People on photography forums always seem very keen to hear about what to do when they travel, so here’s a very quick run-down of the things I learnt from my recent 6 week cruise.
Shoot in RAW+
Shooting in RAW+JPG makes processing much quicker when you’re on the move, especially if you’re using a netbook. I fiddled around with the jpg settings for in-camera processing and ended up with something that was good enough most of the time. Certainly good enough for periodically uploading to flickr/picasaweb/facebook during the trip. In a way it means you’re using your SLR somewhat like a glorified point and shoot, but hey – if you’re on holidays that’s sort of the truth. At least you have RAWs to process when you get home, if you want to.
I took about 60GB of flash memory with me, which was way over the top. I had only intended on taking 2 8GB and a few smaller old cards, but just before I left I grabbed a couple of 16GB cards in the hope they’d help with a video issue I was having. In reality, the two 16s plus a spare would have been plenty. Note, however, that I had the eeePC’s 120GB drive and a 320GB external drive to dump the cards onto/backup.
I could almost have gotten away with just the new Pentax 18-55WR kit lens. I bought and took it mostly with the intention of using it in rougher conditions (salt spray on the deck, at the beach etc) but ended up leaving it on the camera most of the time. The reason was simple, but not what I had expected: quick shift focusing is a godsend when you’re switching from still to video. The 18-55WR held up surprisingly well in terms of quality, at least for holiday pics. I used the 50mm/1.4 quite a bit in doors, and on a couple of occasions I used the 14mm/2.8 and 70-300/4-5.6. I’m glad I took the full kit, but I could have done with less.Camera body
On the ‘making do with less’ theme, if I’m honest I probably could have done the whole trip with a decent point and shoot, like the LX-3 or G-11. Sometimes dealing with the size of the K-7 was a bit of a pain, especially given how I was using it. But the weather sealing certainly was handy, as was the ability to change lenses. Maybe if I was backpacking I’d consider leaving the SLR at home, but overall I’m glad I took it.One of the great things about the K-7 that I discovered on the trip is that ‘green’ mode resets virtually everything, including the custom AF settings. Because I have AF decoupled from the shutter button, handing the camera to someone else has always involved diving through menus or trying to explain the AF setup to them. Green mode meant that I could hand the K-7 to anyone after just turning the mode dial, and know they’d have a half decent chance of figuring it out.
I’m also glad that I took my old *istDS as a backup body. Of course the K-7 was flawless, but my 3 year old son got the photography bug and it was really neat to be able to give him the second body and go shooting together.
Having video in a still camera really is convenient when you’re traveling. I would have shot almost no video if I had had to take a dedicated camera with me. Mind you, I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with all the video I did take.
Having a netbook on the trip was invaluable. Not only because I could dump images and videos off my SD cards and back them up, but because I could rank and tag the jpgs, as well as write blog posts, and upload every few weeks. There’s no way I would have been able to remember what to write about and/or sort through 5,000 images once I’d gotten home.
Old age is scary – people seem to become amorphous asexual bags of flesh. Surprisingly, tattoos age better than I’d imagined. But silicon implants… don’t.
From a recent trip to the National Zoo and Aquarium.
I haven’t used Program-line (“P”) mode on an SLR since 3 weeks after buying my *istDS, well over 2 years ago. I quickly found that Aperture priority (Av), and to a lesser extent, Shutter priotiry (Tv), allowed me to control the camera in a much more desirable way. Lately for more contemplative images I’ve been using the Zone system – shooting in Manual with spot metering – and using Av for quicker, kid-chasing type shots. The Pentax-specific TAv mode has been invaluable in variable, low light situations.
But today I was messing around with settings and remembered reading something about the K10D’s P mode being referred to as “hyper-program” mode. Not remembering exactly what that meant, I played around for a bit. And then BAM! Suddenly I was loving shooting in P mode.
Hyper-program mode works just like any other program line mode – it best guesses at the Av, Tv (and optionally ISO) level, changing all variables to get the right exposure You can set biases so it will, for example, go for a short a depth of field as possible. All normal so far.
Until you hit one of the e-dials. Moving the rear e-dial allows you to set the aperture, which stays set until you hit the little green ‘program line’ button. The front e-dial controls the shutter speed in a similar way.
So essentially you can move from P to Av, P to Tv, Av to Tv and Tv to Av by just moving an e-dial. That’s much quicker and easier than moving the mode-selection dial.
To be honest, it’s not that often that I want to switch from Av to Tv. In fact I rarely use Tv at all unless I’m trying to shoot a moving object. But it does happen from time to time. What happens more often is handing the camera to my wife, which usually involves fiddling with a few dials to put it back into ‘green’ mode. Being able to just hit the green dot button to move back to full P mode will make that at least slightly quicker.
Despite the stigma, I think I’ll be shooting in P rather than Av from now on. I just hope noone is looking at my EXIF.