En route to the UK, my partner and I paused in Borneo to climb Mt Kinabalu - South East Asia's highest mountain. We were in Malaysia in the wet season. And boy, was it wet. We traipsed about Kota Kinabalu in the lovely drizzle. The drizzle is warm in South East Asia. It's near the equator after all. The UK drizzle is, at the moment, cold. It is hard to describe as 'lovely'. Matter of fact, I'm going to go out on a limb and call UK drizzle downright miserable. But I digress. Kota Kinabalun drizzle was a relief from the excessive heat and humidity. It sizzled off our hot skin.
The start of our ascent of Mt Kinabalu was from a tourist resort at approximately 1500 metres. When we arrived, the rainforest drizzle was more of a downpour. We were overnighting at this tourist resort and then starting our ascent the following morning. I had our lovely Olympus camera, a hand-me-down from my sister, which I bore much affection for (the camera, that is; well, I bear affection for my sister too, but that's de rigeur). It was encased in a Crumpler Sporty Guy 0.6 (can't find a picture of it on the interwebs, but it pretty much looks like this). I do not think that I have waxed lyrical about Crumplers on this blog before, so here I go.
I love Crumpler bags. Let's get that out of the way first. I am not objective. Their advertising is silly (at least it is in Australia) and it was a company started by two Geelong cyclists. They have adorable names for their bags, such as The Wonder Weenie (no longer being made), The Seedy Three (their original) and the Barney Rustle (an updated version of the Wonder Weenie and which is my everyday bag). Their logo is a stick man with wild hair. Their bags are made out of what they call 'Chicken-tex'. It is waterproof. Their bags - or at least the Barney Rustler - is waterproof inside and out.
I know this because, a while ago now, I put a 600ml bottle of water into my Barney Rustler without properly securing the lid and all the water came out. At the time, I was on the bus, heading into the city. I only discovered the water when my phone rang and I tried to locate my phone. I put my hand into what felt like a sink full of water. Withdrawing my hand in surprise, I began to quickly extract the usual contents of any bag I carry - wallet, keys, novel (oh oh), diary, phone (still ringing), miscellaneous receipts, pens, highlighters, water bottle (now mostly empty, usually full) - scattering them all over the seat beside me. As we were pulling into a stop, I leapt out of my seat and ran to the exit door calling out to driver, "Please wait!" (thereby attracting the attention of everyone who had not already watched me whipping random items out of my bag) and decanted the water in a slosh onto the road. My bag was only wet on the inside. No water had seeped outside. And if I had wanted to, I could have saved that water. That's how waterproof the Barney Rustler bag is. I got bemused stares and a few smiles from my fellow commuters as I returned to my seat. Oh, and one soggy novel.
Back to the main story -
The Olympus camera was inside a Sporty Guy, artfully worn around my neck and diagonally across my body in the time honoured way of tourism. Because I believed it to be inside a waterproof case, I just kept it about my neck while wandering around the rainforest. I did not take it out to take any photos, because then it would have got wet. I could have tucked it inside my lovely red raincoat, but I did not do that. Later that night, I took the camera from its bag, only to discover that the bag was waterlogged. So, the Sporty Guy is also waterproof inside and out. The camera is a wee bit bigger than the bag. The bag, therefore, does not close properly around the camera. Water seeped in at the edges and then stayed in, bathing the camera for goodness knows how long. Unsurprisingly, but sadly, the camera died. We mourn the passing of the Olympus C750.
It took me ages to buy a new camera. I um'ed and aah'ed and Googled this and that and read heaps of reviews. Eventually, I just went to the little camera store near my place of work, which I knew to be more expensive than the 'high street' chains but from whom I got great service. Great service and an independent store meant I was happy to pay a little bit more for whatever I ended up buying. I bought a Caplio R5. Mostly, I bought it because, for its size, it has a great optical zoom - 7.1 x - and its macro function was very impressive. I took lots of photos of my index finger in the store. I take rather a lot of photos of flowers, and the macro function is my favourite camera function.
I've had the Caplio R5 for almost a year now, and I don't love it as much as the Olympus. Matter of fact, I don't love it at all. I just tolerate it, and it, me. I do continue to be impressed by its macro funtion. And it is very compact: fits nicely into my hand. The Olympus was bulky. But that was just part of its charm.
And one other problem with the Caplio: my partner dropped it, so now there is a dust speck on the lens, which affects how we frame photos and also means we have to digitally manipulate photos before posting onto the web or printing. And that's a hassle.
I am contemplating purchasing another camera. But one part of me - the frugal part - is tsking about it because the Caplio works fine, and, if I'm honest, pretty well. Except in low light. It's really rubbish in low light. Another part of me - the gear geek part - really wants a new toy to play with.
I thought I had decided that I would buy the Fuji Finepix s8000 - it has an 18 x optical zoom. But the reviews are less enthusiastic then I would like them to be and Amazon.co.uk don't sell it at the moment. Had Olympus' monster zoom camera got anywhere near the rave reviews of the Fuji Finepix, I would have bought it with barely a bat of the eyelids. On reading more reviews, I shifted my loyalties over to the Fuji Finepix s9600 - it has a 10x optical zoom and the reviews are very positive. And Amazon sell it. But Amazon don't sell the memory card. So, I am back to deferred position again, and thinking about what camera to purchase.
Do you have one you would rave about?
Caveat: I don't want an SLR. I hike and I don't want to carry a lot of gear. Because I need that precious weight for my food.