Sunday, 16 December 2012

A few thoughts on (motorcycle) travel photography

I was checking out some of the latest mass-market cameras at Best Buy the other day. It had been quite a few years since I bought any new camera equipment (my Nikon D70, so that gives you an idea) and so I was quite amazed by the current offerings on sale and the progression in camera technology over those years.
As an old film guy I clearly remember considering the cost of film and developing before deciding whether to put a specific image on film or not. I also clearly remember shipping the canisters off for processing and waiting a couple of weeks for the pictures to be returned before deciding whether I had got “the shot” or not. (On one west coast trip I had 35 rolls to process when I got home!)
But that all changed with digital.  The technology now allows us to take as many pictures as we want at no cost, and with no waiting. We can see right away if the picture is any good, delete those that aren’t, and perhaps still have an opportunity to retake a better image. The sniper shot that was the hallmark of the serious amateur has become a Gatling gun.
Then some bright light decided that a good place to put a camera lens was in a telephone (I know, what could they have possibly been thinking?). Now anyone who has a cell phone is, by definition, a photographer as well.
And so cameras are now ubiquitous. The technology is on computer monitors, laptops, in tablets, on cell phones, and the list goes on. And the really cool thing about much of the new technology is its tight integration into our wider technological sphere. You can post pictures directly from your smart phone or tablet camera to Facebook or MySpace, send them via email, or store them in one of the cloud-based services. Your camera has become an integral part of your internet.
But for all that there was still a problem - device-based camera image quality could never match that of a purpose-built camera.
Until now.
COOLPIX S800cCOOLPIX-S800cThe Nikon Coolpix S800C is representative of the latest generation of ‘smart’ cameras. First and foremost a camera, design attention has been paid to image quality and usability as a camera. And then it has been loaded up with a nice screen and the Android operating system so it is also a smart device. Granted you’ll still need a phone, but for all the other features this little Nikon (or one like it – there are several competing products now or soon to be on the market) is well up the must have list for the semi-serious motorcycle photographer. Consider the benefits: small, pocket sized; no need to carry a tablet or laptop to share pictures with distant friends and family; you can check e-mail and browse the web through the built in Wi-Fi ; and play Angry Birds when waiting out a nasty thunder storm under a freeway overpass.
I expect it won’t be long before someone adds voice (cell phone capability or perhaps a Skype-type interface) to a smart camera but I don’t think it’s worth waiting for that; this little beauty has everything I need for a convenient, compact travel cam.
(No, I’m not employed by Nikon; I just like their gear.)


  1. Have you looked into getting a GoPro camera?

    1. No Name - I have an older GoPro Hero that I quite like but haven't really looked into the newer models although I understand there are a lot of neat new features.

    2. The HERO3 has wireless remote. I'd buy it for that feature alone.

    3. That feature is tempting for sure. Having to reach around and activate the recording manually is a real pain. And sometimes dangerous if you're trying to do it while on the move.

  2. Wow, integrating the features of a smart phone with a digital camera to get a smart camera. What will they think of next.

    My cell phone (dumb phone - just makes calls and texts) is more like a paper weight but there when I need it. Luckily I have my pocket digital camera. If I had to choose to only take one with me, it'd be the camera.

    Oh and i think somewhere I still have some 35mm film that needs to be developed.

    1. Trobairitz - What will they think of next? The sky's the limit I expect. And I actually found 2 rolls of exposed B&W film in the bottom of a camera bag a couple of weeks ago myself. I figure since I've lived 20 years without seeing what's on there I needent worry about finding a developer. :)

  3. Canajun:

    Bring your exposed OLD, vintage film to Vancouver and I'll hand develop it for you. The trick is determining how old it is as we have to tweek the developing times for loss of film speed and contrast.

    I used to have a D70, then a D80 and now a Canon T2i, I know, it's old now, but I also have an NEX-5n. Having the WiFi can link to your iPhone to be used as a viewer or remote control.

    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

    1. Bob - Camera equipment is one of those things (along with the latest computer gadgets and motorcycle stuff and.... and... and...) that I could spend an awful lot of money on. Fortunately saner minds (aka 'the spousal unit') prevail. But I am due for a new camera so who knows what might end up on the "must have" list for the next trip.
      And thanks for the kind offer to develop the films. I got rid of my darkroom a few years ago so I'm a bit envious you still have the capability. I always loved being in the darkroom, being creative. It was a blast and Photoshop just isn't the same.


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