Once one has mastered the basics I think that composition, framing, call it what one likes, is perhaps the most important element in taking a photograph. What one consciously and frequently unconsciously, perhaps instinctively, chooses to include in the shot and what one leaves out, the POV/perspective. Of course this is dictated by both the lens that one has fitted and one’s ability to position oneself. That is probably why, over a period of time I’ve steadily grown to prefer to have a zoom lens fitted rather than a fixed focal length. With prime lenses I’ve sometimes missed a really nice shot whilst having to change lenses, that’s always assuming that I have a more suitable focal length with me, the moment has passed. What’s included in the frame and what’s left out radically influences the feel and context of the shot. Zoom lenses only make one lazy if one lets them, they don’t negate one’s ability to physically change position where one can. To paraphrase Star Trek “To boldly go where many zoom lenses seldom go”. 🙂
I like to compose the shot in the viewfinder and not crop in post processing which is something that I very rarely do. I much prefer the “What I see is what you get” approach. The only exception to tight framing is when I’m shooting buildings, trees or other vertical objects when I allow what I call a bit of “Wiggle room” so that I can correct for converging verticals in post. One has to imaging in one’s minds eye what’s going to be in the corrected shot and what’s been lost after correction to ensure that the tops and/or sides of a building or whatever won’t be cut off.
Those that have followed my blog for any time will know that I absolutely hate tripods. Firstly, they slow me down and don’t work well with my liking for “walk-about” photography. Secondly, and personally very importantly, I find their weight and bulk fatiguing. So, why am I mentioning this tripod?. This isn’t a review, there are plenty of those around for this tripod but rather my rationale for even owning this one. I’ve read so much stuff about how one cannot do handheld HDR and/or serious landscape photography without using a tripod so how come I’ve been doing it habitually for years with consistently reliable results without one?. The answer is simple, great image stabilization, making use of any available support and being aware of what shutter speeds one is taking the shots at, that and very importantly, great HDR software.
Let’s start with weight, a huge factor for me, I’ve not spend a lot of time and energy refining my kit down to the most compact and lightweight configuration that I can just to add a lot of weight by carrying a heavy tripod especially as, on the occasions when I have chosen to take one with me, 9.99 times out of ten I just end up carrying it around and not using it very much and, frequently, not at all. So, I try and only carry a tripod when I’m pretty darned sure that I’ll require one, for example very long exposures and that hasn’t changed one bit but if I’m going to have to do so then it has to be the most compact and lightest one that I can find and, to-date, this is it. I think that its compact size and low weight make it a very good travel tripod option. I’ve owned it for quite a while now and it’s the only full-sized as opposed to tabletop tripod that I’ve used since buying it which must say something
As a user of Micro Four Thirds gear it works well as my cameras and lenses are all compact and lightweight. It’s not the tallest tripod in the world and not well suited for anyone who is tall and definitely not suited for heavy cameras and lenses but, for my needs at approx. 5 ft 8 inches tall with lightweight cameras and lenses it gets the job done. Typically I’ve done a few simple modifications to suit my personal preferences. It comes with a nice small carrying bag with decent sized cord strap which, unlike some bags with a thin cord, doesn’t cut into one’s neck and shoulder too much. I’ve covered over the large ME FOTO logo with some black gaffer tape as I’ve done with the logos on all my bags. I don’t wish to be an unpaid walking advert for anyone’s gear or draw unnecessary attention to the contents. The metal tripod legs are pretty slippery especially on a cold day if one’s wearing gloves so I’ve taped some neoprene round one leg to make it easier to grip when carrying. Lastly I’ve added red and yellow sticky dot labels to aid in quickly differentiating between the quick release plate and ball head locking knobs.
A couple of shots, You can judge the size by the A4 cutting mat.
So that’s my favorite go-to kit for the foreseeable future.
All the best,
PS. I forgot that I had this 5 Litre capacity dry bag which easily accommodates the tripod and my intervalometer and maybe a few other small things like sandwiches? and is of course water proof and it has a bigger and wider strap. 🙂 It could also be filled with something heavy like stones from the beach and hung under the tripod to add extra stability if required. Making sure of course that one has removed one’s sandwiches first. 🙂
As I didn’t feel like carrying much today and there was a 97% chance of rain, I took my all-weather Olympus TG-5 for stroll in Bognor. I popped on a variable ND filter and took a few shots on the self timer with it on my tiny Manfrotto Pixie tripod. It’s not all about how many megapixels one has. 🙂
Using things that I had lying around I put my batteries into a small black ABS waterproof case and also my combined 58 mm CPL/Variable ND filter (+ 46 mm to 58 mm step up ring) into a small blue neoprene case that I can hang from my belt. The dual layers should keep the batteries bone dry in inclement weather and everything’s on my belt for easy access. A while back I also numbered my batteries for easy identification. Behind the foam rubber inserts are a couple of moist lens wipe sachets and a small microfibre cloth. I know my obsession with weather-proofing may, on occasions, seem like it’s bordering on the paranoid but, trust me, batteries are really not something that one wants to get wet and short circuit. 🙂
Now that I’ve had a chance to test my new Lumix 14-42 mm II lens, during a recent visit to Worthing, a few thoughts. Center sharpness is excellent, the edges are a tad soft at 14 mm but nothing that overly concerns me especially as I had my tiny Lumix 14 mm f/2.5 pancake lens with me if required. The 14-42 mm is so light and small so much so that it didn’t feel like I had a lens on my PEN-F camera and thus not a lot of weight hanging from my neck which is always a blessing. Another interesting and nice thing is that the lens parks itself at the 25 mm focal length when powered down and thus it’s a simple twist of the zoom ring either way when powered on to zoom in to 42 mm or out to 14 mm. I like the 46 mm filter thread which is the same as two of the other lenses I packed, my Lumix 14 mm f/2.5 and Lumix 35-100 mm zoom. The lens auto focuses quickly and silently and the zoom and manual focus rings are smooth in operation. I really enjoyed using this lens and I’m more than happy with the image quality of this lens. Is it plastic?, yes, is a lens hood supplied?, yes, is it heavy?, no, is it weather-sealed?, no (nor is this camera), is it optically good?, definitely yes. 🙂