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Archive for August 6th, 2008

The Right Stuff

 

Choose just the right camera gear to take with you.

Choose just the right camera gear to take with you.

You have a trip planned to somewhere in the world, it could be Europe, it could be Vietnam or it might be your family reunion. In any case the question arises: what camera gear to bring? I more fundamental question would be: what camera to buy? I recently went through this as I decided to upgrade from my Olympus C-770 (actually a hand-me-down from my Dad) to a more versatile camera. Lucky for me I had just traveled a lot with this camera and I know what I tend to take with me on a given day (for the curious: messenger bag with a water bottle, camera, guidebook and light reading). I also work at a camera bag company so I could ask around and see what types of camera everyone was using.

Many will say that it is not the camera but the photographer. This is true to some extent, the price tag of a camera does not determine the quality of photos it will take. However if you do not buy the right type of camera you won’t be inclined to take photos with it much less carry it around all day. Before I received my C-770 I had an early digital compact camera, compact meaning two inches thick, with a one megapixel ability. I never took pictures with it, I never carried it around. Once I got a more advanced camera with a few more megapixels, a zoom and a better feel to it I carried it everywhere. If I had never been given a better camera I would not be as into photography today as I am.

I see cameras as coming in three flavors. Compact, Superzoom and DSLR. Compact cameras are thin camera intended for point and shoot and tend to have a limited zoom. You are more likely to be carrying a compact camera around during a trip then any other type, they fit into most pockets and are easy to use. Superzoom cameras are those that have a higher optical zoom range (mine was 10x optical zoom) with a lens protruding from the front even when off, they are a mix between Compact and DSLR. These are bigger then the compacts but have more features and a better zoom. If you are planning to carry a bag with you during the day then the size issue does not matter as much. Finally there are DSLR cameras (DSLR is Digital Single Lens Reflex), a DSLR is much bigger, more expensive and heavier. They have the most options and flexibility, like manual focus and zoom. I just bought a DSLR but have not taken it on a trip yet.

The best method is to look at how you travel and decide what is important to you. A good way to find the right camera is to into electronics and computer stores to pick up the camera to see what feels good in your hands. I prefer Nikon DSLR over Canon DSLR cameras because the Nikon just feels better in my hands compared to the Canon ones. My brother does not like the really small cameras since to him they feel too fragile. Ask friends and relatives what they use and if you could try them for a few minutes to an hour. When trying out cameras take photos of anything, try using it in awkward positions like leaning over a railing or hunched close to the ground. Find out if you like using the viewfinder or the LCD screen (I think the LCD screens that swing out are really neat).

The best way to find the right camera is to go out to touch and feel them. I tried to ignore online reviews for cameras since a camera with a perfect score can just feel awful when you pick it up.

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