International Traveling Technology Travails, Part 3: Cameras
As promised, today we’ll talk about cameras. I actually started thinking about cameras well before we left. One of the things I plan to do here (since people keep asking) is use my media skills to take lots of pictures and video and probably afterwards put it all together in … something. In addition, of course, to posting as we go. So the question became, what to bring to minimize travel weight & size but maximize ability to grab good pictures and video.
As discussed in a previous post, the iPhone’s ability to take decent pictures and video was a major factor in its coming with me, even without its phone & text ability while we’re here. As important as the quality, of course, is the portability. There’s a reason so many pictures are being taken, uploaded and forced upon us these, and it’s that everyone with a newer phone has a camera with them all the time. Most, but not all, of the pictures I’ve taken so far have been with the iPhone, again because it’s the easy camera to slip in my pocket every time we go out (except when I’ve forgotten to charge it).
The iPhone is Not Enough
But I knew from experience that the iPhone would not be enough for the long haul. When going out intentionally to see sites and take pictures and video, the iPhone isn’t flexible enough to really do the job. I did have a DSLR, a Nikon D40x, that I hardly used at all anymore since buying the iPhone. And aside from being older and not having video capabilities, I didn’t want anything that big. So the search commenced.
Compact System Cameras
Previously I had sneered at the compact format line, they seemed too small for high end pictures, and too big to carry around in a pocket. It turns out, that was exactly what I was looking for: almost to equal to DSLR quality & flexibility in a smaller package. Let the research begin. Once I figured out my price range (thanks Mom & Dad) and the specific capabilities I was looking for, I was able to narrow the field down to these offerings:
- Sony NEX-6 or -7
- Fujufilm XM-1
- Panasonic Lumix GX-7 and
- Olympus OM-D something, can’t find the model I was looking at at the time and they’ve since upgraded the whole line.
And the Winner Is…
Finally it came down to the NEX-6 or -7 versus the Panasonic. I went with the Sony NEX-6 for various small reasons. It’s a bit smaller and lighter than the -7, has a better viewfinder than the Panasonic and seemed to promise slightly better video. Also Sony was offering discounts on cameras and lenses, so I got the stock 14-50mm and a 55-200mm zoom lens. What I really wanted was a 20mm prime lens and the zoom, but they weren’t offering discounts on that, oh well. As I recall the Panasonic was a little thinner with the stock lens both open and closed, which was an argument in its favor, and I think the earlier model of the NEX, the plain old NEX-5, matched that, but I couldn’t find it once the newer models were released.
But What To Bring
I bought this camera for two purposes: one was to be my new high end camera and to take with me to Chile, the other was to be my B-roll camera for my video work. The zoom lens especially came in handy when videotaping The Nutcracker by the Peoria Ballet this year. But that zoom lens is heavy. And takes up as much or more space than the camera. And would require bringing a separate camera bag. So … I chose to leave it behind, knowing there would be times I’d regret it, and I already have. But it was the correct decision, no matter how much and how many times I miss it. If I were just here to travel and takes pictures and video, obviously I would have brought it, but adding that lens and one more bag to carry just didn’t make sense.
So as you follow this blog and see the pictures (and maybe video eventually, especially when we get decent Internet access) see if you can tell which pictures are from which camera. Sometimes I have trouble myself.