- Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera and HLD-7 grip. Built like a rock and fully-featured, my main camera.
- Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera and HLD-6 grip. My first MFT camera, lighter than the OM-D E-M1 and a superb travel camera.
- Olympus PEN E-PL5 camera and VF-4. Great for travelling ultra-light and un-noticed, the VF-4 is the same viewfinder as in the EM-1.
- M.Zuiko 25mm f1.8 lens. Good sharp, fast standard lens and one of my favourites.
- M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f2.8 lens. Super sharp and fast weatherproofed zoom lens, absolutely great for travel.
- M.Zuiko 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens. Bought with my E-M5 and a handy backup lens as it has a macro facility.
- M.Zuiko 45mm f1.8 lens. Fabulous fast lightweight portrait lens, one of my favourite lenses.
- M.Zuiko 12mm f2 lens. Beautifully built fast and sharp wide-angle lens.
- Samyang 7.5mm f3.5 manual lens. A good fisheye lens at a very an affordable price.
- Lumix 14mm f2.5 lens. Super tiny lightweight pancake walk-about lens.
- Sigma ART 60mm f2.8 lens. Nice and sharp medium telephoto lens.
- M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8 lens. Beautifully built fast “street” walk-about lens.
- M.Zuiko 14-150mm II f4.0-5.6 lens. Another super weatherproofed travel zoom lens with more reach.
- M.Zuiko 40-150mm R f/4-5.6 lens. Really lightweight zoom useful for the extra reach.
- Panasonic Lumix 12-32mm f3.5-5.6. My latest addition, great little super lightweight pancake lens for my E-PL5.
Not shown above Olympus MCON-P02 Macro adapter. Very small and lightweight. Screws on to all my 37 and 46mm threaded lenses and produces really good closeup macro shots.
I’ve arranged my gear in to three configurations to suit my requirements, in order of decreasing weight 🙂 every day usage, travel and travelling ultra-light.
OM-D E-M1 + HLD-7 and three M.Zuiko prime lenses, 12mm f/2, 17mm or 25mm f/1.8 and 45mm f/1.18 in a small Tamrac camera bag which also comfortably accommodates my other gear such as filters and spare batteries etc..
OM-D E-M5 + HLD-6 and M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 and 14-150mm f/4-5.6 lenses in an old soft Jessops camera bag. This bag also has room for spare batteries, filters, passport, travel documents, USB power bank, GPS data logger etc.. I don’t shoot with long focal lengths that often but it’s great to have the longer zoom for occasions when I need it and also as backup to the 12-40mm. The camera and both zooms are also weather-proofed a real asset when travelling in inclement weather 🙂
PEN E-PL5 + VF-4, Panasonic Lumix 12-32mm f3.5-5.6 and M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/4-5.6 lenses in a smaller version of my other Tamrac bag with room for a spare battery and wired camera release and a few other small items. Not my fastest lenses but great for travelling ultra-light.
When travelling away I take the following gear for battery charging and backing up my images.
Anker 5 port USB charging hub, Newer USB camera battery charger (much smaller, lighter and more convenient than the standard charger), SDHC card carrying case, Hebron USB-powered SDHC/Micro SD card reader/USB data hub and a one terabyte portable USB hard disk drive.
This setup work very well, I can charge up a camera battery, my portable USB power bank as well as powering the USB card reader/hub and attached hard disk all at the same time with 2 USB power ports free for powering/charging other USB devices such as my Holux GPS data logger and/or my mobile phone from a single mains socket which, from my experience over the years are quite often scarce in hotel rooms. The Anker charger also accepts “figure of eight” type interchangeable mains leads like those shown below so it’s easy to swap leads for different countries. See this post for various cheap camera accessories like lens pouches, lens hood, battery storage cases, camera straps etc. that I’m using.
I’ve replaced most of my lens caps with center-pinch types as they are considerably easier to fit and remove with the lens hoods attached (Olympus please take note) :). The only accessories that I habitually take out with me are circular polarising and neutral density filters, spare batteries, memory cards, spare lens caps and occasionally my wired or JJC RM-UC1 wireless remote control and a small Slik Mini Pro DQ table top tripod/chest pod.
The beauty of the Micro Four Thirds system to me is that I can carry the EM-5 with, HLD-6 grip (both parts attached), and the E-PL5 and VF-4 electronic viewfinder, batteries and memory cards fitted and six (7.5mm,12mm,17mm,25mm, 45mm and 60mm) prime lenses and the combined weight is an astonishing 1.7Kg or, to put it another way, less than a two bags of sugar!!, something that my aging body very much appreciates :). If I don’t pack my heaviest prime lens the Samyang 7.5mm then the weight is reduced to approx 1.5Kg which is something that I find pretty darned amazing.
I’m not going to mention the merits of my equipment in any detail as there are dozens of reviews out there full of technical guff but I will say that the M.Zuiko 45mm lens is an absolute bargain as is the Sigma 60mm both these lenses offer superb image quality at amazing prices. What follows is 100% subjective based on my experiences and personal preferences and, as the saying goes, “your mileage may (and almost certainly will) vary” :).
I’ve been taking photographs for nearly forty years and I know by now what works for me. A friend of mine once said to me “it’s not the camera, it’s the camera that you have with you” and I totally agree. I think that it all boils down to four things, focus, exposure, composition and processing and any half-decent modern camera and lens irrespective of manufacturer is more than capable of delivering the first two. I like to start off with sharp, well exposed shots and from there I can do whatever I want to in processing and go in whatever direction the mood takes me.. It’s child’s play to soften an in-focus shot, virtually impossible to retrieve anything from a badly out of focus one. As for exposure errors well I think that’s not quite so critical again providing that the exposure isn’t too drastically off. I sometimes like to under-expose a little, half a stop to one stop, but I can also do that in processing very easily. Basically I like to keep all my options open and have the greatest choice in processing.
My personal preference is for lightweight un-obtrusive equipment that doesn’t stand out in a crowd and I do confess a deep-seated love of retro styling, most probably an age thing? :). Ideally I want to be un-noticed and blend in and nothing gets the attention of others better than a huge DSLR and zoom lens. I love the relative anonymity that my choice of camera equipment affords me. I like prime lenses, I fully recognise that, for certain types of photography sports, wildlife etc. a zoom lens is pretty essential but not, with the exception of travelling, for my style and choice of subjects. I like the discipline of using fixed focal lengths which I grew up with during my film camera days and I’ve learned to visualise a shot in my head so that I have a pretty good idea what it will look like through the viewfinder with a certain lens and I’d rather change my position and/or change the lens to get the composition that I wish.
I’ve given some thought to which of my various focal lengths are my “must have” favourites and I’ve easily narrowed it down to these, my 25mm and 45mm lenses which virtually pack themselves. If I choose to carry any more lenses then I’d also choose to include my 17mm lens. All of these lenses are fast and light and cover just about any of my regular shooting situations. I use my other lenses less but they all have their uses on occasions.
What I love the most about photography is that there aren’t any rights and wrongs, no rule books. NEVER be afraid to experiment with new styles and processing techniques that’s the fun of it, it keeps things fresh and interesting. Sometimes I like to just experiment with processing and see what develops (excuse the pun) 🙂 and other times I have an end result in mind. I often think of a title for a work and/or spot something that I want to convey and that shapes the final result.
A few pictures taken with my different cameras and lenses. I’ve chosen monochrome and a few selective colour works. This may give the impression that I only work in black and white, this isn’t so but I don’t produce many “straight” colour works. I really like monochrome, it was mostly all I could afford back in my film days as it was cheaper to buy and process and I grew up with black and white television and newspapers so it didn’t seem strange to me at all. A friend said to me once that he couldn’t understand why anyone would work in black and white well here’s my take on it. It removes a layer of information (colour) and I think it concentrates the eye on other aspects such as subject, geometry, perspective and composition. I also occasionally crop during processing to the “golden ratio” of 1.61803399 and sometimes find the in-camera golden ratio overlay grid a useful aid to in-camera composition but usually I forget all about it and just use it to get things level and use the mark one human eyeball and whatever little grey matter I’ve been blessed with. :). I only rarely crop images so most of my work is as it appeared in my viewfinder.
“A quiet morning at the shopping centre” – Olympus OM-D E-M5 and Panasonic Lumix G 14mm 1:2.5
“E” – Olympus OM-D E-M5 and Sigma DN ART 60mm 1:2.8
“Silent sorrow in empty seats” – Olympus OM-D E-M5 and M.Zuiko 25mm 1:1.8
“Where the diasies quietly grow” – Olympus OM-D E-M5 and M.Zuiko 25mm 1:1.8
“Something Fishy” – Olympus OM-D E-M5 and Samyang 7.5mm 1:3.5
When in Rome #50 “On the beach” – Olympus OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko 14-150mm
When in Rome # 53 “The Soul Minstrel” – Olympus OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko 12-40mm
When in Rome #34 “Another street shot” – Olympus OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko 12-40mm
When in Rome #31 “Typically Roman” – Olympus OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko 12-40mm
When in Rome #30 “Guardians of the deserted garden” – Oympus OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko 14-150mm
When in Rome #5 “Not all cappuccino and cake” – Olympus OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko 12-40mm