The first draft of this post was painfully boring. I rambled on about all the different storage types and how they are different, something that I am sure has already been covered numerous times on the interwebs. I coarsely thought to myself “that’s not why I made Starship Monkey; I made it to help people create better travel/adventure photos and videos”. So rather then my previous rant, I’m going to talk about what I would recommend to three different types of travellers. This is because what’s right for one person, may not be for another. These examples can help in learning to look at your own needs and then make the appropriate choice for yourself.
-Accommodation: Hostels, couches.
-Transportation: Public transport, walking.
-Trip duration: More then two months.
-Technical ability: Grew up in the computer age so they can at least figure out how to use windows. Potentially unfamiliar with VHS!!!???
-Partial to: Filming them self and sharing footage with friends.
-Recommended storage medium: SD card.
The backpacker is often travelling with a large backpack (duh) and so usually don’t want to carry more than is necessary. SD cards are small, fitting nicely into to small cameras and thus are likely to be in the cameras most back packers are partial to. Generally one wouldn’t just take photos of themselves so the ability to share photos with friends is handy. Most newer laptops and net-books have SD card slots so one could stick their card in a friends computer or even vice versa. SD cards are also the cheapest of all Memory cards and can be brought just about anywhere. Humours tests have shown that some SD cards are also extremely durable.
-Accommodation: Hotels and cruise ships.
-Transportation: Trains, tour buses and cruise ships.
-Trip duration: Less then 3 months.
-Technical ability: Reasonably limited; Computers are a hassle and film cameras were all the rage back in their day.
-Partial to: Filming everything, easy to use things, VHS tapes.
-Recommended storage medium: Hard drive, MiniDV.
It is natural for people to often stick with what they know and for many people it’s probably not computers. Fortunately VHS tape has been around for years and most grown-up people have them figured out. Because they are familiar with VHS, they are likely to easily grasp the concepts behind MiniDV tapes which are similar to mini VHS tapes that hold around one hour of video. They are linear, meaning they fast forward and rewind to review the tape. The cassettes are big enough to label with a sticker which can be handy when working with more than a few. Most MiniDV cameras can plug in to a VHS recorder to dub the footage on to VHS tape. However if needed the footage can be put on to a computer or DVD, MiniDV cameras are also widely supported by most PCs. Just plug in the camera to the Firewire port and use Windows Live Movie Maker to produce a DVD.
If not a fan of changing tapes, then a Hard drive(HDD) camera can be a good way to go. Hard drives usually have big capacities and can literally record for days without having to off-load with the footage. This means one can largely ignore how the footage is being saved until returning from their holiday. Upon returning home however, there may be trouble in finding somewhere to put 96 hours of holiday video. Copying the footage to a computer is pretty straight foward and it should then be easy to edit it in most video editing programs.
-Accommodation: Side of the road, homes of kindly local residence.
-Transportation: Some form of arduous and unnecessary transport.
-Trip duration: More then three months.
-Technical ability: Much like the backpacker, they know their way around electronic devices
-Partial to: Filming them self and the countryside.
-Recommended storage medium: MiniDV, SSD.
Lets say for example that a journeyman was walking across china and wanted to make a video about it. They will eventually gather significant amounts of video. MiniDV tape isn’t as convenient as most other digital mediums but it has one great advantage, it can be posted home affordably. As the journeyman stops in at various towns they can go to the post office and purge their footage to the safety a known residence. Upon their return, the tapes would be ready and waiting for editing. They could potentially mail home SD cards instead but it wouldn’t be cheap. MiniDVs are well priced and readily available.
If a post office wasn’t part of the plans, then a Flash(Solid State Drive) camera would be the next best choice. Flash drives are exceptionally reliable because they have no moving parts and stay clean inside the sealed camera body. However if finding a post office is a problem, recharging the video camera is likely to be even more of a problem. Flash cameras can be a little expensive in contrast to other types of storage but that should change in the not to distant future. When it does, they will likely replace HDD cameras.
From the above examples it is easy to see that not everyone has the exact same needs. Did you know that many professionals still use tape? We even used it in part to film our Cambodian Motorcycle Adventure. In fact, in consumer products the storage medium you choose has virtually no bearing on video quality. By looking past the stickers on the box we start thinking about how a camera actually best suites our particular needs. If you do this, you can be sure of making a good choice.