Thursday, July 17, 2008

Great rides demand great photos

Riding on the back of a motorcycle presents many photo opportunities, but they are easy to miss if you don't have a camera handy. For years I used a basic Sony point-and-shoot camera by this year I decided to upgrade my equipment to something that would provide some better quality images.

I opted for a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) Camera as opposed to a standard "point and shoot". The DSLR allows me to be more creative with shutter speeds and aperature settings so that I can create more compelling photos. The 10 mega pixel resolution, though not the highest available allows me to get great high resolution photos. And of course being digital as opposed to film, I can shoot hundreds of pictures and just delete the bad ones and keep only the ones I like.

The camera I choose, after much research is an Olympus E-510. It's a great entry level DLSR that has alot of features and as far as I was concerned, gave me the most bang for the buck. The e-510 is lightweight and fits comfortably in your hand with the controls right at your fingertips. There are 2 features I found on the Olympus that the other models didn't offer when I bought mine. The first was image stabilization, other manufacturers build it into their lenses, Olympus built it into the camera. I really helps when you're shooting from the back of a moving motorcycle! The other feature that stood out was "live view" this means that you can see exactly what you're shooting on the LED screen. Now I know what you're thinking, what's the big deal, I can do that with my cheap camera phone or point and shoot camera well yes you can, but that feature is not usually found on DSLR's because there is a mirror in front of the sensor so displaying a live image on the LED screen required temporarily lifting the mirror. Olympus is one of the first manufacturers to offer this feature on a DSLR, others are now catching up.

So now that I have a nice camera, I really needed a way to hold it securely while shooting on the bike, I certainly didn't want my $700+ camera and lens making a impact with the pavement. I had tried using a neck strap, but I found it cumbersome, and it's hard to get on and off with a helmet on! I needed something better. I finally came across the ProStrap. The ProStrap is a comfortable leather wrist strap that attaches to the right (or left) side of your camera and cinches securely to your wrist. The ProStrap helps make a comfortable secure grip on your camera so that if the camera were to slip from your hand, it will only dangle harmlessly from your wrist.

My final investment was to get a camera bag big enough to carry just the camera with a lense but small enough to wear without getting in the way. I choose the Lowepro Cirrus TLZ 25. It's a holster style camera bag that you can wear around your neck or on your belt. I personally think it's a little big for a belt, I wear it with the strap diagonally across my chest and with the case sitting on my left hip. The camera is protected from weather and debris and is readily available when I need it. The camera rests in the bag with the lens pointed down so that retrieving the camera from the bag and being ready to shoot takes only seconds. I simply unzip the top of the bag, slide my wrist through the strap cinch it up tight, pull out the camera, and I'm ready to shoot. It doesn't require alot of movement or wiggling which is very important when riding on the back of a bike.

Now that I've got an awesome system, I can't wait for our next ride so I can share some great pictures with you.