Nov 20 2009

When 15 hours is 34 hours

So, the girl and I leave for Australia and New Zealand tomorrow, which I’m pretty damned excited about. I’ll be blogging the trip ex post facto, like the Costa Rica trip, since I’m most likely not going to want to sit and edit prose or photos while I’d rather to be out exploring. However, I may post occasional status updates here on on my Facebook page, since that’s pretty quick and easy.

Aside from the glacier hiking, Great Ocean Road, wine tour, and whatever else we decide to do, this trip is also a gear experiment for myself, since I still plan on doing the extended trip around the world at some point.

The first change made is opting out of taking my full rig + lenses + filters + misc. So, instead of the 40D I’ll be taking two smaller compact cameras: a Panasonic LX-3 and Canon G10. Both allow full manual control and RAW shooting, so the only flexibility I should lose is a little bit of speed and range on the lenses, and possible some regret when I want to shoot some water and don’t have a polarizing filter (or a ND filter for other occasions.) The downside to this is that I have to take two separate battery chargers. Oh, and an AUS/NZ outlet adapter. Oh, and a mini power splitter to be able to plug everything in to one outlet. So, basically, I have a little voltron to assemble every time I want to charge stuff. The upside is that I’ll be lugging around several less pounds than before, and can carry everything in a camera bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag. For those that are interested, I highly recommend these tactical bailout bags. They’re cheap, durable, got pockets galore, everything is adjustable (generally via velcro, which is good pickpocket defense without requiring fuss), and even has a hidden pocket that will store a handgun (not that I recommend concealed carry when travelling, but maybe good for storing some emergency money.) And it’s a “tactical” bag, so it’s probably the manliest man-bag you could possibly find.

The second change is that I’m actually taking a laptop — or, to be precise, a netbook. My normal strategy for backing up photos while travelling is to bring along two USB-powered 2.5″ hard drives. When my cards get full or the time is convenient, I stop by and internet cage dump everything to the hard drives and store one in each bag (backpack and daybag) so even if one gets stolen, I have duplicates. (I don’t want to wait for or pay to upload 10 gigs of raw photos at a time, particularly outside of first world nations where connectivity is poor but expensive.) CF and SD cards have gotten so large and so cheap now, though, it’s easier and lighter weight to just buy a few more cards and never format them. Since I picked up a netbook to play with a bit ago, which has a decent sized hard drive and a built in card reader, I figured I’d just use that for the backup — SD cards in one bag, netbook in the other. And, if the need arises, I can always open it up to actually view or convert a raw photo, make a hostel reservation, etc. That said, I’m still hesitant of adding what amounts to 2 lbs of unnecessary crap I have to look after, so we’ll see if this ends up being a long term solution. (Aside: why isn’t anyone making a reliable palm-sized SD to SD copier? All the ones out there a crap! Ideally I could replaced the hard drives or netbook with a baggy of SD cards and a mini copier!)

Finally, the third change I’m test-driving: bringing a pair of jeans. I never bring jeans when travelling when I’ll be gone longer than a couple days. Big, heavy, a pain to wash and dry, etc. But, Australia and New Zealand are pretty first-world, so coin laundry shouldn’t be hard to find. And we’ll probably be hanging out in more places where jeans are more appropriate than my uber-geeky quick dry trousers.

Regardless of whether this becomes gear-regret trip or not, I know I’m going to have a fantastic time. The gear doesn’t make the trip, the experiences do.

(Any many thanks to M– for staying at our house and taking care of the small four-legged pest we love so much.)