Tried & tested

We test out your es­sen­tial travel kit, so you don’t have to…

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Masterclass Gear -

DJIS­park £519 In re­cent years drones have be­come more af­ford­able, and top man­u­fac­turer DJI have fi­nally launched a bud­get model. Sim­i­lar in size to a can of Coke and hit­ting the scales at just 300g, it’s easy to trans­port wher­ever you go.

The cam­era of­fers 12 megapix­els and can cap­ture 1080p HD video at 30 frames per sec­ond. The wide-an­gle lens has a bright aper­ture of f/2.6, of­fer­ing good per­for­mance in low light, and it comes with elec­tronic im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion, mean­ing video footage is sharp and free from vi­bra­tions.

To con­trol it, you can ei­ther use hand ges­tures or get the smart­phone re­mote-con­trol kit. The max­i­mum flight time is 16 min­utes, so it’s worth in­vest­ing in a spare bat­tery as the re­mote con­trol ex­tends fly­ing range from 100m to over 1km. The main draw­back is that you can lose con­trol of it if it’s a par­tic­u­larly windy day; it does, how­ever, have a handy ‘re­turn home’ fea­ture, which makes it much eas­ier to land. The Spark is also hand­ily equipped with sen­sors to help you avoid run­ning it into some­thing. Ver­dict: A fan­tas­tic way to try drone pho­tog­ra­phy and film­mak­ing with­out break­ing the bank – or your back.


Hero 6 Black £400 The Hero 6 weighs 120g and fits in the palm of your hand. Boast­ing a 12-megapixel cam­era ca­pa­ble of film­ing 4K at 60fps (or 1080p at 240fps), the im­age qual­ity is very good for its size, with an ul­tra-wide f/2.8 lens.

A 5cm touch­screen gives you the abil­ity to zoom in with your fin­ger­tips. It also of­fers a time­lapse func­tion and al­lows you to record in slow mo­tion, plus there’s a mi­cro­phone for cap­tur­ing sound. The GPS means you can record the lo­ca­tion of photos and videos; per­haps more im­pres­sive though is that the Hero 6 is waterproof to 10m with­out hav­ing to buy any housing for it. Bat­tery life is not as good as you might hope – two hours at most – but spare bat­ter­ies are only £20.

An­other new fea­ture is the smart­phone app al­low­ing you to edit footage and au­to­mat­i­cally share it on so­cial me­dia. You can turn it on by sim­ply say­ing ‘Gopro start record­ing’ – in prac­tice not al­ways ef­fec­tive. There is a night-time mode for pho­tog­ra­phy in low light, but this is still fairly grainy. Ver­dict: A great op­tion for cap­tur­ing ac­tion – es­pe­cially wa­ter­sports – when you don’t want to dam­age an ex­pen­sive DSLR.


In­stax Mini 9 £64 The in­stant print cam­era has made a come­back! How many times have we been to a lo­cal vil­lage mar­ket or home­s­tay and promised to send the per­son we pho­tographed an im­age but never got round to it? While Po­laroid’s in­stant cam­eras can be hefty and ex­pen­sive, Fu­ji­film has come up with this cheaper op­tion that – due to its rugged build – is great to just throw in your lug­gage.

There is no built-in zoom, but there is a close-up lens that you pop out, en­abling you to take a pic­ture at a range of just 32cm. There is also a built-in flash and you can change the mode de­pend­ing on con­di­tions. The shut­ter speed is 1/60th of a sec­ond and lens aper­ture is f/2.4. Most handy is the ‘selfie mir­ror’ on the front, which al­lows cor­rect fram­ing for self­ies.

Photos can some­times look a lit­tle over­ex­posed, es­pe­cially in brighter light. It hits the scales at 307g and is roughly the size of a squat book. Some may com­plain that the film you need to buy for the cam­era costs £15 for ten photos (which works out at £1.50 per pic­ture). Ver­dict: A fun, cheap op­tion that en­ables you to print off in­stant pho­to­graphs to give to those that you meet on your trav­els.­


Out­back­cam £150 One of the most af­ford­able mo­tion-ac­ti­vated cam­era traps is the Out­back­cam, hand­ily cam­ou­flaged to blend into the sur­round­ings. It has a 12-megapixel, 3.6mm cam­era of­fer­ing 1080p HD video at 15fps and night vi­sion up to 15m away, with in­frared il­lu­mi­na­tion that can be switched between 19 and 40 LEDS. It can be a lit­tle hit or miss – many of my first im­ages came out slightly blurred or over­ex­posed, but learn­ing to use it can be fun (if some­times frus­trat­ing).

It’s pow­ered by 4 AA bat­ter­ies, which should last a night out­doors, but can be ex­tended to eight cells. The cas­ing is durable and wa­ter re­sis­tant and the man­u­fac­turer says it can op­er­ate in tem­per­a­tures as low as -20˚C. It cer­tainly is rugged and sur­vived sev­eral nights out in win­ter con­di­tions.

It’s ca­pa­ble of cap­tur­ing seven shots in a row each time it’s trig­gered. You can change the megapixel set­tings, but any video footage is shot in just five megapix­els in HD qual­ity. You can set a de­lay to keep record­ing ev­ery five sec­onds or any­where up to ten min­utes if needed. Ver­dict: An in­ter­est­ing prospect for would-be At­ten­bor­ough types, but it can take some get­ting used to and im­age qual­ity is vari­able.

How we did the test… We asked gear man­u­fac­tur­ers to sub­mit the non-tra­di­tional cam­eras that they felt were most suit­able for trav­ellers. From those that we were sent, our edi­tor-at-large, Phoebe Smith, then took them out on the road to see how they...

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