Technology for Travellers

travelproI do a great deal of my photography, writing and general geekery on the hoof, and am often to be found staggering around assorted strange parts of the planet, swaying like an overloaded Christmas tree under the combined weight of camera, computer and communications gear, my burden not merely including all the essentials but also all those bits and pieces that I’ve slung in, “just in case”. I’ve been doing this for long enough to know better, even if it doesn’t always look that way, and the rise of the blogosphere gives me the opportunity to share my experience and views on travelling light with those of similar outlook and who may not be quite so far along the path and who have yet to make all of the mistakes that I have.  So welcome to the geek zone – this is where I’ll be reviewing technology and tools that really work (or, for that matter, those that don’t) for those of us who spend rather too much of our lives on the road, in planes and, on occasional, up to our individual or collective armpits in mangrove swamps.

I’ll be concentrating on reviewing stuff that has at least a nodding acquaintance with the notion of portable(1), and which is actually useful once away from the beaten track of broadband-enabled hotels and the Starbucks monoculture. Included are computers, phones, PDAs, communications services, cameras, accessories to any of the the foregoing, luggage, books, useful web sites and, of course, the power sources that help keep everything going.

And a word about the word – review: I’m not carrying out full reviews of the basic capabilities of a camera, computer, hamster wheel or whatever – there are there are some wonderful resources available online, often going into wonderfully and scarily anal(2) depth on any given topic, and I happily link to those where relevant. What you’ll find here complements those with a combination of first thoughts, opinion in varying degree and word from the field on just how kit performs out there. And the further out, the better. I’ll be posting random comment (possibly sight unseen) on new equipment and services that look promising, but which I haven’t had a chance to test yet; the more detailed hands-on look, where I’ve had the chance to use and compare a piece of kit in useful detail and, finally, long-term feedback on equipment and services that have been used (and probably abused) extensively over a decent period of time. I do try to be consistent in my approach but will also cheerfully go off at a tangent to give direct personal opinions on the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

I also try to take a ‘systems’ approach – looking at how equipment fits into the photographer’s whole arsenal rather than looking at each item in splendid isolation: f’rinstance, a fantastically compact camera doesn’t really cut it if its lenses are the size of beer kegs.

Ultimately, though it’s all about the ability of a product to fulfil the needs of the travelling user, particularly the travelling photographer. And, if you’ve any thoughts you’d like to share, please feel free to use the site’s comment system – all I ask is that you keep it relevant and vaguely respectful.

(1) Your definition may vary.
(2) You know the ones – where you read the intro, go directly to the conclusions, maybe sneak back in for looks at the other bits if you’re having a really slow day, then sit back in awed/horrified amazement that anyone should have spent so much time taking that many screenshots of camera menus.

Cartoon by Gill.