Capturing The Perfect Shot -> Photo Equipment on the Road

“Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter” Ansel Adams

One of those perfect moments..captured thanks to my good ‘ol point-and-shot

I have to admit I’m a bit of a photography fanatic. I once made the joke that, having meditated for many years on inner peace, I had come to the conclusion that a 105mm f/2.8 lens would greatly enhance my spiritual growth, whilst a complete set of Lee ND filters would likely complete the circle of my life karma. Yes, I’m that nerdy and weird. So, with that disclaimer I’ll try and be brief and do a few posts on a topic that is close to my heart.

The first thing almost anyone asks when they see a shot is “what camera did you use?”. Now, Ansel Adams would be the first to point out that the camera is the smallest part of the equation. The reality of the matter is that there’s really no perfect camera (well, OK maybe the $30,000 Hasselblad H4D-40, which does come with free shipping by the way) but with a few $$ you can get yourself a pretty decent set-up. My own equipment consists of a “fancy” camera for my more elaborate shots and a simple point-and-shoot for  the rest. I’m not going to bore you by going through all the choices out there (feel free call me if you have a few months to chat, though), but I’ll go through the basics:

1/ Point and Shoot – These are the most basic and I think every RVer can do well having one. The “point and shoot” means just that. If you want to, all you have to do is frame your pic and press the button. Violà, photo done. I recently upgraded our version to a Canon S95. It’s a mid-to-high-end point and shoot which takes great little shots on-the-go. If you’re going to buy one I think it’s worth spending the few extra $$ on it. There’s a huge difference in picture quality between the cheapo versions and the higher-end. Other good point-and-shoots are the Nikon Coolpix P7000, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 and Canon Powershoot G12. has an in-depth review of all of them.

The sum total of my “fancy” photo stuff. My D80 with 18-200VR lens (left), 50mm (middle), extention tubes (on right) and trusty camera bag.

2/ SLR Cameras –These are the “fancy” cameras, so called because they use a mirror to direct light through the lens to the viewfinder. If you’re into photography this is no doubt the way to go, but you are going to have to lug around alot more weight and bulk for your hobby. There’s literally hundreds of choices and most manufacturers offer entry-level, mid and high-end version. I’m a Nikon girl and have been since I started out mainly because the red colors are so nice (yes, I’m an easy please). I have a Nikon D80 which was mid-end several years back and am literally drooling over the new Nikon D7000, but need to convince Paul to sell a few more puts before I can get one. Canon and Sony also make very good SLRs. Again, is a great resource for reviews.

3. Lenses for SLRs – The problem with “fancy” cameras is that you find yourself suddenly salivating over all kinds of lenses which you never needed before, but suddenly become essential for your very photography survival. I have 2 lenses which cover me just about everywhere, a 18-200VR (zoom) and a 50mm (really fast, simple lens). I also have a nifty little set of equipment called “extension tubes” that allow you me to do low-cost macro photography. If I had the choice I’d get a dedicated wide-angle, a dedicated macro and a bigger zoom, but that will be for the photography fairy to bestow sometime in the future. Here’s a good beginners guide to lenses for those just starting out, and for the more advanced does in-depth lens reviews.

Me and my camera. It’s how you’ll usually find me.

4. Extras – My very basic extras are a good tripod (Gitzo) and a 15-year old camera bag to lug everything around (still haven’t found a better design).

When I have the gumption I trek around with my “fancy” camera. I’ve used this baby for both amateur and professional photography, as well as hiking trips all around the world. The rest of the time I have the point-and-shoot in my pocket. I’ll do a few more posts on this series over the next few months (depending on interest). In the meantime, don’t let that shot pass you by.

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  1. Marilyn Cameron says

    Nina, photography on the go is simply life’s best. There is no end to subject matter and traveling has its advantages! Enjoy!
    I like your take on the equipment and can totally relate. Thanks for sharing.

    • libertatemamo says

      I was actually thinking of you as I wrote this post. Had so much fun chatting about photography with you in Utah. Hopefully we can meet up again next year! Nina

  2. says

    I recently upgraded my point and shoot and now my blog readers are complaining that my pictures are too big. I have to remember to reduce them before I post which is an extra step I sometimes forget to take. :(

    • libertatemamo says

      Oh yeah. The new cameras take massive pics. I usually cut them down to 600 pixels on the longest side. Nina

  3. Kathy Sikes says

    Love your photos! My husband is retiring from his first career (the military) in a couple of years. We have a 10 year plan ( when the kiddos are out of the house) to become fulltimers. I love your photos of the water life in Oregon. Do you sell these photos professionally? I think that would be a wonderful way to earn a little extra income on the road. Any suggestions on a lesser expensive camera, as a starter for close up still shots? Thanks!

    • libertatemamo says

      Hi Kathy,
      Thanks for the lovely comments! I don’t sell my pics, but have thought about it…maybe one day I’ll get around to setting that up…:)
      As for a camera for close-up shots, I have to admit I’ve never really found a good “point and shoot” that will do good close-ups. Your best bet is just to buy a good all-around point and shoot and use that for the range it covers (I personally like the Cannon S100), but for really *close* (detailed macro) shots you’ll need to turn to a bigger camera with exchangeable lenses. An entry-level DSLR with a standard 50mm lens and a set of extention tubes will do the job for a reasonable price. The extention tubes are waaaay cheaper than buying a dedicated macro lens and are light enough to carry anywhere. I wrote a post about them here:
      Capturing The Perfect Shot -> Cheap Macro

  4. says

    Hi! I happened upon your site after a FB “friend” suggested it for boondocking tips. I am relatively new to the photography world in that I have recently graduated from point and shoot to two DSLR’s. Go big or go home! LOL
    I own a Nikon 3100 and a Nikon 7100. Why do I need two, you may ask? Well, when I “blabbed” on FB that I had the first one, my dear cousin asked me to take pictures of her wedding. It was a lovely outdoor affair and I found myself fumbling between my zoom lense and my 55mm all the time. A new body seemed to fit the bill. It worked. My cousins daughter liked the pictures so much that she asked me to do HER wedding… It worked like a charm. I could tripod the one camera and use a remote but have the other for a different shot.
    This next year I have been asked to shoot pictures at a rather large family reunion. I gathered all my photography friends who are professionals and asked for a crash course. I now am the proud owner of a backdrop stand, several backdrops (used and large amounts of fabric yardage), a trunk full of props, two strobe lights and a pile of gels and filters. OH boy… what have I gotten myself into? So, I will be lugging it all to Oregon in the RV next March. I am not sure why I thought I should share all this except to say that when I get bit, I get bit HARD. Happy snapping!

    • libertatemamo says

      That’s some pretty snazzy equipment you’ve got there! I know a few folks who carry 2 camera body’s for exactly the same reasons you listed & I totally get it. Happy snapping to you too!


  5. says

    Don’t drool to much over a H4D I am a commercial photographer by trade,and it is a very slow camera that needs perfect light…….but that said……when the conditions are right it helps make some epic beautiful images. The best camera you have is the one you have with you just enjoy taking pictures,and the rest is pretty easy

  6. Free Birds says

    Love your photos, especially of the Southwest regin. My wife and I are hitting the pavement real soon, hence our handle – Free Birds.
    I am dumping my Canon 20D and looking at the Nikon D750, maybe the 610.
    My main intent is to capture our new journey on film. I have a good poin and shoot – Panasonic LX7 but I also want to step up to a full-frame camera.
    Can you tell me what would be a good choice in term of a camera and lenses? Also, do you shoot JPEG or RAW! And why?

    Here’s hoping our paths cross one day…..

    • libertatemamo says

      So I think any of the full frame Nikons would be a fabulous choice. Depending on how serious you want yo get I would recommend a good general-purpose zoom (for day to day), a good wide-angle (for landscapes) and potentially a fast 50mm for super sharp general pics. I have the Nikon lenses, but there are many other good ones out there.

      Since its been a loooong time since I looked at specs, I recommend reading reviews on these sites: – also a fabulous forum

      Nina a

    • libertatemamo says

      Oh and I forgot to answer your question on shooting. I know most serious photographers shoot raw since it gives them more data and control over the pics, but I’ve always just shot JPEG. I find it’s good enough for what I need.



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