Ramblin’ Man

Yesterday I talked about keeping a point and shoot camera handy in the vehicle. Sometimes though when I’m traveling and I know I’m likely to shoot while on the road I do prep a DSLR and keep it handy. The prep is the important part. I just want to grab and shoot, not fiddle with anything on the camera. First off that means considering the lens. No variable focal length lenses, that takes two hands to adjust and it could be tempting to try and adjust it. I use a 24mm prime lens. Its just right to show a full windshield view without catching too much interior. It’s also a manual focus lens and that has a few more benefits for quick shooting. If the selected focus point of an autofocus lens is positioned on empty sky valuable time can be lost while the lens hunts back and forth in search of detail to lock focus on. Just keeping an autofocus lens switched in manual mode has issues too. The moving parts in the lens are designed to move freely and quickly while being being driven by a very small motor. That also means that the slightest touch or vehicle vibration can move the focus meaning that pre-focusing the lens isn’t a viable option. A lens like the one I prefer that is manual focus only is deliberately designed to have a lot of friction in the focus mechanism with the intent of keeping it where you set it. When it comes to pre-focusing that type of lens there is also the added benefit of having a distance scale coupled with a depth-of-field scale, a combination that rarely exists in an autofocus lens. With my old-school prime lens I am able to choose a reasonable aperture, usually between f/5.6 and f/8 depending on conditions, and preset the focus at the hyperfocal point using the scales on the lens. With aperture and focus preset, the camera operating in aperture priority mode, EV compensation set to -1/2 to account for bright sky, and metering set to matrix mode, I essentially have a big, high quality point and shoot rig. I can pick it up, hold it up over the dashboard and push the button. The image above was taken with this exact setup.

One Response

  1. Anonymous

    Fantastic image, Jim!!!!

    07/20/2012 at 8:44 am