Frequently Asked Questions

Can I take a tripod or monopod on a cruise?

Usually you can, but check with the cruise line first. Most have restrictions on bringing aboard weapons, such as a billy club, or items such as baseball bats that could be used as a weapon. You don't want to find out you cannot take your 'pod when you are boarding.

Which is better, Nikon or Canon?

This is probably perhaps the most asked question on the camera planet. Answer is that neither is significantly better than another. While there are measurable, and perhaps noticeable differences between the two, either will generally fulfill your photographic needs. It is more about the skill of the person behind the camera than the camera itself.

Personally, I like Nikon for DSLRs because I believe with the Nikon's larger DX cropped sensor size, they outperform the Canon's smaller cropped sensor. However, the cropped sensor sizes are not that much different. For compact cameras, Canon is perhaps a bit better than Nikon. But there are other notable compacts from Olympus, Sony, and others that are pretty good as well.

I have a camera with a 18-55mm lens. What would be a good second lens?

You have three choices, especially for cruise photography. First, there is the low-light issue. Kit lenses do not do well in low light. Therefore, something like a 35mm f/1.8 or 50mm f/1.8 will provide good photos inside of the ship.

If you are taking a lot of ship photos, a super wide lens (10mm in the DX format) is a great addition as it can capture the width of the ship. Same thing applies if you are going to Alaska and you want those wide vistas. A super-wide will be an asset.

Finally, the most popular second lens is perhaps a 55-200mm or 55-300mm telephoto lens. In the Caribbean, longer telephoto lenses have issues with haze. But in Alaska, even 300mm might not be enough, so in that case, renting a lens might be an option (but you will need a tripod for a long lens).

I went on an excursion, but we were on a bus, and the photos just didn't turn out well.

If you are shooting through a window, a circular polarizer can be an asset. The polarizer will reduce or eliminate any glare from the sun that may reflect off the window. And I always take a few disposable wipes so that I can clean the window if needed. This means I'll have to know where I am sitting, but you can figure that out on your own.

Unfortunately there are not too many polarizing filters for non-DSLRs. But some compacts, such as the Nikon P7000 can be outfitted with a lens tube and a filter.

My camera uses AA batteries, can I use rechargeable Li-ion batteries?

No. AA batteries have a 1.5V per cell rating, while AA Li-ion batteries have a 3.6V per cell rating - way too much voltage. Your camera should be able to use non-rechargeable Lithium batteries, which are Lithium Iron Disulfide (different from Lithium Ion), as they have a 1.5V rating as well.

My camera uses AA batteries, can I use rechargeable Ni-Mh batteries?

Usually yes, but check the manual to be sure you can. This may not be as much of an issue with cameras powered by 4 AA batteries, but for those powered by 2 AA batteries, Ni-MH batteries may not provide enough current to run the camera.

While Ni-Mh batteries, can have similar capacity to Alkaline or Lithium batteries, their peak current is less, so they may not power the camera sufficiently. In other words, there is enough gas in the tank, but not enough horsepower to run the camera; especially in 2 battery cameras.

Are cameras having rechargeable batteries better than Alkaline batteries?

The answer is not as simple as it seems. I have an inexpensive Point & Shoot camera that I keep in my car for those times that I forget to bring my regular camera (or if it is in the trunk). For those situations, a camera with AA Alkaline batteries is a clear advantage, as you don't have to remember to recharge your battery periodically. And by packing a second set of AA batteries, you will be sure to have a camera that will power up.

On the other hand, for low budget cameras, the cost of buying AA batteries over the life of the camera may negate any up-front savings you realized by buying an AA battery camera. So it really depends on your needs.

My flash uses AA batteries, can I use rechargeable Ni-Mh batteries?

Usually yes, but again check the manual to be sure. Unlike cameras that require a minimum amount of juice from the batteries, a flash works by building up a charge in it's flash capacitor. Using Ni-MH batteries may result in longer flash recycle times, as the lower current being supplied by the battery is lower. For the fastest recycle times, use non-rechargeable Alkaline or Lithium batteries.

Why can't I charge my camera from my computer with a USB cord?

Most cameras do not behave like iPods. They usually do not have a buit-in charger, so they can only be charged by taking the battery out of the camera and charging it with a wall charger. There are a few exceptions though. Many of the newer Nikon compact cameras, and the Olympus Tough series do charge via USB. The telltale is that if your camera came with a wall charger, it probably cannot be charged with a USB cable.

Is haze a problem in the Caribbean?

It can be. Especially when taking a photo across water. Unfortunately, haze filters do not work. The two options are to either avoid taking long telephoto shots or post-processing in photo software. Neither option is perfect, but they can result in an improvement. Refer to the following tutorial for reducing haze using post-processing software:

It is better to format your memory card in the camera or computer?

For the most part, it does not matter - if you format your memory card correctly. If you are using Windows, format the SD card in either FAT32 - or if the card is over 32Gb, extFAT. And make sure you set the allocation block to 32Kb.

If you have a MAC, you have to format in FAT32/extFAT as well. But with the MAC's Disk utility, you cannot easily change the allocation block (default is 4kb), so the card will not perform as well with the wrong allocation block. So my advice is unless you know the "newfs_msdos" command intimately, then use your camera to format the memory card.