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Reach for the Nearest Camera


This article is going to be a variation of the “get out and shoot” theme, except with emphasis on your choice of camera (or lack of camera). When it comes to photography, I (usually) don’t care which camera I use as long as the picture or the moment is captured forever by something, anything. The quality of the photo, while important and gets you praise, is not always important. Capturing a rough photo with a camera, that barely qualifies as a camera, is better than not capturing anything at all and losing that moment forever. Even with a rough photo, you can still tell a wonderful story by adding a bit of narrative around it and sharing your experience with friends and families through Facebook or your blog. For this reason, I never waste an opportunity to capture a photo if it presents itself regardless of what camera gear I have on hand. For professional or paid work, using the best tool for your need is always a safe approach.

For my hobby, I use various different classes of cameras depending on what is most accessible and convenient for me at the time. My photography toolbox includes any one of the following cameras (some barely qualifying as a camera):

  1. Google Nexus S (my phone)
  2. Apple iPhone 4 (my wife’s phone)
  3. Panasonic Lumix DMC LX-5 (P&S camera)
  4. Nikon D90 (digital SLR)

Google Nexus S

The Nexus S is my smartphone and it is always by my side. For photos that I want to quickly capture and post to FB or Twitter, this is my go-to tool. I don’t intend on doing any fancy post-processing with photos captured through my phone, but I make sure to take several pictures to ensure that the focus, color, and composition are technically correct. Just because I am using a smartphone, doesn’t mean I should be ignoring the rules of photography that would turn an OK photo into a great photo.

The above photo of the Bellagio was taken with my smartphone while having lunch at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant in Las Vegas. I wasn’t expecting to take any photos, so I didn’t bring my camera with me that day.

Apple iPhone 4

My wife uses an Apple iPhone 4 and there have been times where my own smartphone was not within reach or forgotten at home. Again, I won’t miss an opportunity to take a photo just because I didn’t bring my smartphone. Usually, I will steal my wife’s iPhone (which has a great camera by-the-way) and snap away. When back at home, I will e-mail the photos to myself and then wipe it off her phone (common courtesy).

Similarly, my wife has given up her Canon SD600 P&S camera since getting an iPhone. She herself enjoys photography, but don’t want to deal with the complexities of a high-end camera. Therefore, the phone works for her and she will often use it to capture the same scenes I do.

Panasonic Lumix DMC LX-5

Patricia Lake Rental Boat Dock

The Panasonic LX-5 is a high-end point-and-shoot (P&S) camera I bought for using on vacations. After several vacations carrying a heavy DLSR system, lenses, and accessories I vowed to never carry over 15-pounds of camera equipment over my shoulder when on vacations anymore. Plus, instead of having a vacation and enjoying it, I was spending just as much time fiddling with the camera than I should have. So I looked for a high-end, compact camera that gives me great low-light capabilities and full manual control like my DSLR. The Panasonic LX-5 was compact, high-quality, and was up to the task. I have since taken this camera for all my vacations and captured well over 10,000 photos from all my trips. I also use this camera around town when there “might” be an opportunity to take a photo, but where I don’t want to bring my heavy DSLR with me.

Nikon D90

BW Self-Portrait

Finally, for everything else (and usually the last camera I reach for) I use the Nikon D90. This heavy camera is brought with me when I know I want to take quality photos at a pre-planned event, location, or date. This is always bring this to weddings and parties where I know low-light is going to be an issue. I am also an avid member of various photography clubs in Edmonton where I attend meetup events with this camera (plus my Panasonic LX-5 as backup).


There you have it. My photography kit is fairly plain and simple. I try not to complicate things or allow the type of equipment to get in the way of my hobby. Just use whatever you have at the time. Some of my best photos were taken on my smartphone, mainly because it was the only available tool at the time.

P.S. The feature photo for this post was taken with my work’s Blackberry Curve 9780. It was the only phone left in the house after the rest was staged for the photo needed in this article. 🙂

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