I knew I wanted to take a lot of pictures and some video. I knew I wanted to safely back them up, and I knew I would want to view some of them on something bigger than the tiny LCD screen on my camera. I wanted to travel light, so I debated taking a laptop.
On a previous trip to Asia I had purchased an ultra-notebook. At the end of every day I would eject the memory card from my camera, copy the pictures to the ultra-notebook, and type up my notes. This time I had a much larger and heavier DSLR, a Nikon D5100 with a couple lenses instead of a little point-and-shoot.
This is what I ended up taking:
- Nikon D5100 DSLR camera with a 64gb Class 10 SD memory card
- Extra battery with AC charger for the camera
- Samsung Galaxy 7″ Android tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard
- WD My Passport 1tb portable backup hard drive
- Aging, but still useable Android smartphone
- Extra external 12000mAh USB battery (for Tablet, phone, and hard drive)
- Extra 16gb SD card
The WD My Passport drive worked great! It has an internal battery and an SD slot built in. At the end of the day I would eject the SD card from the camera, fire up the hard drive, insert the card, and it would automatically back up any new pictures. Additionally the My Passport drive has WiFi built-in, so I could access it from my Android Tablet and view pictures there. It wasn’t the fastest, but it was a nice option.
Also, every night I would eject the camera battery and charge it up. I always had an extra battery, fully charged, just in case. I never needed it, but boy I would have been sad/frustrated if I did and did not have it.
I didn’t end up removing any pictures from the 64g SD card. Even after shooting over 5000 (!) pictures during the month, I didn’t fill it up. So I was able to make sure I maintained two separate copies of any pictures or videos I took. I did have another SD card ready in case I maxed out the 64gb card, but it never was an issue.
There was surprisingly not a lot of free WiFi where I went. Granted we were often staying in private homes rather than hotels, but even the hotels we stayed at had slow and sketchy WiFi, so backing up pictures to the Internet Cloud wouldn’t have been an option.
A note on power in Japan. Japan uses the same plug configuration as the US: two flat, parallel blades. The voltage is the same as well (110-120v). However, there are parts of Japan that have a different frequency than the US (50hz instead of 60hz). In most cases this is not an issue. Get out your magnifying glass and read the fine print on all your AC adapters and chargers, and you will usually see ranges like “100-120v, 50-60hz”. If it doesn’t, you could damage your equipment. This was a non-issue for any of the stuff we took. Just be forewarned as you won’t necessarily know which frequency is used where.
Singapore Airlines had USB power available for every seat in economy class, so I didn’t need to break out my backup battery. About half of the Shinkansen trains in Japan had AC outlets too, though none of the local JR trains did.
I was able to pull out my Bluetooth keyboard to type up my notes and journal on the train and at the end of the day. That worked better for me than handwriting and was much lighter and thinner than taking even an ultra-notebook (and cheaper).