Sunday 16 February 2014

Light(weight) Matters

OM-D E-M5, DG Summilux 25/1.4

System carry weight matters a great deal to me, for a few reasons.

The first reason, and one essentially unique to me, is that last June I injured my right elbow and now can't walk around for long periods carrying a heavy camera. I hadn't really noticed the issue until I acquired the D600 and got a chance to shoot it in my normal fashion (my first outing with it was car-based so weight wasn't an issue). This was something of a surprise to me, I'd thought my elbow was pretty much fully recovered and it's clear that it isn't. That also seriously affects my gear choices. I was ambivalent about the D600 prior to my last outing with it, but once I realized the effect it had on my elbow it was clear I had to make the switch. Non-ideal gear is one thing, but gear that causes physical problems is a whole different story. I'd been wondering why my elbow was acting up in the evenings, since I quit carrying the D600 it's not been an issue.

The second one is similar, but more generalized. A larger, heavier camera with larger, heavier lenses means more weight out in the field for the same shooting kit and also needs a heavier tripod. Also SLR's need eye-height tripods (always an issue at 6'3") for reasonable composition through the viewfinder, while Mirrorless cameras, especially those with articulated LCD's, can get away with a far smaller tripod. My SLR tripod is a Manfrotto 055XPROB, while for mirrorless I normally carry a 290 series (at about half the weight, albeit also a much shorter tripod). That means I can either carry non-photo items (lunch, hiking gear) or just go lightweight and not get tired.

The third is straps. I like wrist-straps, I dislike neck straps. Not sure about slings, but they seem awkward to me, I don't like things bumping about my waist. Wrist straps only work with a lightweight camera/lens combo. The D600+Sigma 105 OS wouldn't work with a wrist strap, the X-A1 with the 60/2.4 will.

The wild card here is camera bags. I've got one well suited to ultra-light carry, the Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home (new style), which surprisingly (just) fit the D600 and 3 lenses, but does very well with 3-4 lenses and a mirrorless body. But I do need an everyday bag, which can carry my MacBook Air 13", mouse & AC adapter, plus my basic shooting kit to work and elsewhere. There's plenty of small carry bags out there, but it seems almost all fit either a 10" tablet/netbook + cameras, or a 15" laptop and an acre of gear. I want something comfortably in the middle. Right now I'm using a crappy laptop bag, but I really do need to replace it with something better suited to my shooting. No idea what though, all the options look either too big or too small.

I also need a good hiking backpack. I've got my eye on the rotation180 Panoramic from MindShift gear, it looks pretty much ideal, while it's designed for an SLR plus a couple lenses, the marketing material shows an E-M5 kit fitting perfectly, and plenty of storage for non-camera gear without being too huge.

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