We all want to learn to travel light, but for Pulitzer Prize-winning and National Geographic photographers like Olympus Visionary, Jay Dickman, shedding weight while retaining rugged, pro-quality gear is essential. Especially when the work commute means TEN countries in 24 DAYS! Here’s Mr. Dickman, in his own words and photographs (all posted here with his permission), describing how his need to travel light converted him to Olympus Micro Four Thirds:
Looking out my window at 34,000 feet, over the water-soaked fields of Cambodia, heading to the roof of the world: Nepal and Tibet. I’m on my seventh National Geographic “Around the World by Private Jet” Expedition as a National Geographic Expert where I provide photography lectures and information for the travelers. These trips are amazing, but ten countries over 24 days is an exercise in packing wisely and well, in addition to choosing carefully what cameras to take.
45+ years in the world of photojournalism/reportage/documentary photography has taken me to over 110 countries. Choosing appropriate camera gear for those travels is of paramount importance. I don’t want the camera to get in the way of a great photographic moment.
Olympus approached me in 2003 about being one of their sponsored pros, an Olympus Visionary. They had recently provided digital cameras for my book project, A Day in the Life of Africa, which is part of the very popular “Day in the Life” Series. And then John Knaur, head of the program at that time, gave me an intriguing sneak peek at Olympus’ (then) future plans: creating a camera system much smaller than the standard DSLR, with professional quality as the driving factor. I too felt that camera design was going in the wrong direction, with most photo gear getting larger and bulkier, negating the desire to carry the equipment for long periods of time.
As we all know now, Olympus moved forward with the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) camera system, producing more compact, pro equipment with a smaller footprint. For me, this means my entire system fits in a case that more than accommodates international carry on rules-with. What’s inside, you ask? Three Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II bodies as well as lenses ranging from a 7-14mm f2.8 (14-28mm equivalent) out to a 600mm equivalent. Add the MC-14 teleconverter, and that reach extends out to 840mm!!
This pro system provides me everything I need for when a great photographic opportunity is presented, supporting the old saw, “what’s the best camera to have? The one that’s in your hands when needed.”
When I’m on location (which is quite often, my having worked in 31 countries last year, 20 this year at this point), having that camera with me is critical for my work. I work with two camera bodies, with the incredibly versatile 12-100mm f4 lens on one and the 40-150mm on the second. By paring down what I carry to these two lenses, I provide myself with coverage from a 24mm equivalent out to 300mm. Unless wildlife or sports-specific, I find that this range covers just about all I need. I’ll often carry the 7-14mm in a small bag or pocket, rounding out my visual needs.
Traveling light and smart is an obvious benefit to the traveling photographer, and so many traveling companions on these Geographic Expeditions have come over “to the light side” after seeing me work with the Olympus system. Take a look at the accompanying photos, all shot with the Olympus MFT system…