Camera

Travel companion: camera

“Photography can only represent the present. Once photographed, the subject becomes part of the past.”
Berenice Abbott

Part of the fun of getting ready and packing is buying new things to take with us.

I’ve had a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 for a number of years. With a decent optical zoom (I don’t use the digital zoom, it doesn’t produce very good – clear – pictures) and range of features for manual and auto photos or videos it’s served well as a family snapper. Good as it is, it is a bit bulky. We have always needed to take it around with us in its own bag (a bit obvious for the security-minded among us, and slightly annoying) or stored in a (large) day-bag, which means it’s not as easy to whip out for a snappy snap.

Nope. We need a newer, better, slimmer camera which can be easily stored in a pocket or day-bag, one that has a better optical zoom (x20 ideally as a minimum) than was available 6-8 years ago, and maybe even the ability to connect wirelessly and upload to the cloud to back-up and protect our photos.

So, where to begin? Um, Google I guess. Searching on phrases like ‘best digital camera’ or ‘best compact camera’ is a good start, but also producing results like TechRadar or CNet where the results are far beyond our budget, too bulky, too professional, etc. So what about ‘best digital camera under £200’? Yes, better – TechRadar comes up again, this time more appropriate. As does What Digital Camera and Pocket Link with some fine examples.

A search for ‘best travel cameras’ brought a great list of reviews and comparisons (the best of which I found on Adorama), but again the results are far too expensive for what I consider to be safe travelling, i.e. don’t draw attention to yourself and your pricey accessories!

But, you know what, many of these websites show no more than the basic information provided by the manufacture (price, etc. ) and a brief summary or opinion piece. What I really want to see are examples of the output, the kind of pictures the camera can take in different locations – full sun, dusk, movement, full optical zoom, landscapes, portraits, etc.

This is where some serious searching and browsing comes into the fore, and so far the best website I’ve found is, again, Pocket Lint. This review of the Canon PowerShot S120 is great, as are the 40 photos showing both the camera and the output under various conditions (it’s just a pity the photos aren’t labelled so we can see what settings or zoom was used). But even this isn’t enough, it’s often best to just go down the store and handle them, see how the flip-screen works and feels, see how quick it goes from a pocket to read-to-shoot, try the flash, try the multi-shot feature, try and connect to a wifi and cloud service.

Anyway, after all this … what am I getting for the trip? I’m still not sure yet but I’ve had Canon and Panasonic in the past and both have been good cameras. A big (new) feature that could really help me decide is the ability to upload the photos to somewhere like Flickr or Dropbox (directly through wi-fi or indirectly by connecting to a phone or tablet, and then online), free up the on-board storage so we can keep snapping away, and help prevent loss of our photos if something happens to the camera en route.

Information about the uses of these wifi-enabled cameras, and where you can share your photos to (beyond the usual Facebook or Instagram) is brief and not much help. Can I choose whether I upload (backup) my photos to Dropbox or Flickr, or is it best to connect to my phone, transfer the photos and then upload to Dropbox of Flickr using those phone-based Apps?

At the moment the Canon Powershot SX710 HS or Sony HX60V or Panasonic Lumix TZ60 or even the Nikon Coolpix S9900 are looking good, but more than I originally wanted to spend. Hmm, decisions decisions! Considering that I don’t like the sales push you get from stores, it looks like will still I need to visit one to get the answers I need (and to handle the device itself).

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