This is a follow on post to about my trip to Florida earlier this year. Make sure you read Part 1 first.
What worked and what didn’t work?
I have seen posts like this on many other sites and this post discusses how useful each item of photographic equipment was; I first saw this type of post at Michael Reichmann’s Luminous Landscape website.
We’ll start with the Panasonic GX1, I have to confess that I really liked this camera. Although there are less manual controls than its (real) predecessor the GF1, the touch-screen and menu system more than makes up for this. The metal function buttons are thoughtfully placed and the camera was very quick in writing its images to the memory card and I rarely missed a shot due to focussing speed. For more information on the camera itself I recommend popping over to DP Review for a full discussion of the camera’s functions and abilities.
What did I not like about the GX1? Not much, the only real annoyance was that there was no view finder; there was (surprise surprise) a lot of sun most of the time and I am glad that I purchased the LVF2 Viewfinder attachment. This is nowhere near as good as the Sony one but better than the LVF1 for the GF1 and was essential most of the time. Even with the LVF2 I had to shield the sunlight coming in on the left side (it was THAT bright). Unfortunately I had to keep remembering to press the little button on the LVF2 to switch between it and the rear screen; this became tiresome after a while. The strange thing was that this was initially seen as a strength after using the automatic switching LCD’s on the NEX7.
What about the lenses? Both of the zoom lenses were power-assisted ones and I had no problem with the quality of the pictures taken with them. I wasn’t expecting anything special after reading the various forums that state how awful they are (optically), but I was pleasantly surprised. The main problem I had though was not the fault of the lenses but the fact that I had to keep changing lenses all of the time. If I had the wide-angle zoom attached I was guaranteed that I would need to attach the telephoto zoom. If I had the telephoto zoom attached I would want the wide-angle zoom. There is a real hole in the micro-four-thirds line up as there is no wide-angle to telephoto zoom! Both Canon, Nikon and Sony have these lenses and they are perfect when you don’t want to be changing lenses all of the time (like on holiday).
As stated the zoom lenses are power assisted in that you zoom by using levers on the side of the lenses using a fly-by-wire mechanism (similar to the focus system on all autofocus compact system cameras). When you are shooting video this is fantastic as they are silent whilst you are zooming; additionally as there is nothing to operate manually the change in focal length is very smooth. The problem is that when you need to get from one end of the range to the other (during photo taking) it takes much longer then a manual zoom, they are less precise and there is no “stop” when you reach the end of the focal length range. Whilst I did shoot a lot of video clips whilst I was there I shoot more photos than video.
The final lens I took was the 20mm f1.7 which frankly was a waste of time, I took a total of 6 pictures with the lens and this was only because I wanted to make sure I took some photographs with it rather then it staying in the bag.
I used the Lowepro bag as my camera bag of choice and this performed well even though it was a bit on the large side for the GX1 and lenses. It is light, easy to carry and fits into the various bag lockers in each park. It also does not scream “Camera bag with lots of expensive camera gear – please steal me” like some do.
Whilst the battery life of the camera while pretty good (lasting about 2 days), I was also glad that I had a second battery. I also managed to fill around 7 cards worth of video and data on the various Sandisk SDHC cards that I took along. I was initially worried that I wouldn’t have enough but this wasn’t a problem. This wasn’t a photographic holiday but instead a fun break and I took some photos whilst I was there.
So what did other people use?
My Brother-in-law took two cameras. A cheap waterproof one that he got on eBay which took quite small pictures and video. Considering what he paid this was very good; it only had a digital zoom though. He also purchased a Sony DSC-WX7:
This is a nice compact camera, quite small but with a 25-125 (effective 35mm field of view) zoom lens, 16.2 mega pixels, full HD movie mode, intelligent sweep (and 3D) panoramic modes. The quality of the pictures are very good too.
More to come soon (at least 2 more parts).