When I started taking family holidays over 30 years ago I always brought along a camera kit that was heavy and expensive – SLR, 4 lenses, flash, and 15-20 rolls of film. I was younger and stronger then, and airlines were not as stingy about the size and weight of baggage.
If you wanted a decent photo record of the vacation, you were pretty well locked into a camera system like this in 1990. Even then I was often unhappy when I tried to take a pic inside a church or in a low light area. My film wasn’t fast enough, or my camera lens was too slow.
That sort of photography is so 2005 now. Even though I have a nice digital SLR system in my closet, I never think about taking it on a flight/cruise holiday. Too heavy, too expensive, too cumbersome. Besides, my pack of cards sized Lumix point and shoot does everything I need.
When I was in Miami before our last cruise I dropped into an electronics store. The guy behind the counter noticed my tiny camera case and asked what I had inside it. I showed him my Lumix ZS-50.
“Oh, you can’t buy that one now. It’s about 4 years old, isn’t it?”
“You really know your cameras. For the money that is still the best travel camera value out there.”
He didn’t have to convince me. The Lumix has been on two Transatlantic cruises, and one to the southern Caribbean. It’s always worked great. I wouldn’t think of anything else when I travel.
Of course, there are many folks I saw on the cruise who would think I am crazy even taking such a lightweight photo machine with me. They use their smartphones, or tablets – much more versatile and convenient for posting on social media.
I’m still crazy after all these years I guess. But I still want a real camera. Here’s why.
- Lack of Hardware. I don’t have a smartphone myself. Maria does, but it is a rather modest one and doesn’t have a really good camera in it.
- Optical Zoom. The very best smartphone camera out there is in the Huawei P30 Pro. Yes, yes I know it’s Huawei – but it has a three-lens Leica engineered system that gives you a 5X zoom. It costs as much as my whole Nikon DSLR system did. My $400 Lumix has a 30X zoom. Nuff said.
- Image Stabilization. This is a must for low light photography. The camera has it. The really high-end smartphones may have it, but it isn’t as good as the camera.
- A viewfinder. When the light is intense and your LED screen is washed out, a viewfinder makes the difference between getting a picture or not. My Lumix has a good one; no smartphone does.
- Battery life. The camera has only one purpose – to take photos. A smartphone is a GPS, computer, telephone. With a backup battery, I could take 700 photos a day if I wanted to. A smartphone might be dead at the end of a day of sightseeing and I’d miss the sunset.
I took this picture in Curacao last year. A lady on the cruise with us told me. “I took the same picture at the same place with my smartphone, but it isn’t as beautiful as yours.” Why yes. That is why I’m still crazy after all these years.