With the new Sony NX 70U, thanks to its size and weight, as well as smaller, lighter batteries, I was able to shave off several pounds compared to the Z1U kit. Add to that the ability to use a small tripod, like the *Manfrotto National Geographic tripod, and you have a grand total of about 6lbs less to carry. Add to that the ability to select a handful of gear and carry it in a waist pack (mine is from Mountainsmith), and you become highly mobile, lightweight with a low profile.
*this tripod is a great size and weight for travel but don’t expect to do any decent pans with it. Best used as a stabilization device for master shots.
Water, Humidity, Dust and Sand
None of these elements are kind to electronics – but at least ocean splash, rain, humidity or dust were less of a worry with the Sony NX 70U. And despite Sony having certified the camera as dust proof, sand on the other hand is another matter. Sand is the worst of enemies…no matter how careful you are, it’ll go anywhere and get everywhere. One grain of sand and a false move can scratch the lens and LCD screen. It can wreak havoc if it becomes lodged in cable connectors, in the focus ring, buttons or rocker lever – basically anything with a hinge, gap or hole. Hence I always carry a small compressed air canister with me (packed into checked luggage when flying), and a soft lens brush. Salt air and water too are the enemy, and equipment needs to be thoroughly wiped down after exposure and thoroughly detailed upon return. I apply tiny amounts of WD40 to the camera screws and tripods to keep them from corroding or rusting.
On another trip a B-camera was stolen out of my hand luggage. Deemed too big for the connecting flight, my hand luggage was placed in the hold and upon arrival at the destination, the camera was gone. The airlines refused responsibility but my equipment insurance kicked in.
I’ve only used it that one time, but I feel it is a good thing to have and will cover your equipment worldwide from theft and all sorts of situations – even accidentally dropping it in the ocean.
Power management is always a challenge and a constant concern when filming in remote areas such as Papua. Daily filming routines, battery charging and file backup are linked to the limited availability of daily electricity produced by generators (if working) or solar chargers. Inconsistent power and lethal surges from the generator make it necessary to protect gear with a surge protector. I use ones that have USB outlets as well because I can simultaneously charge the iPhone, GoPro and other small peripheral devices. I also carry in my gearbox a sufficient number of plug adapters for the various countries to be visited.
The Backup Strategy on a Prayer
I usually take my Macbook Pro on location for file backups / digitizing and editing when traveling within the USA and Europe. My trip to the Solomon Islands a few years ago however, taught me that oceans, beaches, boats and a tropical environment are not the best places to take a prized laptop. With paranoid handling, it survived that trip OK, but I made a “note to self”…only take something you can afford to destroy. Did I mention sand, ocean air, extreme humidity and rain are not F.O.E – (friends of electronics)?
At LAX airport, I installed Sony’s media management software (PC only software) onto a donated Dell laptop. I’d forgotten how annoying working with a PC was and here I was, taking it on a trip, relying on it for media management! I fiddled around with Sony’s program a bit but decided rather than learn a new program at this stage, my backup strategy would be to just make exact copies of the SD card, placed in their own dated folder. I tested this workflow while in Singapore waiting for the next leg of the journey. What was missing from this strategy was the sureness of a program like Shotput Pro (Mac only). With no time left, and necessity being the mother of invention, embarrassed as I am to admit it, I had no choice other than to take a leap of faith and incorporate this primitive and unsure workflow by copying files through a simple copy and paste command – then I eyeballed all the folders to make sure all the files numbers matched…held my breath and formatted the SD card. This is definitely not fun and psychologically you are on edge, wondering if all that precious footage is going to be intact when you get home. Not very professional – and certainly NOT recommended.
The camera’s 92GB internal drive and SD slot would have been great for several days of shooting but I elected to mainly use the 32GB SD card…just in case anything happened to the camera and I couldn’t get the media off it. Also, transfer times of a full 92GB drive takes a long time – so, it made sense to just pop the SD card into the computer and perform daily transfers when possible. Typically a day’s shoot would take about 40 minutes to simultaneously copy to both external disks. Hypnotized by computer icons flying from folder to folder, I constantly supervised the transfer just in case there was ever a glitch. Thankfully there wasn’t.
On several occasions when I was unable to transfer files, I backed up to the camera’s internal drive.
Disclaimer: All gear mentioned in this blog has been purchased by me. I have no affiliation or financial interest with any of the manufacturers mentioned and the opinions expressed are solely from my personal experiences.