What’s the Best Vacation Camera? (Reposted)

March 8, 2015 update: This is an old article to tide you over until I have a chance to get back in my normal writing cadence. I just got back from Puerto Rico and have all kinds of photographic things to discuss. Such as how to manage raw shooting with my Nikon equipment and Apples lack of reality when it comes to using an iPad to manage photos. They just don’t think things like file names, and splitting raw’s vs jpg’s. Such a great piece of hardware and Apple only needs to do one or two things to make the product work really well for photographers, but somehow there is a major disconnect.

In my future article, I’ll have several nifty tips and tricks that made it work for me. I also have some nifty tips on how to protect the photos you are taking in case you loose all your memory cards and equipment while on vacation. By the way, the article below, my equipment list has changed significantly. I still have the same 18-200VR, but the rest has been replaced by newer equipment. I’m still thinking of ditching a DSLR altogether for vacations and I’m seriously considering a Canon GX 1 with a large sensor but smaller profile.

 

March 9th, 2012
I know, I know… MIA again. But this time I was in Rincon, Puerto Rico enjoying the surf, sun, fish and of course my family. I really was missing in action. You know you have arrived in paradise when there is no heat, no A/C and no window panes. Just screens and storm louvers to keep the rain out. Air temp was between 72 and 89 all the time. Even the rain was warm.

Domes - Rincon PR - D90 1/1600th f9 iso450 200mm (Nikon 18-200 VR1) Manual
Domes – Rincon PR – D90 1/1600th f9 iso450 200mm (Nikon 18-200 VR1) Manual

I own some really high quality pro camera gear. Some of my lenses are at the top of the game and there simply isn’t a better lens that you can buy – period. Ditto with my Nikon D7000 DX bodies on the Nikon line. I love my gear and “if” I use it right I can produce pro shots. So what did I take with me on my family vacation and what proved to be the most useful?

Steps Beach - Rincon PR - Olympus Tough 1/250th f5 iso50 5mm - A
Steps Beach – Rincon PR – Olympus Tough 1/250th f5 iso50 5mm – A

The second question is the easiest to answer. What was the most useful? It was the camera I had on me at the time I wanted to take a picture. Thats it, its that simple. We as a family captured memories for a lifetime. We brought a Nikon D90 with a Nikon 18-200 VR-I lens, and my daughters Olympus Stylus Tough 6000 refurbished waterproof camera.

Sandy Beach - Rincon PR - D90 1/500th f11 iso200 52mm (Nikon 18-200 VR1) Program Mode
Sandy Beach – Rincon PR – D90 1/500th f11 iso200 52mm (Nikon 18-200 VR1) Program Mode

I didn’t want to take pro gear. It would be just one more thing to worry about even though I have insurance. What was I going to use pro gear for? I’m a people shooter not a landscape wildlife shooter, I had no shoots planned, this was family time. Taking a near end of life D90 and a well used VR-I was more than adequate. As a matter of fact, other then a few shots where I went full manual and captured surfers, the D90 was too big and too much to lug around all the time.

Steps Beach - Rincon PR - Olympus Tough 1/250th f5 iso50 5mm - A
Steps Beach – Rincon PR – Olympus Tough 1/250th f5 iso50 5mm – A

Surprisingly the camera that got over 50% of our use was my daughters Olympus Tough camera that doesn’t even use standard memory cards. 10 MegaPixels and image quality that is not nearly as good as my D90. But its small, tough and WATER PROOF. We tested it to at least 15 feet, dove to retrieve it once, and had it in salt water every day on vacation for hours at a time. The thing is this, its small and you literally take it everywhere with you – even more so than an iPhone because its waterproof. Snorkeling on the reef, just stick it in your bathing suit pocket or around your wrist. No worries about leaving in a bag in the sand on the beach to get stolen because its in the water with you. No worries about sand for that matter. No worries about an afternoon sunset walk where you might decide to just get wet. Its the camera that you have on you thats the best camera on vacation.

It was a lesson well learned. The Tough is a great camera just because you are inclined to have it with you. Next vacation I might ditch my DSLR and simply take my daughters Tough camera and possibly a high quality Point and Shoot like the Canon S100 that you can inconspicuously take with you places. A combination of the two and thats close to a perfect vacation setup.

Am I getting rid of my DSLR gear? Heck no, its awesome stuff! But its not gear that fits my vacations either. It serves a purpose, even on some vacations, just not all vacations. Its the camera you have on you when you want to take a picture that’s the best camera.

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