On previous trips like this half the weight I carried was camera related – camera body, lenses, video camera, chargers… Then there’s the rigmarole of getting the cameras out, looking like a muggers target, stashing it all away again. The more I thought about it the more I wanted a much smaller camera. The other issue I have had in the past is needing a very wide angle lens. Often you can’t get far enough away from the subject to fit it in the shot. For example you might push your way to the front of a mob, but then you are too close. The other requirement is a screen that rotates so you can hold the camera in the air at arms length and shoot over the heads of people.The other requirement was the ability to shoot 4k video. We don’t even have a 4k TV or monitor, but 4K has benefits – the ability to zoom and pan, to take stills from the footage, as well as ensuring the best possible quality future viewing.
We bought a couple of cameras that fitted each niche, and went to Muriwai for a test run. What we found that using a mobile phone was okay for some shots, but horrible for anything that required any zoom at all. The other issue was video frame rates. Phones only seem to be able to shoot at 30/60fps, and when you mix that with footage shot at 25/50fps it just looks awful. The other thing I found was one of the cameras is very delicate – certainly not at all suitable for the beach or anywhere near water.
So our requirements
- Wide angle
- Rotating Screen
- 4K @25fps
No camera will do all of these requirements, but with 3 of us travelling, 3 cameras makes a lot of sense, and we covered these bases very well.
The GoPro 7 fills the requirements of wide-angle, 4k, rugged and pocket-able. Video and photos are remarkably high quality for the size of the thing. Additionally it has very cool “hyperlapse” feature for smoothing out sped up videos. It’s very good for selfies because you don’t need to get the camera very far from your face because the angle is so wide. It’s very good for group selfies.
The latest version of the Sony RX100 finally has a decent zoom. Not particularly wide at 24mm, it extends to 200mm. For the size the quality of images from this extraordinary, and it’s by far the best camera for it’s size. That come at a cost though – financially and the lack of any ruggedisation. This is a very expensive camera for something that’s not a DSLR, and it is very fragile. It does tick the boxes for zoom, rotating screen, 4k and pocket-able.
The last of the cameras we chose, and it fits bang in between the previous two. It’s very rugged indeed, a small 4 times zoom, and 4K recording. It has some nifty (but battery draining) GPS features, and a very cool “microscope” mode too.