A couple of notes about my recent trip:
I packed pretty light this time, just clothes mainly. I left the Invincible Rabbit and its accompanying lenses at home, only bringing a compact Olympus E-M5 and a trio of lenses that Chenbl and I could share as he was using the Panasonic GF1, and one spare battery, which unfortunately came with its own charger, necessitating two chargers. It was quite liberating to have such a small, light camera on a trip; I really felt better walking around London minus all the weight and heft of the Rabbit on my shoulders or banging into things. The image quality is pretty good as far as I’ve seen just glancing through the shots. Though I usually shoot in raw, I had to shoot jpeg+raw in order for the camera to show me the proper 2:3 aspect ration on the review screen. I’ve never understood why Olympus feels that that is necessary. The framing is done in 2:3, the photos show up in Lightroom and Photoshop in 2:3, but for some reason I have to see it in 4:3 on the review screen? That was never the case with the Panasonics, nor should it be. You might be asking: Why not buy a GX1? I almost did, in fact, but the Panasonic’s lack of an integrated EVF and image stabilization turned me off somewhat, and the constant presence of the touchscreen tab on the back screen turned me against it as well. I’m sure it’s a great camera, and if the E-M5 hadn’t come out I would have most likely ended up with one.
The main downside to the EM-5, however, was battery life. Whereas the Rabbit could go for days on a single battery, and the GF1 nearly as long, the E-M5 gobbled up batteries in a matter of hours. This was the price of responsiveness, as in order to keep the camera ready to shoot, the electronic viewfinder was on all the time, unless I let it go to sleep, and even the eye detection activating the EVF wouldn’t work as I had the camera hanging from my neck, which of course triggers the EVF. The moment I would lift it to my eye the detection would turn it off, and then on again when it reached my eye, resulting in a frustrating lag and a blank finder as I missed the shot. So I just kept it on all the time unless it went to sleep.
And I could let it sleep with the 12mm and 45mm, but not with the Panasonic 20mm lens, as it would require taking the battery out before it would restart after sleeping. And since I used the 20mm for at least 80% of the time, I had to turn it off a lot and missed a few unexpected shots because of the delay in the startup time with the 20mm. The batteries’ life improved with subsequent charging, but I still feel I need at least three batteries for it before I’m confident it will last through the day. It would be great if Olympus could fix these problems with a firmware update, but I’m not terribly hopeful they will.
I did not bring my old IBM Thinkpad notebook with me this time either. When I bought it around six years ago or so, back before IBM was Lenovo, it was one of the smallest and lightest notebook computers on the market (it didn’t even have an internal DVD drive!), and it served me faithfully on many trips to China, Spain, France, Japan, Malaysia and Laos, but these days it’s bigger, heavier and slower than other options, and the screen is hard to look at in comparison with, say, an 11″ Macbook Air. I have held off on buying another notebook, however, so this time I simply went down to the Guanghua Computer Market and picked up a foldout bluetooth keyboard on which I could type on my iPhone. It worked well for the most part, though the letters were a bit small on the screen; I’d rather use an iPad for that kind of thing to be honest. Still, it was the lightest, smallest setup available, and it didn’t suck. In fact, I far prefer using this route over trying to use the Asus Eeepad Transformer. That thing was a nightmare.
The one thing I did bring was clothes, but I probably could have gotten by with fewer of those as well. I didn’t know what the weather would be like, however, and decided to err on the side of caution. I would have needed even more than I brought had the weather turned really nasty, as it did on the day after we left.
I didn’t have much jetlag; the first thing I do when I get on a plane for a long flight is reset my watch and completely forget the time at the place I’ve just left. That, plenty of water and walking around the plane a lot, along with the occasional nap, usually see me through just fine.
All in all it was a fine trip. And probably the last one for a good while as I’ve used up all my vacation time and travel funds, but it was great to see London and meet up with photographer friends that I’ve only known as names on screens for so long.