Sunday, September 15, 2013

Disney Necessities Part 1: The Camera

Disney time is almost here! The closer it gets, the more the smaller, but no less important, details of Disney planning comes into play. For me, there is nothing so important as a camera. Pictures are the best memories simply because, no matter how many years pass, one glance at my Disney pics stirs the sights, smells, atmosphere, and all the feelings in a specific second of life. There is nothing else that has that power. It's the one accessory I will never go to Disney without.

Having said that, you'd think I'd be a total camera geek, but picture taking is very hard for me in more ways that one. Obviously, everyone that goes to Disney World takes pictures, but, for those that have been, have you ever seen this rampant picture taking by thousands of people? Probably not because you are too busy taking pictures of your own. But I notice everything and actually seeing cameras left and right is rare (makes you wonder where are the pictures come from). So, for me to stop and take a picture, even though everyone else HAS to be taking them as well, makes me feel like I'm doing something different and could potentially be bringing attention to myself...the power of Aspergers.

I rarely ever even stop to take a picture...I'm a drive-by picture taker! It's really hard to get good pictures that way, but I take my chances. Since, obviously, a big camera kit would be out of the question for me (there would be no way I would actually stop, set up a big kit, wait for people to get out of my way, to get the perfect image, pack it all up, and move on to the next). So, the camera I choose has to be small and brilliant at the same time meaning Point and Shoot, or P&S.

Unfortunately, small and brilliant are two things you rarely find in any P&S (especially in low light...rarely ever have ride pictures come out decent). I keep trying to find the "perfect" camera (much to the chagrin of my family...they hate the fact that I buy a new camera almost every trip), but, as of yet, no luck with what I'm looking for. I keep looking though, adding even more time into Disney planning and research.

And, low light pics brings up another topic...flash. I rarely ever use flash in Disney World. It's not allowed on dark rides (although, throughout the years, I've had many a ride ruined by someone who ignores that rule), and most of the time the subject is so far away, a tiny P&S flash is useless anyway. It kills me during fireworks when flashes are going off left and right...what the hell for? It's not like it's doing any good! It's just a waste of battery life! Drives me absolutely bezonker-nuts!

Another issue to take into account is the fact that Disney is very "colorful". Many, typically considered "high quality", cameras are pretty muted when it comes to color, but, at the same time, many "colorful" cameras are typically low on the quality side. Early Kodak digitals were actually quite perfect for Disney World since they were high on color (although, not so good on quality). I've had quite a few of those in my day and I will always defend my decision to invest in Kodak. They really weren't as bad as everyone thinks (at least from a Disney standpoint). Some of my favorite Disney pics ever were taken with my Kodaks (these are untouched pre-produced photos fresh off the memory stick):

Don't get me started on Olympus. I'm technologically savvy, but I think you might need an engineering degree to operate those bloody things! Granted, I haven't messed with any in a few years (so they might be better now, although I doubt it), but Am had one that totally sucked...and, coming from the person that had to "fix" all of her pictures, I think I can safely say it's a verified opinion. Every single picture was dull and crooked, so they all had to be adjusted post-production numerous ways to get them right. Luckily, she never took that many to begin with.

There is always one brand you just don't like for whatever reason, and mine's Canon. I don't like their body, I don't like their menus, and frankly, I'm not too impressed with their picture quality either (despite their rave reviews from pretty much the entire world).

I want to hit the "auto fix" button in any photo software and not see any kind of change (or very little of one). Kodak gave me that, but when even their color quality started dropping, I had to go in search of something else. That something else had to be a Sony. I swear by every other product that Sony makes (and own most), so I had to give their camera-making abilities the same level of dedication and, I have to say, I have yet to be disappointed!!

In regard to low light, my last, the Sony TX-66, was definitely the best. Here is a pre-produced pic from last year:

Am has a Nikon now (and doesn't go through them like I do), and although the color is a bit better, there is still a crooked issue (I kid that it's her head that's crooked). It's not her fault, she really does have a good eye (much better than mine for sure). Here is an example of she and I taking pictures of the exact same thing and the differences in color level:
Am's pre-production (notice the fading and blown out sky):

And mine (an early Sony of mine the TX1) pre-production from pretty much the same standpoint right next to her and at the very same time):

I wasn't in the market for a new camera for this trip. I blame my Mother who said, "you're not planning on buying ANOTHER camera this year, are you?". She planted a seed. My TX66 was working quite well, but there was still a bit of quality issue and the fact that it is so incredibly tiny made for lots of "freak out" moments when I thought I'd lost it.

I do read the DisBoards (although reluctantly, and with very little joy, it typically pisses me off more than it informs me of anything). I've been on them for many years (with very little posting on my part). But I do take great interest in the Photography boards over there. I look at everyone's pictures (the best way to judge a camera, IMO), read their thoughts on P&S's, and even absorb a bit of knowledge about Mirrorless (which I did consider this time, I just don't think I'm ready for one yet, both in skill level and price level...maybe next time) and DSLR's (so far out of my price range it's not funny! The lenses alone would be two months salary for me!).

The more research I did, the more I started leaning toward the Sony rx100 (the supposed best P&S ever made with DSLR quality pics). Knowing they were about to come out with its successor, the m2, I waited to see what the initial reviews of it were...they were very positive, but still, there was no Disney-themed reviews or pictures for me to ogle at and make my decision. Following the advice of a DisBoard member who loves the rx100, I took the plunge on the m2 anyway. Here's hoping and thanks bunches Havoc!

The only "bad point" I've identified so far is that it's not a touch screen. The past five cameras I've had have all been touch screens. I miss that already. The fact that I can use filters is a big plus (although taking the time to switch out or add filters might be difficult). It also has RAW capability, another area I'm anxious to delve into. I'm just excited to take pictures on dark rides...that's the true test of any camera!

Ultimately, camera choice is personal. It's what you're comfortable with and the final product that makes the camera. Professional photographers say it's the photographer and not the camera that makes the picture, but I disagree...I'm a crappy photographer but even I can turn out a few decent shots given the right instrument. The software you use in post-production is another big element, but that's for another blog series!


Lauren - Ambitious Stitches said...

Cameras are definitely a necessity at Disney! I always have mine with me, although in the past few trips I haven't taken as many pictures as I used to.

That being said, Disney vacation pictures are some of my favorites. I love taking pictures of little things that people normally pass by. Every trip I have to take a picture of the ground in front of the train tunnels at the main entrance because there is usually some confetti from the opening ceremony scattered around.

And I couldn't agree more: flash pictures on dark rides is one of the most annoying things EVER. Too many rides on POTC or the Haunted Mansion have been ruined due to idiots who thought flashing a camera every 3 seconds was a good idea.

I hope you are able to find a P&S camera that works the way you want! That can be a difficult challenge indeed.

Keebles said...

Thanks! I think I may have found "the one", but only time will tell!