By Chuck Hajdú
One World Tour is an interesting book to review. It is all about a really selfish photographer taking advantage of an opportunity. The author/photographer, Mario Dirks, makes it very clear that he applied for, and won, this job based on his desire to travel on somebody else’s dime. I have no problem with that at all!
The added benefit was someone else paid for him, and a companion, to travel the world (as defined by “someone” apparently at SIGMA) with free camera equipment. Duh…. I’d take it too.
O’Reilly books describes the journey like this: Sigma sent Mario on a yearlong adventure to photograph the most beautiful places on earth. As Sigma's World Scout, he spent 50 weeks visiting a total of 77 cities, 48 countries, and 6 continents. He took 101 flights and traveled 2,500 miles on foot.
I can’t make a knowledgeable comment on the choice of equipment because I’ve used very few of their products. I have used a few of their lenses over the years but none of their dSLRs. The only Sigma lens I currently use regularly is a 50-200mm f/4-5.6 DC OS HSM zoom lens in Pentax mount. It is extremely well built and takes excellent pictures.
The photographic equipment provided to the author for this adventure included two Sigma SD 1 Merrill dSLRs and a selection of Sigma lenses. The 70–200mm 2.8, 24–70mm 2.8, 17–50mm 2.8, 85mm 1.4, 105mm macro 2.8, 10–20mm 3.5, 8–16mm 2, fisheye, 2x converter and 18–250mm travel lens. That’s quite an arsenal! He also carried all of the extra equipment any fully equipped photographer would have. I don’t know how much his equipment was worth but the MSRP of each camera body alone was over $3,000.00 at the time. Now down to a more reasonable $2,000. To me that’s a heck of a lot of money to pay for an APS-C camera, albeit one with a 46MP sensor.
Before I talk about the quality of the photographs I’d like to comment on the choice of locations in the “world”. I’m sure that everyone has a different opinion on what the “must see” sites on Earth and mine are definitely different than the ones chosen. Many of the locations were clearly picked because they are in travel brochures or are famous sites. My choices would have included quite a few places that are wonderfully scenic and deserve to be included in any book: the Maine coastline of the USA, the Greek islands, Budapest, Hungary, the south of France and rural Japan all come to mind instantly. None are included in this book.
The author includes pleasantly written commentaries about each of his stops and that helps the reader to understand the photographs better. His anecdotes are nicely done and make the book an enjoyable “trip”.
Many of the photographs are taken of commonly photographed places and don’t really seem to capture the spirit of a place. I was particularly disappointed in the photos of Washington, DC, Las Vegas and New York City. They were all common and uninspired. Perhaps that was because it was the start of the trip.
The pictures taken at the Grand Canyon were, however, spectacular! There are also quite a few excellent pictures included. Most of them, in my opinion, are of outdoor scenery. The author seems to have an excellent eye for capturing the beauty of nature.
MSRP for the eBook (PDF, MOBI and ePub) is $19.95, print is $44.95 and price for both is $49.95