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Wednesday, March 21 News

Living With Technology / Traveling without a (real) camera

Having been bitten by the photography bug as a very young boy, it was an early profession of mine and now a very big hobby for me.

As I travel I take a camera with me, sometimes even on business trips. I like the way my trusty SLR (single lens reflex) camera captures images. I typically carry a telephoto lens as well as an external flash for the camera.

Of course, these all add bulk to what I carry. While I try to never check a bag, having this camera gear has presented a problem, simply because of the size of the gear.

So I recently went on a couple of trips WITHOUT my big DSLR (digital SLR). Instead, I used the camera on my smartphone (a Samsung Galaxy S8+). It was a dream. I’ve included some photos with this column.

To start with, the image quality is amazing, especially in daylight. For my purposes (travel photos of me, my family and scenery), I saw no benefit in taking my big DSLR.

The images were crisp, clear and bright.

Of course, the camera also fits into my pocket, is easy to carry everywhere and most new smartphones are also water resistant.

I found the ability to pull my smartphone out of my pocket, click a few buttons, take a few photos and put the phone back in my pocket a real dream.

Other features that my phone has includes panoramas, an interesting, but fairly clunky 3D mode, and some image editing options that can be fun.

Combine the camera’s image processing capabilities and some of the social media features that combine the image with the ability to indicate where you are, what the temperature is and even the score of a game you’re attending, makes the added capabilities very nice.

What I missed with my DSLR was the ability to really zoom in on a subject. Mobile phones have both optical and digital zoom capabilities. The digital zoom feature does not provide high quality images.

In addition, the LED flash on a smartphone is only good for a few feet. The external flash for my DSLR works up to 30 feet.

The short answer to all of this is that I still see my DSLR as having a place in my life, but its utility is for more important and critical photography than what I can do with my smartphone. For example, if I shoot a portrait and need to control light, the DSLR is still the camera of choice for me. Also, if I will be in a setting where I need to control aspects such as exposure, backlighting or other factors, the DSLR will still be the camera of choice.

But for the vast majority of my casual photos, I’m going to rely on my mobile phone and happily leave the big camera and accessories at home.

Mark Mathias is a 35+ year information technology executive and a resident of Westport, Connecticut. He can be contacted at livingwithtechnology@mathias.org.