08 Sep The Long Haul Machine
When we think of long haul planes we think of Sunderlands, Condors, and Superfortresses…but in reality we should actually be visualizing Boeing Clippers, Short Empires or Junkers Ju52’s as they more closely reflect what our modern air traveller experiences. Okay, they were noisy and cramped but then anyone who has ever flown a budget airline can empathise. And unfortunately on most civilian airlines you are not allowed to sit in a tail turret and while away the flight with machine guns and a thermos of hot coffee. More’s the pity.
These long-legged birds didn’t put the ocean liners of the day out of business, but they must have given the shipping houses something to ponder. Neither do modern travel cameras replace more highly specified ones for local use, but they come into their own when you start to walk down the air bridge toward the fuselage door.
The prime consideration for most long distance airplanes was range – for the travel camera it is the range of focal lengths in the lens combined with size and ease of operation. The designer who packs the most versatility into the most convenient package can sweep the market – and they can sometimes even afford to trim back on a lot of the specifications to achieve it all in one package.
The longer the haul – the smaller the size, seems to be the camera plan. People can, of course, travel with the extremes of gear – the bazooka telephoto lenses and the multiple DSLR bodies – the gun-mount tripods and the television studios on a stick. Bless them, and let us hope they come back with wonderful shots. Let us hope they come back…because that can be a moot point if they are trying to lift, shift, and shoot with all this stuff in bad places and bad weather. The hardiest and most adventurous of them deserve our admiration.
For the rest of us slugs, the compact travel camera like the Leica, Panasonic, Olympus, Nikon, or Canon offerings are the wise go. Whether we elect to get one of the super-zoom compacts ( that seems an odd thing to write ) that look like a small DSLR or the sort that start out rangefinder-size and just keep zooming is up to individual taste. One is more convenient than the other but the results can be surprisingly good with both – far and away good enough to reward some serious efforts at composition, lighting, and timing.
All this while delivering the sort of compact light weight that will make your conversations with the baggage girl at check-in ever so much pleasanter. Here in Perth they are sweet and polite, but the flavour and the manner can change when you get to airports in other parts of the world. Far better to be carrying your vacation photo gear around your neck or off one shoulder than in a giant suitcase that you are trying to get aboard without paying excess baggage fees. A few less pixels or a slightly smaller sensor can equal a vastly more relaxed attitude upon your part.
I know – My long-haul camera is a Fujifilm X-T10 with a short lens, and I have not been unhappy with it on any trip.
Featured Image: Not a plastic model for a change – a Franklin mint die-cast DC3. With the QANTAS logo it was irrestistable.