As regular visitors to my blog will know I’ve been itching to get away to somewhere hotter and more photographically interesting for a considerable while, eleven years actually!. After a very heavy year fraught with all kinds of problems and worries we set off for one of my most favourite countries, Malta and its sister islands of Gozo and Comino. I’ve been there several times over the years but it has been more than twenty years since my last visit. I love Malta, the Maltese people and the climate so I’ve been looking forward to our visit ever since we decided on visiting.
Below is map showing some of our travels around the island recorded on a great little GPS data logger from Holux. This thing is about the size of a match box and worked brilliantly. It’s so small and light and has storage for 200,000 track points. I bought it prior to our visit to record our travels and to geotag my shots on returning home. I took nearly 2,500 shots during our visit and I knew that my poor old memory wouldn’t remember where some of them were taken. I set up the logger to record the position every three seconds and switched it on before going out and off again on return. The internal rechargeable battery lasted very well. They claim 20 hours per charge, I don’t know if that’s correct but I know that it certainly kept recording for at least 12 hours on one of our longer trips. Another nice thing about this device is that it has bluetooth and can simultaneously provide offline cost-free GPS navigation to a compatible hand-held portable tablet device. I won’t pay data roaming charges :).
I’ve never considered myself to be a zoom guy and I love my M.Zuiko prime lenses but I really didn’t fancy carrying a range of lenses around in that heat. I also didn’t want to miss shots changing lenses all the time and I wanted a weather-proof lens to compliment my Olympus OM-D E-M5 body and offer some protection from dust and water splashes on beaches and boat trips. I did a lot of research before investing in an M.Zuiko Pro 12-40mm 1:2.8 zoom lens. It weighs about the same as the combined weight of my most frequently used 12mm, 17mm and 45mm M.Zuiko primes. I am very impressed with the performance of this lens and I can see it getting a good bit of use. Whilst on the subject of optics I took my small, lightweight pair of binoculars with me as they are so very useful in spotting interesting landscapes and views and saving the old legs and dehydration from walking in the heat.
Two things that I did was to change the lens cap for a cheap center-pinch one as loosing the original Olympus cap is a very costly replacement exercise and I wasn’t overly happy with the looseness of fit of the Olympus one. I don’t care what name is written on my lens cap, or for that matter if there’s a name on it at all, it’s the lens quality that matters. I also changed the lens hood for a cheap after-market one from JJC. This hood has the advantage of having a small removable sliding “window” allowing the rotation of filters much more easily as I knew that I’d be using my circular polarising filter a fair bit and of course it’s also better to loose this than have to buy a costly replacement from Olympus.
On a humorous note it’s amazing the number of people that you see taking photographs in blazing sunshine with the lens hood fitted in the reversed position, maybe they don’t care about lens flair!. :). I remember seeing one guy walking around with a big, heavy DSLR fitted with the sort of huge zoom lens that you usually see being used by sports and wildlife photographers happily taking shots with the lens hood in the reversed position, ho hum, made me smile. 🙂
Lastly I bought a few new USB travel chargers to keep all my gear charged up. I stumbled across two very reasonably priced and well-designed chargers from Anker,the Astro E1 5200mAh Portable Charger which is great for charging and powering the GPS logger, mobile phone, ipod etc. on the go. The second Anker product is a small solid brick of a charger the 40W 5-Port USB Charging Hub. This is a great product which can simultaneously charge a total of 5 USB devices, including the portable charger, at the same time and was a real space saver and very useful back at base for charging up the gear at the end of the day. I didn’t want to take my Olympus charger as it is quite big and bulky and ties up another wall power outlet, something that usually comes at premium in hotel rooms, so I bought a cheap Newer USB charger from Amazon so that I could charge up my Olympus batteries from the Anker hub or even the Anker portable charger on the go!. All of these chargers performed extremely well and I particularly liked the ability to charge and or power USB-powered devices on the go.
I’ll be working my way through my shots and posting them here and to my Flickr page over the coming weeks.
PS. If I could change one thing from experience it’s that I probably should have bought a portable USB charger with more than one USB output as there were a few times when I could have done with the facility to simultaneously power/charge up more than one USB device on the go. So for future trips I’d definitely consider getting another model from Anker with two outputs like this one. The amperage capacity of the charger was more than adequate for my requirements but another USB output would come in handy.