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About Our Cameras

For many years we used film cameras of various sorts. We used these on our first boats, and also when we first went cruising on the schooner in 1994. We have prints stored in various places, but only a few have been converted to digital form, so you will not find many pictures of our early cruising days here.

Our first digital camera was a Sony which put about 20 images directly onto a 3 1/2 inch floppy disk. The best photographs it provided were only 640x480 pixels. It did have a 10x optical zoom lens, which enabled us to get many pictures which would not have been possible with a simpler lens. The floppy disks turned out to be (frequently) unreliable. Part of the problem was keeping them away from salt, sand and sun. Many of our photographs were lost because we trusted that medium too much. We are now much better about backing up our images on external hard drives and CD-ROMs. We keep multiple copies because all electronic equipment and CD-ROMs can fail, especially when salt-water cruising.

In 2003 we purchased a Panasonic DMC-FZ1 with a 12x optical zoom lens made by Leica. We often used the optical zoom to help compose pictures. We almost always used the camera's highest resolution setting, and got images of 1600x1200 pixels. These were stored immediately on a SD memory card. (First we had a 256MB memory card, and then we upgraded to a 1GB card.) We could store a large number of photographs on the card inside the camera before having to download them to a computer. We liked this camera very much, although it did have some limitations. One limitation was encountered with low light levels, when the camera could only take pictures with long exposure times. This often resulted in blurry photographs which we discarded. There was a built-in flash, but we did not have good luck using it. Another limitation was with fast-moving subjects. The camera seemed to need considerable "think time," and this often caused us to miss "magic moments."

Late in 2007 we purchased a Panasonic DMC-FZ18, a later model in the line which started with our old FZ1. This camera had an 18x optical zoom lens made by Leica, and a tremendous array of optional and automatic features. The CCD (Charge Coupled Device) array of 3264x2448 elements could capture 8.1 million pixels per photograph. For a while we set the camera to record 2048x1536 (3 million) pixels using just the central part of the CCD array. At this setting, a 1GB SD card in the camera held about 600 photographs, and there was also an effective increase in the maximum zoom capability to 28.7x. Later we changed the setting to record 2560x1920 (5 million) pixels with a maximum optical zoom capability of 23x. We were pleased with its performance in most situations. This camera stopped working in Africa in 2012.

In late 2008 we purchased an Olympus 850SW. The special attribute of this camera was that it was waterproof enough to use snorkeling and was worry-free in the dinghy or in rain. This camera was relatively small and lightweight so was easily carried. Nina used it extensively during our travels in Burma in early 2009 and got excellent pictures. When we each had a camera we got different results, partly because of the differences in cameras and partly because each photographer saw the world in a unique way. We hoped to get underwater photographs but this camera developed problems and we have now discarded it.

Early in 2012 we purchased a Panasonic DMC-FZ47, the latest model in the line we have favored since 2003. This camera has a Leica 24x optical zoom lens and 12 megapixels per photograph capability. We are generally using 8 megapixels per image. The viewfinder seems improved over that of the FZ18, with better visibility especially when there is little light. We are still using SD memory cards. There is a huge set of special features but we probably will not use many of them. This is an improved model in a line we have liked since its beginning and we hope it will serve for many years.

In 2012 Nina decided to try a small camera which would slip easily into a pocket so it could be carried practically all the time. She opted for a Canon Elph 520 HS with a 12x optical zoom lens and 12 megapixel capability. There is a wonderful array of programmable features but she uses it most of the time as a "point and shoot." It takes fine photographs and she likes it very much.