Travel

Inexpensive DSLR travel kit

DSLR travel kit

For the past year I’ve been using this Rubbermaid Handi-box Snap Case to pack my Canon 5D, Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L lens, Canon 100mm f/2.8 L macro lens or a Canon 135mm f/2 lens (either/or), a pouch with extra batteries and CF cards, a blower, and a strap. The only part of the kit that won’t fit in this plastic case are the two lens hoods for the lenses and they go in my LowePro Stealth Reporter 200 bag.

I’d put this stuff in the bag but in fact, it’s better protected in this plastic case and the bag holds battery chargers and computer stuff I don’t need on the plane.

The camera is in a small, padded Eagle Creek pouch and the lenses are in Zing lens pouches.

DSLR travel kit

DSLR travel kit

DSLR travel kit

DSLR travel kit

I’ve used this system to pack and check my camera gear on each of my JFK to LAX flights for the past year (7 trips) and it’s worked beautifully. used to carry the Stealth Reporter bag on the plane as a carry on but given that I check a piece of luggage I figured why not check this stuff?

I also check a small Benro travel tripod and head.

I know, many of you are thinking this is a recipe for disaster: TSA will take my gear, it will get broken one of these days, or the bag will get lost. All of these are possible but in fact, I’ve done this numerous times now and nothing has happened except I get to travel lighter on the plane.

I looked into Pelican cases but I don’t need such a high end case, just something that will protect the gear in case of a direct hit. These 5 images show the kit in various states of unpack/pack.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I have a soft sided North Face rolling duffel and this case goes on the bottom with clothing on top of it. It has never moved or been compromised in any way and TSA has never opened it (that I know of) so it must look like camera gear in the x-ray image.

Something to consider for those of you who travel with a DSLR kit that you don’t want to lug on the plane.

More iPads Take to the Sky With Qantas In-Flight Trial

More iPads Take to the Sky With Qantas In-Flight Trial

A new Qantas trial pilot program will see one of the airline’s Boeing 767-300 jets outfitted with one iPad 2 for each passenger, according to the Australian Business Traveller. Each of the aircraft’s 254 seats will have its own iPad 2, and there will also be several spares kept on hand just in case. All seats pockets will carry an iPad 2, but business-class travelers will also get a flexible stand to use with their fold-out meal tray.

The pilot program is about testing Qantas’ in-flight Wi-Fi streaming capabilities, Qantas Executive Manager for Customer Experience Alison Webster told the ABT. The ultimate goal is to be able to provide passengers with access to the Q Streaming service through their own devices, be they Apple’s iPads and iPhones or Android tablets and handsets.

I love using my iPad on United PS flights cross country but I must say, gogo inflight internet isn’t the greatest (yet). I buy and use it to keep up with email and RSS and comments at this site but for anything serious like a video download it’s useless. I don’t know where the bottleneck is but no doubt this kind of deal is the beginning of working it out.

Travels with iPad and two cameras

outside Sagrada FamiliaMy friend Steve, his wife Cathy and daughter Kristen who live in Oregon recently went on a three week trip to Spain. They wanted snapshots of the trip and wanted to be able to communicate with the outside world as they travelled (email, upload pictures, etc.). These folks like to travel light so no taking their Canon 7D DSLR, lenses, or a computer. Here are Steve’s notes on their trip.

Equipment

- Canon PowerShot S95 (Steve’s camera)
- Sony DSC-TX5 (Kristen’s camera)
- 5 SD cards ranging in size from 1GB to 4GB
- AC chargers for both cameras
- iPad 2 (16G Wifi model)
- Zagg iPad case with built-in Logitech Bluetooth keyboard
- iPad camera connection kit
- 2 iPad AC chargers (also used for charging iPhones)
- USB charging cable for the Zagg (using an iPad charger)
- 4 US to Spain (Type C) plug converters

Sevilla from the cathedral bell tower

The plan and its execution

1. The plan was to offload each camera every day onto the iPad for back up. And to change SD cards occasionally during the trip. We considered shipping the cards back home during the trip but did not do this.

2. The first misstep of the execution was forgetting to change the date/time on the cameras when we arrived in Spain. I had thought about this ahead of time but forgot when we arrived (jet lagged) in country. To compound this problem one of cameras was setup for DST and other other was not. So not only where they on the home timezone, they were about an hour different from each other. I plan to programmatically adjust the image file timestamps now that we are home.

3. The iPad and camera connection kit turned out to be a very smooth way to offload the photos and view them. This was a complete success for us. Altogether for the 22 days we took 1244 photos with a total size of 4.3 GB. The iPad started getting full at one point – we had a movie on it that we were planning to delete if needed and that did the trick.

4. For sharing photos with folks back home I setup a ‘Spain trip’ set on flickr that we would push photos onto during the trip. The good news is that we had Wifi access at all of the locations we stayed (this was part of the criteria for selecting lodging). As a note, this was much different from our experience 4 years ago in France and Italy were we struggled to find internet access. We pushed a couple of pictures up to flickr each day – everyone back home liked seeing the photos and keeping track of our progress on the trip.

5. I had found an app for the iPad called Snapseed that provided some basic photo editing capabilities and sharing to flickr. This worked out pretty well. It would be nice if Snapseed had better photo library browsing UI (it uses the standard iOS UI in a popover and does NOT remember your place from the last browsing session). The editing facilities worked just fine. The flickr upload worked pretty well overall, but seemed to have problems adding the photo to the flickr set on marginal Wifi connections (it would report a timeout). Richard noticed that photos uploaded to flickr with Snapseed did not seem to have their original EXIF data. I need to do some testing to see if any of the iPhone/iPad apps get this correct. Finally, the EXIF data is intact on all of the photos that were loaded onto the iPad (and then subsequently brought onto my Mac in iPhoto).

6. The Zagg case with the Bluetooth keyboard was a huge success. It is a rigid aluminum cover for the iPad so it is well protected for travel. And the keyboard was a pleasure to use for writing email and other typing chores – huge benefit over using the on-screen keyboard. The keyboard battery did not require charging for the full three weeks.

Except for forgetting to set the time/date on the cameras, things work out really well. This was a light kit of gear that provided a bunch of functionality and a good way to backup and share our photos while traveling.

If you have questions or comments please post them here.

Fuji FinePix X100 camera

A few years ago I had a revelation: carrying a big DSLR kit on a hike doesn’t work for me. It’s a lot of extra weight, dealing with setting up shots is rude to other hikers with me who just want to hike and not stop every few minutes, and the kinds of images I take on hikes are more snapshot documentation of the experience than fine art photography.

Once I made this distinction I was free to do two things:

1. Not worry so much about weight and bulk in my DSLR because it’s not a camera rig I’m going to be walking long distances with.

2. Buy and carry a point and shoot camera on hikes and be happy with it. I’ve since been using a Canon PowerShot S90 and have been very happy with it. My hiking partner Dave uses a Canon PowerShot G11 and he too is happy with it. The images we get aren’t spectacular but they’re quite good for cameras like these.

My friend Dale has been looking for a camera to take on hikes that’s smaller and lighter than a DSLR but has a bigger sensor than than the G11/G12 or S90/S95. For a while he was interested in the Panasonic GF2, a micro four thirds camera that has interchangeable lenses and a bigger sensor than a typical point and shoot but no viewfinder. For the last few months he’s been interested in a relatively new camera that’s become quite popular: the Fuji FinePix X100.

X100 camera

This camera is a bit larger than a Canon G11, has a fixed single focal length lens (very sharp and fast at f/2) and is built to mimic a Leica rangefinder camera. It has an excellent viewfinder but the most important thing about it for Dale and many others is that it has an outstanding image sensor which allows it to shoot at higher ISO than point and shoot cameras and the sensor’s pixels are larger than a point and shoot camera’s so image quality is superior.

This camera isn’t for everyone and even those who bought early and love it have lists of things they wish Fuji would improve on it but the images it takes are outstanding and for many, the way the camera’s exposure controls work is a huge hit. Read the reviews at Amazon and B&H (below) for a few of the issues people are finding with it (even though they love it).

This camera isn’t inexpensive at about $1200 and because its popular it’s tough to buy even if you want to spend the money. For those curious about it I’ve put together some resources below that might help.

If Dale bites on it he’ll no doubt post about it as well as post images. Stay tuned on that. I’m in no rush for a camera like this although it does make me think about what I might take on a sightseeing trip to Europe where I don’t want the bulk of a DSLR but do want better images than my S90 can produce. This just might be the ideal travel camera and taking the X100 and the S90 as a backup is still less bulk than even a small DSLR. Interesting…

Fujifilm FinePix X100 at Fuji
FinePix X100 at Fuji
Fuji FinePix X100 manual (PDF)
Fuji FinePix X100 Brochure (PDF)

Buy or Rent an X100
Fujifilm Finepix X100 Digital Camera at B&H Photo (read reviews)
Fujifilm X100 at Amazon (read reviews)
Fuji X100 at Lensrentals

X100 Reviews
Fujifilm FinePix X100 In-Depth Review at DPReview
Camera Test: Fujifilm FinePix X100 at Popular Photography
Fujifilm FinePix X100 Review at Photography Blog
Fujifilm FinePix X100 Review at Luminous Landscape
Mike Mander’s review of the Fujifilm FinePix X100

X100 on flickr and 500px
I take discussions of gear on flickr with a grain of salt so be aware going in that all kinds of people are using this camera on flickr. If you dig you can find some interesting images made with this camera taken by outstanding photographers.
Finepix X100 flickr group
Fuji X100 flickr group
Fuji X100 Enthusiasts flickr group
flickr photographer Nokton, X100 set
flickr photographer Ryo, X100 tags
flickr photographer Staca, X100 tags
All flickr images taged “fujifilmfinepixx100″
Search for “X100″ on 500px (some outstanding images in there)