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Readers Comments about Travelling with a Digital Camera

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Ming writes . . . . .

"Let me add my experience backpacking with my digital camera for over a year.

I found the following advantages to traveling with a digital camera.

1) Cost of development. When traveling we tend to take the most pictures. The savings of development and film costs can offset the cost of changing over to digital. After a recent trip, I ended up with over 5,000 pictures, which would basically have been over $2,000 in traditional film and development cost avoided.

2) Your friends at home can share your experience right away through emails. I was regularly sending out pictures to my family and friends from the trip to share my experience and actually even updated a photo website regularly There are many websites that allow you to upload your pics and share them with friends and print them also without much technical work or knowledge.

3) Kids love seeing the images right away, Photo copyright Ming 2003especially in developing countries where people are shocked that they can see themselves on TV (or the display of the camera). Often you become the center of attention and crowds gather around to see their pictures. I see this as sharing the joy with the local people and an opportunity to interact with them and make them happy. Otherwise, we typically just take a picture of them and leave, which must be like robbery in their minds.

4) You donít have to worry about film anymore, such as what speed, color or black and white, quality of development, Xray machine damage and where to buy it, getting ripped off for the price of film at tourist centers, and carrying loads of exposed and new film.

5) If you are new to photography it is a great tool to learn from. You are not shy with experimenting with all kinds of shots as there are no cost involved, and you can see the results right away and on the computer you can see all the camera information to learn from, like shutter speed and fstop, etc.

Ming's tips . . .

How to choose a camera?

Chose a reputable brand with the highest resolution that you need or can afford. This point is mentioned regularly so I will not elaborate.. But I want to mention that many of the camera manufacturers try to get you for accessory costs by making their equipment proprietory. Sony is guilty of this in my opinion. The memory cards are proprietory, the batteries are also and they are both super expensive. So to minimize future cost, make sure you choose a camera that takes standard AA batteries and common media cards like SmartMedia, Compact Flash etc. I have two sets of rechargeable batteries that I have been using for like 2 years at only $10 per set. If I add up the times that I would had to buy replacement batteries, it would be in the hundreds of dollars. The rechargeables are great. One set in camera and one spare that have just been recharged could last a week with intensive picture taking. They recharge in about 4 hours. Olympus is known to have high quality cameras with accessories from other manufacturers available.

For the Day tripper

No accessories to worrry about. Just carry your camera, and a spare set of battery and maybe memory card. And download everything once you get home to your computer. This is the simplest scenerio, you do not have to worry about buying or carrying any additional equipment.

For the Hotel/luggage traveler

You may have a laptop already...and since you are probably staying at one hotel location during your trip then it is probably worthwhile to bring your laptop for storage and to view your photos right away. A cd burner on the laptop can be nice to backup copies and also sometimes to make copies for people that you meet along the trip.

If you do not have a laptop and only a desktop computer at home, you may want to have 2 cards and once both are filled go to an internet shop to burn a cd of your photos (hard to find in some developing countries).

For the Adventurer/Backpacker

On my trip around the world for a year, I carried, besides my camera, a spare memory card, spare set of rechargeable batteries, voltage converter, battery charger and DIGITAL WALLET with 3GB. The digital wallet functions as a memory card reader that downloads to an onboard harddrive. So when your memory card is full, just plug it into the "Wallet" (size of 2 packs of cigarettes) and the files are on the portable harddrive.

Then when you get to a computer, you plug the wallet to the computer and it appears as an additional harddrive with all your pictures on it. There are many nice features of this wallet. Mine came with adapters for outlet, its own rechargeable battery, or adapter for car cigarette lighter. These plugs also work to power my Olympus camera. So if I ran out of power, I can use the same adapters to operate by battery, car lighter or electrical outlet. Also the wallet acts is a operational harddrive, which means that I was able to carry my favorite songs, outlookfiles, scan copies of my passport, and software for my website, so that I can access it anytime I needed them on the road.

Once in a while, I would get to an internet cafť and backup my harddrive on to a cd rom, but my harddrive never crashed even though I carried it with me 24/7 even to the tops of Kilimijaro Photo copyright Ming 2003and Base of K2 mountain (although my camera omitted a few shots due to altitude or cold, I never did figure it out). The wallet cost about $200 and allows you to be away from the civilization of computers and power for weeks without worrying about memory or power for your camera. This was important as I was going on week long safaris and 3 week hikes into the Himilayas.

But for the adventurer, you can see that the equipment that I carried was minimal and well worth it. I saved a lot of money from development and also learned a lot about photography as I was not shy in taking photos. Then I shared the experience with friends all over the world. I was emailing them out, then I would publish a web site on the road, then I would make a copy of the disc for friends that I met on the trip, or I would "develop" the selected ones to mail to people I met on the road who donít have access to computers. My brother even made a DVD of my pictures with music to be played on any home entertainment system.!!!

Hope this helps some people.

Happy shooting on your travels of seeing the world.


Thanks, Ming, for sharing your thoughts.

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I'm traveling overseas with my digital camera and I won't be able to take my laptop. I'll definitely want to take a lot of photos but will be limited by my compact flash cards. Are there other storage options? I have a mac, if that helps.


You have a Mac and you need more storage space without a laptop. An answer is to buy an iPod and a card reader sold by Apple that will allow you to transfer pix to the iPod. Total cost would be between $USD400-$USD600 depending on what size iPod you get. That may seem expensive but when you can buy a 512MBCF for around $100 and get the iPod setups for 4 or 6 times that and have 10GB to 40GB of space, it is well worth you can listen to music too!


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