Camera Gear

Life is like a camera …… focus on what’s important, capture the good times, develop from the negatives, and if things don’t work out, take another shot!

Photography and camera gear has changed a lot over the years and it continues to change on a regular basis. Years ago, I enjoyed shooting with a Nikon SLR and later a Canon Rebel SLR, but then digital was invented. I’ll admit, it took me a while to embrace the new technology but eventually, I purchased a little Kodak digital point and shoot camera. As pixels and features improved, I bought a few more point and shoot cameras.

Grand Tetons National Park

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What’s in my camera bag today?

Once we started traveling regularly with the RV, I never left home without my trusty Panasonic DMC-ZS19. It was so easy to keep in my purse or pants pocket. I loved that little camera, but after much use and abuse, it was replaced with a Sony WX350 camera. Although the Sony is a fine little P&S camera, I prefer the menu navigation of the Panasonic products so I replaced the Sony with the Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS70S and am much happier with this point and shoot camera. It’s one powerhouse of a camera and shoots 4K video and has a flip-up monitor so you always know what you’re shooting. Note; the viewfinder is super small but still nice to have on those bright sunny days when you can’t see the LCD screen very well.

The camera that I am most passionate about using (love this camera) and is around my neck the majority of time is the Panasonic Lumix FZ300. (I started off with the FZ-200 in 2014). The FZ-300 is what’s called a bridge camera. It’s not considered a DSLR because there’s no changing of lenses (the lens is fixed), but it’s more than a P&S camera. Thus, it’s a bridge between a DSLR and a point and shoot.

This is the perfect travel camera for my personal needs. With a zoom of 25-600mm, I can go from shooting a wide-angle landscape shot to zooming in on wildlife in mere seconds. No need to change lenses or carry the extra bulk and weight of lenses, which is super important to me.

With that said, I still have all the creative manual control of a DSLR and can even shoot RAW if I wanted to. Now granted, a bridge camera does have its limitations when compared to a DSLR and that all has to do with sensor size which I won’t get into in this post.

Shopping for a camera

When I’m shopping for cameras, the first thing I need to do is get real with myself and ask myself some important questions; What do I intend to do with the photographs? Why do I even want a specific camera? After all, my iPhone 8 Plus takes nice photographs. Am I a hiker that likes to take photographs or am I a photographer who likes to hike to locations? Do I intend to print my photographs or will I share them predominantly on social media? Will I have a problem carrying around a bigger camera or will I get lazy and just use the iPhone or the Pansonic ZS70?

Remember, the best camera to have is the one that’s on you, and when I got real with myself, I knew I didn’t want the hassle of changing lenses … for now anyway. It’s more of a weight issue with me than anything else. The camera also has to feel good in my hands … has to feel comfortable. As I grow as a photographer, my needs may change. So, what’s right for me today, may not be right for me tomorrow.

And that’s how I ended up with the FZ300!

hummingbird in flight

Honorable mentions

I did come real close to pulling the trigger on a mirrorless camera but had trouble choosing between the Fujifilm X-T2 and the Panasonic Lumix G85. These two cameras are vastly different and each has its strengths and weaknesses. Again, it boils down to intent; what I intend to do with the photographs and how I intend to use the camera. Will I use the camera for any video?

The camera I use the least but like having around is a waterproof Fujifilm XP130. It’s perfect for those days we’re out on the water. I am looking at getting a GoPro Hero 7 or the DJI OSMO Action Cam but for right now I don’t do very much video. But who knows, that might change someday.

Remember, photography is an individual journey. What and why we engage in photography is our personal vision and creative expression. It’s not all about the equipment. Can you imagine a conversation between Earnest Hemingway and Ansel Adams …

Hemingway: You take the most amazing photographs I’ve ever seen! What sort of camera do you use?
Adams: You write the most amazing stories. What sort of typewriter do you use?

So, don’t get all caught up with camera envy. (Guilty!) Get what you can easily afford and understand what you’ll be shooting and doing with the images.

Camera Accessories

I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a lazy photographer and don’t use a tripod as often as I should. As much as I like my Vanguard 203 tripod, the tripod I use the most is my Joby Gorilla Pod. This slips into my pack easily and I also use it with my iPhone. For those of you much more serious about your photography, you’ll probably want to invest in a better tripod like the Manfrotto Traveller.

Filters: I do have some filters that are fun to play around with when I’m feeling creative. The polarizer is great for extremely bright sunny days or knocking down glare on water and the neutral density filters come in handy when I want to use a slow shutter speed … smooth out the water on a waterfall.

I have a nice camera bag to keep all my equipment organized and of course a cleaning kit.

What is the best camera for travel, camera gear for travel, waterfall image

Editing

These days, I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6 and absolutely love it. Years ago, I used to use the free Google program, Picasa and thought that was all I needed. Boy, was I wrong! Lightroom allows me to edit and organize my images on a whole new level. Although there are a bunch of free editing platforms out there that do a great job initially, you’ll need to pay for some sort of software if you want to take your photographs to the next level. Unfortunately, Lightroom has moved away from a downloadable disk to a subscription format.

I also have Adobe Photoshop Elements downloaded on my computer but am still learning how to best use this program. Elements is basically an abbreviated version of Photoshop. So, I can do most of my edits in Lightroom and then export the image to Elements for a little more peaking and tweaking.

Lightroom versus Elements; The biggest difference, well there are lots of differences, but the main one is corruption. In Lightroom, all edit changes are easily undone and you’ll never fear of losing the original photograph. In Elements, copies of the image need to be made or you’ll lose the original. Edits aren’t as easily reversed. (My two cents anyway, and I could be wrong 😀 Wouldn’t be the first time!)

Books

I’m always learning and trying to improve my photographs. Books and YouTube videos are my go to.

How to Create Stunning Digital Photography
The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Book
Adobe Photoshop Elements Book

Happy shooting!

Photography photographing shorebirds.

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