The M8 Does Belize and Guatemala

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 Post subject: The M8 Does Belize and Guatemala
Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 9:35 am 
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From the 26th of December 2009 to the 4th of January 2010, I went to Belize and Guatemala for ten days... I took the M8 and a "couple" of lenses:

4/18 Distagon ZM
2,8/25 Biogon ZM
1,2/35 Nokton
1,5/50 Sonnar ZM
2,8/90 Elmarit-M

Starting in New York, connecting in Charlotte, then in Belize City and finally off to Ambergris Caye for five days. This time was spent mostly relaxing, eating and drinking. Not necessarily in that order... Then the next four days up in the Cayo district, inland, in the jungle. One day was spent trekking into Guatemala to see the ruins of Tik'al. This part of the trip was constant activity and the options were limitless. On the last day, on the way back to the airport there was a stop at the Belize Zoo. The flight back to the states was a horror show, especially in Atlanta, GA. NEVER again. Direct flight via Newark/Belize City only in the future!

The M8 and all the lenses held up perfectly. From hot, salty, windy conditions at the beach to the cooler, humid and relatively still air of the jungle. Even a few brief rain showers throughout. The M8 was mostly naked over my shoulder with whatever lens I had mounted. It survived many a blurry evening racing along in an open golf cart on heavily speed-bumped and potholed roads. Trekking to, around, into and on top of Maya ruins. Never once did I have an issue with any of the gear. Once I got home I wiped everything down, and it looks just fine.

I used the 2,8/25 Biogon ZM the most. It's easily my favorite lens. Stopped down to f/5.6 on average at ISO 160 - it was in the sweet spot and offered tremendous DoF. Unfortunately, most of the time I was rushed in taking pictures since I wasn't alone and often part of a small tour group (4-6 people). Requiring nothing more than a small bump on the focus or exposure, it was essentially a P&S. The images of this combo are breathtaking... Ridiculously sharp. I love this lens. Many photos might appear oversharpened; in fact I applied very little USM after resizing (60/0.3/0). The sheer amount of textures and contrast are well represented! I anticipate making many large prints.

Next up, is the 1,2/35 Nokton. This lens is a bit large for an "out and about" lens, but at night - and even during the day - delivers great photos. Really makes shooting the M8 at lower ISOs when the lighting drops easy enough, to keep noise down. I used it at Cahal Pech when I could spend a little more time for those "arty shots" and evenings in Ambergris Caye.

As for the rest of the lenses, I used the 1,5/50 Sonnar ZM at the Belize Zoo, though in retrospect I might have used the 2,8/90 Elmarit-M more next time. I used the latter and the 4/18 Distagon only rarely when the situation called for them. I could have done without, honestly.

The dynamic range of the M8 was a real pleasure. From the darkest shade areas in the jungle to the whited-out, overcast sky - it's all there. In some tricky, high-contrast shots - a little fiddling during DNG import brought everything right into line. A little recovery, a little fill light - followed by a slight bump in midtones and more S-curving for contrast is all I had to do on even the most extreme shots.

I brought along a Canon G9 as a backup and for those macro/tele/flash shots. I only used it inside of Barton Creek Cave. Naturally, like an idiot - I forgot to change settings and dragged the shutter. So much for automation, right?

I've posted 269 photos which can be seen in my Belize and Guatemala gallery. Here's a teaser:

Image Image Image Image Image

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 Post subject: Re: The M8 Does Belize and Guatemala!
Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 9:59 am 
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Very nice, Michael!

Me thinks an M8 is in my future somewhere.


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 Post subject: Re: The M8 Does Belize and Guatemala!
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:39 am 
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nice shots!!!

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 Post subject: Re: The M8 Does Belize and Guatemala!
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:52 am 
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Thanks, guys!

I tell ya, Belize is such a wonderful country. Immensely friendly, lovely people and so much to see and do. From the beaches of Ambergris Caye to the Mayan ruin peppered jungles in the interior - what a great time.

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 Post subject: Re: The M8 Does Belize and Guatemala!
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:00 pm 
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Double Negative wrote:
Thanks, guys!

I tell ya, Belize is such a wonderful country. Immensely friendly, lovely people and so much to see and do. From the beaches of Ambergris Caye to the Mayan ruin peppered jungles in the interior - what a great time.

Just a little off topic........do you know what Ambergris is?


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 Post subject: Re: The M8 Does Belize and Guatemala!
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:26 pm 
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JDLaing wrote:
Just a little off topic........do you know what Ambergris is?

Ha! Way to reverse the lovely imagery I had in my head... Whale barf! :D

The island was named so because of the large amounts found washed up on the shores.

Another bit of trivia. The song by Madonna, "La Isla Bonita" is purportedly about Ambergris Caye. I'm inclined to agree with her sentiment. I love Ambergris Caye.

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 Post subject: Re: The M8 Does Belize and Guatemala!
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:34 pm 
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Double Negative wrote:
Ha! Way to reverse the lovely imagery I had in my head... Whale barf! :D

The island was named so because of the large amounts found washed up on the shores.

Another bit of trivia. The song by Madonna, "La Isla Bonita" is purportedly about Ambergris Caye. I'm inclined to agree with her sentiment. I love Ambergris Caye.

Do you know what it was used for......back in the day?


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 Post subject: Re: The M8 Does Belize and Guatemala!
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:44 pm 
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JDLaing wrote:
Do you know what it was used for......back in the day?

I know it has been used for producing musky fragrances (oddly enough), an aphrodisiac and even as a medicine (it was thought to "prevent the black plague" in Medieval Europe). Interesting stuff, no doubt.

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 Post subject: Re: The M8 Does Belize and Guatemala!
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:04 pm 
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Double Negative wrote:
I know it has been used for producing musky fragrances (oddly enough), an aphrodisiac and even as a medicine (it was thought to "prevent the black plague" in Medieval Europe). Interesting stuff, no doubt.

'Twas the base for super high dollar perfumes.

Go figure.

I know a few years back Belize was a retirement magnet. Coca Cola was heavily invested in Minute Maid Orange Groves in Belize and set up a nifty tax haven for us......


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