On Vacation with an Olympus Tracker Digital Camera
On Vacation with an Olympus Tracker Digital Camera

On Vacation with an Olympus Tracker Digital Camera

good way to annoy your family on a family vacation is take along a lot of photo gear.  If everyone in the family is not a photographer, you’re going to be “unpopular”.

Vacations mean carrying a lot of stuff around with you to begin with, and going to places that may be a bit camera hostile – beaches, oceans, lakes, mountains, hiking trails, boats, amusement parks, etc. You get the picture.

If you and your family are headed off on vacation and it’s not a photo excursion, you still want flexibility and good pictures. You’ve figured out that the camera in your smartphone or tablet is not going to do the job, particularly in locations where there is water, snow, sand, cold or lots of heat.

The Specialized Point and Shoot to the Rescue

While general use point and shoots have diminished in the marketplace because of the success of smartphone picture taking, the genre remains strong in specialized markets.  One of these is the “hardened” market.  These cameras are designed to be shockproof, freeze proof, and waterproof –  amongst other “proofs” – and still can deliver great pictures that are easy to post and share with friends and other family members.

Waterproof

Waterproof is a variable term.  Most cameras that we will find at low cost can handle depths to at least 14 feet.  That more than adequately covers the hotel pool or the surf at the beach, and even snorkeling.  After use, just run them under fresh water and dry them off before opening the camera to get at the card, battery or connection ports.  These cameras have built in flashes that can help out in the lower light levels under water.  Many of them are bright colours so they are easy to see, and all can accept an inexpensive float so if dropped they rise to the surface instead of sinking into the depths.  Your smartphone?  Not a good choice near water.

Underwater Image Shot with an Olympus Tracker Digital Camera

Underwater Image Shot with an Olympus Tracker Digital Camera

Shockproof

Again, a variable term, but the concept is well executed in most of these cameras.  A shock can be knocking the camera off the table in the restaurant, dropping it to the ground when jostled by a crowd, or a fall while hiking, skiing or snowboarding.  Any of these scenarios could be disastrous for your smartphone.  A toughened camera is built for this kind of abuse.

Freeze Proof

Let’s say you vacation where it gets cold.  Skiing and snowboarding are great fun, but when you are out for the entire day, even a well-insulated human gets cold.  If you take a tumble in the snow, or your camera simply gets too cold, a freeze proof product will survive and will also continue working in the cold.  Try keeping a smartphone out in the cold for more than twenty minutes and you will personally see the black screen of dead battery.

Downhill Skiing with a Nikon AW 130

Downhill Skiing with a Nikon AW 130

Built in Wi-Fi and GPS plus OPTICAL ZOOM

There’s more to these cameras than just toughness.  They have no parts that extend beyond their cases to collect dirt, grit, ice or water.   They all have built-in optical zooms of up to 5x magnification or so.  The digital zooms in smart phones are no comparison.  Digital zoom looks like crap; optical zoom involves glass meaning the same level of sharpness and contrast regardless of zoom level.  Most of these cameras incorporate a built-in GPS to encode your location for each shot and all of any consequence, have built-in Wi-Fi so you can connect the camera to your smartphone to simplify uploading to your favourite social media sites or for emailing.

Of course, these cameras all shoot video, most of them in Full HD.  That means BluRay level resolution out of a camera that fits easily in a pocket.

Picture Styles

Another great thing about these cameras is that they incorporate lots of scene modes or picture styles along with effects settings.  You can choose the scene mode for the photos you are taking, like on the beach or while windsurfing.  You can also apply effects like old photo or Instagram styled looks right in camera.

If you’re heading out on a vacation and don’t want to carry your “big” camera everywhere, or simply don’t want to be getting “side-eye” from your family every time you stop to make a photograph, one of these specialized point and shoot cameras can be ideal.  The best ones come from the same companies that make larger interchangeable lens cameras, so they have better optics, better sensors and high usability.

Until next time, peace.

Ross has been a photographer for over four decades. He has worked as an apprentice, is a professional photographer, videographer and imaging educator. Ross leads workshops, seminars, photowalks and delivers customized mentoring programs. He is also an instructor with Henry’s Learning Lab. You can read more of his thoughts, read product reviews, watch videos and listen to the Make Better Photos and Videos podcast at www.thephotovideoguy.ca.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ross Chevalier

Ross has been a photographer for over four decades. He has worked as an apprentice, been a professional photographer and a photographic educator. He is an amateur videographer and offers mentoring programs. He is an instructor with <a href="http://www.learninglab.ca">Henry’s Learning Lab</a>. You can read more of his thoughts, read product reviews, watch videos and listen to the <em>Make Better Photos and Videos</em> podcast at <a href="http://www.thephotovideoguy.ca">thephotovideoguy.ca</a>.