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Audio/Visual Gear for 2011

A huge part of my traveling is sharing my experiences with friends and while I enjoy my writing, nothing beats photos and videos for simple, pure sharing.

IMG_4632Over the last two years I have slowly tweaked the hardware, software, and technologies I use for this, always trying to find a balance between cost, usability, and quality. In July I took a couple major steps, adding a DSLR and a high definition audio recorder to address what I felt were major gaps in the video of my ContourHD (audio and low-light performance).

As I prepare for my next adventure, I’m taking the knowledge gained over the last year and changing things up again. First of all, the Zoom H2 is out – the audio quality was amazing, but it is simply too big, too bulky and (most importantly) too much of a hassle to use. I am currently looking for a smaller, much simpler device that I can activate with the touch of a button/slider through a jacket pocket. I plan to equip this two small external microphones including a shotgun mic (for interactions with people) and a small lavalier microphone for narration.

In addition, I am going to modify my ContourHD to add a microphone jack to also take advantage of these microphones at times, and with the ability to plug them into my T2i DSLR I should have a complete easy-to-use audio solution which won’t always require excessive post-production. The real goal here is clear audio in high-wind conditions and interview style situations with minimal effort.

IMG_3012The next big change is a new point-and-shoot camera. My Panasonic DMC-LZ10 survived some seriously brutal environments until finally giving up the ghost on the middle of the Alaska Highway due to excessive water and dirt exposure. This led to one of the biggest regrets of my trip, a nearly month long drought of video and photos as I struggled with the waterproof casing on my ContourHD and an unwillingness to risk my DSLR in extreme weather.

After a lot of research and consideration, I’ve ordered a Panasonic Lumix FT2 rugged point and shoot. It’s a bit of a risk, and a lot of money to spend instead of buying another el-cheapo point and shoot (the dollars could have gone towards a telephoto lense with better optics for my T2i). Hopefully it’ll pay off and I’ll be able to share some great photos and videos in extreme weather conditions over the coming year – after all, if I’m stranded in a blizzard in southern Argentina, I want you guys to see what it’s like, right?

Now I just need to nail down some mic’s and a decent simple to use personal recorder… 

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