Jan 242012
 

Traveling light in Myanmar with a Nikon V1 by Colin Steel 

Hey photo travel fans, I am newly returned from a week long trip to Myanmar with a twist. I decided to travel very light with a totally minimalist kit comprising a Nikon V1 with two lens kit (10-30 & 30-110), my tiny Manfrotto travel tripod and a small Manfrotto led light. I also carried a Limix G3 and Samyang fisheye for the many temple and pagoda shots that I new would be coming. More on this later but here is one of the first shots I took with it….

The trip was organized by the great guys at Singapore Trekkers and I have to say that it was one the most enjoyable and interesting photography tours that I have ever been on, well done to Melvin who hosted. Part of this success was down to the sheer diversity and variety of photographic opportunity that Myanmar presents and you can’t help but feel that the country is going to change dramatically in the next 2-3 years so I would urge anyone who is thinking about it to go now. I am totally apolitical and will in no way comment about the political change process that is underway other than to say that I find the people of Myanmar to be the kindest and most respectful in South East Asia and I sincerely hope that it turns out well for them.

I did however spot this somewhat metaphorical shot which for me appeared to suggest how the country will move forward.

Anyway, back to the minimalist kit approach and those of you who follow these posts will know that I usually base my travel kit around a Nikon D3 with 24 & 50 F1.4 lenses. Regular readers will also know however that I have a very strong dislike of lugging too much gear when I travel and so I have been thinking about a lightweight travel kit which I initially intended to compliment the D3 with some reasonable zoom capability. Like many others, I initially regarded the launch of the Nikon V1 with scorn. However, I read a blog post by my favorite photography writer Kirk Tuck who had actually bought and was using the camera. Much to my surprise, he liked it very much and his V1 review demonstrated what a versatile camera this could be. I followed this up by reading Steve Huff’s review where he openly admitted that, like myself, he expected to hate it but ended up wanting to buy one. The selling points that both of these guys highlighted were the astonishingly fast focusing, long zoom reach of the 30-110 and the reasonably good high ISO performance. I have to say that it was the fact that I had been to Myanmar before and knew that many of the locations needed a long zoom to exploit them to the best that finaly sold me on the V1 (along with the very attractive S$1,100 price at KT Photo in Funan). Here is an nice example of this from Inle Lake which is famous for the fishermen who row with one leg and use a kind of cage trap with spear arrangement to catch fish.

Additionally, there are many locations that present the opportunity to compress perspective and this of course requires a longish zoom to create this effect.

The V1 handled this very well and there is no question in my mind that the Nikon lens stabilization system is extremely effective. Both Kirk and Steve pointed this out and they are spot on. shooting with a longish zoom is a real novelty for me and I have to say that I had great fun with it and felt very confident that I would get a good shot with it regardless of the light levels. Here’s another example of the very nice compression effect taken in very low light conditions.

I will follow up with more details on the overall performance of the V1 a little further down including some basic essential travel mods that it needs and some sunrise shots using the tiny Manfrotto pocket tripod.

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I just love the way this worked out with the wispy grass and slightly gradating background. Finally, here’s the shot processed with Snapseed taken in near darkness in a bouncing boat !!!

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Here’s a pretty poor shot of the full V1 kit but it gives you good idea of how light and compact this full set up is.

I mentioned earlier that some mods that I would consider essential if you are going to do any serious traveling with this camera. Firstly, its a good idea to stick some gaffer tape over the grip at the right hand side to assist handling when it gets humid and damp, I also took the opportunity to make the camera more discrete by covering the somewhat cheesy V1 logo. Secondly, my experience of traveling with cameras is that anything that can detach, will detach, fall off and get lost. This applies to expensive so called pro gear as well. Do yourself a favor and put some tape over the flash cover or it wont last long.

Finally, if you don’t want to shoot video, set the control dial to the still image setting and get some tape on it to hold it in place. This is a major design flaw for a travel cam and the dial will change on you at the worst of moments.

These mods are not pretty but they are highly functional and they also make the camera look very inoffensive and discrete, ideal for stealthy shooting. My only other setup comment would be to set the ISO to auto with a limit of 3200. the only time you need to watch out on this is if you have subject movement when you need to control the shutter rather than let the camera set it.

I mentioned the Manfrotto Led lightpanel that I took along and I think it’s worth putting it quickly into perspective. Let’s be clear, this is no flash substitute, its merely an emergency fill light and a damn useful torch!!! It works off a single AAA battery and weighs nothing. Here are two examples where I had no shot and the little bit of light from the Manfrotto at least gave me something usable.

Far from fantastic photos I know, but at least I have something semi-decent and these kids were so delightfully polite and friendly that I wanted to have a shot that I could print for them on my next visit.

Notice the catchlight is a bit too pinpoint to be useful so be careful when you use it. To be honest, I would recommend buying the next size up which, although more bulky and requiring more battery power, would be ultimately more usable.

White Balance on the V1

It’s pretty common in travel photography that you start very early to catch sunrise, then finish the day with a nice sunset location. With this in mind its worth considering setting the white balance to shade for these situations. Although this can easily be adjusted in Lightroom or processing, I personally like to make the photograph as complete as I can at the point of creation and for that reason I like to see how the image looks when I take it. I set the white balance to shade for these two shots which were taken at sunset.

The warming effect is evident and gives the images a very nice feel. I particularly like the golden glow in the above shot, this is gives the shot a nice golden look which is still clean and not exaggerated. The sunset below is by way of comparison very rich and much deeper in color tone, still a very nice effect though and it worked very nicely with the wispy grass.

Well, that’s it!  I am happy to answer any questions on these images from a location or technical viewpoint, just pop me a note or leave a comment.

Cheers,

Colsteel

Colin’s website can be seen here including a continuation of this article HERE.

  112 Responses to “Traveling light in Myanmar with a Nikon V1 by Colin Steel”

  1. Very nice.

    1″ sensor may just be the ideal for lots of dof with lots of res.

    • The Nikon N1 J1 is also a nice camera albiet limited to the on camera flash (no hot shoe). I use the Nikon FT-1 adaptor and Sigma HSM 30, 50 & 85mm f1.4 lenses (80, 135 & 230mm equiv.). The depth of field is paper thin although, this is what I like. I see posts on focus problems with Sigma although, if lens firmware is updated the focus issues vanish. Nikon protectionists restrain this camera’s firmware posing undesirable limitations on what could be an even better camera. A truly exceptional camera regardless although the factory lenses are on the shelf with my big body Nikons.
      Mark

  2. Wow. Excellent use of a good camera.

  3. Very well written article with some great tips for us fellow travelers! The images go along perfectly with this story too. Beautifully done!

  4. Nice images however I feel there is something missing from them, that ‘wow’ factor. RAW converter needs time to mature?

    • Lightroom does Nikon 1 files. It works well. Definitely recommend shooting RAW over JPG on the Nikon 1’s.

    • Maybe what’s missing is that over-baked, digital look we see so much these days. In fact, these look very film-like on my monitor. Quite nice colors, tones, and fine grain.

    • Hi Joe, this is a very interesting point that you raise, I had similar thoughts that some of the photos were somehow ‘flat’. Maybe its partly explained by the fact that some of them were edited on the fly using snapseed on an ipad. The boatman shot in particular became a bit noisy and flat but I so liked the feel and colour and he looked so cool in his shades that I didn’t bother re-editing. I am liking Snapseed a lot for fast editing on the move while travelling but the files are pretty low res. I do find when I edit properly in Lightroom that there is a very nice crispness in the shots and somehow the ‘shade’ white balance at sundown work really nicely, I think you can see that in the U-Bein bridge shots in the final part of the Myanmar blog. Thanks again for looking and taking the time to comment, Colin

      • Colin, I don’t which version of Lightroom you used, but the Lightroom 4 beta does a noticeably better job with the V1 for tonal transitions, particularly in the highlights. It’s a much more filmic look.

        I’ve always preferred Aperture, but abandoned it for the V1 as the raw conversions weren’t up to par: ugly transitions and poor colours, a very “digital” look in the worst sense. Lightroom 3.6 was a big step up, but Lightroom 4 beta is at least as far beyond that.

      • Nice images Colin, I take nothing away from your talent. Just commented that like you said the processing needs a little more time. I love snapseed, used it on the train to edit some images we took in London (although it was flat, grey and dull!)

  5. Great pictures and text!
    I think not always you need a big camera to do the best pictures… I travel with a Canon G9 and I´m very happy with it…
    Cheers

  6. Thanks for the wonderful pictures and article.

  7. Great set of photos and nice write up Colin! Your photos are very nice. I love the “improvements” you made to the V1. Looks like someone was beating the V1. :) I tested a V1 for about 3 weeks, and that pesky control dial kept getting accidentally changed as well. I thought the IQ was surprisingly better than I expected. WB and focus accuracy were very good for the most part. I just hate the auto ISO implementation, which is not good for an aperture priority user while using zoom lenses. The problem is compounded by the lack of a shortcut or direct control to adjust ISO. Hoping that Nikon will issue a firmware to change the auto ISO logic, and/or provide a direct ISO control button/lever.

    • Hi Armanius, agree, the auto iso is not well implemented at all and it should be simple!!! I am going to stop using it and go back to an old habit of re-setting the camera every time I change environment. Its so annoying there should be a simple floor to the shutter speed that you can configure or the ‘f’ button should be customisable.

      Thanks for looking though and I appreciate you taking the time to comment,

      Cheers,

      Colin

      • A great story in pictures, Colin, and I enjoyed the writing. I have found that shutter priority is my crutch for overcoming the auto-ISO situation, but the lenses help because they are sharp wide open, and the sensor size gives us more DOF anyway.

        That near-dark shot you processed with Snapspeed is absolutely stunning to me. The composition might be the greatest factor, but I really like the tones you squeezed out.

        Hope you find time to tell us more, and perhaps you are holding back a few photos. I wish I take that tour, but I doubt it will ever happen. Looks fantastic.

  8. Thoroughly enjoyed the photos.

  9. Beautiful images. Myanmar is on my travel list for this Fall. Any recommendations would be great. D!RK

  10. http://phototravelasia.blogspot.com/

    Just saw your website.
    Fantastic with the V1.

    Im coming round to the idea fast that its more important to get the shot
    (“the decisive moment”).
    V1 just nails the moment with its fast AF.

  11. Brilliant article, excellent photos and great mods to the V1. It looks way better without the logos.

  12. It’s a pretty good little camera but it’s the operator that steals the show for me, a wonderful set of photos and the kind of photographers eye and composition that I can only dream of!

  13. Man great shots. You are apologizing for shots that I’ve give an eye tooth for. It look like you had a great time. And please, thank you for the very useful tips.
    I’ll look forward to your next posts
    Regards,
    Howard

  14. Somebody in the post said the “wow” factor was missing. Well here you go…WOW..!

    :-)
    Howard

  15. Great pics, great story (has anyone mentioned the “lack of” Dof? I won’t then), and some very useful, workmanlike tips! Thanks for sharing.

  16. Advice of travel light with image stabilized upto 300mm is so apt.
    V1 seems to me ideal safari travel.

    (
    If V1 + 10-100mm is too much $$$$
    I can thoroughly recommend Olympus E-100RS (38-380mm stabilised Canon lens sharp from wide open f2.8)
    Ok it was released 2000, takes smartmedia and only 1.5mp but what glorious pixels they are,
    just over twice the size of V1 pixels.
    10fps at max res & pre capture upto 5 frames its gonna capture the “decisive moment”.
    )

  17. great photos and article , this series tells us that we dont always need ff to shoot great snaps or street photgraphs but great sense for it.

  18. Lovely photos, great article. Enjoyed this very much.

  19. Anyone can take a decent shallow DOF photo but these images illustrate the beauty of deep DOF done right, and why the V1 works for that style.

    Really fine and excellent work. The first two photographs scream Nat Geo!

    Still not interested in the camera but I can see why many are.

  20. Not to take credit away from the V1, your fantastic framing and exposure had a lot to do with the brilliance of the photos. Thank you for showing us these great shots.

  21. When you say limix G3 do you mean lumix G3? And if so why were you carrying that camera as well?

    • Hello Highwave, Yes, you are right it was indeed a Lumix G3. It’s a strange story in that it came to me as a late Xmas present and to be honest, if it had come first I probably wouldn’t have bought the V1 !!!
      I took it beacause I had been to Myanmar before and new that there were many opportunities to take indoor photos that would lend themselves to a fisheye and I already had the Samyang (Rokinon) for my GF1. I didn’t use it that much but liked the results and it turned out easier to use the fisheye than I thought.
      I usually carry 2 cameras anyway as I really like to use widish prime lenses (24 or there abouts) and like to carry a small camera with longer focal length. Cheers, Colin

  22. Dear Colstee,

    Thank you for visiting my country, Burma and thanks for FANTASTIC photos !!!!! Hope u had a really good time…oh btw, Nikon V1 Rocks.

    Cheers
    Zaw

  23. Dear Colin,

    Thank you for visiting my country, Burma and also for Fantastic photos. Hope u had a really good time there esp at Inle lake. Oh btw, nikon V1 rocks !!!

    Cheers
    Zaw

    • Thanks Zaw, it was great and I did have a very good time. Inle Lake is very unique and the light at this time of year is exceptional. The people are also so nice and welcoming.

      Cheers,

      Colin

  24. Excellent work and this is a place I want to visit while it is new to tourists.

  25. Wow, more and more evidence just keeps surfacing to prove this is a great camera despite all the haters.
    Great framing by the way, beautiful!
    You truly have the ‘eye’ for it my friend, thankyou for sharing with us! :)

  26. Nice shots! – and BTW the word is “discreet”.

  27. Thanks for the great article, Colin (and Steve). Your photos certainly demonstrate your skill and the effectiveness of the V1 well. For those of you who have mentioned depth of field, check Colin’s post on his blog about the FT1 adapter allowing use of his f1.4 Nikon lenses. I’m having a great time myself shooting the V1 with the AFS 35 f1.8 using the FT1.

    • Thanks Jim,

      The FT 1 is very interesting. I hesitated a while because it seemed to contradict the ethos of the V1 but now that I have it it’s been great fun using my Nikon heavy weight glass on it. I will have it out and about at the weekend to see what can be done with it.

      To be honest the DOF thing doesn’t really come into it for the kind of shots I was taking on the trip anyway and in fact I considered it an advantage not to have narrow DoF as its was very tricky to get focus on some of these shots, particularly on the lake as I don’t think it comes over how fats the long-tail boats go.

      Cheers,

      Colin

    • Hi Jim,

      I can understand that you want to use the 1.8 lens. Soft backgrounds are great after all, and the V1 with the current lense dont provide that.
      But isn’t that a kind of big lens? I mean, the biggest critique on the Nex7 is that the lenses are big.
      Don’t you end up with a rather big camera when using the V1 with the adapter to use the ‘normal’ nikon lenses? Or is that combination barely larger than than the 10-30 kitlens?

  28. Stunning work of a stunning land. Great insight, and dang, that Nikon V1 works really well for you!

  29. Hi Colin,
    Thanks for sharing the images. The camera definitely has potential. Maybe the next release of lenses will push the quality even further up.

    I like the fact that you held the finicky dial with tape, but I have a rant.

    Is it a kind of disease to cover the front of the camera – logos – with black tape? Someone started it and it now is spreading as some kind of wild bird flu. Photographers are getting worked up, imagining themselves as being taken so seriously by the general public, that the logos of the cameras push the subjects over the edge! They don’t care about what camera you use as long as you appreciate their privacy. We need to really chill out. The Leica dot in Paris would mean something because Parisians know the red dot and understand that only professionals wield a Leica. That is not true anymore. In fact, professionals do not wield a Leica anymore. Burma! I am from India and any camera other than a phone camera is a big camera. I think the black tape attracts more attention. Maybe it is something masquerading as a camera. Can it be a remote trigger to a bomb? Who knows. In these days of heightened security and ultra sensitive governments we cannot be more careful. Try carrying this taped-up camera through JFK.

    Don’t take yourself seriously. Enjoy your photography. Stick to one set of equipment until you really feel comfortable with it and can shoot without thinking, when woken up in the middle of the night. If someone would object to you photographing because of the red dot, then probably you should not photograph them. Irrespective of how important a setting they create.

    Most of the great photographers who shoot Leica use the same camera for decades and many times use just one lens. That’s why they choose Leica, because it will last that much longer and they don’t have to worry about the camera freezing up in the tropics. It is funny that a camera freezes up in the heat.

    Cheers,
    Mo Han

    • One more thing to add. I bought too many cameras and each of them are better than the other in some way. There is no one great camera. I wanted to move away from the chunky DSLR and invested in a GF1. Nowadays I shoot more with the GH1. I hate the size. I would rather have a smaller camera, but at the end of the day the EVF and image quality reigns supreme.

    • Strange about the control dial. Must be a problem on some V1s. Never had a problem on my J1 with the dial moving. It really takes some deliberate force to move it on the J1.

      Regarding the tape I can see the point if it is a very expensive camera like a Leica or a D3 etc. But still it gives the camera a certain anonymity which can be nice.

      But please relax a little. If we all start getting nervous we will soon see bombs in disguise everywhere (but I can see your point, due to the (probably) bigger risk in India and other places compared to Europe/USA).

    • If you don’t like taped up cameras, don’t tape yours. simple.

      But please, don’t pretend you know how other people will or won’t react to one, or even why people are taping their cameras. Clearly, based on your comments, you don’t. And fwiw, my m9 (and for that matter my canons) have a lot more tape on them, and are a lot more worn, than this example, and airport security couldn’t care less. Lots of ordinary people in different countries, though, do in fact react less to taped cameras than to naked ones. It’s rarely the most important factor, and it isn’t even the main reason most of my cameras are taped, but it does make a difference.

      I find it genuinely strange that many people on forums are so strident about such a trivial issue. Perhaps if they took themselves less seriously…

      • Hi Chris,
        Though my post sounds too loud, what you say is exactly my point. Taping a camera is such a trivial thing. People reacting less to taped cameras is not a proven thing. Has anyone run a trial of shooting with taped cameras and untaped cameras to see how the subjects react to them? I searched on the Internet and couldn’t find any. Of course it is a matter of personal opinion. It really doesn’t matter if Chris tapes his cameras or not. My rant is about the opinion perpetrated in the photography community that ‘you have to tape your logos if you want to be a photojournalist’. I have even read in some forums about the best tape to use. I find that a case of ‘the madam doth protest too much’ type. That’s all.

        Cheers,
        Mo Han

        • Taping a camera isn’t necessarily trivial. The tape on my 5d2 serves at least 4 distinct functions, not counting appearance; the tape on my m9 serves at least 7 distinct functions, not counting covering the logo (and no, keeping the paint shiny is not one of those functions–again, i am not counting matters of appearances, even though some pros do tape cameras so when they sell it after two years they can get a better price).

          As i said before, don’t pretend you know why people tape their cameras.

          I have seen a lot of forum discussions, but i haven’t come across these rampant claims that you “have to” tape your logos. I have seen many, many posters vociferously attacking anyone who does use tape for all manner of alleged personal failings, however. If one of us has managed to prove the other’s point, i don’t think it is me.

          As for tests, i know for certain that on a few occasions the tape on my camera has attracted attention, though it’s never turned out to be negative. I know for certain that the battered appearance has helped save me and my cameras from tight spots on at least half a dozen occasions. And, since i occasionly rent a second body and use it side by side with my own taped camera, i do in fact have good data on how people in general respond to the difference, and on balance they don’t respond as strongly or as quickly to the taped body, nor to they tend to stare as long and absent-fixedly at the camera when it’s taped. Among various reasons why, the extremely well documented stroop effect is one factor.

          And for actual photojournalists, tape has the additional merits of making it easy to tell which gear in a pile is yours, and keeps you from contributing unnecessary visual clutter to other togs’ shots where you may be in the fg or bg.

          So instead of going out of your way to run other photographers down or psychoanalyze them, how about just start out by acknowledging you may not know or understand what they’re up to, okay?

          • Hi Chris,
            I would like to make it quite clear that there is no allusion of “tape for all manner of alleged personal failings”. In fact I quite like the pictures posted by Colin. I think he really made the best of the camera shine. In fact, looking at his images, I think he could make any camera shine. Please do not accuse me of belittling Colin as a photographer. If you reread my posts that would be obvious.

            I also find it amusing that you talk about the well documented ‘stroop effect’. The stroop effect is well documented, no doubt. I cannot quite see how it is relevant here. Do photojournalists tape their cameras ‘Nikon’ when it is in fact a Leica? And is the question to the subject ‘please tell the name of the camera?’ I cannot see how ‘stroop effect’ is one factor.

            I agree taping knobs or faulty doors or corners can hold things together or prevent damage. In fact if someone tapes to protect the paint to sell it later a good price, what is wrong in it? It is just a way of taking care of their things.

            My question is all about taping a logo on the belief that it attracts lesser attention. Richard, from the post below, is quite right that monster lenses always seek attention and people want to avoid them like the plague. That’s why photojournalists prefer smaller, less noisier equipment. In my humble opinion I think taping the logo is a little too much. I think it is really trivial.

            My point is simply that by the time the subject sees your camera and tries to read the logo to decipher if it is a professional photojournalist or just some wayward tourist trying some ‘stroop effect’ experiments, you have already lost the moment. I think every equipment has the maker’s logo, camera or not. People ‘should’ get nervous when they see some equipment with no logo on it or when it is heavily bandaged.

            My suggestion: let us call it even and move on and enjoy more photos on this site.

            Cheers,
            Mo Han

          • Mohan–

            You’ve mistaken the methodology of the experiment for the result of the experiment. The stroop effect reveals the fact that a literate person literally cannot help themself from reading something presented within their field of vision. It is one of the key ways that logos function in the first place. This is one of the reasons the tiny text on cameras draws and fixes peoples eyes, even when they aren’t conscious of what they’re doing.

            If we restrict ourselves solely to the choice to tape logos, i agree of course that it is a relatively small matter, though between that and the other motivations i listed– to say nothing of the fact that personally, i don’t appreciate being turned into a walking advertisement for something i’ve paid for–it really seems to me that the main puzzle would be why would anyone /not/ tape their camera logo, if, after all, it is such a trivial thing. Your repeated suggestion that people would somehow be likely to get nervous or suspicious if they noticed a bit of tape on a camera (now suddenly people can detect a near invisible black on black seam where only a moment ago you were arguing that the high contrast logo was insignificant?) is downright silly. Why not simply conceed that you dont understand why people choose to tape their cameras, acknowledge that it’s an irrational concern on your part, and then maybe refrain from raising the subject with regard to other people unless you are actually prepared to discuss it?

            As for whether you or others would “guess” that blacking out a high contrast or brightly colored logo makes a significant difference or not, you dont have to guess; i already told you that it does often make a significant difference. As i said above, i’ve tried it both ways, and there is indeed a diffeerence. Cartier-Bresson was well known for taping over the bright bits of his camera so that it attracted less attention; it worked out okay for him, and has for thousands of photographers before and since.

            No one ever claimed that tape was a magic cloak of invisibility, but if it helps you to get one more good shot a day, or prevents an interruption that spoils one great shot a week, then that would be a higher rate of return than most of the differences we pay hundreds of dollars for n a camera or a lens.

            I agree with you that colin’s photos above are quite nice, and i would be happy to go on enjoying them. I wasn’t the one who made a big deal over how other people practice their photography, and, fwiw, i never accused you of attacking him; i characterized the preponderance of comments i’ve seen about taping on forums is all. But, isn’t the gist of your comments that people like him who tape over logos are misguided? That they are “going too far” and reap no benefits from it, in spite of what they have experienced?

            Why wouldn’t someone find that insulting, at a minimum?

            What i’ve tried to do here is simply to explain why you are wrong about what some other people are doing. But, i can only explain for you, i cant understand it for you.

      • I concur that it is a “trivial” matter but I have seen comments like this before.
        What I see people reacting too is the size of the lens rather than the camera.
        I ONLY get reactions from folks when I use my(now deceased) 70-400MM MONSTER of a Sigma lens..other than that most folks mind the manners.
        I shoot mostly in my resort town on the East Coast of the USA.
        And I actually concur with Mo Han.
        IMHO

  30. So many lovely images

    This is my fave

    [img]http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-KbeWowaz2Qk/TxqynaO4UnI/AAAAAAAAAyg/NA-zWcDtvn8/s640/IMG_0286.JPG[img]

    Reminds me of The Golden Child (with Eddie Murphy).

    • oops :)

      [img]http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-KbeWowaz2Qk/TxqynaO4UnI/AAAAAAAAAyg/NA-zWcDtvn8/s640/IMG_0286.JPG[/img]

      and this somehow outside of time

      [img]http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-61H6OmYBgDE/Txu-KBvzUpI/AAAAAAAAA0Q/33Yqu1DG6jQ/s640/V1+Bagan+14-3147.jpg[/img]

  31. Wonderful images. Very interesting story as well.Lets hope things are really getting better in Myanmar in the coming years.Those people really deserve that.

  32. another, “wow” for ya…great article and photos, Colin!! Nikon should hire you…you make a great case for the V1…damn…!!

  33. one of my favorite articles ive read here. AWESOME pictures. you’ve got a great eye. i favorited your site.. can’t wait to read more.

  34. Superb images, but that image with the temples and balloon is just unbelievable, congratulations and thanks for the erratic write up.

  35. I’m really astonished by the IQ of this little camera! Great photos, btw! :-)

  36. Great photos, and good writing too. One of the better articles I’ve read here.

  37. Really nice article and photos.
    Thank you for sharing.

  38. Guys, I am a bit overwhelmed at the number of responses here and the encouragement that you have given, it’s extremely motivating to me and greatly appreciated. I do this for the love of travel and photography and I am so glad that some people found enjoyment and perhaps saw an aspect of a place and culture that is new or different to them. I am pretty new to blogging and its a long time since I tried write about my experiences so I am glad that I was at least coherent it would seem.

    There are a number of questions in here and I will answer them as best I can.

    Next trip for me is Central Vietnam in mid – Feb and I now have the renewed enthusiasm to write that up as well. Also in the pipeline were some thoughts on Sri Lanka, Tokyo, Chiang Mai and of course my favourite Bali. Thanks again to everyone and happy shooting – express yourselves. Colin

    • Looking forward to seeing your vision of Vietnam. I’ve been 5 time in the last year and a half and the photos are getting redundant. Last time I brought my great grandfather’s Polaroid Land. Hopefully your blog will reinspire me

  39. Is it just me or these images are just soft. I’m not saying anything about composition, but the v1 is just soft.

  40. Hey Folks, just for clarity, a few of the shots in the part 3 blog if you have visited were taken on a previous trip with my Nikon D3. There are only a few and I think you can identify them easily by the different contrast. Somehow the V1 shots are very ‘crisp’ and the D3 ones richer to my eye. Neither is better in my view (unless you want to print big), just different and reflecting a look, both of which I happen to like personaly.

    Cheers,

    Colin

    • Whew! Then it isn’t just me. I have side by side shots from the V1 and a D700, and the only real difference is “richness”. I find “richness” a perfect word to describe it. Must be those big old pixels.

      Hope you are getting on with your FT1. Manual focus is touchy with my 50mm 1.4D, but the AFS lenses are fine. Thom Hogan explained why we probably won’t ever get focus tracking with the FT1, but there are plenty of things we can do with it.

  41. Colin
    I have just looked at your wonderful pictures of Myanmar, they truly bring back fond memories as I was working there between 1997 and 2002. All of my pictures from then are on slides (Velvia 50). It is a truly magical photogenic place. Thanks for making me smile!

    Best regards

    • Hey Charles, that’s cool. I must admit it did come into my mind that I could live in Myanmar and given the liberalisation that is slowly taking place…who knows.

      I am pleased you recognised the locations, I bet they haven’t changed much :)

      Cheers,

      Colin

  42. I thought the small LED light made for spectacular portraits! The real interest in these shots (to me) are the faces. There is drama and beauty there. I am glad they weren’t fully illuminated. Very nice work and I love it all.

    • Hi Rick, thanks.

      The only thing I didn’t like about the little LED was the catchlight and I couldn’t get round it. I agree though that the subjects were great, the little girl in particular talked to us for ages and we met the rest of her family on the way back up through the village to the hotel.

      Cheers,

      Colin

  43. Excellent text, fantastic pictures ! I must get one of those V1’s ! :)

  44. The first photo of the Buddha statue with candles is worth looking at closely. This statue is a popular spot for photographers in Bagan, a spectacular area in Myanmar with thousands of temples and pagodas spread across a rural landscape. I visited this same place in a different tour last fall and thought our tour leader was the only person in the world that set up the scene with candles and monks like this. Obviously not. Anyway, my take away is this. Most readers of this blog would have to travel half way around the world to visit the site of this Buddha statute. My trip crossed 13 time zones. Is that worth the best possible photo? Note the area around the candles in the Buddha photo above. They are over exposed and the colors are off, way too yellow and green. These colors are not present in the actual scene. I shot the same statue with candles and monks with a DSLR and it was able to accurately render the shot with no false or exaggerated colors. I do not know how to attach a photo to this comment or I would offer the comparison. But here is the key point: carrying a DSLR is a pain, literally and figuratively, but the difference in the photos you will bring back is really significant. It is a personal choice whether the difference is worth the extra effort but there is a big difference.

  45. Really nice photos Colin. Well done. But here’s my beef with this camera, it’s made it China! I have a hard time spending my hard earned pe$o$ to support a regime that has done & continues to do against the people of Tibet. For that reason alone, i would not buy this camera no matter how cool it is.

  46. One of the best reviews ever on this site; thank you. I too am a huge fan of the V1 and have not opened my M9 bag on both of my last 2 Cambodia trips! I do recommend you the V1 flash – weighs nothing, needs no batteries and bounces in any direction. It’s a teeny bit overpowered in TTL mode but controllable. 2nd curtain slow-sync is amazing and reminds me of the Nikon 35Ti which I still treasure (okay, I’m old)

    On a recent workshop with Steve McCurry there was so much talk of Burma. I will go this year without any doubt.

    • Hi Jon, Many thanks for this comment, I had never really thought on getting the flash because it appeared to have to be used on camera and did look underpowered. I am very interested in how you got on with it in that respect and whether you bounced it or whatever. I have been to Cambodia many times and like it very much as well. Very envious that you were at a Steve McCurry workshop, that must have been great fun.

      Thanks again,

      Colin

      • Colin, Steve McC and Mike Yamashita were fantastic teachers, very different in approach to both shooting and instructing, but gave an experience I shall treasure for long time.

        I have very little experience of flash; only my aforementioned 35Ti really. The 180 swivel plus bounce mean it should be very easy to make a simple bounce reflector if a commercial version is not available. Being powered by the huge EL15 battery of the camera makes it worry-free. I think you’ll love it. I’m sure the power is adequate for portraits and groups. I used it direct outside day and night, and bounced for a lot of fill-in inside a bus. I will try to bounce into a reflector too next time.
        Actually my only real gripe with the V1 is apparently very common, being the way the camera often sets really slow shutter speeds when in auto iso. I lost a lot of shots to severe motion blur particularly when kids were shooting with it.

        • Jon, just in thinking about this, you could probably trigger a larger flash like the SB900 with this as well if you wanted to get fancy with soft-boxes and light shaping. Off camera flash can be fun and it would be cool to see how good the results would be.

          Cheers,

          Colin

          • I want to travel light so I am planning to get one of Gary Fong’s contraptions if he has anything that will fit such a small unit.

    • The Nikon 35Ti is one of the greatest compact 35mm film cameras ever. The lens is fantastic and the view finder is one of the best.

      That camera can be treasured by anyone, no matter the age, as long as that person appreciates film.

  47. Great write-up, great pics. I’ve just bought a V1 and you’ve inspired me to really experiment for my next trip. I got the 10mm and the 30-100mm lenses. I love the 10mm but it’s a little limited for travel shots. How often did you use your 10-30mm on this Myanmar trip?

    • Hi Aaron, I am sure you will have a ball with it. I used the 10-30 as the main lens and used it a lot. Having said that, I am a big lover of prime lenses, I think I have used them so much that I am in the habit of moving myself to frame and compose and I find it weird to rely on a zoom instead. I also find I get used to certain focal lengths (mainly between 24 and 35 for me) and I ‘see’ a lot of my shots this way. So I guess what I am saying is that if I had the 10 I would have used it a lot instead. I have found that I can get a 10 for around S$ 224 and that appears to be too much of a bargain to pass up so I will be joining you soon :) The only other thing to bear in mind is that I knew that there was a requirement for a long zoom in Myanmar and that was my primary reason for buying the two kit lens. Cheers and thanks for the question, hope this helps, Colin

  48. Colin – thanks for the great write-up. If you were to do the trip again today would you take the FT-1 adapter and one faster lens? If so, what lens would you chose as a good balance of size and weight for the ultra small kit? I know a lot depends on shooting style. I was not a Nikon shooter when I got the V1 and decided to get the 40 micro (DX) as something that gave me decent speed and portrait type length but small size on the V1. I look forward to additional native lenses but with the 10-30 and 30-110 I don’t feel like I need to much for the minimal kit.

    Also, would you again stick with the LED panel or go with the V1’s flash unit?

    • Great question Terry, I am having a good think about this before I answer……

      Ok, here goes. I am having most success with the 24mm f1.4 Nikkor that was and is my favorite lens anyway. I get uncomfortable when I go much beyond a 50 mm length and the 24 comes in at around 60 which I can work with. Obvious problem is that this is one chunky and pricey piece of glass to carry for the V1 alone. Given your question I think you have made a very good choice though with the 40, I was thinking that or the 35 f1.8 would do it as a very nice fast portrait combo and, as you say, it aligns better with keeping the kit compact. On the LED, as I said, its only a little fill for portraits and you really need to get close with it. It does work though and I have been wondering about using it in conjunction with the flash given Jon’s comments in the thread. It might give a nice shadow fill or hair backlight for example. I would advise however getting the next model up though as it would be a far more practical light source and I really prefer the WYSIWYG of the constant light source.

      Very interested to see any shots you have with the 40 Jon and thanks for taking the time to read and comment,

      Take care,

      Colin

      • Thanks Colin,
        I will dig up something from the 40mm. Can’t right now. I realized after writing my post that I didn’t say why I chose the 40 over the 35 and it was a conscious decision. Close focus. So, the focal lengths weren’t that difference so I gave up a little in speed to get a lens that is probably sharper across the whole frame and allowed for macro and a fast portrait prime is a rumored lens on the roadmap.

        I do think a full kit of all 1 system lenses for me would look like this:
        10-30 and 30-110 (exist)

        New
        6-10 f4
        100-300 f4
        35 (or 30) f1.2

        Huge coverage and still a tiny and light kit. The 100-300 would take out the need to adapt a 70-200 for long stuff and I would not be unhappy to lose a stop to pick back up focus tracking with a native non adapted lens and keep the lens small.

        Other ideas:
        9 f2

  49. You are very talented and managed to get beautiful images with the V1. This being said, your reportage confirmed to a large extent what I feel about that camera; it generates images that look like coming from a good P&S camera (the main characteristic being a lot of DOF). I visited your website and have to admit that I prefer by far the images that you managed to get from your D3/50f1.4/24f1.4 combo. I also question myself whether I should bring my D700 with the same f1.4 lenses (plus the 85f1.8), or a smaller kit (m4/3) when I travel abroad. However, I find that the amazing D700/24f1.4 combo is unbeatable…and always feel I made the right decision to bring them in the end.

    • Hi Michel, I wouldn’t disagree at all with the D700/24f1.4 combo, its a killer. I used it for everything for quite a while and even shot models with it (D3, not D700 but same to all intents) I think the D700 is a bit more portable but I personally like the balance of the D3. I wouldn’t like to be misunderstood form this post, I was more than happy and very pleasantly surprised at the results from the V1 but the main reason I took it to Myanmar was because I knew from previous trips that you simply need long focal lengths to get the best shots and I wasn’t prepared to lug a lot of gear due to the large number of internal flights I had planned. I am convinced that the V1 is a fantastic lightweight travel cam and have proven that to myself, having said that, I used the D3 & 24 so much that I started to ‘see’ everything in that focal length and I have been wondering if it would be nice to take the V1 and FT1 adapter along with the D3/24 kit so that I can use the lens (which I consider one of Nikon’s best) on both cameras giving a nice spread of focal range, fast glass and still a reasonably compact kit. I would never encourage anyone who is using a D700/24 to give it up for a V1, they are just so different, but there may be occasions such as the Myanmar trip where it just makes more sense.

      Cheers, and I very much appreciate you taking the time to look and comment.

      Colin

  50. hmm,on his website, there are much better photos…interesting selection for this article

  51. My Myanmar trip
    It’s a great country for a photographic travel.

  52. [...] Traveling light in Myanmar with a Nikon V1 by Colin Steel [...]

  53. [...] このサイトに触発されて、あえてNikon 1 V1だけで旅スナップを [...]

  54. I just got V1 and three lens (10mm, 10~30mm, 30~110mm). As you pointed out, it certainly has some things that makes me scratch my head.

    About the photo mode dial selector… I ended up putting the Gariz’s half case on the camera and it really helps preventing my hand/index finger from accidently switching the mode. It adds a small amount of height to the camera which makes it a bit easier to hold. And it looks great! :)

    Did you use any filters?

    • Hi James,

      May I know where you bought the Gariz half case for the V1?

      I cannot find any half case from Gariz for the V1 in Google search.

  55. Hi Colin:

    Thanks for sharing your compelling photographs as well as a most informative article.

    I tried some of your recommended “mods” on my Nikon 1 V1. I found that wrapping black hockey tape or gaffer tape on the grip improves the handling but- on my camera -it caused the V 1 to become very warm-possibly damaging the battery- and the voltage-on a fully charged battery- dropped very quickly from 100% to 56% within a few hours.

    Could be I have an electronics problem with my model-but I am wondering if it is something other 1V1 owners have experienced.

    (since removing tape from the grip- the camera is as cool as the proverbial cucumber)

  56. Nice travel pictures Colin! And how cool it must be to travel light and still come home with good looking pictures. The Nikon V1 is a great little camera. I’m not sure about the 10-30mm though. It seems to miss focus too often and sharpness is not all that great either. I’d go for the newer 11-27.5mm if I wanted to buy a V1 now. It’s sharper, has better contrast and it’s even smaller then the 10-30mm.

  57. Just read your article and enjoyed it. I’m trying to get one now the price has dropped!

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