Traveling to South America... pack the DSLR or get new Optio W3?

Discussion in 'Pentax' started by davidmantilla, Jan 12, 2014.

  1. Hi all,
    It's been a while since I post on here, glad to see the forum is still going. (Mental note to myself: go out and take more photos and post them here). I have amassed a nice collection of lenses over the years, and something that I now realize is, they spend too much time in the closet. Part of that is, carrying all that glass is heavy and not sure it's always worth it. Hence my question: I'm planning a trip to South America w/ the family and am thinking about what should I pack: (I admit my LBA is trying to make a come back in the form of justifying need of a new camera.)
    Option 1: only pack smartphone - besides the obvious drawbacks to this option (crappy quality, etc.) if it were to get stolen, I would be very very sad/screwed.
    Option 2: k5 plus a few lenses (let's not worry about which lenses for now) - obviously heavy, and if stolen, also could be very sad/expensive to replace

    Option 3: get a compact P&S, thinking about the Optio W3, specifically, but could be other waterproof/crushproof/etc camera. - if stolen, sad to lose the photos, but not that expensive to replace compared to #1, #2
    May be going to the beach, etc, so thought having a water proof camera would be good. not excited about taking the k5 to the beach. I'm not visiting Machu Picchu or anything, so don't really need to have my dSLR and my limited lenses. Then again, I'm pretty spoiled shooting with the k5 at high ISO (3200-6400) w/ my 31mm f/1.8 and 50mm f/1.4 lenses.
    I'm wondering, does anyone have the W3, do you like it? does it take nice photos of landscapes, etc.? I like the f/2.0 lens, that's a plus over the W10. What's the photo quality like? Do people prefer other brand's waterproof camera options?
    I have heard of people getting insurance for their photo gear... has anyone here done that? is it worth it? recommendations? I traveled to China previously, had no issues, felt very safe (other tourists had way more expensive equipment than me); South America is a bit different, may want to get that if I'm taking the k5 and my limited lenses.
    Just curious..
  2. so don't really need to have my dSLR and my limited lenses​
    Well then, don't take it.

    I would think your smartphone would take close enough quality to the Optio to avoid the need. Especially if you will be carrying the phone all the time.

    The other alternative I'd suggest you consider is one of the Pentax Q models. I take mine just about everywhere and it's fun and so small. The lens selection is good enough for casual use.
  3. Hi David,
    Good to see you back (I've been missing, too, for a few weeks). There's a thread in the travel forum (You think you have LBA? look at his equipment list!) started by someone who's going to Italy (Rome, Florence, Venice) and has the same types of questions (no beach, unless you consider Venice). I'm going there in the spring, with my wife, so I'll be interested in the replies you get to this thread.
  4. If it were me I'd commit to taking the SLR. I bought a compact waterproof camera for a trip to Australia last summer but also brought the K-5 and a few lenses. The compact was great for my wife and son, and I used it a little in the water but I wouldn't have been satisfied with just that camera for my own photos. I guess I'm a camera snob. :)
    You can carry it in a bag that looks low key to not draw attention. I used my Crumpler 4 Million Dollar Home for much of my trip and it was perfect. I just looked like I was carrying a purse (or a George Costanza European satchel). Another option for carrying on the go would be something like a Black Rapid strap. I saw they have one that's reinforced to prevent the cut and run camera snatchers if that's a concern (maybe it should be).
    In the end it comes down to your own preference. I'd bring the K-5 (or K-3), a 18-135 WR zoom, and a prime or two in my man-purse.
    A WR camera for the beach isn't a bad idea either.
  5. I made the trip some years ago, and was never sorry that I took the whole rig, but I did also carry a backup Rollei 35 which came in very handy, too.
    In fact I would have regretted NOT taking the setup, even with the weight and all.
  6. Big place, South America. Hard to know where you'll be going. Not Machu Picchu, maybe a beach. It might be good to know where. I was born in South America, Buenos Aires to be specific. Got mugged a couple of times, but that happened in New York after we moved there.
    Unless you're specific, it's impossible to think about your question. Will you be in major cities? Then there is a risk, just like in London or Rome, although I never had trouble in either place. Dublin felt very safe. A friend had her camera stolen while visiting Beijing.
    You're afraid to lose your Pentax and your cell phone, so don't take them. Buy something else. The Canon G15 is cheap these days at B&H. Probably what I would get. But if I were that worried about crime, I'd worry first about my family.
  7. stemked

    stemked Moderator

    I think question one asks is what you shoot. Landscapes? You want control and likely a polarizer. Inside buildings? Something fast with an incredible ISO. You don't have a lot of images posted here, but you seem to like people images, so something fast to isolate them from backgrounds?
    I have a trip planned here shortly and I will be taking a Kiis/Q7/and W3 along with several lenses. Each has its uses in my bag. I will say the W3 would not be my casual camera as it limits me too much. Underwater only. The Q7 is my backup and telephoto option.
    Regarding the 'get it stolen' you can always get insurance. No one wants to loose anything, but it would provide peace of mind.
    But if you want to go light and really don't fret about the images, just looking for memories, then the W3 or phone are fine.
  8. In my mind the only reason to get a W3 (WG-3?) is for the extra durability as the camera itself isn't all that much better than a good smartphone. Other than its relative disposability/durability, the main advantages vs. a smartphone would be the optical zoom and ergonomics. Otherwise I'd much rather have a Pentax Q-series camera or Lumix LX-series (e.g. LX5, LX7) which offer better lenses, sensors, and features/control, including RAW shooting. These don't offer GPS which might be cool for travel, but I don't know just how well these work (there is a WG-3 version with GPS).
  9. My travel set-up is a DSLR and Tamron 18-250. With useable high ISO, it's generally fine. But if you're worried about your gear being stolen, I'd definitely go with option 3. You can get some really cheap used P&S's in 'Like New' condition from KEH.
  10. I'm from the "If I can't take my best photo gear, why bother going?" school of thought. Admittedly, sometimes there are compelling non-photographic reasons (like fishing or business) but I'd be hard pressed to leave the good stuff behind on a "trip pf a lifetime" like this. On our trip to China in 2012, I took a K-5, a K20D and six lenses including the Sigma 100-300/4. Yeah, it was a lot to lug around (in serious heat) but totally worth it as far as I'm concerned.
  11. What will you do with photos you take in whichever part of South America you're going to? Make large prints? Or just
    keep them on the computer and post to whatever social website you post to? Make prints: take the dSLR. Web only or
    4x6 prints, get a good 14mp P&S camera. Don't use the phone and don't use that W3 thingy or whatever it is, you will
    not be happy with the IQ.

    My wife and I went to Peru like 6 years ago and I took my Nikon F100 w/battery grip and a Nikkor 28-200mm lens, that's
    all I had at the time. Some other people on our tour were like, "my God that's a huge camera, how do you carry it around
    all day and night!" while some other people said to me, "oh man, I wish I brought my SLR instead of this little point and
    shoot, your pictures are gonna look awesome using that thing!"

    I made some nice prints but I promised myself that the next time I was gonna travel lighter. Didn't happen though on
    subsequent trips...just the F100 was replaced by a D100 and then a D7000. I so wanted to travel lighter because the
    weight IS A FACTOR when your touring all day and you're neck and shoulders and back take a beating and are burning but ultimately nothing beats the IQ and quickness and reliability of the dSLR when you're on faraway travels to places you may never visit again. I know mirror less shooters might flame me for that but that's how I see it....although the new gen of mirror less and compacts has gotten really really good. However, I will only take one lens, a "vacation lens", mine was a Nikkor 18-105mm, and leave the flash and the vertical grip at home.
  12. Hi all, thanks everyone for all the great responses. Doesn't seem like people were raving about the W3, so that's good to know, will keep it in the "nice to have" bucket for now.

    I'm going to be traveling to Peru and Colombia soon. Checking out Bogota (some landscape/cityscape/street photos), Cartagena (beach photos, in the water, etc.), and also Lima, Peru. They're all "safe" areas, biggest worry being pickpockets, etc. A friend got his laptop & bookbag stolen in Buenos Aires from right under his nose while eating in a restaurant, so I'm a bit more cautious these days. I may be traveling to Paracas (the "poor man's galapagos"), so that's where I may really want to have the 55-300mm handy.

    I'm just wondering what other parents use when they go to the beach... I would have thought these W3 cameras would have caught on by now, but I looking back, I guess just see people being really careful with their P&S and iPhones while on the beach, I guess.

    btw, I don't have many photos on here, but have more on my website...
  13. I should also add that my photos usually just stay buried in on my hard drive / shown online, though the idea is for them to make it into a Blurb photo book at some point. I have printed the occasional large print (16x24"), but it has been a long time since I did that.
  14. [[I'm just wondering what other parents use when they go to the beach... I would have thought these W3 cameras would have caught on by now, but I looking back, I guess just see people being really careful with their P&S and iPhones while on the beach, I guess]]
    I've seen a few waterproof/drop-proof cameras at beaches and in water parks but they're not as popular as I would have guessed. We purchased one for our family so that the kids can use a camera and we don't have to worry about them damaging it. It's great for winter sledding too. The kids like to make movies heading down the hills and crashing. :)
  15. I think the lack of enthusiasm for the waterproof cameras is because for many of us the need for such a camera is relatively infrequent, plus the cameras are pretty low-end as far as performance and features compared to what we usually seek. If you see yourself wanting to splash around with your family on a sandy beach or snowy hill, or have the camera often handled by people who are not particularly careful with stuff, then you might get a lot out of it. I can definitely see not wanting to put a smartphone at necessary risk. Another thing to consider would be whether you'd rather have stills or video for those situations.
  16. Went to Spain last September with my k-5 & the 16-50. Was all I needed.
  17. Battery life for the WG-3 may be rather poor. I am basing that on my experience with my W90. I think the battery is a bit larger now. If you will only take a few photos where the camera could get wet or submerged, then consider a disposable waterproof film camera (guess they still are made).
    Good suggestions above. The Q series might be a good compromise. The Nikon N series looks comparable, but pricey.
  18. gib


    Take your best gear, you will get better photographs.

    The last time I ever seriously debated this was back in the end of film days and a trip to London, England. Took my best

    Time I didn't take my best gear and regretted it. A trip to Arizona where I went to an Anazazi archaeological ruin and an
    1880s US ARMY post. I still kick myself about that chouce.

    Have a great trip.

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