When traveling, we love taking pictures, mostly to be reminded of the great experience, but also to be able to share it with family and friends, so taking a camera when traveling is a must. Obviously, nowadays this is not a big deal, considering that we have cameras on our phones, tablets, even inserted in pens or glasses, so even if we don’t care for them, they are our permanent companion.
Still, if you want to make a difference with your pictures, you need to ask yourself how enthusiastic you are about taking good shots and what skills you have as a photographer. If you don’t consider yourself a pro and you have no desire to improve, then your phone camera is just fine. In fact, nowadays these cameras in many instances are far better than the small pocket cameras and in the age of the selfies, they are just perfect. If you check on Flicker you will see that the most frequent use of a camera belongs to i-phone 5 and i-phone 6, so great moments can be recorded very successfully with your phone camera.
However, there is nothing more amazing than having the opportunity to capture that special moment with a good quality camera (Fujifilm, Canon, Nikon, Leica, etc), the results are usually pretty awesome and you will be surprised how much more appealing photography will become to you, especially when you post your pictures on the social media like Facebook, Pinterest and Flicker and you have other people appreciating them too.
Throughout the years I have had numerous cameras and even a camcorder, but since the technology in those days was not as advanced and the digital images not all that realistic and crisp, I soon grew tired of using them and found myself relieved not to carry around heavy cameras and lenses. There is lots to be said about cameras and weight, but again if you are an amateur photographer, don’t bother dragging the professional camera if you are gonna use it in automatic mode only the very few times you decide to lift heavy weights.
After experimenting with all sorts of cameras myself, I finally resolved to invest in an entry level camera this year- Fujifilm X-A2. Of course, I did an extensive research (one lazy morning in bed- surfing the net) and surely, I was tempted to get a semi to professional camera, for all the awesome features, but then I reminded myself that I had no clue how to use them and it was hardly worth the expense. So, I narrowed down my choices to a more user-friendly and affordable range of cameras, still above average, but without the extra features I was sure I would never use. While I always enjoyed taking photos and some came out pretty great, I took them intuitively- I never had any formal training in photography- so I figured I should get familiar with the basics, to improve my technique and possibly upgrade the quality of my shots.
At first, I was a bit intimidated by the photo slang and terminology I stumbled upon in the photo site : ISO settings, aperture, shutter response, shooting raw, but then I came across some pretty cool blogs and sites, providing the average photo layman like me some easily understandable practical advise. One of the many sites I liked is www.digitalcameraworld.com, it offers great tips and ideas in picture taking, as well as the creators go patiently through the trouble to explain the basics and terminology to clueless photography ignorants like myself.
My favorite shopping site is Amazon, and even though I cross-checked reviews, prices and availability on several different cameras on various sites, I finally settled on the Fujifilm X-A2 entry level camera on Amazon, which promised lots of features for a very affordable price.
I have to admit- I was immediately attracted by the retro chick appearance of the camera- faint resemblance with my Dad’s Leica from some 40 years ago- sandy colored leather on a sleek camera body, not-too bulky lens and overall light weight- all made the camera look feminine, sexy and user-friendly. I pre-ordered it immediately and anxiously awaited the delivery- unfortunately it was so new, that it hadn’t even reached the States yet. After two months I finally received it and I was not disappointed- it was everything it promised and more. While this was clear from the description of the camera (which evidently I did not read carefully:-), the only thing missing was a view finder- instead it had an LCD screen- which could revolve and turn at different angles. In fact, this was the biggest selling point of the camera- it was especially ideal for selfies and even though I have never been a fan, I had to admit – the flexibility of the screen was going to be handy when taking videos during a concert (arms outstretched high above my head) or if recording images on ground level eliminating the need to position myswlf flat on the floor.
Portability of the camera was one of the most arresting features for me (being constantly on the road, light weight is a major advantage), so instead of getting a bulky bag for it, I opted for a nice leather case, fitting the body of the camera and it’s lens perfectly, without adding to its size. This not only added to it’s classic retro look, but also did the job of protecting the camera with virtually no extra space required. I did get the standard 3 filters that help take pictures in bright light and eliminate glare (came in a separate soft case), a tri-pod, for crisp images in poor lightning and a nice 64 GB memory card. I was all set.
Soon, I became increasingly interested in the photo world and its magic- out of curiosity, I would change the camera settings, play with the light, shoot pictures throughout different times of the day, annoy all my friends, asking them to pose and even took pictures of my boy-friend against his will (or even knowledge) to practice “natural” shots. Not at all surprisingly- I was hooked. While I already had photos on Facebook, now I started publishing some of my pics on Flicker and Pinterest and to my amazement my friends and some people I never actually met actually liked them and even started following me on the social media.
Clearly, sharing the world with the world was far more satisfying and adictive than clicking pictures on my cell only to delete them when the memory of the phone was full.
In retrospect, it is never too old to use your cell phone for capturing special moments, but if you can spare a few hundred dollars, don’t hesitate and get yourself a good quality camera that will bring quality and joy to your travels and learn how to use it. You will look like a pro in no time!
Here are a couple of cameras that I strongly recommend- Fujifilm offers this same camera in different colors and still being new, it is yet to attract the publics attention. The Nikon D700o has been on the market for a while and is unanimously one of the professional photographers’ favorites – it is easy to use, has a wide range of features that will meet your every need and will not break your bank.
Of course, lately one of the best cameras for the active traveler is without a doubt the Go Pro. It allows you to attach it to a helmet, your chest or arm and record incredible videos while you are skateboarding, ziplining, diving, etc and the quality of both the pictures and the videos are incredible, considering that they are taken in a shaky, unstable environment.
The below pictures are taken underwater with a Go Pro, the clarity of the water and the detail on them is amazing.
Whatever camera you choose to use- just have fun with it and don’t forget to enjoy the real world around you as well:-)