American movies make you believe that a road trip here involves rowdy young people in a classic American convertible driving through the empty South West in the blazing sun. Now, I've got a road trip coming up next week, but it's nothing like that. Bummer, right?
My road trip will be my son and I driving in a contemporary German sedan through the decidedly not empty environs of the North East, most likely through a veil of rain. And I doubt we'll be rowdy.
It's college trip time, another old American tradition. My son needs to go check out colleges to decide which ones he wants to apply to. First Ohio, then Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont. I'm looking forward to it, because I like breaking the routine, seeing other parts of the US and don't mind driving long distances here, unless it's on the Interstate 95, the infamously crowded I95 corridor from Maine to Florida along the Atlantic coast.
So, it's time to pack my gear. As usual, for someone with too much stuff, it's an excruciating process of inclusion and elimination with the end result that you'll be unhappy with your choices anyway. I don't know about you, but I always take too much and still miss the one thing I didn't take.
Like many of you, I'm not a pro with a bag ready for a gig. Every time I go out to take pictures, I have to ponder what to take.
This is the backdrop: we'll be driving, so weight and size isn't really an issue; my time for photography will be relatively limited; I don't have a clue what I will encounter and I don't know what the weather will be, other than that the forecast predicts quite a bit of rain.
My main choices were between my mirrorless Olympus system or my Canon DSLR system. I just sold most of my Nikon gear, so at least my choice is easier now. I'm eager to shoot with anything I have, since I bought quite a bit of stuff right before the nasty and endless winter and haven't used much of it yet.
After some contemplation, I decided on the Canon with some lenses and the Sony A7R with adapters for those lenses. This way I'm ready for whatever comes my way with the Canon and can capture 36 megapixels with the Sony of I'm lucky enough to see something truly big-print worthy. That stuff will go in a Think Tank Airport Navigator in the back of the car while a Fuji X100s will be in the front and come with me on the actual college visits.
This is an admittance to myself that no matter how much I like the Olympus Micro-Four Thirds system, I still prefer a DSLR when weight isn't an issue. And I have invested heavily in the Olympus system, with two EM-1s and almost all available Olympus MFT lenses. I do consider it the system I'll pick up for a day of heavy shooting in a city or for travel by plane. But secretly I still crave cameras like the Canon 1Dx or the Nikon D4s, cameras I don't need by a long shot, but that I admire for their sheer capabilities. I would never pick a low-end DSLR over a mirrorless setup, but at the high-end, up from the full-frame Canon and Nikon offerings, I don't see myself giving up DSLRs any time soon.
Since I don't have to worry about weight or bulk and since I don't plan on any long walks besides the college tours, I threw in any lens I'm interested in using. There's the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 that I still have for Nikon, which is for use with the Sony. The Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 sits on the 5D Mark III as the allround lens, while the 70-200mm f/4 IS and a 1.4 converter make up the long end. I haven't used the f/4 much, having just sold the f/2.8 IS I used for years. I didn't see a use for the heavy 2.8 anymore, after I picked up a 135mm f/2 and a 85mm f/1.8, which I now prefer for portrait work.
I also take the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 ART that I've had for a while now, but not used much. At the moment, the Canon 135mm is also sitting in the bag, but I'm not sure it will stay there. I see it mostly as an awesome portrait lens and don't think I need it now. I will leave the Sony 55mm f/1.8 in the bag, since it's the only Sony lens I intend to keep and will allow the Sony to be faster than combined with the Canon lenses.
That's it. Plus a bunch of filters, adapters and other little stuff. Much of this gear is relatively new to me, having done a major overhaul during the last year and having spent a lot of time reviewing other cameras than the ones I actually kept for my own use.
So, I'm looking forward to using this, finding out whether what I kept or intend to keep is right for me and spending some time shooting again after this dreary winter. I'll report back on how the gear performed and what I actually used when.
Oh, a PS. Yesterday, I received a Texas Leica I picked up on eBay, better known as the Fuji GW690III, a beast of a camera. I'll toss that in as well, for simplicity's sake and because it just looks like it needs to be used. It's got character and I like that.
By John van Rosendaal