Cameras

Throughout my Summer 2011 journey around the country, I shot numerous photos and videos using three cameras:

  • The Fujifilm Z30 10-megapixel digital still camera with 3x optical zoom was my primary camera thanks to its small size and ease of use while riding, even with gloves. Hanging from a lanyard around my neck, it allowed me to take many good photos while in motion. In all I took nearly 4,850 photos with this camera on the Summer Tour 2011. Due to various weaknesses of this camera, I plan to replace it with a better camera before my next trips in the Spring of 2012. The following issues were particularly annoying when taking photos while in motion:
    1. Shutter release not synchronized with press of shutter button,
    2. Setting focus and exposure takes about a second,
    3. LCD screen difficult to see clearly in bright daylight.

  • The Panasonic HDC-TM700K high-definition camcorder is capable of recording both HD video and 14-megapixel stills. Since this camera was stowed in a padded camera bag, I only used this camera when stopped at an overlook or other scenic location. This camera’s zoom capability of 12x optical and 18x digital was very useful for distant objects. During my Summer Tour 2011, I took 351 still photos, but relatively little video consisting of brief segments.

Both of those cameras record their images onto SD memory cards. At the end of each day, I copied the image files into my HP Pavilion DM1 notebook computer. Once in the computer I used Windows Live Photo Gallery 2011 from Microsoft to manage and view the photo files. Photos taken as part of a sequence were automatically joined (stitched) together by that same program to create the various panoramic photos.

  • In January of 2011, I bought the ContourGPS high-definition video camera (left) in order to record continuous HD video at 60 fps as I was riding through interesting terrain or scenery.
   

The Contour camera stores video on a micro-SD card. I took along two 16 GB memory cards, which allowed me to record for over six hours. As with the still photos, each evening I transferred the videos from the camera to an external 500 GB disk drive attached to my computer.

On my Summer Tour, the camera was shock-mounted on the handlebar with RAM Mount hardware and aimed forward through the windscreen. This worked out well, although vibration from the engine at particular RPMs caused an apparent resonance in the camera resulting in rattle noises in the recorded audio. While I was in Seattle, I visited the Contour office to try to resolve the noise problem and negotiated a trade-in for the newly released Contour+ (right). Although the noise problem is not as severe in the new camera, it unfortunately still exists. The new camera is otherwise much improved and can be conveniently powered from the 12V accessory outlet without having to leave the battery door open. Both can record for nearly an hour from the replaceable internal battery.

During my trip I recorded nearly 296 GB of video with the Contour and Panasonic cameras and just over 21 GB of still photos with the Fujifilm and Panasonic cameras. Over the next several weeks, I intend to make available many still photos and excerpts of the videos.

In December 2011 I decided to upgrade from the Fujifilm Z30 to a 12.1 Megapixel Canon SX230HS pocket camera for my future trips. It has a wider zoom range, can take photos in the 16×9 format, and includes GPS technology for geotagging images.

While in Yellowstone National Park in 2013, that camera got wet and stopped working. I replaced it with a newer Canon camera model, the SX260HS, which looks nearly identical. After using that one for over a year, the LCD screen developed problem, perhaps due to too much sunshine on it, preventing the images from being viewed clearly. I then bought the Canon SX700HS, which again looks nearly the same, has even more pixel resolution (16 Megapixels), does not include GPS, and has been working fine during my tour in 2015.