Monday, December 15, 2014

Photography + Disney + Thoughts on camera upgrade

Before I begin, I want to point out a deal to those of you using an entry level DSLR camera who are in the market for an upgrade.  Amazon currently has the Nikon D7000 body only listed for $499.  If that's not a steal, I don't know what is.

What's in my camera bag?

I decided to travel light for this trip for several reasons.  I've been dealing with back problems since the girls' birth and lugging around a heavy bag is painful and when you're at Disney, there's a lot of lugging around.  There's also the simple fact that photography equipment is expensive and the more you have on hand, the more you need to care for it.  Disney may be the most magical place on earth but it is not immune to thievery.

Deciding what type of trip/vacation you plan on having will help you determine which equipment to bring with you.  I wanted to capture our family vacation through photos but I didn't want photography to take over the vacation.  The reality is that with three little ones, photography can't take over.  As much as I would have loved to have photographed the fireworks, that would have required additional equipment (think tripod) and planning.  Keep in mind that there are some people who travel to Disney specifically for photography.  There are others who bring so much more than I did.  I was reading a thread on the disboards that confirmed that I'm a lightweight.

So what did I bring with me?

Nikon D7000 - This is the only camera that I own.  There are no point and shoots in this house.  (Well, the girls' cameras are.)  And you can Instagram your little heart out but an iPhone camera cannot compare to a DSLR.  If I want to take pictures, I need to bring my DSLR camera with me.  Can it be a hassle at times?  Sure, but the end results are worth it to me.

Nikon 35mm f/1.8 lens - This is my primary, walk-around lens.  It's almost always on my camera and for the most part, fits my needs.  While I still think this is a good lens for the price, mine tends to back focus when I shoot wider than 3.5.  I'd been considering an upgrade replacement for awhile and had finally settled on one but now I've decided to upgrade my camera to full frame* which means I need to find new lenses as well.


Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens - I've found this is a great landscape lens.  It also comes in handy when my 35mm is too tight and I need something wider.



SB-600 Speedlight - What do "natural light" photographers do when there just isn't enough natural light?  I love my Speedlight and don't think there's anything wrong with using one.  I've found the inside of some restaurants to be too dark, especially for character meet photos, and bouncing the flash makes a huge difference in photo quality.


The camera bag

I continue to use my Lowepro Flipside 200 for transporting my camera and other equipment during long outings.  It's comfortable to wear and protects my gear.  It is supposed to be waterproof but I did wear my rain poncho over it during the downpours to be extra safe and that worked well as the inside of my bag stayed completely dry.  Even though I like this backpack, my one complaint is that it isn't very easy to take the camera in and out of it.  It's good if you plan to either keep the camera in the backpack or out of the backpack for extended periods of time.  Taking photos and then placing it back in the backpack is just not convenient.

If I was a good blogger, I would have had Rich take a picture of me wearing the backpack at Disney. Instead, here's a photo taken by Emily a few days ago.  I think she did a good job.  (Please ignore the crazy, dancing child.)


As you can see, it's not a huge backpack.  I'm 5'4" and wear size XS/S.  I should have worn a shirt color other than black though so that you could really see the backpack.  I am far too lazy for a redo. Because the backpack is black (as opposed to a girly color), Rich has no problem carrying it around for me if I need a break.

Here's the inside of the bag, packed with the gear I brought to Disney:


(Hey, look.  It's an iPhone picture.)

How many photos did I take?

Again, going back to the disboards, it's not uncommon to see folks take 3,000 to 5,000 photos during a week's vacation. I took 550 pictures. That's it. I probably would have had a few hundred more had the weather been different. When it was pouring rain, which was a frequent occurrence, I kept the camera in the backpack under the rain poncho. This was also a tired trip for me. I was coming off of my first illness of the season and really could have used a few days of rest prior to traveling. There were times when I felt like I was dragging myself around and photography was not my main priority.


*Thoughts on camera upgrade - I've had my D7000 for three and a half years now.  When I upgraded to that camera, I had thought that I would be happy staying with a crop sensor.  Maybe forever.  But then I could tell who was shooting full frame by looking at their photos and I started to change my mind.  The D600 series was my obvious affordable choice but the oil/dust issue was a major turnoff.  I even looked at Canons as an alternative.  When something costs so much money, I want to make sure I'm 100% positive with my choice.  I hemmed and hawed for a year and then the D810 was released to rave reviews.  But with a $3,000 price tag, I just couldn't do it.  I've been researching the D750, which is more affordable than the D810, and it appears that many prefer the 750 to the 810.  So that's where my head is at now. Still thinking. . .


Sarah said...

I shoot a D300 and LOVE it.

BreezieGirl said...

I'm in a similar boat. I've had my camera for five years now and have been researching full frame options to upgrade for a good year or so. I thought I had it set and then borrowed a friend's camera to test and it was really heavy, so I went back to the drawing board and am considering renting some to test before I buy (cause those price tags!). I have a Canon though.

Christi said...

For Disney, I wore my camera with a Black Rapid strap and the 28-70mm lens attached. I really love that strap. No more neck aches when walking around. I had the 50mm f/1.4 in the backpack in a neoprene sleeve. For water rides, I put it all in a 2 gallon ziploc bag inside our little Eddie Bauer backpack. I'm so happy I brought my dSLR even though I did use my iPhone a bit too.

When I upgraded from a RebelXT a few years ago, I really wanted to go full frame. I couldn't justify the cost being a non pro. I really would have loved the 5D but went with the 7D instead because it had more focal points and besides the crop sensor had all the things I was looking for. It is heavy but it feels great in my hands.

Now with the release of the Canon 6D, I want to start saving up for an upgrade. I love that it has wifi and uses SD cards. The Canon 7D uses Compact Flash which are expensive and hard to find.

@BreezieGirl, I've rented lenses from and it's been great.

Tara said...

Can you do a post that goes into more detail about what shooting in full frame means? Also, I have your same lens (the 35 mm), and your pictures look so crisp and clear. I seem to have a focusing problem. Can you do a post on what settings you have your camera on when taking your pictures? I'm not trying to be a pro by any means but I just want great pictures of my kids!

Anonymous said...

I upgraded from a D300s to a D600..with all the issues. They finally after trying to repair many times replaced with a D610. I had such negative feelings about the D600 and having to get the D610...I was mad at my camera (crazy I know). So, when the D750 came out to very positive reviews I decided to trade in the D610 and some other stuff and get the D750. I also was never happy with the less auto focus points (300s had more that the 600/610). Good decision...I love the D750 and hope to have for many years.

Wendy said...

Tare: full frame isn't a mode you shoot in; it's a type of camera body. There are crop sensors and full frame sensors- full frames are incredibly high tech and come with an incredibly high price tag (as you can see in Sarah's post). When you use a crop sensor body your 35mm lens "crops" into to closer to 50mm. Here is a link to help you see and understand the differences in a photo taken with a crop sensor and a full frame sensor :

While posting settings can be a decent starting point, they really can't help much. Photography depends on light, and every light situation is different.

If you're having issues with your focus, go through your manual and put your camera into "spot metering".
I'm a photographer in the Cleveland Ohio area :) I shoot with a crop sensor body (actually the D7000 Sarah uses) and for my portrait work it's perfect. I shoot with a 35mm 1.8 and a 50mm 1.4.. I will go full frame in a few years but for now, I really love my D7000.

Sarah said...

Thanks, Wendy!

Tara - if you search the internet for differences between full frame and crop sensor, you'll find a ton of great blog posts and articles that will give more detail and examples than I can.

I did just publish a post on focus. A lot of folks ask me about focus - seems to be a common issue.