Travel Photo Thursday: Junk Your Camera!

Travel Photo Thursday: Junk Your Camera!

View CameraFor the last 15 months, in “Travel Photo Thursday” I’ve given you tips on how to come home with great travel photos.

So you’ll no doubt believe I’ve gone “round the bend” and “off my rocker” when I offer this travel photography suggestion: Junk your camera!

And I’m not talking about replacing an “antiquated” camera with a nice shiny new one. I’m telling you to throw away the digital point-and-shoot or DSLR that you recently purchased or received as a gift this past Christmas.

While you may think that I’ve been spending too much time out in the noonday sun with mad dogs and Englishmen, there really is a method behind my seemingly insane proposal.

And I’m not suggesting that you not take travel photos. I’m just saying do it without a “camera.”

Too Many Camera Choices

Canon SD970 ISWith the myriad of consumer or “pro-sumer” cameras on the market today, finding the “right one” to purchase is probably mind-boggling to most prospective buyers.

And unlike the film cameras that we all used to tote along on vacation, there isn’t much standardization of controls and functions among digital cameras, even between different models made by the same manufacturer, let alone those offered by different companies. Unless you are always going to shoot with your digital camera set on fully “Automatic” mode, you’ll have to spend a fair amount of time learning how to use a new camera-cum-computer.

Throw out the Old, Bring in the New

Dissatisfaction with the quality of one’s travel photos has a seemingly simple cure: Just buy a new camera.

After all, if my current camera has 8 megapixels, one with 12 MP must produce better photos! If the camera I’m using has 5X optical zoom, one with 1 X zoom must be twice as good!

You probably kept your film cameras for 5-20 years. In the digital age, are you going to buy a new camera every 2-3 years? If so, each time you “trade up” you’ll be spending $200-$400 (or more) on camera gear, and your photos probably won’t be any better for having done so.

The “Best” Camera for Leisure Travelers

Ask a lawyer any question and the answer is likely to be “It depends.”

The answer to the question of “Which camera is best for me?” is similar. It depends on how you are going to use the photos produced by the camera.

Photo AlbumToday, most leisure travelers do not have prints made from their travel photos. They aren’t placing those prints into scrapbook-like physical photo albums. And unlike travel writers and professional photographers, they aren’t planning on selling their photos to newspapers and magazines.iPhone 5

These leisure travelers are simply posting trip photos in online albums, on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, or sending them to friends or family via e-mail or text message.

If you are one of those modern-day leisure travel “snapshooters,” you needn’t run out and buy a new digital camera.  You already carry something else with you that will do everything you want, everywhere you go.

Just reach into your pocket or purse and pull it out: Your smartphone.

(Visit Budget Travelers Sandbox for this week’s Travel Photo Thursday shots from other travel writers.)

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8 Replies to “Travel Photo Thursday: Junk Your Camera!”

  1. Until last year I would have disagreed with this post but I have to admit that smartphone cameras have finally gotten good enough to take pretty good pictures in most situations. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by some of the low light and fast motion pictures we’ve taken on our phones recently.

    Having said that, I don’t think the need to upgrade regular cameras is really as real as the marketing people would like to have us think. I’ve had my trusty point and shoot for 4 years and my DSLR body is 5 years old. I don’t expect to replace either one any time soon. Will they last me 20 years? Probably not but then my phone won’t last more than 3 years!

  2. I use smartphone pictures when I think of it–and when I’m indoors. Still struggling with the problem of not being able to see the screen–and more importantly the controls–in bright light. And I notice a lot of photos taken on smartphones are blurry because the phone is lightweight, and harder to get a firm handle on when you’re aiming to shoot. So discard, no. Use both, yes.

    1. Smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras that lack a viewfinder can be difficult to use when bright sunlight either creates so much glare on the device’s visual display or hits you so directly in the eye that you can’t see the display even when squinting.

      The lack of a viewfinder means that you have to hold the phone or camera away from your face so you can frame the shot in the display screen. But that means that it can be hard to hold the phone or camera steady when you’re pressing the shutter button, so you can end up with a blurry photo, or one in which the top of the “frame” has moved down, perhaps lopping off part of your subject (e.g., the top of someone’s head).

      Travel writers, and professional and serious amateur photographers, will probably use their smartphones as “backup cameras.” But for leisure travelers who mainly want to take “I was there” shots of themselves or traveling companions in front of iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, and then post the shot on Facebook, a smartphone not only will work just fine, but will be the best “camera” for them to use.

  3. I use my smartphone for a lot of food shots these days. Much easier than dragging out the “big” camera. I also use it when I want to post a quick photo to the web. I love having both in my bag!

  4. I seem to get really grainy photos whenever I try to zoom in with my smartphone. Otherwise, I think I’d be happy with it. When I went to Japan, I took photos almost exclusively with my iPhone.

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