My trip to Orlando, Florida – Part 1

Back in April I spent two weeks in Florida, all but two of them in Orlando (I visited Busch Gardens twice and this is in Tampa Bay). This was a much needed holiday as Work hadn’t been much fun this year and I hadn’t been abroad for many years. This was my second visit to Orlando and spookily (is that a real word) enough I stayed at the same hotel too (on Carrier Drive, just across from the Pirates Dinner Adventure).

Photo Opportunities
Although this was a vacation I still wanted to get some photographs, some of the family (Sister, Brother-in-law and Nephew), some of the parks we went to and some of the local nature. I wanted to travel light so the Nikon D3S and its f/2.8 lenses stayed at home. The plan was to take my newly acquired NEX7, 18-55, 17mm pancake and the 55-210mm zoom lens. The trouble was that the 55-210mm lenses were not available and I wanted to make sure that I had enough reach for the more timid wildlife pictures.

So I had to look at other options, after trying out a few bridge cameras that were very quickly crossed of my list as they were truly awful in one or two key areas of interest. The smaller compact cameras did not have enough reach. So I looked at smaller Nikon (and Canon) DSLR’s with suitable zoom lenses. But I had to give up a lot of control that I had with the D3S (this camera spoils you with what it can do); I wasn’t ready to comprimise!

I then looked at a camera that I had discounted as soon as it was announced – the Panasonic GX1:

I chose the black model with the Lumix 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 G X ASPH. O.I.S Micro Four Thirds Lens (it was this or the 14-42 cheap and nasty plastic mount zoom). I also liked the way that you could zoom the lens using the touch screen interface. The touch-screen had some thought put into it and was really useful rather than a gimmick; I also liked the speed of focusing. I missed the viewfinder of the NEX7 so I had to get the add-on viewfinder too:

Knowing that some of the subjects (mainly wildlife) would be far away I also picked a telephoto zoom lens and was going to purchase the relatively cheap Panasonic 45-200mm f4.0-5.6 Lumix G Vario Micro Four Thirds lens (giving an effective file of view of a 84-400mm 35mm lens). However, I played with the Panasonic 45-175mm f4.0-5.6 Lumix G X Vario Micro Four Thirds Lens, this is no faster than the manual zoomed 45-200 (and is 25mm less) the overall length of the lens was fixed regardless of focal length and focus position which I really liked; becuase of thsi I no had 2x powerzoom lenses.

The problem with these 2 lenses is that both are not very fast and I wanted something that would be useful in areas where there was not much light. As I was trying to keep the costs down the Panasonic 25mm f1.4 Leica was too much so I purchased the cheaper but almost as good Panasonic 20mm f1.7 Lumix G Micro Four Thirds Pancake lens:

I rounded the kit of with a second (genuine) Panasonic battery, plenty of Sandisk SDHC memory cards (some of them are 95Mb/s and 16GB) and a Lowepro Event Messenger 150 Camera bag (which I also used to carry my iPad, Passport, money and other electrical items too: