Traveling light photography

I just discovered this group on Flickr: TLP – Travel Light Photography – a group devoted to “traveling light”, meaning small cameras or limited gear.

I spent a couple of days at our local coast last week and I took only my Nikon 1 and my Olympus XZ-2 high end “point n shoot” camera to see what I might accomplish with “small cameras”.

I really liked the result! A few photos from the trip are in the post, below.

For typical outdoor photography, it is hard to distinguish photographs taken on many “low end” cameras from their higher end “professional cameras”. As I hiked about carrying my little Nikon 1, I saw others carrying large, full size DSLRs, and in particular, very large and heavy lenses. I doubt there was much difference in our photos.

Higher end cameras with full frame sensors do have benefits, of course, notably options for narrow depth of field, dynamic range and less sensor noise, and many options for lenses. But small sensor noise is less of a problem today due to new sensor technologies and noise reduction tools such as Neat Image, which do wonders for high ISO noise. Narrow depth of field is not always a benefit either 🙂

The demographics of the typical hobbyist shooter may soon come into play – while all age groups shoot photos, including with DSLRs, the use of of expensive (and bigger) cameras seems more prevalent among the age 50 and up group (who can afford such cameras). As this group ages, they may find carrying a heavy camera and even heavier lenses is a bit of burden.

As small cameras get better and better, I wonder if we will see a transition from carrying big cameras and lenses to using smaller cameras? Many will likely continue to have both types of cameras, but may start carrying smaller cameras while walking and hiking about.

This future market direction seems like an obvious one. In fact, it seems there may be two trends pushing towards the 1″ sensor size camera. First, the downsizing of the “big guns” and the second is the upsizing of the smart phone shooters. Regarding the latter, I seem to see more and more people shooting with nice 1″ integrated lens cameras in place of their smart phone.

Traveling light does not mean one has to have a small sensor camera, either. For many, the idea is to be simpler – say taking a Canon 7D with one lens instead of a bag of lenses. That too qualifies as traveling lighter!

I recently watched a Youtube video where a professional photographer recreated a sequence of studio shots using his Canon G7X, a 20 megapixel 1″ sensor camera, all shots that he had previously done for a client using his professional Canon gear. He noted there was no meaningful difference between the “low end” shots and the “high end” shots.




Shooting with small sensor cameras

Thor’s Well, Cape Perpetua, Oregon Coast. Photo taken with Nikon 1 J5. On this short trip, I took only small cameras, like the Nikon 1 and my Olympus XZ-2 “point n shoot” to see what I could do 🙂

Thor\'s Well“Circles in the Sand”, giant artwork on the beach below this cliff at Bandon Beach, Oregon.

Circles in the Sand

What is the difference between a Canon 5D Mk III and a Canon SL1

  • The Canon SL1 body costs $399.
  • The Canon 5D Mk III body costs $2,599.

What is the difference in image quality and low light performance?

There is almost no difference in the test shown at the link.

Click through the link to see the photo comparisons for yourself.

Source: Canon 5D Mark III vs. SL1 Resolution and High ISO Comparison

There are two possible differences, not shown at the link. Larger sensors and lenses enable a narrower depth of field, all else being equal. Second, lens quality and sharpness matters and generally, less expensive lenses are less sharp.

For many use scenarios and many consumers, neither of those issues matters a lot.

Smaller and lighter cameras are much easier to carry. Size and weight – and your willingness to carry a lighter or heavier load – should be taken into account when making purchase decisions, together with your intended applications.

The point is that many consumers might be buying the wrong camera for their needs.