Amboli, the Cherrapunji of Maharashtra is easily the wettest places I have been to and this coming from a man who has grown up in Mumbai and is no stranger to rains, is a serious statement. My last trip to Amboli was a few years back, when I don’t remember a single moment of time when I was dry other than when asleep on a damp bed. It’s that wet here. The clothes, walls, rain wear, footwear all remain wet, they just don’t dry no matter what. But Amboli besides its rain, is famous for its creepy crawlies, which makes it arguably one of the best places in India to see them, especially in the monsoon.
This time we were much better prepared to handle Amboli with proper rain gear, leech socks and a weather proof camera i.e. the OMD EM-5 II. The beauty of this camera is that almost any lens can be adapted to this camera taking full advantage of the incredible In Body Stabilization or IBIS with focus peaking.
I was going to adapt an old AI Micro Nikkor 55 F3.5. This might be an old lens but has a reputation of being real sharp with excellent build quality. About build quality, I can say that the lens is probably older than me but still has the best Manual Focus (MF) mechanism that I have used and trust me, I have used many old and new Nikkors and none of them give me the that smooth MF experience that this lens gives.
I have a Fotga Nikon to m43 adapter which does its job with almost any Nikkor (Not sure about the new E lenses though) including the pre AI ones. Now isn’t it amazing that these pre AI Nikkors that cant be used on most modern Nikon DSLRs, can be used with an adapter on a m43 camera! This adapter is a pure mechanical connection with no electronic contacts. There is no metering or AF and any IS/VR capability is useless even if the lens has it. You have to go the menu of the camera and enable “shoot without a lens” option. I think we all have struggled with AF to shoot closeups and manual focusing on a dark optical VF of a DSLR without any active focusing aids. Now the Olympus OMD EM-5 II has two extremely important features that makes shooting closeups a lot better experience than any of the Full Frame Nikon DSLRs.
- Focus Peaking: It highlights the areas in focus when using MF. This is a very useful feature to acquire critical focus.
- 5 Axis IBIS: Focus Peaking coupled with the incredible 5 axis IBIS and weather sealing makes the Olympus OMD-EM-5 II a very capable outdoor close up camera which also takes advantage of the inherent deeper DoF advantage of the m43 sensor.
So we were out on a rainy night and came up with a clutch of frog eggs with young tadpoles clearly visible inside the egg sac.
Next up was the ubiquitous and commonly found Amboli toad. This along with the Amboli frog and the Bombay bush frog also known as the Typewriter frog are the most commonly seen denizens at Amboli.
We were yet to see a snake and our search yielded one of the two most commonly found snakes in Amboli, the Malabar Pit Viper. Now this snake is venomous but not fatal to humans. They come in many shades of green and brown and this particular individual was waiting on short bush to pounce on an unfortunate prey that passes its way.
We also saw an unidentified gecko that seems rather uncommon. It was found hardly a few feet away from the Malabar Pit Viper. We thought it was a Brooks Gecko but this is yet to be ascertained.
We also saw and photographed a Green vine snake, Malabar gliding frog and its not so young tadpole and the Bombay Bush frog.
Our companions, Ranjeet and Preeti were out on their first ever nature trail of any kind and it seemed that they loved their first outing. A few hours later we called it a night to get ready for the next morning drive to Goa.
Now Goa was purely a, do nothing but eat and sleep kind of a trip. We had some amazing sea food everyday at places like Ritz Classic, Martins corner and Fisherman’s Wharf. Food aside, the highlight of this trip was fishing seen at the Mobor beach which was an absolutely fascinating experience. They caught Mackrel, Kingfish, Pomfret, baby sharks and poor puffer fishes that one one wanted along with snapper, king prawns and everything in between.
I just had enough time to do some landscapes at Cabo-De-Rama fort in the evening with my 10 stop B+W filter.
The OMD EM-5 II is just the perfect travel camera. It has more than adequate (for my needs) IQ, is small and portable enough to carry anywhere and is weather sealed to brave the elements.