Q in Chicago: Initial Impressions
My trip to Chicago this weekend was pretty insane. The trip to Chicago was fine; moving around Chicago was alright, with only a few hiccups on Monday when it came to the snow; but the crazy part was when I had to get back to St. Louis from Chicago. What would have normally been a five hour train ride quickly turned into a 12 hour sit fest in the middle of rural Illinois. The complications in travel were warranted and I can hardly place much blame on Amtrak. The Midwest had recently received tons of rain, which flooded a number of tributaries and waterways. Ultimately, one of these waterways swept through some of the tracks along my route and loosened some of the gravel holding the tracks into place. I'd say our conductor made the right call in not sending us over the tracks, but it was still an uncomfortable 12 hours on a train.
Nevertheless, let's get back to the Q, the real reason I went on the trip. My train left early on Saturday morning and arrived in Chicago in the early afternoon. If you know anything about me, you know that I am infatuated with Chicago. There is just something about the city that speaks to me. I wish I could explain it, but I can't. It just feels like home. Anyway, I was traveling with my wife, my best friend, and his girlfriend. When we made it to the hotel, I dropped off my bags and raced to Tamarkin, while everyone else raced to get some lunch at Giordano's. To each his own. Fortunately, when we travel to Chicago, we tend to stay near North Michigan Ave, in a Hampton Inn that has become my haven. It's not that my wife or I really enjoy to shop that much, but really because it puts us in a good place to get around the city and see many of the things we enjoy. And this Hampton Inn is the perfect location, perfect price, and has some incredibly helpful and inviting people working at the desk.
I played with the Q for the first time in Tamarkin. I shot a couple pictures, played with the focusing, and talked to a guy looking around for an M6. He told me about his experience with the Q and he seemed happy with his purchase. His girlfriend, not so much... After I had played around with the camera for a few minutes I was hooked and ready for transfer my life's savings into this guys hands. And let me tell you, it hurt. I picked up an extra battery that they had priced nicely and was ready to hit the streets.
Unfortunately it started to rain as I walked back to the hotel. I really wanted to test it out, but I wasn't ready for it to be in the elements just yet. Despite my fears I was able to snap this quick picture of a neat house not far from the shop.
The rain continued as a drizzle for much of the evening. We originally planned on going down to the Hancock Tower to check out the views, but Chicago was incredibly fogging and you could hardly see the building next door. Sunday morning was more of the same, although I was out and about around 8:00 am battling the winds and trying to find some interesting things to photograph. I snapped this image in our 27th floor hotel room before I hit the streets.
It wasn't too long after I had started running around downtown that my friend called to let me know he wanted to join me. We grabbed some food and walked down to the river and back up north. Here are some images from running around the area.
I hadn't really put much thought into how early the sun was going to set in Chicago compared to St. Louis, so I don't know that I used my time as wisely as I should have. No matter what, I think I came home with some incredible images, especially since it was my first time every using the Q. As night set in my wife and I went to dinner out in Wicker Park and hung out on the L before heading back to meet our friends at the Hancock Tower. We've been fortunate enough to make it to the observation deck without ever waiting in a line and the view has never been disappointing. Check out how the Q performed capturing the miles of city lights.
All in all I think the trip was a lot of fun despite some unfortunate difficulties. So far I am really impressed with the camera, both in its build quality and images. I'm excited to continue to shoot with it in the coming months and years. It really seems to fit my personality and shooting style quite well. The aperture ring is smooth, but has these little satisfying clicks that let you know you're doing something. The focus reminds me of my AE1 or I suppose many of that generation's film lenses; it's smooth and provides enough resistance to make you feel like you're actually controlling something. The shutter... wow.... you can barely tell that the Q is taking a photo. I took the Q to a small bar in downtown Chicago and you couldn't hear the camera. I was incognito. My only concern lies with needing some images with less of wide angle, but I suppose I'll find a work around. I knew about this going in and I still don't think the 28 is a bad option. If it proves that I need something less wide, maybe I'll be back in the market for an A7 Mk II and a 50mm lens. As for now, I'll just sit tight and enjoy. Hopefully I can put together a more comprehensive review in time. For now, here are some more images from the trip.