A recent business trip up north presented me with a fairly rare opportunity; To wake up alone, with nothing to do till 10:30, smack bang in the middle of a countryside haven right on my doorstep. So naturally, along with laptop, toiletries and clothing I took camera gear.
I didn’t want to take more than my laptop bag but wanted to maximise my gear to make the most of the situation, so it was a good opportunity to take my newly formed Micro Four Thirds kit. The miniscule Olympus Pen E-pl7, Olympus 9-18mm wide zoom, Panasonic’s new 35-100mm zoom and their 20mm f1.7 (for good measure) all fit rather snugly into a camera pouch that’s smaller than most DSLRs. Perfick!
Arriving the night before with a work colleague who’d be staying nearby, it was clear that shots wouldn’t be fired with pubs and food to be found. But a short reccie made it clear where I was.
Meadowcroft Farm Bed and Breakfast sits in the heart of Lancashire. Like a jewel sitting on a plush velvet cushion, this is true British Countryside. And to top it off is in itself a farm and home to the horses residing within the stables adjoining the communal living and dining quarters.
The lively and lovely owner had no problem serving me up an amazing full English for 7am, but I was up and out before that taking a stroll of the grounds. I started out with the Olympus 9-18mm, which is a great range for taking in the wide view, with just enough pull on the zoom to tighten things up a little.
I was very eager, however to try on the Panasonic 35-100mm that I’d heard so much about. This range doesn’t seem the immediate choice for landscape, but actually when you consider how much landscape you can sometimes have out in front of you, being able to zoom in and corner particular pieces is really great. Particularly when you consider the zoom compression (or expansion) on very wide angle lenses on M43 mounts – they do tend to push everyone out and away.
The Lowepro Compact Courier 80 bag I took with me was easy to work from. One of the often unconsidered benefits of the size of micro four third lenses, is how easy they are to swap; If you take your new lens in your thumb, index and middle finger, you can grip the old lens in your ring, little finger and lower palm, twisting the old lens off and quickly replacing with the new lens in one fell swoop.
I’m always looking for that perfect balance between size and performance – like so many camera addicts, but the Olympus E-PL7 is also noteworthy because of the cost of a kit like this – which second hand could be build up very cheaply indeed. For example the second-hand 9-18mm was had for £230 whereas the relative lens for FujiFilm, the 10-24mm levels out at £650. Now I’m not comparing apples and pears here; but I sometimes find myself questioning how much my photos cost to make. I always enjoy taking them, whatever I’m using.
If you do find yourself in Lancashire, particularly near Bolton, I’d heartily recommend the Meadowcroft Farm B&B. It’s in a great little town full of the nicest people.