Thursday, 19 August 2010

New Camera Setup - Initial Gear Analysis

Full marks to both Amazon and Royal Mail. On Sunday, I ordered from Amazon, after some research and advice from various camera and photography forums, a new camera setup. Delivery estimate - Monday 23rd August. Departure date for the TMB - Saturday 21st August. 


It arrived today - I went down to the Sorting Office to pick up some other stuff and they very kindly went and searched the whole office for today's delivery. Very nice of them as I could not have picked it up tomorrow without real hassle. Good stuff for free delivery.

I wanted to have a compact, lightweight, digital camera that would allow me to progress and continue my understanding of exposure, ISO, aperture, shutter speed, light and the technical paraphernalia of photography but which was light enough, over the next few years, for me to take backpacking (either in the hills and mountains, or independent travel) before maybe moving onto a DLSR once my skills had improved. The resounding advice was to get the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10. Amazon sold it to me for a shade under £245. As the battery life is not wonderful - not an issue for a weekend trip, but certainly an issue on the TMB - I purchased an extra battery rather than taking a charger. The spare battery weighs a measly 19g. Clearly a good decision. I have a 4GB Extreme III SD card already which is by far the best I have used. It will keep photos safe under the most extreme conditions.

The Lumix TZ10, reviewed here,has a 14.5-megapixel multi-aspect CCD sensor with a maximum image size of 12 megapixels, a high quality 12x optical zoom f/3.3-f/4.9 Leica lens equivalent to 25-300mm, an extra-sharp 3in 460k monitor with a wide angle of view, 720p HD video recording with stereo audio, optional manual exposure and a built-in GPS receiver for automatic location recording (which drains the battery to an extent that I will never use it, I suspect), with a database of over half a million named locations and landmarks worldwide. If you enjoy cameras, read the review - I will post on the camera, from a layman's perspective, after the TMB.

This is a very nice piece of kit, so I wanted a pouch that offered my protection than my current Crumpler pouch, which is not waterproof or that robust. I felt that if I got a pouch that I could attach to the hip belt straps of the Gorilla, that would be a Good Thing. So it was that I happened upon the Lowe Pro Apex 20 AW ("All Weather" - like the sound of that). It has a pouch, which is specially padded and lined, to protect the camera and LCD screen, as well as somewhere to store extra cards and batteries. It also has a rubber base to cushion falls and its own nylon waterproof shell that whips out from its cubby-hole in the back. It will also attach comfortably to the Gorilla's hipbelt giving me easier access to the camera than before and freeing up one of the Gorilla's mesh pockets for something else. 

Finally, for low-light photography, I like to have a tripod. The Joby Gorillapod is something I have admired for a while - versatility being the key - and its ultralightweight at 46g - easily the lightest tripod I could find, even accounting for all the carbon-fibre offerings out there.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 - 210g with battery

Joby Gorillapod - 46g
Spare Battery - 19g
Lowe Pro Apex 20 AW - 68g


  1. My TZ5 has been a fantastic camera. The TZ10 looks even better. The only thing I don't like is the off center camera mount.

    The Gorillapod is a handy gadget, but for really good pictures, you might want to investigate a Velbon tripod . The V-Pod is excellent.

  2. Thanks Robin. You'll be able to see the results of the TZ10's first outing when I get back from the Alps...

  3. Given the 808g of my Canon, which lives inside the top of my rucksack most of the time, I'll be very interested to hear how you get on with this camera.

    When I had a compact, I was unable to see the rear screen in anything resembling sunlight, which is why I went for an SLR. Just off to check the reviews...

    Cheers, John

  4. Great minds think alike! ;-)

    I have a Panasonic TZ (although the lowly TZ4 at the moment), LP 20AW case and Gorillapod and find it a great set up for capturing memories on UL trips. I echo Robin's comments that the camera mount is in a goofy position but it can be worked around. The 20 AW case is great, allowing me to have my camera readily accessible so that I actually use it (as opposed to have it securely squirrelled away deep in my pack where it won't get used). In continuous heavy rain it won't keep the camera dry but I just take it off my Gorilla's hip belt and slip it in my rain jacket's pocket which keeps it nice a dry dry but still within easy reach.

    I wish they'd add a built in view-finder to the TZ range, that would make me a very happy camper!

  5. How strange? It just seemed to me that setup was the all round best option. I'm glad you've tested it and found it satisfactory - put the 20AW on the hipbelt strap of my Gorilla and it sits perfectly for me. Not too fussed about the viewfinder as I never use it - the LCD screen is rather large for me, and flush with the camera as it is, I am concerned about rough treatment but we'll see! I think the camera mount seems ok to me - perhaps they've moved it on the TZ10...