Traveling Light

My wife and I recently went to Aruba for a mid-winter vacation. It was just the two of us; no kids. As we were preparing for the trip, I was attempting to figure out what camera/lens combination I would be taking. My wife also needed to decide, but her choices are a little bit narrower: iPhone or iPhone + Nikon S9500. Given the small size and nice zoom range of the S9500, she opted to take it along.

My choice was more complicated. I wanted to balance flexibility with portability. My primary goal for the trip was to enjoy time with my wife. Any pictures I took would be secondary to that goal. So, I ended up taking the following:

  • iPhone
  • Nikon D7100
  • Nikkor 85 mm f/1.8
  • Nikkor 28 mm f/1.8
  • Tokina 8mm fisheye

Discounting the iPhones, this is the comparison between our two kits.


And here is a weight comparison:

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My kit was just over 4 pounds. Hers was less than half a pound. Of course, hers is way more portable than mine. But I’ve got great lenses and a kick-ass camera, right?

Many of our images are on Facebook. They are a mishmash of the cameras above, plus iPhone, plus GoPro. And guess what. They are all good enough for our purposes. Our purposes are a) documenting our vacation and b) showing our friends via social media and a photo book.

At the end of our vacation, I even opted to take the S9500 out for a bit of an explore to capture the final images in my Unseen Aruba post. Looking at that post, can you tell the difference?

The one place that my kit definitely out-shined the S9500 was in a butterfly garden. I could lock on focus better, and get crisper images than she could. And my images had more detail when you compared them full screen. Does that mean she got nothing? Nope. She got some very nice pictures of the butterflies. It just means that my camera/lens combination was better suited to the detail and fast movement.

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Can you tell which came from $1800 worth of gear, and which came from $150 worth? Does that difference merit the weight difference?

So again, for our purposes, my wife’s Nikon S9500 performed very well. Much as I love my dslr kit, for travel I need something lighter. I’ve chosen the Panasonic ZS40. And that will be the topic of later posts.