Monday, December 1, 2014

Travel Camera(s)

I love my new Sony Cybershot RX100 II  !

Sometimes it takes awhile to determine what the best equipment is for your personal style of travel.

Case in point:  Cameras.  We've owned several pocket-sized point-n-shoots.   

My favorite was the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20.   It took really nice photos ~ clear, sharp, and had some great filters for making things like scenery and food photos "pop".   

Trouble is, if they are  small enough to fit in your pocket, they are small enough to fall out of your pocket.   We donated this one to the cab driver in Japan, where I have surmised it slipped out of my coat pocket and slid down into the crevice between the back seat and the car door.  Luckily, it was our very first night in Tokyo, so we did not loose any precious pictures.  Camera's can be replaced.   Photo's cannot.

We purchased a new Olympus Stylus SH-60 the next day.  Travel Tip:  Remember, when you buy a camera in a foreign country, the menu will most-likely be in that language.  We had to research to find one that came in English.   And I will admit to being frustrated at trying to learn how a new camera behaves while trying to capture pictures of those priceless cherry blossoms!

Then it failed twice during that trip, despite being brand new.  Once it froze in full zoom mode, and would not shut off and would not close up.   It finally resolved itself.   Then, later in the trip, it froze on macro mode, even though I did not have it set on macro mode.   It currently resides in a drawer in the office at home, still in macro  mode.  So I do not recommend Olympus!

Now, in anticipation of starting the travel blog,  I'm thinking it might be time to step up to a "big boy", a full SLR.   I am shopping and comparing and researching, and I have some friends in the industry who are lending their advice.

But here's the thing.   We see and do allot in any one day in any given country.   I don't mean we are madly rushing about, but we cover allot of ground by allot of different means, and we don't like to be slowed down by carrying a bunch of luggage -- or gear.   We travel light.   We are there for the experience, not so much the photo shoot.

So I ended up with a traveler's / blogger's / hobbyists' dream camera.  My Sony.  When I asked to see it at Shutterbug in Portland, the manager said, "This is the one we've all been waiting for."  A month in Spain was a good trial.  I absolutely love it!

First of all, it does most everything the big boys do, but is small enough to fit into my purse if need be.  It has a Carl Zeiss lens, which gives me crystal clear pictures.  It has an auto setting that is quick & easy, but it also has manual options for setting apertures and shutter speeds for those times when auto is just not capturing the mood.   It has a viewing screen that detaches in bright sunlight.  The video feature is a quick and accessible one-step button.  And it has a fabulous low-light setting that works in situations where flash is not allowed, such as concerts and museums. 

I immediately bought a nice leather case, just as though it were a SLR, which travels around my neck without giving me a kink.  


Here's some additional camera travel tips, most of which I learned the old-fashioned way:   By experience.

  • Backup your pictures as you go.  Cameras can get lost or stolen, and you will buy another, but you will grieve the loss of those pictures forever.   I do this in several ways.  Firstly, I dump that day's pictures into my laptop every single night.  If something happens to the camera, I've only lost one day's photo's as opposed to the entire trip.   
  • Likewise, I take several SD cards along, and I change them out periodically, even if they are not full.   Sometimes one for each major city or destination for that trip.  Again, if one gets lost, I have only lost an increment of the trip, not the whole thing.    
  • Thirdly, I now blog along the way, so our very best photo's are preserved there.  Sharing pictures on FB or Instagram or other social sites would accomplish the same thing.
  • Of course there is the cloud, too;  but we find that Internet service around the globe is not always as reliable or as fast as we are used to;  plus I take an exorbitant number of photos ~ so spending that kind of upload time is not the best option for me while on the road.  There's too many things to see and do and take pictures of!

  • Lastly, we always take along a back-up camera.  Some previously retired pocket camera, in our case.  Nothing fancy, but it has seen us through the pinch a couple of times.   
  •  And always travel with a spare battery or two.  Nothing worse than having that battery light start blinking when you are still half a day from the hotel.  After all, you my never pass this way again! 


  1. The camera looks like the perfect size to have with you all the time. I really notice how clear the photos are taken with this camera! Up close food shots to those taken inside those churches and other buildings with high ceilings and lots of detail.

    The leather camera case just takes it over the top – it’s like a classy fashion statement. Good tips about the backup camera! All good advice in this article about extra cards, batteries, uploading photos daily! I suppose it must take so much time in another country to find a battery and what a great tip about the foreign language issues for instructions and settings!!! Yikes! Frustrating! Great article ~ thanks so much!!

    1. It's taken us awhile to figure out what is perfect ~ and this little Sony is definitely it! It's the perfect balance of quality results and portability. I like the really sharp photos that I get with very little effort. And yes, we've hunted for batteries / and or chargers / and or ??? in other countries, and it's a job. Even after researching and then navigating to the store, everything is still in a foreign language. Takes allot of valuable time away from why we are really there ~ to go and see and do!


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