The tickets are purchased. The itinerary is set. The big trip is right around the corner and now it’s time to pack the camera gear. If you’re like me, you probably hesitate before packing the DSLR – knowing full well that it means hauling ten to twenty pounds of gear everywhere you go.
Then you stop and think: do I really need to bring all this gear when I have an awesome tiny format camera in my smartphone?
I’ve debated this question countless times and wanted to finally put the question to rest once and for all. So on my last trip to Paris, I decided to spend the week photographing the city with only my tiny format gear.
How’d it work out?
I’ll cut straight to the point: only shooting (and carrying) tiny format was liberating.
No one wants to be loaded down with camera gear when traveling. Whether you realize it or not, all that weight and the size of the gear, is a major drag on creativity. It stops you from exploring different shooting angles, it intimidates people you may want to photograph, it puts a bullseye on you as a tourist, and frankly, it just tires you out.
Shooting tiny format on the other hand is almost effortless.
First of all. Lets talk about weight. A bag of tiny format camera gear weighs next to nothing. I could walk the city all day and night without my shoulders aching. It was a pleasure to have the heaviest thing in my camera bag be a bottle of water – especially when climbing 387 steps to the top of Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Maybe it’s the cinematic aspect ratio, but I love to shoot tiny format panoramas. It’s so quick and easy compared to using a DSLR – where I have to use a carefully calibrated tripod, take 7-10 photos, and then stitch them together on my computer. With tiny format I found myself shooting panoramas a lot more and in many places where you can’t easily setup a tripod – such as in the middle of a busy street.
When photographing on the street, I am constantly trying to make myself invisible in order to capture candid moments and situations. Sometimes it’s not so easy. You know that scene in the movies when a person walks into a bar, the music suddenly stops and everyone turns to look at them? Generally speaking, that’s what it’s like when I’m out on the street and I lift a DSLR up to my face.
Not so with tiny format. Smartphones are now so ubiquitous, no one notices them anymore! This is an amazing advantage for street photographers and leads to all sorts of wonderful shots.
Exploring all the angles
Having so little gear makes it easier to explore different shooting angles. Whether it’s leaning way out over a ledge, laying down on the ground, or even jumping up on a stair railing, tiny format doesn’t hinder your movements.
There were a number of candid moments I’m not sure I would have been able to capture without the speed comes with tiny format photography. I walked the streets with the phone in my hand, turned on, and already in camera mode. That way I didn’t have to waste time fiddling with anything before taking a shot.
Don’t Forget those Lenses
The iPhone has a wonderful camera, but I found myself shooting with my Moment Wide and telephoto lens a lot. Believe it or not, my favorite use of the telephoto lens was for shooting panoramas (the iPhone 7plus, 8plus and X all have a built-in telephoto lenses now). You need to have good panorama technique in order to get good results but give it a try. When I shot the Moment Wide lens , it was usually from a low angle or fairly close in to the subject. It really helps the composition to have something in the foreground when shooting the wide lens.
So next time you are heading out on a trip, think about leaving the DSLR at home and enjoying the freedom of photographing with the camera that’s already in your pocket.
Some more tiny format photos from Paris…