One of the most important devices to document the trips we are doing is perhaps the camera. With the images we shoot, we can take those we show them to on our trip. In essence they're capturing moments, making it easier to relive the trip. Nowadays digital photocamera's are also enabling us to shoot video. Adding a whole new dimension. Personaly we like photo's better. But some moments are better captured on video. That said, what camera should you bring? Of course it is a personal thing, but here are some of our experiences with different kind of camera's.
When Sander went to Scotland by motorbike, he wanted to take a camera. But Scotland being notorious for it's rainy weather, Sander doubted it would be wise to take his Nikon D90 with an 18-200mm lens mounted. Not only would it not be usable in the rain it also felt too bulky to carry around. So Sander decided to buy a compact waterproof camera, the Sony TX5. A wise decission because half the holiday it would rain indeed. And at one point the camera was dropped in a stream of running water. Where other (non-waterproof) camera's would have died, the TX5 lived up to its expectations and continued shooting. Taking some nice pictures during that holiday. One of the frequently used functions of the camera was the sweep panorama function, capturing those nice Scotisch vistas.
In 2013 we took the TX5 on our trip to Africa. With a keycord around my neck it allowed easy access. Making it possible to take some quick snapshots, even while riding. Actually most of the pictures we shot during the beginning of that trip we're taken with the TX5. But unfortunately the camera was no match for the overpowering waves of Ghana. Water came into the body and the camera started to die a slow death. Right now the camera is still functioning but has some serious issues. It doesn't keep its date and time settings and there are some focussing problems. So we won't take it on our trip to the Americas.
The major drawback of any compact camera is its image quality and for that reason Sander decided to take his D90 on the big trip. But being too bulky and the tankbag being cumbersome to open the camera remained in the tankbag most of the time. Also Sander didn't like to flash a big piece of expensive equipment in the countries we crossed. So the camera was only used on a few occasions. When we used it, it produced some of the nicest pictures. In fact most of the Botswana safari pictures in our gallery are taken with the D90. However we felt we didn't use the camera often enough and so it was returned to the Netherlands.
GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition
Despite our preference for stills we thought it would be nice to make some movies during our trip as well. Just before we left in 2013 the GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition was released. An action camera with improved image quality that came with a remote control. Suggesting it should be able to take pictures while riding. But for us it turned out to be a major disappointment for the following reasons. First of all someone at the design department of GoPro thought it would be cool to use a black housing for the device. As we all know black is one of the uncoolest colors while in bright sunlight. So in Morocco, Mauritania and Senegal the camera heated up severly and stalled multiple of times.
Another issue with the GoPro is it's batteries. When recording video they get drained pretty fast. A lot of times either the battery of the camera or the remote was drained, rendering the camera useless. Speaking of the remote, there was such a lag between pressing the button on the remote and the action of the camera that it wasn't practical to take pictures with it. So the only way to use the camera is to turn it on and keep recording for a while. Resulting in a lot of data and dull moments on video. Requiring editing afterwards and if there is something you don't want to do while on a worldtrip it is video editing. You have so many other things to do, that there just isn't enough time. So we returned the GoPro to the Netherlands and sold it.
Olympus Tough TG2
As the Sony TX5 started dying in Ghana and the D90 not being very practical, we started looking for a good replacement. According to some reviews on the internet the Olympus Tough TG2 was one of the better waterproof camera's of that moment. Not only did it have a constant aperture lens. It also made it possible to use a teleconverter, increasing the zoom factor by times 1,7. So we ordered two and had them shipped to Sander's parents who would visit us in Botswana. When we got the camera's we were blown away by it's image quality. The images looked so much better than on the Sony TX5. However the camera itself was a bit more bulky and less suitable to wear around the neck using a keycord. Unfortunately some Namibian asshole didn't care and stole on of the camera's only a couple of weeks after we got them.
Being down to just one camera we needed another one. But Olympus is nog generally available in Nambia and they almost don't have any waterproof camera's. Luckily we found the Sony TX20 and the TX30 in stores. Both follow-ups for the TX5. We decide to buy the TX20. It was the cheaper option but also had some advantages for us. For instance it's lens cover appeared to slide open more easily. It takes normal sized SD cards, which we were carrying a lot. Yet it charges over USB. Which realy is an improvement over the TX5. There are some negatives though. It doesn't power on very fast and frequently it comes with a message to check the covers are being locked properly. Another annoyance is that sometimes writing the picture fails and the data should be recovered. Sometimes resulting in pictures being lost. This could however be some problem with the SD card. Despite these drawbacks the type of camera remains one of our favorite.
The beginning of 2014 we took the TX5, TX20 and the Olympus with us. Sander using the TX20 and Olympus, Marianne using the TX5. For the first time during our trip we were both taking pictures while riding. So finally some pictures of Sander on his motorbike made it to our blog. Unfortunately the condition of the TX5 got worse and worse. Back in the Netherlands when Sander started looking for a different camera, it was decided to buy a similar camera as we really liked the idea of two persons taking pictures. Right now the TX30 is the only available camera that is suitable for us. Despite it being a bit older camera. It offers some improvements over het TX20. For instance now it uses a normal micro USB cord to charge, instead of a Sony specific cord. We still need to use it, but based on our experience with the previous models we don't think we will be disappointed.