Regular visitors to my blog will know that every once in a while I publish an article on equipment and what works well for me. This isn’t so much about camera equipment but more about the equipment that I take with me for USB charging/powering my various pieces of photographic and other kit like my mobile phone, Holux GPS bluetooth data logger etc. when travelling. I’m heavily in to USB charging. 🙂
Some while ago I came across a very nice “waterproof?” zip-up transport case for my chargers and cables etc.. The case has a lot of handy compartments.
- Small wireless keyboard, micro USB charging cable and OTG micro USB adaptor + USB receiver. Works nicely with my mobile phone and makes typing a lot easier.
- 4 x AA USB battery charger for my Garmin GPS batteries.
- Anker 8 Amp, 5 port USB charger which charges 5 device simultaneously.
- Olympus battery charger as a mains-powered backup or to charge another battery at the same time (If I’m ever lucky enough to have a room with more than one accessible mains socket) 🙂 , accepts same figure of eight mains cable as Anker charger.
- USB battery charger for Olympus BLN-1 batteries, really useful bit of kit.
- Additional waterproof camera battery storage boxes.
- UK figure of 8 mains lead and continental 2 pin adaptor.
- USB-charging Bluetooth headphone (I like my music when I’m travelling 🙂 )
- Backup mains-powered USB charger, just in case 🙂
- Spare lens wipes.
- Figure of eight European mains cables for Anker and Olympus chargers.
- USB volt/amp meter, quite useful for checking charging.
- Wireless camera remote control transmitter.
- Small flash gun as I very rarely use flash.
- Wireless remote control receiver.
- Cable for wireless remote control.
- USB LED torch, surprising how often this little fella comes in handy when used with one of my various USB powerbanks.
- Micro USB charging cables, I always carry lots of these 🙂
- Multi-port USB/SD/Micro SD card reader/Hub and USB power cable.
- OTG 128 GB Sandisk micro USB/USB drive, 64 GB Flash drive and backup SD card reader. I sometimes swap these for a 1TB portable USB hard disk but I like the option to have multiple storage backup solutions.
This case works well and stops all my gear rattling around in transit. I never carry my rechargeable camera batteries and powerbanks in hold baggage as they’re not allowed. They travel in my hand luggage in a multi- compartment, flame-retardant LIPO-safe bag which makes it much easier to explain at airport security scans.
BATTERY SAFETY TIPS.
Nearly all my rechargeable batteries including my small USB powerbanks are of the Lithium Iron type, only my phone has a Lithium Polymer type battery. I feel it makes perfect sense to transport them as safely and securely as possible paying particular attention to preventing shorting of battery terminals. Which is why I always carry my spare camera batteries in small waterproof latching plastic boxes when out and about and not loose in my pocket rattling around un-protected with a bunch of keys or other metallic objects.
If anyone wants to view a very sobering demonstration of what happens when one short circuits a lithium battery then watch this video https://youtu.be/HCGtRgBUHX8 and water does not extinguish these battery fires, Co2 type extinguishers do. I guess the take home message is “stay safe and look after your batteries and they’ll look after you”. I never leave battery charging un-attended and that’s another reason why I like being able to use USB charging of multiple batteries at the same time as it minimises one’s turn around time. I’d rather be out and about taking pictures than waiting for batteries to charge up when one’s time is limited. 🙂
Noticed and corrected an amusing typo: I put “carb” reader, must be my conscience kicking in 🙂
PS. Anker USB charger hooked up for simultaneously charging mobile phone, Holux GPS data logger, Olympus camera battery, rechargeable AA batteries and Anker Astro 6700 mAh powerbank. I’ve got to work on my cable management. 🙂
I wouldn’t be without my GPS for geotagging, such a useful tool for remembering where one took a shot especially when looking back weeks or months later. Actually I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with maps, I don’t know exactly why, maybe it’s something about seeing things in a different way which is probably why I studied Geographical Information Systems for my degree. 🙂 I took my small Garmin GPS with me on my trip to Brussels and it’s pretty darned accurate. Shots taken at Mini Europe and the Atomium and their corresponding recorded GPS position. I use Geosetter free software to geotag my shots. It only takes a few minutes to geotag shots to a GPS track.
In addition to my most sincere thanks to Olympus, all I can add is isn’t she beautiful!. I love the titanium, reminds me so much of my favourite titanium-bodied OM cameras.
Whenever I get a new camera the one thing that I habitually forget to do in my haste to try it out is to change the viewfinder diopter correction adjustment to suit my somewhat less than perfect eyesight. Not something that I’m slow to notice and correct when everything in the viewfinder is blurred. 🙂 This time I actually remembered to do it first and to my astonishment it was already set correctly. I can’t help but wonder did someone at Olympus look at my old camera and set this one up accordingly?, if so then the attention to detail is simply astonishing!.
Some while back I realised that USB battery charging is the definitely the way to go when travelling with my cameras and other gear. Apart from my camera equipment there are several other devices which I like to take with me such as my small GPS unit (used mostly for geotagging and time synchronisation), my mobile phone, my VX-7 amateur radio transceiver and various other battery powered devices such as my tablet. Each of these devices requires a mains powered wall charger. So, if I’m trying to charge them all at the same time after a day out and about I could easily need five wall sockets. If you’ve ever stayed in a hotel room with five wall sockets then I’m envious, you’ve obviously stayed in much better rooms than I have!. 🙂 In addition some of these chargers are bulky, weighty and take up room in one’s case or bag and require travel adaptor plugs to fit the local mains sockets.
So here’s my solution, at the heart of things is my Anker 5-port USB charging hub. This small solid metal-cased device takes an interchangeable plug in mains lead so only one mains socket is required and has a hefty 8 AMP output across the five ports. This allows me to directly charge/power my phone and power my USB/hub card reader. To charge my Olympus camera batteries I have a very small lightweight USB charger and also a USB AA battery charger which will charge batteries for my GPS, my transceiver and any other AA battery powered device . I can also simultaneously charge one or both of my Anker USB powerbanks which in turn provides charging/powering capacity when I’m out and about. The AA battery charger and/or the camera battery chargers are also small and light enough to go into my bag and plug in to a USB powerbank and thus power/charge batteries on the go.
So I’ve completely said goodbye to wall chargers when travelling, maximised my baggage weight allowance and I don’t have to keep unplugging wall chargers and hunting for mains sockets, one working socket is all that I need. Furthermore it’s great to have the ability to power/charge devices when out and about.
If you’re going somewhere for a while where there simply isn’t a mains socket at all then the 20 AMP powerbank will power/charge gear for quite a while, I’ve run and charged my phone off of it for over a week on a single charge!. It also has three USB output sockets on it so you can if you wish plug in several devices at the same time. Another nice feature of this particular powerbank is that it has two input charging sockets so that it can charge faster, another benefit of having 5 ports on the USB charger.
Please contact me if you’d like more info on the above.
PS. One more thing, if you haven’t already stumbled across “pre-charged” AA rechargeable batteries then check them out as they hold their power up to 85% for a year I believe. I’ve never had to put this to the test but nice to know.
I’ve never really been in to macro photography as my subjects and interests don’t really justify owning a dedicated macro lens but lately I’ve been thinking about trying it. So I decided to dip my toe in the water and buy an Olympus MCON-P02 macro adaptor lens attachment. This comes with a 46mm thread and a 37-46mm adaptor ring so it fits quite a few of my micro four thirds lenses including all my prime lenses (M.Zuiko 12/17/25 and 45mm, Sigma 60mm and Lumix 14mm) and also my Lumix 12-32mm zoom lens, seven lenses in total can’t be bad! :).
I thought I’d give it a quick test with my Sigma 60mm, hand-held f4 @ 1/125 sec., the light was terrible indoors today so I had to shoot at ISO 1000 and I’m quite pleased with the initial results. I really need to use my table-top tripod and cable release or timer in the future but I just wanted a quick test to try it out and it’s small and light and takes up no room at all in my camera bag.
PS.This is the first time I’ve every been able to read the date on my watch, I don’t even bother setting it as it’s so small 🙂
PPS. I did another shot, this time with the camera mounted firmly on my table-top tripod with a cable release, f11, 2 sec @ ISO 200. I might get in to this macro stuff 🙂
My E-PL5 retro makeover is now complete, regular visitors to my blog will know how much I love retro-looking stuff. The new faux-leather case and metal lens hood for the Lumix 12-32mm turned up in the post. I think that it looks pretty cool as well as improving the grip. The case came to 1/4 of the cost of Olympus’ larger grip! 🙂
For anyone with an interest in such things I thought I’d update my photo gear page with more information and links to my various bit of kit as it was well and truly out of date.
Try doing that with a DSLR!. The beauty of Micro Four Thirds size and weight. E-M1 and grip, M.Zuiko 12 mm f/2, 17 mm f/1.8 ,45 mm f/1.8 and Lumix 12-32 mm lenses as well as all my other every day gear, filters, spare memory cards, 4x spare batteries etc. in a small bag, total weight approx 2.5 Kg, probably a bit less
Sometimes I just want to travel ultra-light so I bought a new lens for my E-PL5. I’ve been looking for a nice pancake zoom lens to suit my most used focal lengths and settled for the Panasonic Lumix 12-32mm as it covers the wide-angle end and the combination works extremely well. The Panasonic lens image stabilisation works well with the Olympus body and I think it’s better than the E-PL5’s in-body image stabilisation.
It’s so light that I don’t even know that I’ve got it with me and makes a nice change from my regular gear. As it’s a tiny pancake lens it’s not the fastest lens in the world but it’s quite acceptably sharp throughout the zoom range. It’s a really un-obtrusive camera/lens combination and I plan to take it out on a few trips this year and carry it around with me when I’m out and about.
PS. Because I love “retro” I bought an inexpensive case for it. I’ll probably use it as a half-case and it’ll give it a bit more grip and I have the VF-4 viewfinder attached. Olympus want a ridiculous price for their larger grip and this case was considerably cheaper with free shipping 🙂 .
As many of you will know the one thing that I try and avoid at all costs with my choice of equipment is weight and bulk. This isn’t a huge problem until one has to carry it around on foot all day sometimes in extreme heat and that’s why I’m such a huge fan of Micro Four Thirds system cameras.
I had a few thoughts about my gear selection for general use and when travelling in hot countries. Last year I just took my OM-D E-M5 + grip and my M.Zuiko 12-40 mm f2.8 with me to Malta and the kit performed excellently and the weight was fairly comfortable to carry around all day in the heat but I did miss the extra reach of a longer lens on a few occasions so this year I took my OM-D E-M1 + grip (fabulous camera but significantly heavier) and the trusty 12-40 mm plus my M.Zuiko 14-150 mm f4-5.6 II with me to Rome but I found the combined weight was uncomfortably heavy to lug around all day, every day.
So I’ve re-thought out my kit and decided that for future travelling I’ll take my E-M5 and 12-40 mm plus my M.Zuiko 40-150 mm lens which is significantly lighter. I don’t really take that many photos at longer focal lengths so the 40-150 mm is probably a better and lighter choice and it is no slower than the 14-150 mm.
Whilst I was re-thinking my gear I thought that I really should use my M.Zuiko prime lenses a lot more than I have been doing of late as they are very fast, light and sharp. The 12-40 mm is a great travel lens as it remove the necessity of changing lenses sometimes in difficult situations but it does make one a bit lazy and it’s not as fast and lightweight as my primes. With this in mind I’ve decided that my standard every day kit should pretty much consist of my EM-1 and M.Zuiko 12 mm, 17 mm, 25 mm and 45 mm lenses plus the 14-150 zoom for the occasions when I need something with a bit more reach and or the advantages of a zoom lens and as a backup to my prime lenses as it covers their combined range.
I also took a small lightweight travel tripod and my ND and polarising filters with me to Malta and Rome and didn’t use them once. My style of photography doesn’t really require the use of a tripod and I find it to be a cumbersome hinderance and one more thing to lug around and get in the way. I so rarely use filters nowadays that 99% of the time they just reside in my camera bag but, as they’re light and don’t take up much room or add any appreciable weight, they can stay there for the rare occasion when I might use them.