Europe with m43 - What worked what didn't retrospective

Started 1 month ago | Discussions thread
Ghost1999 Forum Member • Posts: 60
Re: Europe with m43 - What worked what didn't retrospective

Hi Martin,

Nice pano!

Everyone has their own apporach to their travel photography kit. Its a cold wet day here, and I can't even work out in the yard, so I've written a fairly extensive set of comments / suggestions. I'm sure some won't apply to you, but take what you find useful!

  1. Don't city hop if you can avoid it. If you have to, minimize your therbligs! Especially the amount of photo stuff you carry. I find when I stay in one place for a while, I use a wider range of lenses (and my tripod). I also get better pictures, as I go back to places over and over. I will also go out for a couple of hours with just one or two primes. I wouldn't want to do it all the time, but I find it makes me look at things more carefully, and get better vantage points and perspectives.
  2. If you can, stay somewhere central, and be prepared to go back at least once in the middle of the day for a rest. You can change up the gear you are carrying then as well. Get a pass for the local tranist as well if you can. Even if you are only taking it 6 or 8 blocks it can help keep you fresh.
  3. "Will take my son's 2015 MacBook Air instead of my MBP." Ye Dogs Man! If you can avoid it, don't take a laptop at all! Your smartphone will handle most internet tasks (get a sim card at the airport). If you have to have a bigger screen, or want to download/process as you go, take an iPad mini, and/or a backup drive. And leave them at the hotel/apartment when sightseeing.
  4. About focal length: You use LR, so you can get plugins (e.g. Jeffrey Friedl's ) to plot the focal lengths you use most often. Use the data to see what focal lengths you really used on the trip. You may find that you used your 35-100 mostly at the shorter end. If so, maybe you need to think about a 12-60 or some such.
  5. Dust and dirt: I try really hard to avoid changing lenses outdoors in most European cities. I will often use washrooms, cafes, shops, or churches just to change lenses. Another option is to get a lens changing bag. I find using a clean plastic grocery bag is much much better than nothing. And it can be a lifesaver if it starts to rain unexpectedly! I also carry a rocket blower, and a sensor brush just in case. They stay at the hotel, but I do carry lens wipes and a lens brush with me.
  6. For city hopping, try taking more cameras and fewer lenses. Preferably fairly light cameras. Put your 12-40 on one, and your 9-18 (or new 7-14) on the other. Under those circumstances, I use a GX8 with a 12-60, and a GM5 with the 7-14. (I have a 14-140 that I used for travel for a while, but so few of my images were taken at lengths over 60mm, and so many at 12 to 14mm that I decided to switch. I will probably drop the 7-14 for a 9 or 10mm prime sometime soon, again based on the data.) Having two cameras means:
    1. I flip back and forth from one lens to the other much more readily than if I have to change.
    2. Dust is much less of an issue.
    3. If one camera breaks down, you have a backup.
    4. I spend more time taking photos, and less managing my loadout. 

I think that's enough for now! Happy travels.


Martin Ocando wrote:

Recently having city hopping in Europe, this was my experience regarding a travel kit. I brought:

  • E-M5 Mark II sans grip. I wanted the less weight possible, and clipping it to my capture clip on my backpack shoulder strap was a lifesaver. Both to avoid robbers and to lighten the load on my hand and arm.
  • 12-40mm f:2.8. It was the most used lens by far. The weight was a real burden when the day got long and we were tired of walking, but again, the capture clip worked wonders.
  • 35-100mm f:2.8. Used very little. I'd say 30-50 frames out of 3,000. Tops. But the range was really useful when needed. And I avoided switching to it out of exhaustion, or I simply left it at the apartment when I wanted to be super light. Some extra reach would have been good, though.
  • Rokinon 7.5mm f:3.5. This was a very useful lens for museums and churches. Not very fast, but I handled it. And coupled with today's defishing algorithms in Lightroom makes it ideal.
  • Panasonic 20mm f:1.7. Only used on rare occasions when I needed to be super light, like when we were exploring just the city and not visiting special places. It was not very used really, but a bit more than the 35-100, due to its size and weight.
  • As for the bag, I took the Peak Design 5L sling, and it was great to hold everything, and a few other things as well.
  • 2016 15in MacBook Pro with an external 1TB SSD for dual backup when importing files into Lightroom.

I also brought the 9-18mm and 45mm 1.8, but they lever left the camera bag. It was not a real burden since they are very light, but next time they'll stay at home. Also brought the E-M1 Mark I, just to have a spare body, but never used it either. 6 batteries in total, which proved excessive. 3 are more than enough for a full day of shooting, and charging them with the Watson dual charger makes them ready for the next day in a couple of hours.

I carried everything inside my Peak Design 45L travel backpack with a small camera cube. Although only used it for air travel and not for exploring. Is way too large as a daypack. I simply used a minimal backpack to carry water, food and whatever we ended up buying while walking around the city. Used a wire lock on it 24/7. My wife was in charge of getting in and out of the backpack. Then I emptied the backpack and put it on my suitcase for air travel.

There were a few issues that I'd like to avoid or improve on my next trip:

  1. Changing lenses in a real inconvenience on dry/windy/rainy situations. Or at all. I rather kept shooting with one lens instead of swapping it when I had my hands full, or I didn't have a place to rest my camera. I used the 5L Sling a lot for that, and also the capture clip.
  2. Lugging around a full-size 15inch MacBook Pro is not very comfortable
  3. Dust in the sensor was very noticeable on some pictures (blame changing lenses for that)

So, this is my plan for my next trip:

  1. Get an E-M1 Mark II or a Panasonic G9. Still hasn't decided on which one will be. Mostly because my old E-M1 is already pretty banged up. It has endured lots of events and is time to retire it as a backup. More pixels and a better battery is a plus. Kind of leaning towards the Oly, since the G9 seems a bit heavier and larger, and don't know if it's going to fit inside my 5L bag.
  2. Get an Olympus 14-150mm f:4-5.6 II. Definitively weather sealed lenses are a must if you are walking around. You never know when the rain will catch you unguarded. Also, the extra reach was needed, and I will avoid changing lenses almost completely unless I walk into a museum or a church in which I will be already somewhat protected from the elements. Why not the 12-100? 1.: reach, 2.: price, and 3.: size/weight
  3. Get a Panasonic 7-14mm f:4. Yeah, I know, purple blob. I don't plan to be shooting outside too much with it anyway. But the extra range, AF, and being rectilinear is a plus.
  4. I'll take the E-M5 Mark II as a backup as well, also stripped from all grips. Just as minimalistic as possible, with maybe 1 or 2 batteries. They are different from the E-M1 Mark II or G9, so can't share between them. I can also put the 7-14mm on, and bring both bodies minimizing changing lenses. Can't say if they'll both fit inside the 5L sling, though.
  5. I'll also bring the 20mm f:1.7, as it proved pretty convenient for just strolling around the cities in a minimalistic way. I can even leave the bag, and just clip the camera to my chest, and throw an extra battery in my pocket.
  6. Will take my son's 2015 MacBook Air instead of my MBP.
  7. I'll keep the 45L travel backpack as it proved very convenient for air travel, and it freed my hands, which was convenient to help my wife with her bags. Otherwise, I couldn't have done it.

That's it. If you have more ideas, I'm open to suggestions.

And as a reward to reaching this far, a pano from the trip, and a spoiler of my next Europe thread

Madrid Royal Palace

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