My Camera & Photo Gear -> The Full WheelingIt 2016 Set-Up
Over the past 5 months I’ve been quietly updating my camera gear. It’s something I do every 5 years or so and I usually don’t publicize it too much since I’ve always considered how you use a camera to be soooooo much more important than what camera you use (it’s the user not the gear my dear :)). But I always get asked this question, so I figured today I would give a few tips on how I chose my cameras and update you all on what I’m currently shooting with.
Tip #1 -> The Best Camera Is The One You Carry WITH You
Perhaps one of the things that surprises folks most when they ask me about my gear is that ~90% of the shots I take on the blog are taken with my hand-dandy not-at-all-fancy pocket camera. The reason for this is pretty darn simple and it’s got everything to do with portability. When I’m walking around town or biking or hiking in the mountains, I don’t want to be carrying 3 lbs of camera gear around my neck. I need something that fits into my pocket and that I can just whip out anytime I feel like it.
So, when folks ask me what camera to chose the first thing I always recommend is that they be honest with themselves about what they’re willing to carry around. If you buy a big DSLR will you be able to carry it everywhere with you? Or, do you need something light and compact? What about when you’re hiking? Biking?
The bottom line is that you can’t take great pics if you don’t have your camera with you, so the best camera to have is the one you’ll carry and use. It’s that simple.
Tip #2 -> You Don’t Have To Have The Fanciest Gear Out There
The second question folks ask me is about features. How many megapixels should my camera have? How about ISO? FPS? Camera junkies get into some serious discussions about all this kinda stuff and if you’re shooting specialized things (say, you’re a sports photographer, or you’re a dedicated night photographer) then specs really do make a difference. But unless you’re a techno-geek or pro, you probably don’t need all the whiz-bang features of the top-end model.
Personally I play with custom settings all the time, but good camera focus, great picture quality and how the camera feels in my hand are more important to me than many of the higher-end specs. Plus I’ve done OK with mid-level cameras over the years.
Just to give a real-life example, I actually started my own photography business when I lived in Hong Kong back in 2006 doing food photography. It’s a pretty specialized industry and some folks use a lot of specialized gear, but all I had at the time was my entry-level DSLR (a Nikon D80) and two lenses (the standard 18-200 VR kit lens and a 50mm prime). I bought a good tripod, a couple of desk lamps and some cheap extension tubes, but nothing else and I ran my entire business with that gear for several years. I came across some “pros” that laughed at me, but my customers were always happy with my pics. The point is you don’t have to have the fanciest gear to take quality shots, even if you’re doing it professionally.
My Pocket Camera Gear -> Canon Powershot G7 X
I started using Canon pocket cameras many, many years ago. For my tastes, they provide the best mix of custom settings (which I always use) and pocket portability (which is key). The latter is SO important for me that I actually test whether a pocket-camera will fit into my hiking pants side-pocket before I buy either one (the camera or the hiking pants!). If it doesn’t fit, I won’t buy ‘coz the whole point (for me) of having a pocket camera is that it is…well…pocketable!
For my first many years on the blog I was using a Canon PowerShot S100. Then, right before the ABQ Balloon Fiesta last year that camera zonked out (it had a “lens retraction error”, a common “death” method for canon pocket cameras) and I started researching what to buy next. Specifically I wanted a pocket camera with a step-up in specs from my old one, but still light enough to be carried around in my pocket. Picture quality was **key**, how much I could zoom was secondary (buying tip => pocket cameras with bigger zooms typically have the poorer picture quality).
After tons of research my decision came down to two cameras -> The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV or the Canon PowerShot G7 X. They actually both share essentially the same body size and sensor (1″, 20 MP), and offer very similar specs with just a few differences. The Sony is a tad lighter (by 0.3 oz) and offers a few specific features the Canon does not (e.g. in-camera panorama function, 4K video, faster continuous shooting), whereas the Canon has a slightly longer zoom (24-100 mm versus 24-70 mm) and offers a few things the Sony does not (e.g. touch-screen, longer night exposures). The biggest difference is price -> ~$950 for the Sony versus ~$600 for the Canon. Personally the few extra features of the Sony were not worth an extra ~$350 (for me), so I went with the Canon. I even nabbed a special $100 off discount at Costco so it ended up costing me $499.
I shot ALL my photos at the ABQ Balloon Fiesta with that camera and I’ve been using the Canon continuously (every single day) since then. So far no complaints at all and I’m very, very happy with my choice. Like my previous pocket cameras, I plan to use this camera until it dies.
My “Big Camera” Gear -> From Nikon D7000 to Nikon D750
I’ve been a Nikon girl for over 15 years. I’ve always liked the way they feel in my hand (I’ve got smaller hands and the Nikon’s have always felt more comfy than the Canon’s) and I like how they shoot. I’ve been using my trusty D7000 for years now (and still love that camera), but I’ve wanted to upgrade for a while.
This time around I actually considered non-Nikon cameras for the first time in my life, specifically because of the new “mirrorless” cameras on the market. I agonized over my decision for around 6 months before I finally pushed the buy button on my new Nikon. In the end mirrorless didn’t make sense for me. However if you’re new to this whole photography thing and looking at “big cameras” for the first time, you’ll definitely want to check them out. For that reason I’m going to discuss both:
What Are “Mirrorless” Cameras?
I’m going to tell you this up-front. I believe mirrorless cameras are the future, and right now they’ve got a lot to offer, especially in the entry to mid-level market.
The way to understand mirrorless is this -> DSLR cameras have an internal mirror that bounces your pic view to your eye-piece (the place you look into the camera) and flips up to expose the sensor everytime you take a shot. Mirrorless cameras don’t have this and instead expose the sensor directly each time you take a picture. The whole mirror function is bulky and the biggest draw of going mirrorless is that those camera bodies are significantly smaller/lighter than regular DSLR’s (just the bodies min you…the lenses are the same size).
So, instead of lugging around 2 lbs of camera gear, you’re only lugging around 1 lb of stuff. If you’re carrying your camera gear all day it’s a huge advantage. Also because mirrorless cameras offer on-chip focus, they offer much better video zooming than DSLR’s (none of that “blurring” motion when you zoom in). If you’re a serious videographer that’s another big advantage.
Currently Sony offers one of the nicest affordable mid-level mirrorless (their best-selling Sony Alpha a6000, with the upgraded A6300 just released 2 days ago) whereas Nikon doesn’t have anything comparable (yet). If I were buying my very first “big camera” today, I’d probably go with the Sony.
External Article -> Tom’s Guide on DSLR versus Mirrorless: which is better for you?
Why Didn’t I buy A Mirrorless?
So, this is kinda of a long answer, which I’m going to try to condense into a small(er) answer. There are basically two reasons I didn’t buy mirrorless:
- Full-Frame Specs -> I wanted a full-frame camera, and Sony’s full-frame mirrorless (the Sony Alpha 7 Series), although high in MP & nicely compact/light is not quite up to par in other key specs (e.g battery-life, autofocus points, ISO range, autofocus speed etc.). Sony is still behind the game compared to Nikon and Canon in full-frame IMHO.
- Wider Lens Offerings & Re-Usability -> Nikon has been around a long time and has literally hundreds of lens choices (both from Nikon proper and 3rd party makers), whereas the Sony camera system is still pretty new and has limited lens choice. I don’t buy a ton of lenses, but I like having the wide choice. With my new camera I’m seriously considering a dedicated wide angle and (possibly) a really long lens. Nikon offers lots of possibilities here. Also with my new Nikon, although I’d have to buy a new zoom (full-frame cameras really need full-frame zooms), I could re-use my old 50mm prime as well as some of my old camera accessories (extension tubes, tripod plate, external flash etc.). Not a huge advantage, but a nice one.
Based on these two things it didn’t make sense for me to switch to an entirely new system.
External Article -> Comparison specs of Sony A7R Versus Nikon D750
Why Go Full Frame?
So, I have to be honest here -> this is mostly a geek camera thing. The way to understand full-frame is that regular DSLR cameras “crop” the picture, whereas full-frame DSLR cameras shoot more like your old 35mm film camera used to. The biggest advantage of full-frame is superior picture quality and that’s the main reason I wanted one.
Since I shoot all my day-to-day pics with my pocket camera, I only ever lug out my “big camera” for my biggest and best shots. These are my specialty shots where I’m looking to push the camera to its max, and I’d gotten to the point in my photography where I was starting to see the limitations of my D7000 for those particular shots. I wanted more detail, faster focus, higher ISO ranges, less noise etc.
I didn’t “need” the upgrade, especially for the kind of photo work I do (mostly blog pics), but I really, really wanted it. My reason for going full-frame was pure, luxury photo-geekness.
External Article -> Understanding Cropped versus Full-Frame Sensors
Should YOU buy a full-frame Camera?
The honest answer is probably no!! Full-frame cameras are expensive and since you typically need to buy all new lenses (with a few exceptions) you’re talking a pretty serious $$ investment. Plus most folks just don’t really need the extra picture quality detail (versus entry/mid-level DSLR/mirrorless) that they provide. It’s kind of like drinking expensive craft beer when you’re the kind of person who likes to drink Bud Light. Unless you’re really into it, you won’t notice the difference!
Why The D750 And Not A Fancier Version?
As I mentioned above I’m rarely the person with the fanciest gear out there. I wanted a significant upgrade from the D7000, but I didn’t want a camera that was so bulky that it didn’t feel good in my hand, or that I didn’t feel like I could walk around with it. Plus I didn’t want to completely break the bank. The D750 fit the ticket. It had great specs, was practically the exact same size/weight as my old camera and coming in at $2,300 (with kit lens) it’s a decent price for a high-end camera. Plus I got 10x points when I bought it in December using my Chase Freedom Card.
External Articles -> Ken Rockwell’s Nikon D750 Review and DPReview’s Nikon D750 Review.
Am I Happy With My New Camera?
Oh hell yes!!! My upgrade from D7000 to D750 has been like going from a Toyota Camry to a high-end BMW. Everything is faster, more responsive, pics are higher quality, sharper. It is da…bom!! I expect I’ll keep this camera for at least the next 5 years until I get suckered into my next big upgrade which (at that time) will most likely be mirrorless. Hopefully Nikon will come out with a good one so I can re-use all my fancy Nikon lenses, but at this point only the Camera Gods know.
My Other Camera Gear (Not Upgraded)
I have a few other items of camera gear that I literally haven’t updated in 10-15 years. The first is my camera bag (which may be 20 years old now), the second are my extension tubes (which I use for cheap macro shooting = really up-close shots) and the third is my trusty tripod.
The latter is an important piece of gear and something I recommend for every serious “big camera” shooter, but this is one place you shouldn’t skimp -> with tripods if you buy a crappy one, you’ll keep buying crappy ones (over and over), but if you buy a good one you’ll only ever need to buy it once!
When I researched tripods over 10 years ago I specifically wanted a medium-weight tripod that was solid/heavy enough to handle my camera gear, but not be soooo heavy I wouldn’t be able to carry it around. I ended up with a Gitzo Carbon Fiber Mountaineer GT2540. The manufacturer still makes the same tripod, just in an updated version. For tripod head I use Acratech Ballhead (also still made by the same manufacturer). I still love my tripod and have no plans to buy another.
- Capturing the Perfect Shot -> Cheap Macro
- Capturing the Perfect Shot -> Embrace the Mood
- Capturing The Perfect Shot -> Pet Portraits
- Capturing The Perfect Shot -> Photo Equipment on the Road
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
hector lopez says
Three cheers for pure luxury photo geekiness! Great article you great Dane you.
I figured you would enjoy it, my dear 🙂 Camera geeks unite!
Bob Nuttmann says
My last upgrade to my camera system is an Apple monitor I bought earlier this week to see your beautiful pictures with more accurate color and more details.
I came very close to getting a 750 last spring when I upgraded my two year old Nikon 3200. Instead I went with the latest mid range D5500 crop sensor. I would have prefered to get the Nikon 750, but my frugalness made me choose the 5500.
I use my iPhone 6S as my pocket camera. I would like to have the Sony IV, but again, I am frugal. And I really love the picture taking ability of the iPhone 6S and my iPad Air 2. Apple has done a very very good job of putting good cameras into their cell phones and iPad. I bought a shoulder carry case for the iPad. Having a huge viewfinder is really fun to use and you can format your subject so well with it. The picture quality from it is excellent with great color rendition. The only real problem with all of these small sensor cameras including the $950 RX 100 IV Sony compact is the bokeh from those cameras sucks unless the subject is six inches from the lens.
Love the pictures in your blog and all the info in your articles. Thank you.
The new Apple monitor’s are sweeeeet. I have a very nice IPS screen on my beautiful HP laptop, but it is approaching the 6-year age and I’m starting to get more blue-screens (which is never good). I’m just hoping it can last a few more years before I need to upgrade it.
The 5500 is a most excellent mid-level camera and the one that most folks compare to the Sony A6000 -> very similar specs, excellent all-around pic quality, nicely compact for what it offers. I think it’s a great option for many people and it won’t break the bank when you buy it.
And yeah, totally agree Apple has improved their sensors big-time on their phones. My iPhone 5S takes fairly crappy pics, but Paul’s iPhone 6 takes very nice pics and I imagine the 6S is even nicer. I know a few bloggers who take ALL their pics with their phones.
Cheers for sharing your set-up!
Thanks for the update on your camera gear. Just like purchasing a RV, buying a camera is a personal thing and what works for one person may not work for another. You’re spot on with Tip #1. I keep a Sony WX350 on my person at all times. The minute I don’t carry it, is the time I miss capturing a great moment. I still find food photography challenging… so kudos for doing it professionally.
Food photography is honestly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Much harder than landscape or portrait. It took me a while to find the tricks to make it work IMHO. I used my 18-200 for most of my food photography, low depth-of-field and always over-exposed just a tad. Good lighting was key, either natural light (when I could get it) or from lamps.
Your food shots are already very nice and I’m sure with practice they’ll just get better!
Thank you thank you for your post!! … I’ve in a process to buy my first fancy camera, I’m researching researching 🙂 love when I received suddenly a couple of RVers blog just about cameras .. good timing.
I am super happy with my pocket camera Olympus Tough TG-4 but I need more zoom to catch wildlife. I am not a camera geek so it is hard for me to understand all the specs 🙂 I like your options .. 🙂
Ah yes..zoom and wildlife. That’s a tough one and potentially a very expensive one too.
Sadly I don’t know of any pocket-type cameras that are good enough for wildlife photography. The ones with big zooms tend to have pretty crappy photo quality, so they just don’t cut it. If you’re serious about wildlife I’d definitely look at a “big(er) camera”.
Hard-core wildlife photographers typically use a good DSLR and a loooooong, fast lens (basically a lens that zooms a lot and can take really fast shots). The “pro” versions of these lenses are ridiculously expensive (you’re talking multi-thousand dollars), but you can find some pretty decent compromises too.
On the camera side I’d recommend a nice mid-level DSLR (or mirrorless) -> doesn’t need to be super fancy…just mid-range is fine. But on the lens side you’ll definitely want a lens that goes to at least 300mm (200mm may also work in some cases, but it’s pretty limited IMHO), and more zoom (higher mm) will get you “closer” to your subjects .
I’m not familiar with lenses for other cameras, but for the Nikon I would recommend looking at either the 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 (it’s not super long or super fast, but you can do a lot with it and it only costs $600) OR/ the Sigma 150-600mm (again it’s not super fast, but it’s mega-long and gets you pretty amazing quality and reach for the bargain price of just under $1000). There are waaay nicer lenses out there, but they are also waaay $$$, so these two are the ones I’d recommend to start with if you go Nikon. The Sigma is on my own wish-list, by the way (I would use it on my old camera).
Good luck with your search!
Steven Dempsey says
I enjoyed your post. You successfully managed to whittle down a lot of information into a palatable-sized article 🙂 I also faced the dilemma of whether or not to go with a DSLR or mirrorless camera. I decided on the latter (going from my Canon 5D Mark III to a Fujifilm X-T1) and I’ve never looked back.
The one part of your post I disagree with is regarding the picture quality. There is a lot of discussion and a variety of opinions out there about DSLRs having the upper hand.
The 5D is a 22mpx full frame camera and my X-T1 camera is a 16mpx 1.5 crop sensor. The resolving power and overall quality of the images from the Fuji are much sharper and full of detail than the Canon in my opinion. There are technical reasons for this (lack of Bayer filter on the Fuji) but it’s not important. While there was no doubt in the recent past that DSLRs were better, imho that’s not the case today. The one exception to this is if you are shooting very large prints. Maybe at that scale differences will be noticeable but the vast majority of us are not doing this.
Either way, I’m much happier with my camera because it is lighter and Fuji is expanding their lens choices all the time. If anyone is looking to start shooting with a mid to upper level camera I, like you, would recommend going mirrorless.
I wish you good shooting!
Cheers very much for your input. I definitely agree that Mirrorless is the future, and those cameras are getting better (with more lens choice) everyday. It was a tough choice for me, and I have to admit I wasn’t entirely sure which way I was going to go for a while. On paper the DSLR specs for the full-frame still look better IMHO, but there’s no doubt it’s a big (raging) discussion in the camera community, and there are many folks (including professionals) who are ditching DSLR to go Mirrorless. I’m happy with my personal decision, but it’s definitely not a clear-cut choice for everyone.
Great to hear you’re happy with your Fuji!
Last year, I sold my 7D and about fifty pounds worth of Canon lenses and accessories. After putting together my dream kit, I learned that having everything meant I’d usually have nothing, and would be empty-handed, when photo opportunities came up.
So, the next two lenses I bought were attached to pocket cameras. A Fujifilm X10 for great colors and low-light settings, and a Sony HX50V for great images and incredibly long telephoto capabilities.
With the high quality images produced by those two pocketable cameras, I found that my Canon gear was seeing less and less use. But, neither of the pocket cameras was up to the challenge of shooting surfers or birds, so I bought the Lumix FZ1000, which is superior to my 7D in so many ways.
The game is changing every year, and I now believe that the ultimate setup includes a great smart-phone camera that is with me constantly, one or two pocket cameras for those occasions when I want the versatility of shooting raw, and the FZ1000 for planned photo shoots. The FZ1000 made me realize just how cumbersome the Canon’s menu system is. For me, being able to use the menu and review images in the viewfinder is huge because it means that I don’t have to constantly be juggling my reading glasses.
My next step, way overdue, will be to get Panasonic Lumix pocket cameras so that I can work with a single menu system. (It’s hilarious how many owners of feature-filled cameras take half an hour to make simple setting changes. I know because I was one of them.)
The full-frame DSLR’s days are numbered. Even many of the professional surf photographers around here are upgrading their Canons to mirrorless Sony’s and Sumsungs and the new iPhones are all the camera most people will ever need. I think this is great, because it takes the emphasis off of being a gear head and lets people concentrate on capturing images.
Bob Nuttmann says
Koert – Several things. It is debatable if mirrorless is an upgrade from a DSLR. You had the bee’s knee’s of current mirrorless machines with the A7 and you dumped it. It could be that the real future is a surprise. Like a multiple lens cell or iPad camera a la Apple’s plans. Or a high quality add on lens to one of the high quality cell phone cameras like Zeiss is going to have out in a couple months. If I could get a shallow depth of field /good bokeh on my iPhone or iPad I might just leave it there and not buy another big camera. And for special occasions bring out my Voightlander 1953 rangefinder with it’s fantastically wonderfully made lenses and shoot a few rolls of film.
Ah yes, I do go a little weak in the knees when I see good brokeh. It’s the whole reason I got my 50mm prime (and extension tubes) back in the way. Oh, what lovely brokeh they doth produce
I have to say the brokeh on my new D750 is also lovely, although being mostly a landscape photographer now I don’t use it nearly as much as I used to. Back when I was doing food and portrait photography, brokeh was king.
Just looked up the specs on that Lumix FZ1000…it’s got some nice reach! Thinking this might be another option for blog commenter Maggie (above) who’s looking for a wildlife camera. Hmmm…
In my case I’m not clear phones will do it for me anytime soon. I just like playing with custom settings too much, even on my pocket camera (the Canon G7 X has a very nice, easy layout for that -> even has a separate ring for exposure compensation, which I love and use constantly), but for many folks I do think phones are just fine. The phone cameras are getting better and better, and eventually (like Bob said) there will be nice lens attachments which will make them even more versatile.
Oh good for you! I know you were talking about this after your frustration in Jackson this past summer. How exciting!
Yeah that night-shoot we did in Jackson this past fall definitely contributed to this upgrade decision. I was really seeing the limitations of my D7000 that PM. Can’t wait to try a night shoot with my new gear!
Kevin in CO says
Thanks Nina, I enjoyed your post and thoughts on camera gear. We have followed similar camera paths… I started with Pentax, and later Nikon film camera. My first digital SLR was a D70, which we bought to shoot our son playing sports. Kids sports, 300 shots, 3 good photos. Yessss! A few days shooting baseball with film, and I was shopping for a digital. SLRs are a must for sports and action.
Meanwhile, trusty pocket cameras are with me for hiking, jeeping, fishing, etc. For a long time, and old Canon. When that bit the dust (literally), I went with a Nikon AW110. I went there for water resistance, GPS, and good photo quality. I don’t often use advanced features on the 110, it is my P&S camera.
I upgraded the D70 to a D7000 a few years ago. Mostly, to be able to use the inventory of Nikon lenses and flashes in the bag. On photo assignments (for the USFS) I use the D7000. For fun, I use the pocket camera. Both can do both jobs.
Sounds like you’ve got a fabulous set-up. I truly loved my D7000 and am keeping it in the RV as a “extra” camera (I just can’t let go of it yet). Totally agree it’s a great all-around camera, and capable of most excellent work.
My original camera was a Minolta X300 back in the day…now THAT’s going “old school” 🙂
I totally agree that a pocket camera Has to fit in the pocket. I need one of those. My trusty D5100 is suddenly having auto-focus issues though manual focus works. Was thinking it’s probably really dirty as it’s never been cleaned in the four years I’ve owned it. Hard to part with long enough to get it cleaned. I’d want to use my current lenses on a new camera body. Yet in the long run you’re right, it’s not the camera it’s the photographer. And you do it well.
Hmmm…could be a contact issue between the lens and the mouth on your camera? Nothing more annoying than focus issues, especially when you’re trying to capture a shot “in the moment”. I’ve gotten far too attached to autofocus to do manual anymore LOL. You take amazing shots with your gear.
Jennifer Nealy says
I went full frame almost 2 years ago and I LOVE my camera…but I must admit I’ve gotten pretty lazy about using it lately. Lugging that big ole camera around, especially since I’m usually attached via leash to an exuberant dog or two, is kind of a pain. I was seriously considering selling it and getting the Sony Alpha A7R II, but I just can’t bear to party with my D610! Maybe I should consider a pocket camera too. Enjoy the D750 – that’s an awesome camera!
Oh I totally understand the dilemma. The A7R is a fabulous camera and definitely gets you a much lighter/thinner body, but keep in mind that lenses are the same size as regular DSLR. So, depending on what lens you use, you may not see *that* huge a reduction in bulk. With 1-3 doggies in hand it might still be a bit too unwieldy to use?
I thoroughly recommend the pocket camera approach. If you buy a good one, the pics are excellent. Definitely not as good as a “big camera”, but quite impressive nonetheless and super easy to use no matter how many crazy doggies you have on-hand.
Sarah Marino says
A great post, Nina. I’m a long-time Canon owner but have been considering a jump to the D750 /D810 because of Nikon’s great sensor and file quality. I’m sure you are loving those features of your new camera! I also use the G7X as my DSLR alternative and it is a great little camera.
I will add one tripod recommendation for your readers. I hated my expensive Gitzo and it fell apart after only a year of use. I have been using Induro carbon fiber tripods since replacing my Gitzo and am super-happy. They are affordable and have been much more durable than my Gitzo. I am using both the CT-113 and CT-213. They are great!
Cheers for your feedback. Super bummed to hear your Gitzo fell apart! Mine is over 10 years old and still going strong, but maybe quality has worsened since my day? Ugh!
Good to know you like your G7X tho. I’ve been very happy with mine, so it’s always great to hear from others who like it too.
Great post and I agree so much that the best camera is the one that you have with you.
I was a Crime Scene photographer for several years (we called it “Still Life Photography….” 😉 ), using Nikon SLR’s and then DSLR’s. Lugging around tens of pounds of gear wasn’t something I wanted to do on my own time so I carried a pocket camera.
Like you I have always liked the Canon’s and have had several Powershots over the years. Right now I use a Powershot SX160IS and get good results with it. The nice thing for me is that it is one of the last Canon’s (maybe THE last?) to use AA batteries instead of rechargeables. I learned long ago in my CSI days to always have extra batteries and AA’s were easier to have or get out in the field.
How is your experience w/ rechargeables? Do you carry an extra one and alternate or do you carry a car charger on your side trips?
Ah yes, the good old days of AA battery cameras. I used to carry a battery-based extender pack for my original Nikon D80 for that very reason. It was a pain in the butt, but it saved me many times when I didn’t have access to electricity for recharging.
For my pocket camera(s) I’ve found the rechargables are pretty decent. My Canon S100 was GREAT and would last at least 5 days on one charge. My G7X is more of a battery hog, but I still only need to recharge it every 3-4 days or so. The rest of the time it is fine. I probably *should* carry a 2nd (back-up) battery, but I never have. That said I only use my pocket camera as a hobby these days, so it’s not “on the job” shooting all day long. Typically it’s just in my pocket and I’m using it for a hike, or sightseeing…so maybe a few hours of shooting each day?
I would probably also be Ok w/ the rechargeable battery if I used the pocket camera as much as you, but I am ashamed to admit I use my phone camera more often these days and the Canon will get carried around in my day pack for days or weeks on end. I then take it out and use it like crazy at an amusement park, or special event, etc. I am a fan of the “Take a zillion pics and a few will come out great” school of photography 😉
Under those conditions it’s nice to have the extra AA’s to just throw in, or buy in a pinch. I had to buy a pair at Disney last year, ouch! But at least it was an option.
The camera makers are going away from AA’s so my next pocket cam will probably force me to get an extra rechargeable battery to keep in my pocket. Here’s hoping batteries will continue to get better and cheaper 🙂
Thanks so much for your insight Nina! I also have the Nikon D7000 and have been trying to justify my desire to purchase a full frame camera. How timely! I want to explore astrophotography, which I understand a quality, full-frame camera is almost essential. I think I’m now ready to purchase that Nikon D810 I’ve been coveting.
I also want to take a moment to let you know how much I appreciate you and your blog. I’m new to RVng and plan to hit the road next Spring in my Airstream. You have become a such a valuable resource – so thank you and I look forward to hearing all about your journey East this year.
Astrophotography…oh yes!!! Interestingly enough, night photography (which I started dabbling with last year) was definitely one of the triggers for my upgrade. It was the one place I *really* noticed the limitations of my D7000 and starting dreaming of a full-frame. I do think you’ll appreciate the full-frame for night photography and the D810 is a pretty darn amazing camera. Of course unless you happen to be the lucky owner of a 12-24mm or one of the other Nikkor beauties, you’re going to need a nice, new wide-angle lens too. Perhaps a lovely 20mm prime? I’m drooling just thinking about it 🙂
By the way you’ll be amazed how much nicer your wide-angle experience will be with the full-frame. The full frame definitely takes full advantage of good wide-angle glass and provides less distortion with soooo much more “wide-ness” (I’m sure there’s a better technical term for that, but hey). Getting rid of that 1.5 crop factor makes a nice difference on the wide side.
You should have checked up here in Canada the camera prices are about half of what you have posted for the same cameras.
Didn’t actually know that. Maybe I’ll delay some of my new lens buys until I get to Canada this summer.
Kim Nowelll says
Thank you so much for the blog on the camera, very helpful. I love love taking pictures, not even close to professional but try to learn what I can. And was thinking about needing a “pocket” camera and I will definetly keep an eye out for a good deal. Enjoy reading your blogs, thanks for sharing.
I’m totally geeking out over this post. I also recently went with the Canon G7X. I felt the same way about the Sony not being worth the extra for no more “upgrades” than it had. I’ve really enjoyed the flexibility it gives me. It is a nice break from lugging my other camera around, but still getting great shots. Yes, please! I also agree with the tripod talk. The one I got from my mom when I started 7 years ago is shot and I purchased a cheap one (because it was all I could find at a local store) and I knew it would be a waste of cash. That will probably be my next investment. I would like a new lens, but I think the tripod will be worth it in the long run. Great post and info.
So glad to hear you’re enjoying the G7X as much as I am. It really is freeing to have a true pocket camera that has full manual flexibility. There’s very little I feel I can’t do with it.
Hope you find the perfect tripod too.
I bought my first point and shoot this year because I just wasn’t carrying around my Canon full frame 5D all the time. So even though my PnS camera photos aren’t nearly as good, they are better than not having anything at all and I can reduce the noise in Lightroom. Probably should have spent a little more and got what you got, but it was so hard making a decision, adding x1.4 for the exchange rate would have made it close to $900. I have heard that the mirrorless aren’t going to replace the high end DSLR’s anytime soon unfortunately, I guess it depends on how picky you are and what type of photos you take, like moving objects and low light conditions, which is where the high end ones shine. Still looking for a travel tripod as taking mine around cities is exhausting.
Dan & Jen says
I take most of my shots with a Nikon Coolpix AW100. It’s pocket sized, water & shock proof (important when you’re fishing) and takes great shots. A little soft if you crop and zoom the photo but it’s got 5x zoom so I can get a bit closer to my subject if I want. I have a Canon T2i but it doesn’t see nearly as much use as my pocket cam. Honestly, when processed and resized for the blog, it’s impossible to tell which camera I took the photo with.
I think for us blogger, tip no 1 is the way to go and I always carry my Lumix ZS50 all the time. Because I manhandled my point and shoot camera, I am now into my fourth Panasonic.
As for the other camera gear, I opted for the mirrorless, first with Lumix GH2 and I traded it in for a DMC-G7 (a midlevel camera) I have to say it is really light and i sometimes takes it hiking.
I am still a lazy photographer, I have two tripods which still needs to be used.
I have been remiss in sending this comment Nina. This post is exceptional, as is most of your writing. I recently received an email from my niece asking for advice on cameras. I sent her three different links, one of them being this. She told me that this was the link that guided her to make a decision on a mirrorless camera. Thanks so much for the excellent writing and all the research you do Nina. 🙂
Oh fabulous! Very happy the post helped out. I think your Niece will love her new mirrorless camera.
Debbie Micheli says
Hi Nina, I’ve been following your blog for a couple of years now. I went back and searched this particular blog about photography because I noticed your pictures have a wonderful quality about them and wondering what kind of photo shop program you use to get that look about your pictures? I too have a Canon point-and-shoot but also have a Sony A6000 that I’m trying desperately to learn how to use manual settings with. We love your writing, stories, pictures and very useful information. We’re going to retire next year and plan to hit the road and explore as much as we can. We want to start a blog also but from what I can see it does take quite a bit of time and patience. Hope we can meet up someday because we’d really like to meet you both. May 2017 be a better year you! Happy trails, Debbie aka Ladyangler
You have a great set of gear! I use a very old version of Photoshop which I’ve basically been using for years and years. I also use an HDR program (Photomatix) that I’ve been having a lot of fun with for my multi-exposure shots. That’s really it. I DO try to get the best shots I can with manual controls in camera (they’re well worth learning), but I typically do some final touch-ups post-processing too. Have fun and don’t give up! With practice, you’ll get better and better.
I am surprised that nobody has recommended the Olympus OMD mirrorless camera with the micro 4/3 lens, very small body and lens
Ralph E. says
I was disappointed that my camera store went of business and moved calling it a different name. Now the camera store only sales used equipment, but did say that they can order new photo equipment with 2 – 3 days. I will try my old camera store (check online at home first), which is far and haven’t been there since around early 1980’s.
Sid Pierce says
Thanks for the help as we’ve just bought a Casita, finishing my last year of teaching, and while starting the downsizing….at a point I can start with a blank slate so your article helped me a great deal. Even a year has passed and it still fits the bill. Well done!
Bill Lindner says
Hi Nina, love your blog these past two months. Glad I found it. You made a comment that you were thinking of adding a cooking section to it. Great idea but I would also like you to consider a photography section. Hope you don’t mind me asking so here goes – how do you like your D750. I’m also upgrading my D7000. Thought I’d go with the D500 but I think I am transitioning from Birds in flight type of shots to something with less action. The D750 has a know buffer hinderance for BIF but should be fine for more sedentary subjects. I still am a bit worried about all the shutter recalls. Have you any first hand knowledge of this?
I have read Paul’s investment blog but I’m afraid he is a light year or so ahead of me. Does he have any recommendations on some basic reference material short of a MBA in Finance? I got an engineering degree and flew for Uncle Sam, but Paul has me scratching my head on something I would really like to understand.
Again, thanks for letting me ride along with you and Paul. Glad to hear that Doggy is doing well. My son adopted a Belgian Sheppard about a year ago and found that it need a hip replacement. All is well now but it made me understand what you went through.
Better days ahead,
Bob Nuttmann says
750 is likely due for an upgrade in the next 60 days. Might be worth it to wait. D3300 was just upgraded this week. Likely D5500 very soon and then 750 or maybe 810 after that. I have a D5500 that is a bit over a year old. I have thought about a 750 too for two reasons, Nikon has a huge selection of full frame lenses, and a better viewfinder. I find the D5500 viewfinder too small and I cannot read the info in it much of the time when the sun is out.
These days about half the pictures I take are with film. If you are full time that is not easy, but if you still live in a house much of the time I like the images I get from film. I stopped using film for a number of years but have slowly been going back to it. I recently got a low use Minolta from about 20 years ago that is a film camera and is as automatic as my D5500. I got 2 prime lenses and two zooms for little money. The 50mm prime lens has just wonderful bokeh and is so sharp it is amazing. That lens can be bought for easily 50 dollars. Plus the view finder is way better than my modern Nikon.
I have also tried very hard to read Paul’s blog. I get lost very quickly. I still don’t know what a quant is. And I would consider myself a relatively sophisticated investor.
I’m really, really loving the D750. It has been so much faster and more responsive than my old D7000 and it just rocks for landscape shooting.
Admittedly I don’t really do any fast shutter (fast movement) shooting, and not much in the way of wildlife either. If you DO go full-frame you’ll be at a bit of a disadvantage for the latter because of the loss of crop factor. You’re going to need much longer lenses (= heavier, more $$ lenses) to get as close as you would with a standard format camera. I do, occasionally, miss that extra zoom from my old set-up.
On the other hand on the wide-angle side, you’ll get much wider with less distortion on a full frame, which is part of why I love the D750 so much for the type of shooting I do. I’m able to take much better landscape shots with incredible sharpness and detail even using the standard kit lens. I’ve also been able to do hand-held multi-exposure shots, something I could never achieve with my old camera.
No experience with the recall thankfully, so I’m good there.
As Bob said there might be updates coming on the D750 so you may want to look into that.
Bill Lindner says
Hi Bob, forgot how long in the tooth the D750 is getting. It probably would be a good idea to wait until after all the photo shows are over and see what Nikon has in mind for an upgrade to the D750. Might have some infant mortalities as the D6X0 and D750 had but I agree it would be prudent to wait. If nothing else, the current cost of the D750 should be reduced with the intro of an upgrade.
I have not played with film for quite awhile. After I master the digital process, I might have to revisit that challenge :-).
Bob Nuttmann says
LOL – “master the digital process”. That is a moving target.
Bill Lindner says
Thanks for your thoughts. As I mentioned to Bob, waiting a bit is what I plan to do.
Have a good time in the UP.