As you probably know, I'm on a mission to learn to take insanely great world-class pictures. That requires a camera that's more capable than a typical point & shoot (for lots of reasons, but the biggest being the size of the sensor that actually captures the light).
Well, my buddy Tynan has been on a rant recently about a point & shoot camera that gets close to approximating the abilities of a DSLR, the Sony RX100. In his gear guide, Tynan writes "I could really rave on about this thing forever. For the first time ever, we're talking about a camera that can take "archive quality" shots, and fits in your pocket."
It's not cheap -- it'll set you back about $650, and for the same price you can get the Lumix or a similar Micro 4/3 camera with an interchangeable lens. But if size & portability are the absolute most important things to you, then the RX100 might be a good option.
I haven't tried it myself, but the reviews on Amazon are very positive. If you've tried using it, I'd love to know what you think -- especially as compared to a Micro 4/3 or a DSLR.
If you have another point & shoot you love, that you feel lets you take above-average photos, I'd love to hear about it -- and see some sample pics if possible!
*To clarify, I ordered the S110 for $300--slight upgrade from S100 with supposedly slightly annoying wi-fi feature that hooks up to smartphones vs internal GPS (but saves battery). I'll share some pictures from the S110 once I test it out!
I tested out the Canon S100 last month, both above ground and under water (with the Canon WP-DC43 underwater housing case), and the shots were pretty awesome. The daylight and night shots turned out better than the ones from the Nikon J1 I purchased for my 2 month trip to Southeast Asia. Although I'm pretty happy with the shots, I'm returning the Nikon (thanks to Costco's 90 day return policy), and have been researching a higher end point & shoot that is more portable.
All the reviews I've read put the Canon S100/S110 in the same class as the Sony RX100--but say hands down the Sony is better. Many of them, however, neglect to mention that the Sony is twice as expensive. I thought the Nikon would be my bridge from a cheap Canon (SD1200) to a DSLR, but found myself always reverting to auto because the menus were so cumbersome and I couldn't get the right manual settings. After playing with the Canon S100 for 2 days, I think that will suit me well. I've been happy with what I've seen it do so far, and don't think that an extra $350 is worth upgrading to the Sony. I could buy myself an underwater housing case good to 40m ($289), a fast, large capacity memory card, extra battery and some with that extra money.
When my photography skills get better, I think the $600-$1,000+ range for a jump to DSLR would be more justified. I guess I'm in the "enthusiast" class, whereas you and Tynan are probably in the semi-pro/pro.
There's a great BusinessInsider article about how Facebook has recently begun focusing heavily on retargeted ads. The crux of the story is this: The holy grail in advertising is knowing a user's "intent," because if you know what they intend to do, you can influence their behavior through advertising. Facebook has been working for years to discern "intent" via a complex formula that creates a social graph for each user, with big data mining algorithms that seek to divine what a user will be interested in based on that graph, so ads can be targeted in real-time to those users.
And instead, what's proving best at monetizing off "intent" is good, old-fashioned ad retargeting, which Facebook has recently started doing.
What struck me is that for the first time in years, a Facebook ad recently caught my eye. And it was a retargeted ad.
Okay, okay, okay... I'll write the gear post before the year's over! One of the things that keeps me from writing all year is that it never really feels like the stuff in my pack has changed all that much. I switch one item at a time, never thinking I have much to write about. Then the end of the year comes, the citizenry demands a post, and I'm always surprised to see just how much has changed.
I called last year's gear post the Style Edition because although it was 100% functional, I also made a few choices to have slightly better looking clothing. That trend has continued a little bit this year, but I'm calling this one the Zen Edition because my already minimal packing list has become even shorter.
When I first started traveling, the minimalism aspect of it was pure coincidence. I had intended on buying a normal backpack, but Todd convinced me to go smaller. Our first 28L Deuter Futura backpacks seemed impossibly small at first, but after a year of learning what is and isn't necessary, space gradually opened up. My response was to fill it with new gadgets-- eventually I had a portable kettlebell, a full cot with silk sheets, and who knows what else.
As the years went on, Todd continued to get smaller backpacks, which influenced me to get smaller backpacks as well. I would always pack them completely full until recently. Last year I had some empty space, and now my pack is less than halfway full. If I could find a well organized and designed 12 liter pack, I would use it.
Part of the reason I have less stuff now is because technology keeps getting better. My laptop is tiny and light. The camera I have now couldn't exist five years ago when I started all this. Everything charges with the same cable. The other reason I've continued to reduce what I travel with, though, is because carry unnecessary items makes your trip worse. They weigh your pack down, clutter it up, and make it take longer to pack and unpack. The less I travel with, the better my experience is. At this point my pack weighs 10.7 pounds, which makes it trivial to carry it all day, even when climbing through the mountains.