The Best Camera

Celeste Cota Photography

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge

“The best camera is the one that’s with you” is a quote by photographer Chase Jarvis. As my photo equipment stockpile has grown over the past few years, there are times it seems that carrying everything I need to capture an image is just plain exhausting. Weighty DSLR, filters, batteries, zoom lens, hot shoe flash . . . Is it all necessary?

Another question I have to ask is “Does it really lead to the best images?” What about the ones you miss because you left the “good” camera at home, nice and safe.

Have you ever found yourself eying a scene and cursing the fact that you didn’t bring your camera? For many, the thought of shooting it doesn’t cross their minds. For me, a missed shot will haunt me all day.

Celeste Cota Photography

Buildings in Little Italy

My husband and I recently went to New York City for a few days. We had decided this would be a very casual, low budget, backpacking kind of getaway. As soon as he mentioned that he didn’t think we’d need to check a bag for the flight, I started to panic. How could I shoot the city without all my stuff?

It was a pretty bare bones long weekend and was really fun, despite my anxiety about my perceived lack of photographic gadgetry. I did bring my Canon DSLR, but no zoom, just a polarizer filter, spare battery, battery charger, and a fistful of SD cards. I got some good shots and overall was pretty happy with the couple thousand images I came home with. While there in New York, we went to the B & H retail store. This was prompted by a discussion about getting a smaller, lighter camera for our upcoming family vacation. Theme park, waterslide, beaches . . . all places you don’t want to be bogged down with camera equipment but …. the potential for family candids and lights and sunsets and quirky finds is endless. I knew that I would be frustrated with a regular point and shoot camera. No viewfinder, no RAW capture, no CMOS sensor, no manual focus ability and the worst . .  shutter lag. So our trip to B & H was informative and I got to hold a few cameras in my hands. Discussing my requirements with one of the staff there got me to check out the Canon SX50 HS.

Compact and lightweight and meeting my demands, I decided to sleep on it – and to look to sell my older DSLR in order to pay its $359 price tag. Sold the old Rebel and bought the SX50HS and will soon embark on a road trip with the family where I’ll really get to try it out.

Celeste Cota Photography

The Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn

So, back to the quote ….. I’ve found that having a good camera isn’t good at all if its size, bulk, weight, or whatever tend to have you leave it at home, leaving you without a camera – when you see something you need to shoot. I’m hoping that my new little compact Canon will fill the gap, allow me to create quality shots despite the smaller size and price.

Thinking about this reminds me of some of the shots I have just because I had a camera with me. There are opportunities you create when you intentionally photograph something and then there are things that just happen and you’re lucky enough to be there to catch it.

This is one of my favorite shots from a trip we took to Hollywood a few years ago. Yeah, I got some of the costumed  characters out on the walk of fame, but it was only a quick eye and shooting from the hip (literally) that got this shot.

Celeste Cota Photography

Coffee break behind Chinese Theater in Hollywood.


There are times, too, when the potential of a photograph would be lost if I were to haul out my larger “serious” camera, like this one in Hollywood. Had I brought the camera up to eye level, focused, shot, this whole scene could be disrupted and ruined if I had been seen.

Here’s another example of shooting from the hip – while in New York a few weeks ago, we went to Chinatown for lunch. Afterwards we walked around a bit. The open markets are amazing and colorful, but watched over with the owner’s keen eye. It felt intrusive and unwelcomed for me to frame the scene and shoot with my DSLR. I took a quick shot here and there.

Chinatown market

Chinatown market

So I think that having a smaller, lighter camera will be a benefit in many ways – I believe I will be more likely to carry it with me regularly (I got a cute camera bag for it too!). I also think that for street shooting, I might be able to get more if I don’t appear to be a “professional” photographer. Sometimes people are squeamish about being photographed, whether it’s them or their stuff. Looking like every other tourist could lead to more options. Last, I think that a lightweight, smaller camera that I can stick in my tote bag without much fuss and take to the theme parks and boardwalks will allow me to experience these places differently.

The best camera is the one that’s with you.


Celeste Cota Photography

LA Palm trees as shot from the car window




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