This was a last-minute day of departure purchase that Ray grabbed without my approval before we left. But I have been endlessly glad a million times over that he did.
We had the Nikon Coolpix S5 camera already, plus we had the underwater housing for that one, so I didn’t see a need to get another digital camera for the trip until we needed to. But it just took a few shots for me to pretty unceremoniously put the other one on the proverbial shelf and use it as a backup and/or for the times we needed a waterproof one. The Lumix has been a little point and shoot powerhorse.
I was formally educated in photography, so while I’m not a complete novice, I have always preferred to challenge myself to take good pictures with average equipment and have staunchly refused all of Ray’s whining and sniveling to get a nice SLR (Single-Lens Reflex/fancy schmancy camera).
Sure, maybe I could get even better pictures then. But I’m here primarily to relate to fellow travelers and backpackers like yourself, and make the point that whatever I can do, you can too.
It takes good, high-resolution DVD-quality video with good sound, which you can see when Ray just wanted to pet his camel on the camel safari in Jaisalmer.
This camera has AMAZING zoom capabilities, and in fact several times I have used it almost like a pair of binoculars to try to see something far away, for example when we went to see the Dalai Lama.
There is a good burst mode (where it quickly takes multiple pictures back to back as long for as you hold the shutter button), which is fantastically useful for getting some great shots of different poses just seconds apart at things like sporting events, for example the Polo Match in Leh, or cultural dances such as the Chaams dances at the Ladakh Festival.
The Panasonic Lumix is easy to use and has a range of manual settings, including ISO (“film speed”) and shutter speed, which, especially when coupled with its self-timer function, can make for some good night or low-light shots.
In fact, one of the main reasons Ray got the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1 was because it was said to perform well in low light, and it really does. I never realized til we got this camera how many of the best picture opportunities are in low-light situations: probably because I could never make use of them before this camera.
The battery life is great, and it comes with a fantastically compact (no cords) charger, which charges it back up quickly if you’ve drained it after a full day of sight-seeing or like we did with just a morning at the Taj Mahal. We went back to the hotel and plugged it in and by the time we’d had lunch, it was ready for a full afternoon at the Agra Fort.
We may upgrade to a heavier, bulkier, better multi-lens camera someday, when making great photographs isn’t balanced with the need to keep a low tourist profile and hoofing a backpack all around Asia. But for now, for myself and most likely for you, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1 has delivered perfectly good and reliably crisp, colorful photos of our trip through Asia that I know I will love looking at and showing people for the rest of my life, and some that I may even sell.
All in all, if you are backpacking through Asia (or anywhere else!) and want a good camera that you can stick in your pocket and always have at the ready, I would recommend this one through and through.
You can go to the gallery to see all of the photos of our trip through Asia, and here are some of our favorites from the Lumix.
Bring or don’t bring?: BRING