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New gear!


As I said, I haven’t been posting much because I’ve been too busy doing stuff, . . . . mainly shopping!! Unfortunately most of it has been online shopping, and most of it from overseas, so only one item has arrived so far! I really appreciate online shopping not so much for the low prices but more for being able to get exactly what I want. Rather than being limited by what my local stores stock I can effectively browse through almost anywhere in the world finding the obscure item that exactly matches the unique parameters that are important to me. OK, some things have been more impulse buys but when it’s late at night, you’ve had a glass of wine, the mood takes you and someone’s blog reviews something that solves an issue you’ve been investigating, PLUS that item just happens to be on special . . . . what else are you supposed to do?

Take this item (which arrived last week, complete with handwritten thankyou. Awwww, how touching. I will definitely shop from these guys again!):


It is a Sawyer Mini Filter, which filters water down to 0.1 micron (enough to get rid of almost all the nasties that might make me sick) and weighs only 65 grams. My other option for water was just to risk getting a bit ill (nothing long term life threatening, but still not fun) or to use water purifying tablets, but I just didn’t like the idea of having to use these for such an extended period of time.

The filter is actually the blue tube with black ends. It can screw onto a normal plastic soda/water bottle, or onto the provided 500mL waterbag, or go inline on a hydration bladder (e.g. cut the tube on the camelback and attach this in between the ends). It even has a short length of tube so you can use it as a straw to drink directly from streams etc! The syringe looking thing shown in the photo is for backwashing (cleaning out) the filter. Apparently this is very important and can be an acquired knack so I need to do some practice before I head off on a long trip.

And big thumbs up to Highwater Filters, a store somewhere in Washington (state, US), for making me feel so appreciated with a handwritten thankyou note! And posting it so quickly and efficiently that it has arrived over a week before anything else I ordered!

My other purchase, which was an in-store purchase so I didn’t have to wait for delivery, was my camera. I don’t think I’ve told you about this yet, but the photos on the last blog post were all from the new camera (except the one of my breakfast – it just seemed a bit of overkill to get the camera out for that!). I decided to get the Sony Cybershot HX50V. I’ve been playing around with it a lot and am still not certain if I’m completely happy with it, but will probably keep it. I tried to take it back to the store to compare it to the Lumix but the Lumix was out of stock – I like to let fate, or random chance, make some of my decisions for me occasionally!

My first impression was: “This isn’t a point-and-shoot!! This thing is so complicated. I’m going to have to do everything right or my photos will not turn out well!” Then I discovered the iAuto function. It turns out it does work pretty well as a point and shoot! However it also lets me take control, including full manual mode (ISO, shutter speed, aperture AND focus!). I need to learn a lot more about it to get the most out of it.

My concerns so far are
1. build quality – some bits just seem loose and rattly, the USB connection port cover is flimsy and difficult to use and the lack of lens cover (just an inbuilt bit that opens) concerns me. This is not really build quality, just something I need to adjust to. I just feel like I’m going to have to be careful with it, whereas my old Lumix felt pretty sturdy.
2. over-done image processing – I think (I hope!!) this is limited to high ISO (usually low light) photos where there is a lot of noise and the camera has got a bit heavy handed with noise reduction. Basically, when I zoom into the photo (on the computer) it starts to look more like a painting (and an impressionist one at that!) rather than a photo. I might be able to manually cap the auto ISO to something reasonable (ie 800!), or may have to use manual mode for certain situations. This is what I wanted to compare in store against the new Lumix. Chances are that the Lumix does exactly the same or worse. It’s just been over 5 years since I bought a camera so technology and systems are so different to what I’m used to.

On the upside, the zoom is fantastic, and stable (see the bird photos on the previous post – most taken at 30x optical zoom, held by hand). Auto mode seems to be working well and manual mode is fun (and will be better once I learn how to use it)! The battery life is living up to expectations – I have the GPS turned on for testing and still haven’t noticed the battery life going down. Also, I have it synced up with my mobile phone so I can take photos on it using my phone! No more dodgy selfies from trying to hold the camera out, or terrible backpack photos trying to use a mirror!! Here is a photo of me taking a photo of myself – you can see the image on the phone, which is looking through the camera as the actual photo is being taken!

And just to show that dodgy selfies aren’t a thing of the past just because of new technology, here’s a photo showing how excited I am about this feature:

And one more sample photo from the new camera, showing my artistic side and the fully manual functionality:

Did I mention (in a rowing post) that I was a bit low on iron? These are my iron tablets, before you get any crazy ideas about what else they might be!

I have lots more exciting things on the way (in the mail) but I will keep you in suspense and write about them as they arrive. That seems a good way to space the information out so things don’t get too tedious.



  1. My issue is every time I get something new, I NEED to use it immediately. This time, new hiking boots and yet its been raining every spare moment I’ve had. I hope you enjoy all your new things! Let us know how the sawyer pump works out! I heard those are great.

    • Helen says:

      I think I was scared of breaking it, and also felt a bit silly trying to filter clean tap water! I know what you mean though – I always unpack everything straight away! I did finally use the filter this week and it was very impressive (there’s a photo showing the difference in water colour on my latest post). I hope the weather’s fined up and you’ve had a chance to test out your new boots.

  2. Ann says:

    What a great photo of you. No not the dodgy one but the other one. I am having fun playing with your “old” camera too. Ann

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