Want to improve your photography? And who doesn’t, right. One of the easiest ways to improve your photography is to carry a camera. To carry a camera? I know it sounds crazy but this is really the honest truth. If you do not have the camera with you, you have failed from the “get go” to ever have a chance at getting a great photo. And I know what you’re going to say “but I have my mobile phone and it takes awesome shots.” Ok, so let’s deal with this myth and put it to rest before it ruins your photography life. A cell phone camera is good for snapshots and documentation type photography. And I know… you have that inter-galactic-ular space age, does everything but cure cancer iPhone hold still, large slap to the face NO YOU DO NOT HAVE A CAMERA YOU HAVE A CELL PHONE CAMERA. Cell phone cameras do not let you access settings the way a Point & Shoot or DSLR will. Maybe someday they will but it is not here yet. You have to fiddle with a touch screen and real camera has buttons and quick menues all laid out for you. So you if want to take a photo of your meal or a selfie, mobile phone is fine. So now I will say it one more time “want to improve your photography carry your camera with you.”
So let’s address a few more issues when it comes to carrying a camera all or most of the time. I will admit I do not carry my camera 24/7 because my day job won’t allow it. But here are some ideas that might come into play for when you are able to carry your camera. We want it to be easy or as easy as it can be.
For Point & Shoot (P&S) cameras.
- Get an efficient case or bag for your camera. When I carried a P&S all the time, I had a small little pouch type case that allowed the camera, extra set of 4 AA batteries and 1extra memory card. And it still had an extra space for some cash money & debit card. When purchasing a case like this take the camera in the store with you and see how well it fits. Although store clerks want to help you and he/she has their recommendations, try to make the choice on your own. The key thing is the clerk just wants to make a sale or help you, but you need to make sure that you can easily & quickly remove the camera from the case. Other items like batteries and cards should have their own compartment so you do not lose these items when removing the camera. Essentially you want ease of access.
- Most P&S cameras have a wrist strap, use it. I keep my wrist strap stored so it is the first thing that I touch after I have pulled the zipper open. Learn how and get used to using the wrist strap. You will notice I use a hand strap on my DSLR 99% of the time I hold it. The wrist strap on a P&S is there to help you. If the one that came with the camera is not working buy an aftermarket strap, you’ll be glad you did.
- Extra batteries are a no brainer but some people have no brains so this becomes a problem. Carry extra batteries. Carry good batteries. Extra batteries do you no good if you bought the store brand and they die out quickly. SO quick sometimes that you never even get them into the camera and they’re dead. If your camera takes a special battery buy an extra battery that is brand name compatible from a reputable dealer such as B&H Photo, Best Buy or the like. I have a big news flash for you; why do brand name dealer batteries like Canon, Fuji, Nikon, and Sony all cost so much? BECAUSE THEY’RE WORTH IT. Don’t buy batteries from Ebay, it is so easy to manufacture “knock off” batteries these days and sell them for pennies on the dollar. Been there done that, please take my advice on this one.
- Ditto with memory cards. Don’t buy those packs of 4 cards for $8. For my P&S I use 4 or 8 gig cards. I use SanDisk, just my personal preference; there are others out there like Lexar & Panasonic. Get class 10 cards if possible. The better the manufacture the better your chance the card will not fail and if it does fail there is a better chance that it will be recoverable. Any card can fail at any time, but good cards have a very small failure rate. DON’T BUY MEMORY CARDS FROM EBAY, PLEASE!
For DSLR’s; I know you are a “gear head” and want to bring the whole studio. BUT YOU CAN”T. Or can you? Here is what I do. I have a nice camera back pack that holds a lot of gear and when I walk out the door I have it all with me. Now when I arrive at my destination I will determine what I need and put it in a downsized pack. So below is what I would recommend.
- Unlike a P&S the DSLR can hang on a strap. I don’t like the manufacture’s neck strap because it is just an advertisement and it isn’t very functional at all. Go with a Black Rapid style strap or make your own like I did (shown in another blog post). This style strap will let the camera hang at your side and is so much more user friendly. This kind of strap will let you always be ready to use the camera quickly.
- You will still need a small case to carry extra batteries, maybe a flash and or an extra lens. Here is my personal choice; at bare minimum extra batteries can go in my pants pocket (cargo pants really rock for this option). Lowepro make a great “walk about” lens case that will hold an extra lens, batteries, cleaning cloth and has room for one filter (maybe a polarizer). Sometimes I will forego the lens and carry a small flash head in the case. Many females carry a pocketbook or a purse and this can also be an option for carrying batteries, lens cloth, filters and a small lens or flash.
- Memory cards for a DSLR; I recommend 16 or 32 gig class 10 and brand name manufacturer, SanDisk, Lexar and there are more. Most important buy from a good well known dealer. Be very careful even at small camera shops because it is so cheap and easy to manufacture knock off memory cards and sell them on Ebay that some small camera shops are tempted to purchase from an Ebay or Amazon dealer and resell to the public. With a 16 gig card you should have plenty of room for all the photos you could take in an afternoon and some video clips too. Just as long as you’re not running and gunning. Be selective. And for ease you should only need the card that is in the camera.
So there you have it. Some basic information on what you need to carry the camera out the door and have it at your ready without a big hassle.. The Point & Shoot really shines here because it is small and even though I love my DSLR some of the best photos I have ever taken were with my little Canon A640. I loved that camera so much I gave it away. Yes gave it away, to a dear friend while traveling in Thailand. She is actually a family member and I wanted her to have a great camera and experience all the fun I had with that camera. When I returned to the USA I went on Ebay to buy a used A640 as a replacement and found out just how much everybody else loved that camera. A five year old point & shoot and I had to pay almost as much as I did when the camera was new. Yes it was a great camera.
As for toting a DSLR everywhere; yes it is big, yes it is even bigger with a pro lens. But that is what it takes to get the job done. If you really want to have a chance at getting a good or maybe great photo a DSLR is the tool. Now I know there are the new style touch screen mirror-less cameras by Canon, Fuji, Lumix and many more but for me the standard DSLR did a great job for years and will continue. Here is how I equate it; a soldier could kill the enemy with his sidearm weapon, typically for many years this weapon fired a 45. caliper bullet. So why then does the soldier tote around a larger M-16 that shoots a smaller bullet? Because the M-16 gets the job done better than the sidearm weapon. He is taught to respect the weapon, clean, carry and use it efficiently; it is his job to treat it like a third hand and it will perform as such. An extreme example I know, but how serious are you about your hobby? Like anything practice makes perfect.