I've been working with the well-traveled author Chris Scott, writing an article for the next edition of the Adventure Motorcycle Handbook. Chris had just gotten back from his latest round of adventures in Algeria when he sent this email:
The desert ruined my TZ6 Lumix (as expected, zoom sucks in the sand and dust).
Great camera but I am wondering about moving up to a camera that shoots RAW.
My question: if going for a RAW camera, am I wasting my time choosing something still with a small sensor like a Panasonic LX5?
I don't want a big DSLR and I'm not so keen on the Canon G series, so am I better off with a Panasonic GF1 with it's bigger sensor, or even that Fuji X100?
Normally the "What camera should I buy?" question is exactly like "What motorcycle should I buy?" It depends. It's usually such an open question that it's nearly impossible to pin down.
But Chris's question was different. He'd already figured out what was important for him, what features he wanted, what he definitely didn't want, and he already his choice narrowed down to three quite different cameras.
Now I'm certainly not DP Review - #1 for excellent and excruciatingly detailed camera reviews - I don't spend my time shooting test charts and brick walls, and I haven't tried every camera on the market.
But I can offer some pragmatic thoughts on how each of these cameras would be suited for overland travel. I'm firmly in the camp that believes the usability and ergonomics of a camera trumps pixel-peeping tech-specs any day.