I'd like to ask your opinion on two somewhat related things.
If you have any knowledge of Japan: I'm heading there for a trip of undetermined length on november 27th. Going for no reason other than a strong urge to explore the country again. Probably going to be there for 2 months+ until I decide where to go next. I realize that theres already a post asking for recommendations, but my stay is longer and of a different season, so perhaps additional thoughts come to mind? I have to say its been strange shopping for cold weather clothes on a tropical island that kind of ignores winter.
While packing I'm looking at each possession to decide whether its worth it drag it around every day for who knows how long. A question popped up as I was doing this:
If you were going on a trip be it long or short, foreign or familiar, , and for some unmentioned, absolute reason you had to choose between taking your laptop/tablet or camera(s), what do you choose? And why? Its possible a smart phone nullifies this somehow. I'm partial to leaving the camera as I tend not to look at my pictures much once Ive taken them, but at the same time my macbook is kind of heavy and might end up simply as a distraction from my new surroundings. I find it difficult. Do you?
I spent $1800 on my first high quality camera. I was on the brink of Life Nomadic, and I justified the purchase with two ideas. The first was that I would be seeing a lot of things for the first, and possibly the only, time. Second, the particular camera I bought, an Epson R-D1s, seemed to hold its value well.
It came as a shock to a lot of people how primitive my camera was in many ways. It had no autofocus, no flash, no video recording capabilities, no self timer, and the only thing it could do automatically was light metering. It did that poorly. After each shot it was necessary to thumb a switch, which mechanically reset the spring for the shutter.
I bought a single lens for it, a Nokton 40mm/1.4. It had no zoom, and the aperture was set mechanically by rotating a ring on the lens. The lens was gorgeous. For those who don't know, a 1.4 F-Stop means that the lens is very fast: it lets in a lot of light. The average camera lens is probably around an f/3.5, which lets in only an eighth as much light as mine did. That's how I got amazing low-light pictures like this one.
I've had several people ask me what hardware I use to capture content. First, here are a few examples of the content I've captured:
Pew Research's "9 Tribes of the Internet" presentation
Mobile presentation at the Finnish Embassy
Here's what's in my bag of tricks (total cost $230.83):
Kodak Zi-6 HD Camcorder ($129.99 or get it refurbished for $99.99). This is a great little device and it captures video in HD. I prefer it over the very popular Flip camera for a few reasons: 1) It accepts external SD cards. This is a huge deal, as it gives you expandable storage (the camera uses about 1 gig every 15 mins, so you should get at least an 8 gig card for $20.51). 2) It uses regular AA batteries that can be swapped out when you need to, instead of having to recharge via USB connection.
I've had several people ask me what hardware I use to capture content. First, here are a few examples of the content I've captured: Pew Research's "9 Tribes of the Internet" presentation Mobile presentation at the Finnish Embassy Here's what's in my bag of tricks (total cost $230.83): Kodak Zi-6 HD Camcorder ($129.99 or get it refurbished for $99.99). This is a great little device and it captures video in HD. I prefer it over the very popular Flip camera for a few reasons: 1) It accepts external SD cards. This is a huge deal, as it gives you expandable storage (the camera uses about 1 gig every 15 mins, so you should get at least an 8 gig card for $20.51). 2) It uses regular AA batteries that can be swapped out when you need to, instead of having to recharge via USB connection. Vimeo Plus membership ($50/year), which allows me to upload HD video (YouTube allows this now too; I like the Vimeo interface better but you might not want to pay $50/year) USB Digital Voice Recorder (here's a good one from Amazon for $49.97). Make sure you get the type that just plugs into your computer using a USB connection - no cables required. Omnidirectional tabletop microphone ($22.99, plugs into the digital voice recorder). Great for capturing panelists by just putting it on the table; turns the surface area of the table into a microphone. A regular sized tripod, and the T-Pod tabletop tripod or the QuickPod ($17.37 on Amazon). These are critical to setting the Kodak Zi-6 camera up in places that aren't expecting you to be capturing content! Eneloop rechargable batteries (Costco & Sam's Club sell these for less than Amazon, about $20 for a set) You'll go through batteries quickly - about every 30 to 45 minutes on the Kodak camera, so always have replacements. The Kodak takes two AA batteries and my Olympus recorder takes one AAA (not sure about the RCA but probably similar). Some Additional Tips: I always put the voice recorder up by the speaker or panelists even if I'm videotaping using the Kodak HD camera. This way I get a clean audio source. If necessary, I can always splice them together using an editing program like iMovie, however I always try VERY hard to ensure there is no editing involved (i.e., get the Kodak HD video camera close enough to the speakers to be able to use its audio). Once you start editing, the content uploading process easily can take 10x as long. Do your best to never edit video, even if it looks less professional. Better to have it up & accessible than sitting on your to-do list because you haven't gotten around to doing the edits yet. By the way, an issue with getting the Kodak HD camera close will be that you can't get everyone in your shot if its a panel, etc. Here's a great blog post on a hardware hack to put a wide angle lens on a Flip camera. I haven't tried it on the Kodak yet, but it should work just as well. I have a contractor who transcribes my audio for between 50 cents to 1 dollar per minute of audio captured. This is another reason I use the digital voice recorder and the Kodak HD video camera. It's much easier to upload the audio and send it to her, than to wait until the video is uploaded. Let me know if you'd like her contact information. Also, by recording the audio separately, I can use AudioAcrobat to turn the audio into an iTunes Podcast. Also, Vimeo (and all the upload sites such as YouTube, Viddler, etc) has a limit of 1 gig per video, so I often have to upload the videos in segments (1 of 7, etc.) to upload the entire event.