My Travel Camera
March 25, 2013
Hey everyone! It’s good to be back home and working from my desktop again, but with so much to do to get caught up today. Thanks for your patience with me while I vacationed last week and for the sweet comments on yesterday’s post – yes you all absolutely must travel to Hawaii at least once in your lifetime!
Many of you enjoyed the photographs, but would it surprise you to know the images do not come from my “work camera” which is my big heavy Nikon D90 and all its lenses? Nope I don’t travel with my fancy camera anymore, I haven’t for a year.
I decided last year that I absolutely did not want to travel with my Nikon D90 DSLR or risk having it broken or lost. Instead I invested in a “travel camera” which is light and portable, it offers the convenience of a small point-and-shoot and the functionality of a DSLR, with the ability to change the aperture and shutter speed and ISO and lenses too – this is my travel camera, the Nikon J1.
This is not a sponsored post – but I thought this the perfect time to share what I use to capture images when I travel. I bought this camera last spring after I spied it in a camera shop and did some research online. I bought it mostly because I wanted something high quality that would take great pictures, but be more compact and easy to travel with.
The first time I used this camera was on my spring trip to New York City last year and I confess I was VERY frustrated with it the first time I used it for two reasons, and one was my fault. I didn’t read the manual before I traveled so I didn’t really know how to use it. I did get some great shots of NYC but the battery didn’t last very long, which was frustrating.
But I was determined to figure out how to use it to avoid having to send it back because I really didn’t want to travel away from home with my bulky D90. I just hate carrying around a big camera all day when I’m adventuring someplace new.
The next time I traveled I read the manual and learned how to use the different settings and lenses for our trip to Savannah last year. You can also see in that post how one of the Smart Photo Selector option allowed me to capture several shots in a row to make a cool .gif of a cannon firing.
To the butterfly conservatory in Niagara Falls.
And to the Hotel del Coronado in September in San Diego.
The more I practice with it, the better I get with this camera, and with it I captured these recent images from the island of Oahu.
I’m no expert on the nitty gritty details on what makes the inner workings of a camera great, but after I finally figured out how to work it, I concluded the camera gives me some really nice shots with good color and clarity and so it’s become my go-to travel camera (except for Yosemite in winter, when I was dying to test my new 35mm!)
If you’re interested in the details of the camera, do an online search on this model, there are people who know more than me about the framework of camera bodies that have informative things to say.
Basically, these are the things I really like about the camera:
1) Interchangeable lenses in mini sizes which is very cool. I use the kit lens 90% of the time, but I took the 30-110mm out on a whale watching tour in Maui to get some extra zoom.
- It’s compact, lightweight, and sooooo portable compared to DSLR camera body. I actually carry this camera and lenses in a cosmetic case (seen above) in my luggage, purse, or tote bag.
- The basic still image mode takes really great images outdoors, but when you step indoors you can manipulate the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to brighten an image (like a DSLR), which is where many point-and-shoot cameras fail.
- The LCD viewer allows me to see the picture before I take it like a point and shoot, which I love. The camera has several modes, I like the Smart Photo Selector (mentioned above) since it takes 5 images at once, so I’m able to capture images of movement or my kids better than an average point-and-shoot. Bonus: the camera takes decent short videos too – we even made a few from our most recent trip.
There are a few little things I don’t like about this camera:
- You have to rotate and extend the lens in and out before you can snap a picture which takes an extra second and feels strange since I’m used to just snapping away with my DSLR, but I’ve gotten used to it.
- If you’re not careful, the rechargeable battery dies in two hours. To avoid that on an all day excursion, I have to remember to turn the camera off after every picture, which is a pain to have to remember to do that all the time. (It died on me in Oahu last week because I forgot to turn it off, so a few of those north shore images are iPhone pics!)
- The simple user manual is very basic is not helpful at all for learning how to use the more complex functions. You have to sit and read the research manual online or on the CD they provide and then spend a few hours learning all the functions because they are very different than a Nikon DSLR, and it takes a while to learn them.
But bottom line, with all the gear we travel with as a family, the last thing I want to worry about is bringing my work camera (the heavier Nikon D90 and its lenses) so I consider this J1 a really good substitute when I’m traveling. It’s a step up from a point and shoot but not as fancy as a more expensive DSLR, however the pictures speak for themselves, they’re good enough to justify leaving the heavy fancy DSLR at home.
What about you? What camera do you travel with? Your DSLR or something lighter and more portable?