Saturday, May 19, 2007

Alaskan Cruise - I'm Back

Well, still unpacking, still dealing with Holland America misplacing my duffel bag with digicam, all my shoes and most importantly my carbon fibre Gitzo tripod and head.

Quik observations that I'll turn into proper blogs in the week to come:

FZ50 - lovely camera but digitams take too long to focus for use in sports or wildlife, otherwise the camera worked well, the electronic viewfinder while not great was ok and the best I have tried, a flipping lcd is useful and I anticipate we will see that added to DLSR's in the not too distant future.

Cruise as a photographic expedition - varied - each of the towns was a tourist trap, largely flogging diamonds and lesser trinkets. The shore excursions are not designed for photography in general. We did go on one photographic safari with an excellent instructor called Cam who had useful advice at a good variety of levels of skill, good local knowledge and a modest and nice guy to boot - out of Juneau - the small boat we took for the water part of our excursion was ideal for photography with flip up windows and an open bow and small enough (13 photographers) to be a lot nicer than some of the 100 people boat excursions we took.

Wonder if I could persuade the cruise line to let me teach a photographic workshop over a week's long cruise - could be really interesting.

100-400 lens - invaluable in places but just checking the lcd, the images near wide open are so soft as to be probably useless - which wasn't what I was led to believe - perhaps rumours of huge image quality variations in this lens are true. It's image stabilization though was good and valuable and when I could I switched to my 70-200 f2.8 which after all I decided to lug - and glad I did.

Whales - didn't get a single great shot - truth is the people who do are out on the water day after day and the odds of getting lucky within a few days is minimal.

Fun - a cruise is relaxing and enjoyable and there's enough to do to keep me from getting bored most of the time - and I bore easily.

1DS2 - a couple of times it locked up and I had to remove the battery to fix it - this has happened occasionally before and I gather is well known but so easy to fix no one gets too excited. On the other hand many of the images show a bright band across the top of the image (in horizontal format). Fortunately it's such a small part of the image it isn't critical but I had noticed this before for a while - it alarms me a bit and I think I'll need to talk to Canon about that.

Camera Bag - I use the Lowepro Nature Trecker and it just barely fits in the overhead bins and loaded as it was weighs more than Canadian Flying rules allow and almost certainly won't squeeze through the tester they have at the gates (bit late for testing). Fortunately no one has challenged me taking it on board, but I wouldn't expect to get away with it on small planes or outside North America so will have to plan accordingly.

Glaciers - too much ice to get within half a mile so photographing them was problematic - I'd recommend a later cruise - perhaps only a few weeks later. Mendenhall Glacier though just outside Juneau is beautiful and I hope t show you images of it soon.

Epson P2000 - worked perfectly for backing up photographs - strongly recommended. Nice to review them on that screen after the shoot too.

Swimming - couldn't believe that in a boat with 1400 people the pools weren't used much - the most people in the one pool were 5 and usually 3 and sometimes just myself - the outdoor pool wasn't used at all, the semi indoors one (sliding roof) was warm and lovely to swim in - hot tubs not crowded - amazing.

People - a bit odd being surrounded by people older than me (fatter too), most of them with drawls (ok, you Americans probably think I speak funny too). Met some very nice people, a few other dedicated photographers.

Anyway, there's my initial impressions. Talk to you soon, hopefully with images - they didn't get lost.


Howard Grill said...

Welcome back George! I look forward to seeing some of your images from the trip.

Øystein said...

Hi, George, I just wanted to point out that a flipping lcd in DSLR's already exist, Olympus introduced this in their E-330, which was launched January 2006.