My E-system set up
I think I have been asked quite a number of times in comments here and people as well on what camera I use and why. Also there were questions if I ‘Photoshop’ my images or not and what gears do I bring when I travel. Well this post would serve to answer those questions. I posted my Camera History before but this would be nice to explain my current set up. Warning, this could get a bit technical.
Zuiko ZD Lenses 14-45mm, 40-150mm and 35mm Prime Macro
On the first photo above, I indicated numbers to point specific items which I will be referring to as the post goes along. So what camera am I using? I’m using an (1) Olympus E-500 DSLR and from the picture, attached to it is the Zuiko Lens 14-45mm (28-90mm) f3.5-5.6 as well as the (2) FL-36 Flash. Additional lenses is the (3) Zuiko 40-150mm (80-300mm) f3.5-4.5 for standard long range zooms and a (4) Zuiko 35mm (70mm) f3.5 Prime Lens Macro capable of 1:1 macro shot for product and Food shots aside from the regular Macro. Olympus Zuiko lenses have a 2x crop factor due to its small Four Thirds sensor so you have to multiply the range by 2 to get the actual 35mm equivalent. As you can see most of my lenses are just the standard lens type. I do plan to by a mid/high grade lens around November as soon as the Lens I’ve been waiting for arrives.
Filters, Memory Cards and RM-1 remote
Why did you choose Olympus? Now this is the question I somehow get a lot especially from Photography Enthusiast. Not to fan the flames somehow on loyal Canon and Nikon users, first of all, no doubt, both big players have very strong offerings and very good cameras. They have shared majority of camera market shares and a lot of pros use them. So I guess the answer generally why I chose Olympus is for my use and also personal taste. Let me enumerate why:
(a) Compact and light. Olympus who created the Four Thirds format has a goal of creating a compact and light SLR camera, reminiscent to their popular OM-1 SLR which at the time of release in 1972, most people didn’t thought it was possible to manufacture such a Film SLR camera which is slim and light. Now personally before when I started Photography way back early college around 1997 I was given by my Uncle a Ricoh XR-2 35mm SLR which is where I learned all the basics of Photography. But honestly it was a brick! It was real heavy and there were times I would climb mountains most of the weight from my pack comes from the camera. I switched to point and shoots like the Canon AS-1 and Olympus C-750 Digital. And when it was time I miss the manual controls and speed of an SLR, I searched around for a new cam. At that time when Olympus E500 which was released in 2005, was the lightest and most compact SLR (now replaced by the lighter and slimmer E410), and having used to the Olympus interface I knew this was my cam of choice. And when a friend sold his newly bought SLR since he needs money to leave the country I bought the unit and had my first DSLR last November 2006.
Delsey XEO Z-100 Camera bag and generic 5ft Tripod
(b) The Olympus Color. Now this one goes to personal taste. It just so happens that I like the color that’s coming out-camera. To those who ask whether I ‘Photoshop’ photos, at times yes. But the only post-processing I usually do is levels, curves and sometimes a bit contrast and sharpening. I do not like heavily post-processed photos, I only do that when the need to save a photo arises. MOST of the pictures here are out-camera save for resizing and web compression. Coming from a Film SLR user, I’ve somehow learned to save shots and take it with optimal settings because films and developing were so expensive then. So as much as possible, when I take a picture I somehow got used to my old ways. Also, an aid to getting the right exposure I want I utilize (8) filters. I have have a screw-in Sunpak Circular Polarizer Filter and a UV and Skylight filters. Most of the time these two exchange places on each lens but they stay there to protect the lens surface as well. In addition, I have a rectangular Cokin Graduated ND (Neutral Density) P121 M (medium grade) and Warm 81D P 035 filter. I will explain later post on how I use them, but the two filters which any landscape photographer should have and I mostly use is the Polarizer and ND Graduated Filter.
Do-it-yourself dry box
(c) Lastly, Four Thirds System Quality Lenses. I actually like the idea of the Four Thirds format. Canon and Nikon currently uses APS-C sensors and 35mm lenses which suffers from light fall-off on the edges. Since Four Thirds were designed digital from the ground up and new lenses are also designed for this which makes light travel in a straight line from the lens to the sensor, resulting to edge to edge sharpness of pictures and color accuracy. Lots of reviews attest to this and currently no offering can beat Olympus’ Zuiko Ultra Wide Angle of 7-14mm (14-28mm) which has edge to edge sharpness on both direction. Currently both Nikon and Canon only has up to 16mm to it’s widest angle. I think Nikon also realized this digital flaw and recently designed their new 35mm full frame FX Format from the ground up and will soon release their own Nikkor FX Lens 14-28mm UWA. I have no doubt that Nikon D3 would be a very good camera, but since it’s 35mm, it would be bulky and heavy, thus I wouldn’t take it backpacking with me. In addition, Four Thirds has a strong company with Sigma, Panasonic and the respectable Leica which produces more high quality IS lenses for the system.
Ok, that’s my reason, and I think everyone has their own opinion on this. I think each brand has its strength like Canon as the speed master and Nikon I hail for their awesome focus and metering system and their color somehow is closer to the one I like. Also, I kinda liked Nikon’s viewfinder more than Olympus. In the end it’s really what you use your camera for and I find this E-system working for me.
Airtight and dehumidified DIY Drybox
Now as for the rest of my set-up, (5) I have 4 gig in total of Compact Flash Card which I bought at CDR-King and two 128mb XD-Card from my old camera since E500 has a dual slot for them, I put them both. I’m planning on buying additional CF cards since I find myself shooting a lot of RAW+jpeg lately. E500 doesn’t have a battery grip so I have an extra pack of a (6) Third Party BLM-1 battery with me. Lastly the (7) RM-1 remote if I want to control the camera from the distance and control the shutter opening during Bulb Settings.
When traveling, I carry around my camera, memory, additional battery and filters on my Delsey Camera bag. I like that camera bag since it’s well padded, but lately with additional lenses in my set-up, I’m looking into buying a new bag for them, a backpack preferably. I make it a point to always bring a tripod, and I have a generic one at that.
And a more recent addition is my DIY (Do-it-yourself) Drybox. Maintenance of your gear if very important, so to avoid humidity which causes fungus on gears you must store your gears in a controlled humidity of 45%-55% RH in a Dry Box. Since electronic and branded Dry Boxes are so expensive I opted for the DIY one. I just bought an Air tight Biokips container, Dessicant and a Hygrometer to monitor the humidity. Thanks to Tutubi and Oggie for letting me bug them on how to make my own.
Since I make a living off my photography, I got a few tax rebates from TurboTax in April
Lastly for my photography is my mobile phone Sony Ericsson K800i where I can take quick snapshots every time. It’s also the one I used to take pictures of my gears on this entry.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.