Outside the bookstore

Outside the bookstore

If you ask me what cameras I’ve seen in my recent travel to Iceland and Greenland, I have to honestly tell you that there were not many different brands.

In general, the travellers care about their travel a lot, so do the camera they use to record things they see. These days we have seen plenty of DSLR kits from hanging on the necks of many on beaches and streets, in museums, churches and restaurants.

In Iceland and Greenland, I observed Canon and Nikon DSLRs were absolutely the winners. Most of these cameras were amateur models judging from the size of the body and the kit lenses, but I had no reason to believe that it wouldn’t get the job done pretty well in all situations. Why are Canon and Nikon so common? One answer: depending how much marketing these two brands has done. For example Nikon, the electronics shop in Helsinki airport offered the latest Nikon D3200 body and the kit lens 18-55 mm at a price of 399 euro. This is an extremely attractive price. It was 30 percent cheaper than the street price.

I have seen a Danish man using a Nikon D800 plus a 80-200 zoom lens. He used the camera to capture the floating icebergs on the boat trip to Oqaatsut. During the conversation with my friend, he honestly admitted that big sensor didn’t guarantee excellent pictures. This is right and I found that with a travel zoom lens, you can capture powerful pictures as good as those by the professionals. In Reykjavik, I also saw a lady carrying a Canon 1D series plus a L series lens (you could notice the red line) outside the old harbour looking for best dinner deals. I spotted a man using a silver Leica M series body in Akuyeri. I was not sure which model it was but suddenly I found the silver body looks quite beautiful.

But there was little place for the mirrorless type of cameras, even it is very popular in Asian countries such as Hong Kong. Perhaps the camera market has already been saturated for many travellers. That means the users stick to the traditional DSLRs before they realise the potential of these mirrorless camera. Like the DLRs, the mirrorless has its pros and cons, and not everyone needs to make this switch at this stage. Perhaps the mirrorless brands have to put some efforts to make their products known to more clients. Isn’t it a problem if you rely too much on gear? It is a common pitfall when many people start taking photographs. I would like to see more good pictures through a mastery of skill instead of endlessly chasing after new products.

I saw some travellers using tripods to make long exposure of the flow of water of the waterfalls. Nearly all waterfalls of Iceland are magnificent. Normally handholding your camera can produce satisfactory pictures. However, with a tripod and a ND filter you can create majestic moments by reducing the shutter speed.

During my travel, Leica released the Leica X Vario. If it was available earlier, I might have bought it for my journey. It features an acceptable zoom lens on a smaller M-type body. It is an evolutionary X series camera. Later on I had a ten minutes hand-on with it and found it was nicely made. But as a Leica M9 user, I would rather go for an upgrade to the M because of the M lenses I own. It also too big for a point and shoot camera.

During the travel, I also used the Canon 6D to capture videos and it did the job wonderfully with the help of a tripod. Of course, the total weight of a Lecia M9, a Canon 6D plus lenses and other accessories was too much of a burden. I have decided not to try this combination again.


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