June 09, 2009
Well, I think I have purchased everything I need for this trip. Actually, “need” isn’t quite the right word. “Want” is probably a more appropriate word. Last time I went to Nepal, I bought two Nikon lenses: a 20mm/2.8 and a 80-200/2.8. That was nearly 15 years ago and they are still my two primary lenses. This time around, I bought a bit more, but its been quite a while since my last photographic purchase. This time the list included a D700, the newer 50mm/1.4, a Gitzo 1541T tripod, and a Think Tank Urban Disguise 60, along with a few required smaller accessories. Like last time, I expect this equipment to last a good long while, but also just like last time, I won’t be buying any more gadgets for a long time to come.
The first thing to arrive was the D700. I picked this up from Kamera Express because they had it in stock, and I could take it home right away. I am still discovering the great features of the camera (having a Dutch manual doesn’t help), but there are a few that stand out. First is the fact that bracketing supports more than just the three exposures that my D70 supported. I can get up to 9 shots in a bracketed burst, though I will probably use 5 most of the time. To help aid the taking of bracketed shots for handheld HDR pics, the motor can go up to 8 frames per second. Well, it can with the MBD10 which I picked up as well.
The display on the back of the camera is gorgeous, especially when compared to the one on the back of the D70. And the quick access to my favorite menu options certainly makes it easier to tweak the settings on a per image basis. Of course I have to also mention that this is a full FX frame camera, so my 20mm lens is really a 20mm lens, not a 30mm lens like it is with the D70 (or would have been with the D300 which I was considering).
There are plenty of other things to love, but those are my favorite so far. I have only had the thing for about a week or two…
On the same day I received the 50mm lens in the mail. Since the camera is now an FX frame, this is really a 50 normal lens. And with a maximum aperture of f1.4, it is amazingly bright. And since the camera does a great job at ISO 6400, night time shots look incredible. But the lack of depth of field at that f-stop will take a while to get use to.
This past weekend, I went to FotoKonijnenberg to pick up a Gitzo 1541T. Again, I wanted to see it before I bought it just to confirm how strong this thing is. OMG, its light, but it supports a fantastic amount of weight. In a light breeze it will topple, so the hook at the bottom of the center pole will be very useful to hold a bag to keep it a bit more steady. I had planned to pick up a Markins Q3Traveler to go on top of this, but unfortunately it didn’t quite work out. Since I will be leaving in just a few days, I picked up a Gitzo 1780QR as a small alternative.
Before this, my tripod was a Bogen (Manfrotto in most parts of the world). I think the model was the 3020. Its heavy but it still works great. In fact if you looked at it, you might not realize I bought it well over 20 years when I was in junior high school in Miami. I often keep it in my car in case I need it, but I would never take it with me on a trip. The Gitzo will go in my carryon bags and is almost as stiff.
ThinkTank Urban Disguise 60
Also this weekend I picked up the Urban Disguise 60. I was a bit concerned at first that this wouldn’t be big enough. Thats why I ordered it from a store close enough to quickly drive to, and since I live in the Netherlands, everything is close enough. The store is CameraNu in a town with the wierd name of Urk. Both KameraExpress and FotoKonijnenberg seem to be big businesses. Although there is a good selection, I got the feeling that they are in business to make a big profit. Nothing wrong with that. But I felt that the guys at CameraNu really enjoyed working there. And they did something especially cool just today, but I will go over that a bit later.
The Urban Disguise is a bag that will hold both a camera system and a laptop. And it does it very well. Although I was worried at first that it was a bit small, I think I’ll be fine. Today it became my main work bag (I am too scared to leave my camera at home now, plus I might miss a great shot), holding the D700 with MBD-10 plus 50/1.4, 80-200/2.8, 20/2.8, 24/2.8, Lenovo T61 laptop, Asus eeePC 1000HE laptop, two external harddrives, external speakers for demos, pens, usb sticks, Canon IXUS870, and a Flip UltraHD. And there was room for more. Today was more of a test, and it was just a little too heavy. I am teaching a class in Dubai next week, but I’ll be leaving the T61 and some of the accessories in Dubai while I go off to Nepal and Thailand, picking it up on the way back.
So what did CameraNu do that was so cool? Well, today I ordered the Gitzo 1780QR ball head from their site. My Dutch language sucks, so I guessed at the options available at check out. There were a few shipping options so I just picked the more expensive option thinking that must be the quickest and most guaranteed way. I also wrote a note in the special instructions box saying that I needed this very quickly. Within 4 or 5 minutes of clicking submit, I got a call from CameraNu. The woman on the line said that she saw my order and the need for a quick delivery, but that rather than choosing the quickest option, I chose the slowest. She was going to refund my money for the extra amount and send it overnight. This was amazing. I was notified quickly about the problem, they fixed it, and they gave me some money back. I don’t know if you have ever bought anything here, but that behavior is definitely not typical for Dutch stores. They have just won a very loyal customer.
Why was the more expensive option also the slowest?? Well, the 6.50 option was for TNT Post overnight. The 20 Euro option was for having their guy with a van drive it over to you along with all the other orders he has to deliver. This makes sense for large plasma displays they sell, but for a tiny ball head that they stuck in an envelope, its a bit too much.
After all of that, I think I am ready for Nepal. Hopefully the pictures will start coming to my Flickr account soon enough. And when they come I will be sure to mention it on here.