Note: if you have read the technical notes on our Silk Road trip, we used exactly the same process in Europe.
We took our existing digital camera, a Minolta DiMage 7i (7x optical zoom, 5 Megapixel sensor). For us, the camera was a good compromise between lighter less capable cameras and heavier more sophisticated ones.
We opted for just two camera memory cards, a 1 GB card and a 250 MB card as a backup. We downloaded the images daily to a laptop computer so we started with clean cards every day. The 1 GB card was adequate for even our busiest day taking photographs. All the images were shot at 5 mega pixel resolution and saved in the JPEG fine mode. This is the highest quality that can be shot at reasonable speed with this camera.
We used an IBM ThinkPad R50 laptop computer. When we bought it, this was IBM’s cheapest Centrino-based notebook computer (cheap so as not to exceed travel insurance limits among other reasons). It’s rugged and has excellent battery life, courtesy of the Pentium-M processor. The wireless networking was useful if we had found at one WiFi hotspot we found. We changed the battery for a larger battery from an IBM T40 to get even longer life between charges, knowing the computer would have to compete with the camera battery charger and even an electric shaver for electrical power. I watched a full-length DVD on this system and it took less than half the charge from the battery.
The R50 has shock protection for the hard drive but we still felt it would be necessary to backup the images immediately on site. We did this with an IBM portable USB hard drive. Its only 20 GB but it’s also small and light (about the size of a pack of playing cards but lighter). This system worked flawlessly. We decided against backing up onto CDs, although the R50 has a CD burner, because of the bulk and weight of the CDs required. We decided against a sub-notebook because of the battery life issue. We didn’t carry the computer with us on sightseeing trips – just used it for downloading in the evenings and making notes in the evenings.
We took two sets of rechargeable camera batteries and two multiple-voltage battery chargers with adapters for British and European sockets. This was satisfactory .
Overall, the trio of digital camera, laptop computer, and hard drive backup worked, for us and our needs.