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Monday, November 16, 2015

The Holiday Checklist

Preparing for your Holidays from a Photographic Perspective.

They don’t call the end of year holiday season the silly season for nothing. Things have a tendency to get quite ridiculous around this time. Presents, families, trips, time off work, parties, adventures!

One thing that you really need to be on top of before the holidays start is getting your camera equipment set up correctly and having it ready to go because if you want to capture those lifetime memories effectively you really need to plan ahead. We have put together a list of things to consider before the holiday period and there are a few items on here that you could even request from the bearded man in the red suit.


Memory Cards

The first thing you need to think about when it comes to memory cards is how many photos or videos can I store? Make sure you have a card that is big enough to hold what you expect you will shoot and a buffer on top of that. If you are going to that ideal holiday location then you are bound to get a little snap happy so take that into consideration.

Still rocking that dusty old 2GB that you have had for the last 3 cameras? Perhaps it is time for an upgrade. Cards do have a usage life and older cards are more likely to corrupt once they get to be quite old. As a general rule of thumb cards will last for 500-1000 uses. Don't leave anything to chance.

Picture this, you have your shot lined up and ready to go when… MEMORY FULL. That once in a life time opportunity is gone. It is a shame to miss that photo while you stop to delete some images. Have a large enough card to cover you and perhaps even a spare or two.

Memory cards are rated in speeds with different speed cards suited to different tasks. If you are shooting 4K footage on a brand-spanking new camera you need a card that is fast enough to keep up and store the footage.

Keeping all the cards together is a good idea too. There are plenty of good options for card storage that will keep them secure.

Don’t forget to backup your images to a second location as soon as possible. A card reader for a laptop is a great idea or a tablet or portable backup or thumb drive.

“I was running a photo walk and had brought my trusty Olympus Pen camera to shoot for the night. We had prepped the attendees and were about to launch into the walk when I went to take my first shot when I realised that I had not put the card back in after downloading shots that morning. Luckily I always keep a spare memory card on a special holder on my keyring so I popped that in and away I went. Having a spare saved the day and some embarrassment.”
- Daniel, Educational Co-ordinator



Batteries

Current battery technology is great. Batteries generally hold charge well and last a decent while but when dealing in holiday time merriment or a trip away with family or friends you are going to need more than one battery. It is worth having two or three spare batteries generally and if you will be away from power for an extended period of time consider getting more. Don’t forget your accessories that also need charge, a stack of alkaline AA batteries or rechargeable AA batteries are a great idea. Keep in mind that video shooting is resource heavy, it consumes card space and battery charge faster than still shooting.

“One time I was in Japan and went to the famous robot restaurant (lasers! robots!) for the show. You are allowed to take photos of anything and I was snapping away when I ran out of battery. I missed the last 45 minutes or so of the show and was kicking myself for not having a spare battery on me. Probably a once in a lifetime experience and I couldn't shoot everything that I wanted to. I now carry 3 spare batteries and 5 memory cards at all times.”
- Marc, National Sales Manager







Power

Flat batteries need a charge, so in the craziness of the packing and loading the car don’t forget your chargers. Our pro-tip on this one is to get a universal charger that works with multiple batteries and charges in the car. Some video cameras charge in camera which can be handy for long recording sessions indoors.

Many chargers are universal voltage so they will work between 100 & 240 volts but if you are travelling overseas it is a good idea to get a plug adaptor. Using a plug adaptor with a powerboard will give you more spots for plugs. There are even solar options if you are off the beaten track.

“Travelling up north for two weeks with the family over Christmas saw us packing the car with all manner of things, including pool toys, hair straighteners, snacks, bikes and more. When looking at all of the chargers that we would need to keep power to all of the phones, cameras, game consoles, e-readers, DVD players and other devices it became apparent that we would need another bag. Space was already an issue as we knew from previous trips that packing the car was a like lining up blocks in Tetris. The simple solution was a universal battery charger to keep us all powered up. Perhaps better still would have been an unplugged Christmas but maybe we’ll try that next year. ;)”
- Store Salesperson


Weather Proofing & Protection

You need to protect your equipment against the elements. Holiday travel to exotic destinations often comes with extreme temperature, rain, dust, snow, sand and condensation; all enemies of camera and electronic equipment. You really need to make sure that your camera is protected. There are a range of options to keep gear protected. A good camera bag is a good start and many have an all-weather style cover that slides over the bag, great if you get caught in a rain or dust storm. A single grain of sand can cause a camera to short out or a lens to jam up so be wary when shooting at the beach. Look at an all-weather cover and a screen protector for that extra protection.

A filter to protect the front element of the lens can protect from a knock to the lens or even smashing an element in a dropped camera. Cleaning dust off the lens can scratch the coating so always better to have a filter in place. Many cameras are weather proof or even water proof but you need to make sure the seals are fresh and clean. If you want to shoot in the rain, a rain cover will protect you from the elements.

Weather proof sealed cases are great when dealing with humidity or changing temperatures and a Moisture Muncher can adsorb some excess moisture. It is best when moving between varying temperatures quickly to let the camera warm or cool in the bag slowly to stop that sudden condensation build up.
“During a trip to South America I was super excited to get out and take some pictures a few days in. We had been backpacking around and staying in hostels and we had splurged on an air-conditioned room. Taking the camera from the cool air-conditioned room into the humid mid-summer heat of Brazil caused condensation to form inside of my camera and lens. The condensation build up eventually dried. Luckily the condensation had not ruined the camera as it dried out but not before I had missed some excellent opportunities for photos.”
- Call-Centre Staff Member

Cleaning

After you have been out in that snow storm you may need something to clean your camera. A cleaning kit will help to keep your gear squeaky clean. The last thing you want is some dust making it’s way onto your sensor and leaving spots on your images. You may need to clean the body of the camera, the lens, the lens elements and even the camera sensor. Cleaning should be done with care and the proper equipment. A cleaning cloth is a must-have part of any kit.
“I was in Japan on the Shinkansen (mag-lev train), amazed at the speed of the gorgeous landscape whizzing by. To try to photo the immense sense of speed, I took a long exposure panning shot at f16. I loved the shot, but when I got home and opened the file, I noticed the small spots of dust on the same place of every photo - I'd had dust on my sensor the whole time. Thanks to the glories of photoshop, it was easy to fix in post-production, but now I make sure to clean before every major shoot.”
- Victor, Technical Journalist
Remember to have fun and enjoy the holiday season. Take a breath between photos occasionally to take it all in… but then get back to recording those memories. One last thing is the obligatory group photo, you need a tripod to set that up. Check out the Manfrotto Pixi Evo Mini Tripod if you want something to fit on a table that is compact and stable.

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