least 40 hours to do this back up and sync!
But the good news is, I have decided upon my camera kit to take with me for 4 weeks of photo tourism, and it all fits into a small inconspicuous backpack and comes in at 6.5kg so easily comes in under the airline cabin luggage limits.
My selection of lenses covers every focal length from 14mm to 800mm (in 35mm camera terms), as well as one of the sharpest macro/portrait lenses made (the Olympus ZD 50mm f/2.0), one of the best low light environmental portrait lenses (the Leica-D 25mm f/1.4), and a pancake lens for discrete street photography when security may be an issue.
From left to right:
Panasonic GH-1 with FT adapter and Panasonic Leica-D 25mm f/1.4 lens and lens hood:
- this will be my main walk around camera because I love this combination so much
- of course, a Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens would have been MUCH more compact and lighter, but I don’t have one of them
- if I really need HD video, then the GH-1 will be adequate for my needs
- examples of my photos with this lens are here
Olympus ZD 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD with lens hood:
- this is one of my favorite lenses although a bit big and heavy for travel, and I procrastinated about whether to include this or not, but as I am going to Sweden in October and weather is likely to be wet and cold, the weatherproofing and additional rain protection of front lens element provided by the hood may well prove worth its weight.
- there is no other lens that provides the versatility and quality of this lens for its weight, and adds opportunity for nice bokeh – I love it!
- but will it be too conspicuous for thieves for urban walkabout use?
- examples of my photos with this lens here
- I can also combine this lens with the Olympus EC-20 2x teleconverter to give me hand holdable, image stabilised, 800mmm telephoto reach at f/7 – examples of my photos with this combination are here
Olympus E-510 with Olympus ZD 50mm f/2.0 macro:
- the E510 is getting a bit old in the tooth now but it is a LOT lighter than taking my Canon 1D Mark III, and I would love to upgrade it to the new Olympus E-5 to make a perfect, unique combination when used with the 50-200mm lens.
- the 50mm macro makes for a great walk around lens which I used last time I went to Europe – example photos here
- of course, it can be combined with the EC-20 2x teleconverter to give a relatively compact lens with 200mm telephoto reach at f/4 image stabilised, or a 1:1 macro – see example photos of this combination here.
Panasonic Lumix 14-140mm HD lens:
- this is THE lens for HD video and covers 28-280mm in case I need that range covered
- I suspect though I may not use this lens as much as the above lenses, but sometimes one needs a relatively compact zoom – HOW wrong I was – see the post-script at bottom, I was too busy and pre-occupied to bother using any other lens during the day!
- I often use this lens with gradient filters for landscape work.
- examples of my photos with this lens here.
Olympus ZD 7-14mm f/4 super pro lens:
- this lens covers 14-28mm and in cramped urban environments can be a very handy lens
- a better lens for travel would have been the much smaller, lighter Panasonic 7-14mm lens for Micro Four Thirds but I don’t own that one, and this one will work on my E-510 as well as the GH-1 which will give it even more field of view with its 16:9 aspect ratio.
- examples of my photos with this lens are here.
Olympus OM 135mm f/2.8:
- this is a very handy compact solution which gives 270mm field of view and can be very handy for videos indoors at conferences with its f/2.8 aperture – just sit it on a tripod, manually set focus, exposure, white balance and let it go.
- examples of my photos with this lens on the GH-1 are here.
Olympus FL-36 flash:
- the perfect size for the GH-1 and travel with enough power to use it as a bounce flash
- I decided to leave my FL-50 home.
Olympus EC-20 2x teleconverter:
- this is a superb converter and will add to the options available with little extra weight or space needed.
Olympus 17mm f/2.8 pancake lens:
- when you have a lens this small and light, its a no brainer to bring it along, particularly for times when you don’t want to advertise you have a camera for your personal security reasons, and it will allow the GH-1 to fit into my jacket pocket.
- compact tripod and a mini tripod – checked in luggage
- gradient filters, Cokin adapter, 67mm and 58mm polariser filter, 58mm infrared filter, 52-58mm step, 62-58mm step rings
- memory cards – 1x 16Gb SD, 2x 32 Gb SD, 1x 16Gb CF, 1x 8Gb CF
- battery chargers, USB cable, spare camera batteries, AA batteries for flash
- SD card reader and camera connection kit for iPad
- Zoomit SD card reader for iPad to bypass Apple software issues and iTunes.
- Lowepro Zoom camera case to protect the GH-1 inside the backpack
- Olympus 50-200mm lens case to protect that lens inside the backpack
There is no way I could achieve this versatility with a Canon or Nikon outfit and come in at 6.5kg – this is THE domain of mirror-less cameras – the new Panasonic GH-2 is looking even more exciting and will be nicely complimented by the Olympus E-5 until a mirror-less weatherproof pro camera becomes available.
Post-script: so what did I actually use in Europe?
Firstly, I decided the 50-200mm was just too big for this trip, so it stayed at home.
The Lumix 14-140mm lens on the GH-1 was used for 90% of my walkaround daytime shots.
The Leica-D 25mm f/1.4 lens on GH-1 was used for 90% of my indoor (church, galleries) and hand held night time shots.
The Olympus E-510 with either 7-14mm or the 50mm macro did not get much play this time, mainly because my wife wouldn’t allow me sufficient time to think through an ultra-wide perspective shot, and I was not doing much shallow DOF work to justify getting the 50mm lens out of the bag. I should have had more fun with them, but after using the GH-1, I no longer enjoy the tiny optical viewfinder of the E510 and neither of these will autofocus on the Gh-1 – perhaps I should buy an E-5 to replace the E510 🙂
The size of my conference hall was smaller than I am used to, and thus the OM 135mm lens was not needed as the 14-140mm sufficed for my needs on this trip.
I used the 17mm pancake only once, on an evening dinner when I could only take a very compact camera kit in my wife’s handbag (begrudgingly of course) – perhaps if it had been a 20mm f/1.7 pancake it would have had more airtime.
I didn’t actually need the EC-20 2x teleconverter – the Lumix 14-140mm lens was adequate for my needs, and the only combination I would have considered using for was with the 50mm macro to give 100mm f/4.0, but the Lumix lens almost gave me this anyway.
I used the flash bounced off walls/ceilings for a few indoor family party shots, and the small tripod was used for a few low light shots.
I did not trust the iPad to adequately backup my photos, but in fact it seems that I could have relied upon it to do so, even though it was not self-evident at the time.
The ZoomIt SD card reader for iPad was a waste of money as it was far too slow in uploading photos.