Monday, July 29, 2013

My Ideal Travel Camera

In our younger days, we were all guilty of NOT travelling light. In my younger days, travel usually meant work; as a photographer for a newspaper. I recall fondly the time I was with a fashion team to India, shooting for a Singapore paper; travelling with me were the following photo gear...

2 units Canon EOS1 camera bodies, only one with a drive to save weight.
1 unit Leica M6 camera body with winder.
1 unit Canon 580 Speedlight.

Canon 14/2.8 L
Canon 17-35 2.8L
Canon 28-80 2.8L
Canon 85/1.2 L
Canon 200/1.8L

Canon 1.4 extender
Canon 2x extender

Leica Elmarit-M 21/2.8

Leica Summicron-M 50/2
Leica Summicron-M 90/2
Leica Summilux-M 35/1.4
Leica Elmarit-M 28/2.8

Chargers, batteries; 60 rolls of Kodak Ektapress colour negative film. A Monopod. And a Tenba Pro Pak camera bag.

I was amazed how I managed to lug all those gears around! But then I was much younger...

Now into my senior years, my travel are just for pleasure and holiday. Lugging around a heavy DSLR and lenses is not holidaying! Physically, I cannot do it either :(

Therefore, way back in 2010, before we went off to visit our eldest daughter in London; I have decided a good travel camera will have the following quality:

1) It must be relatively light weight.
2) Take interchangeable lens.
3) Digital, with video.
4) Larger sensor than a point-n- shoot.
5) Able to shoot RAW.

This was what I took with me to our 2010 London and Europe trip...

The Olympus E-P2 with 14-42mm (28-84mm eqv.) "kit" zoom and their excellent EVF (electronic view finder).The lens on the left is the incredible Panasonic 7-14mm (14-28mm eqv.) ultra wide zoom lens. On the right, my favorite point n shoot, the Canon G9.

Total weight of the three item, 1.2 Kg, which is not bad considering I have coverage all the way from 14 mm ultra-wide to the longish digital zoom of the G9!

That was then, this is now... on our recent trip to Melbourne, I took with me the following...

My Olympus OM-D E-M5 with HLD-6 grip (with an extra battery), the retractable 14-42 (28-84 eqv) f3.5/5.6 "kit zoom" and the feather weight Lumix 45-175 (90-350 eqv) zoom.

The one camera and three lenses combo hit 1.4 kg (3 lb). All these were stuffed into a Lowepro Passport Sling II bag.

Apart from the gear, I can also put some small item in this versatile sling bag

After my first day of shooting in Melbourne, I realised all my shots were done with the 7-14; a few were shot using the 45-175 zoom but none with the kit lens!

I also feel, after hours of walking; the 1.4 kg across my shoulder felt like 14!! I decided to remove two item from my arsenal.

I decided not to take the kit lens, and the HLD-6 grip with me, I kept the spare battery in my bag though. The OM-D is notorious in heavy battery usage!

Without the two items, the total weight drop to 1 kg! That was much more manageable after a full day trot!

What about coverage?  The two lenses combo cover seamlessly, from 17 to 28 mm eqv and from 90 to 350 mm. As you can see, there is a huge gap from 28mm to 90 mm! Personally, I am not borther  by that "gap"; during our travel, my photography is mainly "shoot and run"... I was always trying to catch up with my general in front ;) the Panasonic 7-14 is ideal for this type of photography! This incredible ultra wide zoom is versatile enough to capture expansive city scape to close-up of local cuisine!

While waiting for the "walk" signal, a grab shot of the iconic Flinders Street Station. A shot that includes all the distortion inherit of all ultra-wide lenses, the classical "falling building" symptom.

A quick fix using DXO ViewPoint to straighten the building. I hope you can see the importance of having a wide enough lens when you are travelling, instead of wasting time composing and setting up the perfect shot; I grab a shoot and move on to another location. Don't worry about distortion, you can fix it when you are home ;)

Only an ultra-wide lens can give you the coverage and depth of focus in a shot like this!

So to recap...

At the moment, my "perfect travel camera" is the Olympus OM-D E-M5 with 2 Panasonic lenses, the 7-14 (300g / 10.58 oz) and the 45-175 (210g / 7.4 oz).

If you are worry about missing certain shots because of the "gap", I suggest may be you should also buy and bring along a Lumix 12-35 f2.8 (24-70 mm eqv). 

That was my intention before we left for our Melbourne trip, but the high cost of the lens (NZD 1,600) and the extra weight (305g / 10.8 oz) stopped me doing that.

Happy journey!

1 comment:

heather said...

It`s amazing what we can do when we are young, yet when we are young we take it all for granted.
You are at an age when your back goes out more than you do so it`s prudent to travel light.