Travelling Lighter

Going on a business trip, so I packed up my camera as I usually do…only to recognize some pretty big changes in my load plan.

Now this is a business trip, and if I get to shoot and enjoy myself it will be a small miracle. I just feel unprepared without a good camera on hand…and being a geek I wanted my toy set with me. On my last big trip I toted my Pentax K-5 DSLR along. Great camera, outstanding quality from its 16mp sensor. I took the little bag you see below. Inside was the K-5 with a 16-50 F2.8 and either the 50-135 F2.8 or a trio of primes (usually DA 15 F4, DA35 F2.8 (or the FA43/FA77) and DFA100 F2.8 Macro). I could take either one flash, or store my batteries and charger in the top compartment. This was a great set of toys.

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Over the last six months I traded out a lot of Pentax gear to pick up a Fujifilm rangefinder style kit. So this time I put the following in the bag: Fujifilm X-E1, 18-55 F2.8-F4, 55-200 F3.5-4.8, 14mm F2.8, 35mm F1.4 and 60mm F2.4 close focusing lens with a small XF-20 flash, XF-42 Flash, off camera flash cord and the battery charger. This is way more than I need…probably too much. The way I shoot though is opportunity driven, as such the better a set of tools I have on hand the better I can handle any situation.

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What did I gain and what did I lose? Well the X-E1 displays much sharper image due to its lack of an AA filter, and in dim situations and almost no noise up to IO3200. Now I also want to point out that I have an early generation 16MP sensor in the K-5, and a later generation 16MP sensor in the X-E1 both probably made by Sony. Sony does continuous improvement on the sensors, and users of current 16MP K-5II and K-5IIS do have a better sensor. On the plus side I also had more room to carry some fill flash without exceeding my previous carry weight in the Fuji package. I used that a lot over Thanksgiving, and it could become useful here.

The style of the X-E1 is definitely a retro design with aperture rings and a shutter speed dial. It is simple and direct. For more complicated functions I can dive into the Q menu and handle the need quickly. It does force me to slow down in some situations to get everything set up the way I want it in terms of focusing point just because of button positioning and how my brain works. The AF is definitely slower compared to a DSLR, but it is very precise. I also can compose just as easily on the large LCD as the small Electronic Viewfinder (EVF). I am still working to use it as fluidly as I did the K-5.

I made the jump because quite frankly Pentax had not grown very far since I had purchased it. Now they made advances in the last year I would like to take home with me….but I was not sold on where the company was going and what their intentions were. Heck the company could not tell anyone what they their strategy was. My prize lenses were the FA43, FA77 and DFA100. They were dreamy…but out of place on crop sensors most of the time. I had hoped to use the crop sized zooms for sports, and the primes for deliberate work on a 35mm size sensor one day. With no Pentax FF on the horizon to waltz into at some point, I really had to make a decision about their usefullness. Fujifilm on the other hand had a coherent strategy of getting great APS-C quality with compact glass that was very portable (and when on sale relatively uber affordable). So for now when focus speed and weather sealing is of most importance, Mr. Pentax comes out to play. Other than that….it is getting aback seat right now. The Pentax primes are gone except for the macro….all to fund the new Fujifilm kit.

I must admit the jury is still out on whether I made a good choice. Both are good systems, and a little off the beaten track. I almost picked up a Micro 4/3 Olympus OM-D5. Iit has incredible glass, better AF, and a good sound design except it was a little too small for my hands. The Fujifilm fits me well…and the system is growing by leps and bounds. So time will tell if I did the right thing…until then I just need to learn my craft until I get blue in the face! The gear today is very, very good…and the limiter is not the gear but rather me!

So if you are looking for something to lighten your load take a look at the growing number of mirriorless options. They are good cameras, and by design could save you quite a few pounds on your next all day excursion.

-ehw

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