“Juan, which is the model of your camera? Your pictures are top level”
Every now and then, someone compliments the pictures I take. Thank you all!
I’m nowhere near the best when it comes to photography and fishing. I’ve seen many other better ones out there.
A good camera helps produce high quality pictures but it is not a necessity.
Does A DSLR Make A Difference?
Some of the people I work with do carry a DSLR with them when fishing. The closest I’ve personally come to using one is with my Nikon 1 AW1, which is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Up to the moment I am writing this, it is still the only waterproof mirrorless interchangeable lens camera to ever hit the market.
My short answer to the question of whether any of us actually need a DSLR camera for fishing in this day and age is, yes if what your shoot goes into print – especially large format print, possibly commercial. In other words, you get paid for taking those images. The other answer is, no if your images will only be viewed on a screen. Or some may end up in small sized prints and you’re not getting paid for the images.
No Wrong Or Right As To The Type Of Camera You Choose
Of course, if you want to use a DSLR even for the latter situation described above, there is no wrong in that. That’s your choice and whatever makes you happy.
If you’re a regular angler however, you may want to think twice before putting your hard-earned cash down for a DSLR. I’ve seen many people who gave up their big bulky cameras after just one or two trips. They are just too cumbersome, fragile, and heavy. These people either end up turning to to compact cameras or their smartphones, or end up not taking pictures at all.
How To Take Good Photos?
Often times, it is what people see in the photo that gets people all excited rather than the clarity or quality of the image as in detailed sharpness or resolution. If your shot comes out in focus and all, even better, but you can never be sure at that moment as things happen so quickly.
As our main hero subject is often a fish, we often only have a fraction of a moment to capture a memorable or jaw-dropping scene. We usually do not have the luxury of time to plan and setup a shot.
The trick to taking good pictures is to take lots of them. It is not uncommon for me to take hundreds of shots from a single fishing trip. I took a total of 4.5GB worth of photos and short video clips from a single Mongolia trip recently just with my mobile phone.
Another tip to improve yourself is to think about what you’re trying to achieve, look closely at your own pictures and look at other people’s images and learn from them.
Here are the cameras I’ve used over the recent years:
- Kodak Playsport
- Olympus Tough 1030SW
- Olympus Tough TG-1
- GoPro Hero 3
- Nikon 1 AW1
- HTC Re
- iPhone 6S
- iPhone 7 Plus
- GoPro Hero 6 (not used yet as of posting this – latest addition in Feb 2018)
As you can see, there is no real fancy camera in the list. The ones still going are the TG-1 (mostly sidelined), Hero 3 (really bad image quality and short battery life!), iPhone 7 Plus (most used) and AW1 (only certain trips).
My Love Hate Relationships with the Nikon AW1
Hated it when it started to give problems soon after I started using it. Now that it’s fixed and performing properly, I’m loving it again. It’s letting me take pictures otherwise difficult to achieve with my current phone, the iPhone 7+.
As I am a full-time fishing guide, whatever gear I use gets abused.
Everything I use take a beating and face the harsh saltwater environment so naturally they need to be made tough – whether fishing gear to clothing to any equipment including cameras.
I’ve put a number of cameras through their paces over the years. One of them to land in my hands in 2016 is the Nikon 1 AW1 interchangeable lens camera (ILC).
The AW1 is the only ruggedised or tough ILC existing in the market. It is however, not new.
Launched in late 2013 it was a surprise to everyone and no-one has come out with anything similar since and there is no replacement AW2 in sight.
I’ve relied primarily on point-and-shoot (P&S) tough or action cams but the image quality has always been wanting and I’ve always had a DSLR camera in the back of my mind.
Only thing is, a “normal” DSLR will probably not last me very long and that’ll be expensive in the short run. And they’re bulky, though not really a deal breaker, I already have a lot to lug around.
The other cameras I’ve considered are the Canon G series i.e. G1X, G3X, G16, etc. Those take great images and are less bulky but still fairly fragile.
So here we are with the AW1 which promises toughness and better image qualities than any tough P&S out there (the Olympus TG-4 was a serious consideration).
The white AW1 I have does not make it look the part of being tough. Put on the all-white neck strap and it looks kinda kiddy even. Small issues though, as long as it gets the job done in a fashionable manner.
Why white? In case you’re wondering why did I choose a white camera especially since it’ll get stained quickly in the outdoor environment where I’ll be using it a lot, I didn’t. I got the camera on offer and only white is is available at the special price!
The controls are not very friendly for a non-P&S. You need to do a few clicks before changing any shooting mode. Takes some getting used to.
Indoor or in low-light, the camera does not impress. Outdoor is where it shines. And that’s fine as fishing takes place outdoors. Well, if you’re fishing the dawn and dusk period you’ll need to just take it as it is.
The focusing on the AW1 is really impressive and it can capture quick nice action shots without breaking a sweat. That’s a bonus for shooting jumping splashing fish and tail-walking sailfish.
Should You Buy A Camera Like The AW1?
Frankly, after the camera broke down, I did think about selling it after getting it fixed. After all, I’ve been using my smartphone for most of the photo and video taking tasks. My HTC Re is dead, the Olympus Tough TG-1 is completely sidelined, and I only use the aging and problematic GoPro Hero 3 sparingly.
With the HTC Re (which I use often) dead, I decided to put the AW1 to use during sailfish trips. It has since turned into my go-to still-shot camera. What that means is I use it for most of the still action shots and while I do take some stills with the iPhone, I use the phone for most of the video recording.
Yes, a camera like the AW1 is a good buy if you’re shooting in or around water a lot. No, if it’s mostly on dry environments as you’re better off spending your money on other options, those will take better pictures with better features for the same price.
The AW1 has one advantage though, it can take any Nikkor 1 lens out there and that opens up a whole new world of shooting possibilities including better low-light images with better lenses. Using other lens besides the two AW lenses makes the AW1 non-waterproof.
I’ve been posting quite a few images in Instagram. Check it out!
If you’ve always enjoyed viewing our photos and videos you can now look forward to even better (hopefully) ones!
Tight lines – JW