The Two Best Travel Cameras For Video Under $1000

The two best video cameras under $1000 right now in late 2017 are the Panasonic Lumix G7 and the Lumix G85. Being so very similar, it can be difficult to tell why they differ by a few hundred dollars in price and if the additional cost of the G85 makes sense for you.

Both are under-priced and depending on your travel photography needs, the two best video cameras to choose from. Here are the main differences for travelers and how to decide between the Lumix G7 and the Lumix G85.

Peak Age And Price

Cameras, like PCs in the early 2000s and laptops now, are so good they don’t out-date themselves quickly. The G7 was released in 2015 and the updated G85, one year later – as time goes, their prices have dropped. The G85 is around $900 and the G7 is roughly $600, both going on sale frequently.

panasonic lumix g7 g85

  • Lumix G7 Kit – Deals on the G7 consistently include 3 lenses, a case, memory card, mini-tripod and extra batteries.

panasonic lumix g7 kit  Panasonic LUMIX G7 Kit

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  • Lumix G85 – Normally in the upper $900s, comes with the body and 12-60mm Panasonic lens.

lumix g85 kit  Panasonic LUMIX G85MK 4K Mirrorless Camera Kit

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Both the G7 and G85 are micro four thirds cameras with the same size sensor, shoot video in full 4K (the G7 has a software-enforced 30 minute limit, the G85 doesn’t), take 16 megapixels pictures, and are nearly the same physical size. Overall, there’s much more similarity between these two cameras than not, but where they diverge in particular affects frequent travelers most.

Key Differences

The G7 isn’t the same as the G85 in two major ways, especially if you’ll be using these cameras a lot for trips, vacations, and traveling in general: stabilization and weatherproofing. The G85 has 5-axis in-body stabilization (IBIS), electronic stabilization, and uses stabilization in the lens that’s attached. The G7 can only make use of any stabilization features in the lens you’re using with it. Basically, the more stabilization, the smoother your videos will be. You can see a comparison of the stabilization in the G7 versus the G85 in the video above.

minions driving

  • How Much Stabilizing Do You Need? – For shots on a tripod, panning landscape shots, or filming people (e.g. shopkeepers) where you’re not moving, the G7 lens stabilization will work well. For travel vlogging or vlog style travel videos, the lack of IBIS can be jarring. Here’s a video I shot on the Lumix G85 with no effort to keep the shot steady to give you an idea.

Weatherproofing in general is a very overrated feature. Although the metal, 505 gram body of the G85 does make it feel more durable, weatherproofing isn’t waterproofing. The G7 doesn’t have weatherproofing, which protects the camera from splashes of water and dust. Though if you’re going to be shooting in the elements, you’ll need way more protection than weatherproofing anyway, like a DiCAPac waterproof case.

Choice Of Budget

There are other differences too of course but the G85 and G7 are so similar for most people, you’re choosing between a few hundred dollars. You can’t go wrong with either camera – the Panasonic Lumix G85 is part of the travel gear I’m currently using – and as I’m typing this it just went on sale with a full kit for $900. But if stabilization and weatherproofing aren’t worth your $300 or so dollars, the Lumix G7 is an excellent choice, plus you can save more for travel.

The G7 and G85 are both mirrorless so if they’re too big for your light travel packing, this older Lumix point and shoot might fit your needs, or possibly your smartphone could replace any dedicated camera.

More Pictures Of The Alhambra For No Good Reason Other Than It’s Pretty

alhambra spain granada

The story of the Alhambra is a tragically beautiful tale that could fit right into a season of Game Of Thrones, which isn’t filmed too far from here. The magnificent palace in Granada, Spain, and its rise during the fall of the Moorish Empire is a story I chronicled in this photo essay of the Alhambra worth catching up on.

alhambra granada spain

But these pictures from my second trip to Granada are the modern reality of the city you voted the Best City to Visit of 2017

alhambra

…the Alhambra is still stunning after multiple trips.

alhambra walls

Much like the Taj Mahal, the Alhambra is a popular tourist destination that won’t disappoint you.

alhambra flags

And Granada, like the Alhambra, isn’t any less stunning, intriguing, or damn fun to visit even though you’ve been before.

alhambra maze

Entry to the Alhambra is included in the Granada Card, a tourist pass well worth the small cost for what’s included.

alhambra water fountain

You’ll just need to reserve your entry time the day before when purchasing a Granada Card.

alhambra architecture

Whether you’ve been before or not, this might be how you want to plan your first 96 hours in Granada, a city I’ll have much more on in the coming weeks. For those of you who have been to Granada, what was your travel story? Feel free to share in the comments below!

How To Detect And Find Hidden Cameras In Your Airbnb Rental

airbnb room

There are so many stories being about people finding hidden cameras in their Airbnbs that it can make any traveler wonder whether or not you’ve been watched – or will – the next time you rent from Airbnb. The number of cameras that haven’t been found is a disturbing thought and more renters on Airbnb are installing surveillance to their properties.

Given the number of incidents combined with shrinking cameras, you’re not a crazy conspiracy theorist to want to take matters into your own hands. Here’s how to search for and detect hidden cameras in your Airbnb rental.

Visual Inspection

First, start with the obvious and be sure to read the entire Airbnb description of any place you’re considering renting. Airbnb requires that all hosts disclose any surveillance devices in a property, even if they’re not active or plugged in. It’s an honor system and cameras are never allowed in any private area (i.e. bedrooms and bathrooms) but it is worth checking to see if there may be security devices monitoring the Airbnb entrances or common areas like the living room.

After you have booked a place, upon arrival you can begin a survey to look for any cameras or listening devices. Don’t connect to the apartment’s wifi just yet. Also, assume you are under video and audio surveillance until you’ve finished a thorough check.

butterfly hidden eye

The first step to bug sweep a room is to look for obvious and common hiding places:

Look for any signs such as a small recording light (it sounds dumb but more common than most assume), wires that don’t connect anywhere obvious, and especially the small round glass which is a telltale sign of a miniature camera lens. Turning the flashlight on your phone to maximum can help you detect glass glare, in the dark works best.

These two apps can help you detect camera glass glint.

Assuming you haven’t found anything, the next step is to connect to the wifi in the Airbnb.

Check The Network

Many hidden cameras connect to the home network so they can stream or send what they record somewhere over wireless. Now, connect one of your devices, laptop or mobile phone to the Airbnb’s wireless network. Using the app Net Analyzer (free for Android / iOS or AngryIP for desktop) you can see all of the other devices connected to the wifi network. (In Net Analyzer at the bottom left LAN > then upper-right Scan.)

net analyzer app

Ideally, you’ll see only two devices, the wifi router and the phone you just connected. Any other devices that show up mean something in the Airbnb is wifi enabled and connected to the network. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything suspicious, it could be the smart TV. Now, unplug everything in the apartment you can: alarm clocks, fans, smart TVs, chargers or converters.

Run Net Analyzer again. In case you still see something you don’t recognize connected to the network, that’s odd, but it could be you missed something to unplug or your boyfriend couldn’t wait and entered the wifi password on his phone while you were bug sweeping. Once you’ve accounted for any obvious devices on the network, if you still see something, I would take a close look at the smoke and motion detectors as well as any other electronic you couldn’t unplug.

Use Technology Against Technology

There are two types of devices you can use to properly bug sweep a room, apartment, or home. On the lower cost of the spectrum, the MaQue Anti-Spy Bug Detector shows you where radio signals are emanating from as well as has a small viewfinder that can reveal hidden camera lenses.

MaQue Anti-Spy Hidden Camera  MaQue Anti-Spy Hidden Camera

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More expensive detectors like the Spy Hawk Pro Sweep have a wider range of detection capabilities, which is clearly reflected in the price. Both products can give you some piece of mind when you’re staying in an Airbnb (or hotel room) but aren’t foolproof and professional bug sweeping costs tens of thousands of dollars.

In Case Of Camera

Finding a hidden camera in your Airbnb is a disturbing discovery you hopefully won’t have to deal with but if you do, immediately document as much as you can. Photograph and video any evidence of hidden surveillance as best you can, then find alternative accommodation. (I’m guessing you’ll opt for a hotel rather than another Airbnb.)

Although they don’t have the best record responding to such incidents, report it to Airbnb first. Depending on the local laws, you will want to report it to the police as well. A well-placed tweet to a local journalist might also help your case with Airbnb to get scummy people appropriate punishments.

Despite the negative press, hotels aren’t immune to hidden cameras and using this trick or a reverse image search can get you discounts on an Airbnb, which is often a nice way to enhance a local experience. You’ll just have to keep in mind you might be being watched or listened to anytime you’re staying away from home – making a bug sweep part of your accommodation.

This Is What Happens When You Say “Yes” To Every Scam In India

There are a number of scams and tricks you’ll likely be faced with when visiting India, typically beginning with someone coming up to you on the street. It’s a country that can be overwhelming, especially during your first 48 hours in India. Saying “no” to everything can be an effective method to avoid being hustled but this broad approach might have you missing out on genuine offers.

Not everyone is trying to trick and scam you – having been to India 7 times myself – I’ve come to learn how to spot the common scams quickly. To help you avoid going through your own trial and error, I decided to say “yes” to every scam I was approached with. I tricked friend and fellow blogger Wandering Earl, who was in India leading one of his Wandering Earl Tours, to join me on this project.

You can see all of the scams we “yes” to, the consequences, and the tricks to avoid when traveling to India in the video above.

Can My Smartphone Replace A Dedicated Camera When Traveling?

taj mahal smartphone

We’ve all got a smartphone within a meter of us or in hand right now that probably has a camera with a higher resolution on paper than a point and shoot made a few years ago. Smartphone cameras are getting really good and you’ve probably been asking yourself whether or not it’s worth bringing the camera collecting dust in your closet on your next trip.

There are some clear advantages to traveling with only a phone as your camera but a smartphone can’t do everything most dedicated cameras can, which for you, might not matter.

Megapixels Aren’t The Whole Picture

The vast majority of us are happy with the pictures and video our smartphones take, generally until we compare them to photos from a “real” camera. There are differences in how pictures taken from a smartphone look mostly because phones are a lot smaller so the sensors collecting light, plus the lens aperture (opening), have to shrink as well. Let’s breakdown what that means:

  • Sensor – A sensor is basically a light detector behind the lens that takes photons and converts them into electrical signals a computer chip can interpret. Those signals are then processed to create a digital image.

Megapixels are the number of pixels – points that can detect light – on a sensor. Mega means million, so 19 megapixels is a sensor has 19 million little light detectors.

camera candle light

Many point and shoot cameras have the same number of pixels as the newest smartphones – larger DSLR and mirror-less cameras don’t have that many more – but there’s most to a photo than megapixel count. The size of the sensor makes a big difference. With a bigger sensor, every pixel on that sensor can also be larger, therefore capable of capturing more light.

In other words, you’ve got a sensor, cut up into pixels. The bigger the sensor, the larger each pixel can be. An iPhone X has 12 megapixels, like the Panasonic Lumix ZS50 point and shoot camera, but the iPhone’s 12 megapixels, because of the smaller sensor, have to be cut up into smaller pieces.

Sizing Up Limitations

All of this sensor talk is really to explain why you can’t measure potential picture quality by megapixel count alone. Again, phones being small means other very important factors – size of the actual lens opening (i.e. aperture), for example – have to be smaller too. For smartphones, a smaller aperture means less light can get through to a sensor with smaller megapixels. Here’s where the biggest differences will be for your travel photos if you go phone-only and how to compensate for the drawbacks.

  • Low Light – Smaller sensors and apertures aren’t as limiting when you’ve got more light. The majority of newer smartphones will take excellent pictures in daylight or otherwise well-lit situations. For nighttime pictures, some of these apps can help and you can take better sunset photos by using darkness to your advantage.
  • Still Photos – The faster the action, the more light needed to catch the moment; part of the reason for blurry action or sports shots taken with a phone. Frame your photos properly to make the most of any camera.
  • Far Away Stuff – More distance between a camera and what it’s shooting gives light particles more space to scatter. In other words when something is far away, less of the light reflecting from it gets to you. Notice the trend? More light will mean better distance photos but ideally, you’ll want a bigger lens.
  • Video – All of the above, even more light, light, light.

The list could go on but there is one very often neglected disadvantage to going phone-only for travel photography: angles.

Evaluate Your Scope

Zoom is already questionable on phones although for travel pictures wide angles are generally more useful. Often, you can get closer to stuff but if there’s a ledge, crowd, or some other obstacle behind you, the wider the angle, the fewer steps backward you need to take to capture a large building for instance.

edinburgh balmoral hotel

Your smartphone can replace a larger camera completely, depending on what you want to get from your travel photos. Snaps for your friends, family, and future memories are perfect for a smartphone. To cover the gaps though and make sure you don’t miss any shots, a point and shoot like this Lumix is a good in-between a phone and serious camera gear.

Finally, remember than phones are less conspicuous, so carrying a dedicated camera will mean a good daypack like the Pacsafe CS300 (my full review) or the Osprey Daylite (review here) to keep your camera out of sight when you’re not using it.

Protection Worth The Price? A Review Of The Ultra-Secure Pacsafe Citysafe CS300 Backpack

The Pacsafe Citysafe CS300 is probably the most secure daypack you can buy at a 15 liter capacity. Slash-proof internal meshing, RFID protection, and lockable zippers are all designed to prevent a brute-force attack on your backpack – but these protections might not be worth the added cost for every traveler.

Little But Strong

As you can see in my full video review above, the Citysafe CS300 is a compact daypack made specifically to protect against pickpockets and robbery. According to Pacsafe, the CS300 is a tech bag for women (the slightly larger CS350 isn’t sold as gender specific) but for a gear bag, the CS300 is pretty small. The Citysafe CS300 is more of a camera with some random stuff type of sightseeing backpack.

pacsafe citysafe cs300

Because it has an internal mesh to prevent a thief from cutting through the bag, the CS300 is actually better padded than most daypacks. One advantage being you won’t need an extra case for your camera or other gadgets when they’re in the Citysafe. The shoulder straps also can’t be slashed easily but all of this meshing means a heavier bag with less internal storage than regular daypacks.

Security Trade-Offs

At .58 kilograms (1.28lbs) the CS300 isn’t a heavy backpack but does have a noticeable heft for a bag that’s only measures 35x26x16 centimeters (13.8×10.2×6.3 inches). Surrounding the mesh also means more padding at the expense of internal space. But the CS300 is a daypack you get for its security features, not carrying capacity. RFID blocking (here’s what’s on your passport RFID chip) may be important for some travelers, in which case, the CS300 has you covered.

pacsafe citysafe cs300 daypack  Pacsafe Citysafe CS300 Anti-Theft Compact Backpack

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Who The Citysafe CS300 Is Good For

Although it has an RFID blocking pocket, the inconspicuously locking zippers are the CS300’s most practical protective feature. Slash and grab thefts aren’t likely to occur when you’re actually wearing your backpack – but sly pickpockets can easily slip into a bag in crowded areas though unprotected zippers.

Aside from the cleverly locking zippers, all of the other protections like knife-proofing are good for piece of mind – without a lot of practical benefit. Your bag being robbed by a thief who cuts their way in is most likely to occur when your backpack is under your seat on a bus or overhead on a train. Crowded festivals? Keep your backpack in front of you.

The Pacsafe Citysafe CS300 is good at being a backpack that thwarts pickpockets, bag slashers, and RFID hackers for a cost of around $100. Take away its extreme security features and the CS300 is an overpriced daypack. It’s up to you to decide whether or not complete bag protection is worth your money; though for roughly half the price you’ll get a more versatile bag in the Osprey Daylite Daypack.

About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutI'm the blogger and computer security engineer who writes foXnoMad while on a journey to visit every country in the world. I'll show you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter. Read More


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