Photo Equipment for my New York Trip
I bought my Micro Four Thirds (MFT) bodies and lenses to have something lighter when traveling or walking around town at home, so that’s what I decided to bring for a week in New York City. I actually ended up bringing all my lenses (Panasonic 14mm f/2.5, Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4, Nikkor 50mm f/2, Nikkor 105mm f/2.5) and both bodies (Olympus OM-D E-M5 and Panasonic GF3). Since I only have primes i figured a second body would add a bit of flexibility and the GF3 doesn’t weigh much more then a lens cap anyway 🙂
I also brought my Canon EOS 50D and two lenses; the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 and the EF 35mm f/2. We were stopping by some friends and relatives in Gothenburg before flying to the US and I was thinking about leaving some of the equipment there, but ended up bringing everything. I wanted the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 for (night) shots of skyscrapers and skylines and the EF 35mm f/2 just happened to stay in the camerebag when leaving for the airport.
Quite a lot of stuff. Looking back I think i could have left the Canon equipment at home. The Tokina is nice and wider than the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 but I think I would have managed just fine without it. For the shots of the Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn I zoomed in to 16mm and then it’s just marginally wider than the Panasonic 14mm. The EF 35 mm never left the hotel room since the Panasonic Leica 25mm is about the same focal length equivalent and both faster (wider aperture) and sharper.
When it comes to the MFT equipment I think I used everything. I hade the Panasonic Leica mounted on the OM-D most of the time and I think it works great for tighter compositions of urban life and to get a different perspective of the long straight streets. The small Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 is great for capturing more of the surroundings or when it’s not possible to back up. The Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 was nice to have for shots from the Staten Island ferry and to get alternative shots of skyscrapers and I used the Nikkor 50mm f/2 both for alternative street shots and of some music acts in clubs and bars.
An alternative could of course be a Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 and 7-14mm f/4 combo, but that would mean added weight and less speed and at the moment I’m too happy with my current lenses to justify the cost.
I’ve read questions in forums about how safe it is to walk around New York with expensive camera equipment but I felt perfectly safe at all times and didn’t see any reason to act differently than in Stockholm. Maybe you shouldn’t be on your own in deserted places at the wrong time of the day, but that’s the same as in any other city in the world. And it feels like you have to look quite hard for deserted places in New York.
If anyone is interested here are a few more comments per piece of equipment based on the use during this trip (and some examples of the shots I took with it).
Think Tank Retrospective 10 Shoulder Bag
I bought this bag for my Canon system and even if I don’t need such a big bag for the MFT equipment I think it’s a great bag. It easily holds the OM-D and GF3 with lenses mounted together with a couple of extra lenses. The first couple of days I carried all three camera bodies (50D, OM-D and GF3) and a couple of the lenses (Panasonic 14mm, Panasonic Leica 25mm, Nikkor 50mm, Tokina 11-16) and while it was was heavy everything fitted in the bag. When only carrying the MFT equipment it compresses quite a lot and don’t even look like a camera bag anymore (if you are concerned about that).
Olympus OM-D E-M5
My main camera body during this trip. Compact and light which makes it easy to bring but still reasonably good in handling (even though I’m more comfortable with the Canon EOS 50D). I have enabled the shadow/highlight clipping warning which makes it easy to set the exposure correctly and for this trip I moved the focus to the REC button and used the zoomed view to ensure proper focus. Most of the shots were taken using the EVF. I find the the tilting screen very useful but at times I wished it would be fully articulated, for example when shooting something from the ground in portrait orientation.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3
I didn’t really use the GF3 during the trip. I think it could make a great second body when shooting with primes but I need to learn to start switching between the two bodies when I’m out shooting.
Canon EOS 50D
I only brought the Canon EOS 50D to be able to use the wide angle Tokina lens. I’m very happy with this camera, but it’s a burden to carry it around, especially with more than one lens.
Panasonic 14mm f/2.5
I didn’t use the 14mm that much because I had the 50D and the Tokina 11-16 with me, but it’s so small and light it’s a no-brainer to bring it.
Panasonic Leica DG 25mm f/1.4
The lens I used most of the time during the trip. I find the focal length great for street photography (equivalent to 50mm on FF) and makes more interesting photos as long as you have room to frame the subject. I have some shots I will try to stitch together for a wider FOV and while that might work for far away things like skylines I think a wider lens is needed as a complement when walking around a street city like NYC.
Nikkor 50mm f/2
I used this lens indoors at a couple of bars but if I’m to pick one lens I could have left at home I think this would be it. Not a big difference in focal length compared to the PL 25mm.
Nikkor 105mm f/2.5
I was hesitant to bring this lens but think it was a good choice to do so. With only wide angle lenses the photos tend to become very monotone and it’s nice to have a slightly longer focal length for shots of skyscrapers and other landmarks from a distance. The shots of the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building in my previous post was taken with it. Very awkward lens to use when walking through the streets though.
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8
I felt I wanted a real wide angle lens for a place like NYC and while I used it some I think I probably could have managed with the Panasonic 14mm. I will have a look at how many shots I took at the wide end and see if it motivates bringing it on similar trips in the future. The large aperture (to avoid unwanted star trails) and wide angle makes it a great lens for night landscapes if there’s a chance of that.