Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fall shooting, and some other thoughts

With the end of summer the Metro Vancouver area has seen a quick shift from warm weather, with average temperatures around 30ºC/86ºF as little as a month ago, too much cooler temperatures, in down to 0ºC/32ºF last night. Thankfully it has been dry for the most part, which gives plenty of opportunities to go out and take fall colours photographs. I am waiting for just the right colours, and aside from the picture above, from my front yard maple tree, I have not taken any yet. This year it seems as if the transition is happening very quickly, most likely due to the dry and yet cool weather. That is about to change though as weather forecasts are predicting that we will see rain for most of this week, but I am still hoping to get out as I believe this week and next will present the optimal colours for fall landscape photography. I'm looking forward to doing so, because last year I was too busy to get very many shots early enough in the fall to get photos with the colours that I wanted.

I'm going to do some more equipment reviews some time in the next few weeks, depending on the weather and how often I can get out. My current thoughts about equipment mostly revolves around weight and how likely I am to take my camera with me. As much as I love my Nikon DSLR, there are many times when it is far to awkward to carry around, so last month I started thinking about it a great deal and started consolidating my equipment. Being a gear head I do have a tendency to go too far some times. I started off by selling my backup D80 and my D90 (crazy I know!), and since the D300 was end of life I ordered one at the lowest price I'd seen in Canada. I love the D300 for bird photography, and wide angel shooting with my Tokina for landscapes, but again weight is an issue. I also found that the while the D300 is great for the wide and telephoto shooting I don't carry my mid-range zoom lens with me very often, since it is just too awkward to do so when I am out and about, when I do not want to take my camera bag with me.

So what is a photographer to do when a big, heavy, expensive DSLR and lens kit is too much to carry around? Get a smaller camera! Over the last few years I've used a lot of cameras and gear, and to be honest I made some mistakes. If I was starting today I would have bought the D300, which is what I really wanted to get in the first place, and skipped everything else in between, then bought the light camera I'm adding to my kit in the next little while, a 4/3s DSLR. Why a 4/3s DSLR, simple, they are small, light, relatively inexpensive and easy to carry around! After all, what good is having the best kit in the world if it is too awkward to carry around when you are out with friends or to work? I cannot name the number of times I've missed great opportunities for photos because I did not have a camera with me (not counting the useless one on my cell phone)! As I noted I'll be doing some equipment reviews, one on the D300, and the Olympus E-410 I ordered, which was less than some of the point and shoots I was considering. In the end it may cost me more to get a kit lens than it cost to get the E-410! This was not a snap decision, it was well thought out over the last month or so as a result of my old point and shoot camera dieing, leaving me with no light portable option.

One of the reasons for going with an Olympus 4/3s camera rather than a used D40 or D60 is that the Olympus cameras use compact flash, like the D300, which means I only need to have one type of memory cards. I played with the E420 and E-520 at Best Buy a few times, so I am not going to be shocked by the small grip, in fact they reminds me of my Nikon FE film camera. The only disadvantage I can see in the 4/3s cameras is less control over depth of field, but I do not see that being as important for the type of photos I will be taking with the E-410. The E-410 body should arrive this week, and as for a lens, well maybe not till next week, so I wont be posting results from the camera right away. Once I have the camera and lens kit, I'll post my thoughts on them.