For the last year I’ve been updating the contents of my bags and pockets for future trips near and far. This time its the travel camera that I take. When I downloaded the photos I took of my last trip up to Yorkshire I was a little shocked at the poor quality that my Lumix Panasonic DMC-TZ30 caught. Fewer seemed to be sharp and many suffered badly from glare (it turned out that there was a smear of something on the lens). That camera has been a great lightweight and pretty cheap companion on may trips though it has two limitations. One is the image quality – on close scrutiny everything seems to be made of putty – especially human skin. The second is how difficult it is to take photos with settings that you chose. Changing aperture, shutter speed and ISO is not straightforward and I’ve ended up just setting it to automatic and hoping for the best. Blurring the background is not something that that camera excels at for example.

I had two candidates to chose from: Fujifilm X100v or the Sony that I eventually bought. I think the Fujifilm is a more capable camera and would be more fun to use but in the end I chose the Sony for some sensible reasons: I already have a Sony helmet camera and a collection of batteries and a charger and I don’t want to have to carry around yet another set of batteries that I need to keep charged on the move – always one more thing to be on top of; the Sony is quite a lot smaller and will easily fit in a motorcycle jacket pocket; it has a wider angle lens (24mm equiv compared to 35mm on the Fuji). I also had to decide between an up to date model with a longer zoom or the one I bought (24-70mm equiv) with a f1.8 lens. I looked back at my photographs from my travels and nearly all were taken at the wide angle end. So it was decided.

So far I’ve changed some of the settings, with the advice from one of the camera’s Youtube champions and taken a few dozen photos mostly in the study but some on the streets outside.

Exported from Lightroom

What I like: the camera can save in RAW or RAW plus JPEG which the Panasonic couldn’t.

It has a little electronic viewfinder (fiddly to pull out):

The image quality is quite good but its best not to think of my Nikon D810 – which is an unfair comparison.

I like the wide aperture lens both for low light and for blurring a background. The Panasonic was f4.5 – 6.3 so you could never do that.

Adaptability of settings; aperture priority and auto ISO seems to work and its relatively easy to change the aperture – result.

What I’m disappointed with: wifi connection to iPhone – just doesn’t seem to work…. update. For some reason, this Youtuber’s instructions seemed to work. This is a big breakthrough – for sharing photos while travelling. The camera transfers JPGs not RAWs. Here’s the JPG quality from an image transferred to the phone and then to the computer:

JPEG size 1.7Mb ISO2000

The other thing I don’t like is the flip side of its main attraction and this is it is too small to handle comfortably. It just does not fit nicely into the hand – as DSLR’s do, despite their weight. There are grips available which I will try but I don’t want to permanently stick something onto its beautifully designed and engineered body. Perhaps there is a removable option.

Nevertheless, this camera will definitely improve the records of future travels and lead to some slightly more thoughtful photography on the road.

Here it is