Monday, January 14, 2013

Minnie Moms: What Kind of Camera Do You Carry to WDW and Why

"You know, they make those tiny now.  You don't have to look like the sister of Quasimodo anymore."  That was what one of the Cast Members at the 50s Prime Time Cafe told me about my big ol' camera.  

I asked the Minnie Moms to tell us what type of camera they carry at Walt Disney World and why.  

Amy: I've always loved taking pictures.  I had a nice digital point and shoot camera when Tink was born and so did my dad.  When she was about three days old, he decided that wasn't good enough so he and my husband went to Best Buy and somehow came home with a smokin' good deal on a Canon XSi.  Nothing fancy, just a nice entry-level DSLR.  While DisneyDad bought it for himself, it was left with me, figuring correctly that if I had a fun camera he would get a steady stream of photos of the grandbaby.  Last year, I gave DisneyDad his camera back and upgraded to a Canon T3i.  I really wanted to love the 60D but since most of my photography is of my children, the smaller camera made more sense to me.  I carried the XSi to Walt Disney World twice and to Disney's Hilton Head Island once.  The T3i has been to WDW twice and will make it's third visit very soon.  I love having a camera that takes excellent photos even in automatic mode and allows me a little creativity when I have the time.

The only thing I don't like about carrying a DSLR is the weight.  The Rebel line is lighter than the more expensive models but your shoulders will be sure to tell you that you've been lugging that thing all day. I have several camera bags that will safely and conveniently carry my camera and varying amounts of personal stuff.  Every trip seems like a new puzzle of which camera bag for me and/or backpack for the kids I should use.  (That sounds really trivial.  I am thankful to have such silly problems!)

There were a number of years where our family had maybe one camera with us at WDW.  Been there, done that syndrome.  Now if you get the whole Growing Up Disney family together, we'll have three DSLRs and 5 iPhones.  I love being able to share photos right away with my phone.

Taken with iPhone 4

Taken with Canon T3i

Corby: I used to carry a point and shoot camera around the parks with me. It was all about convenience. Who wants to carry heavy camera gear and the kids and all their loot was my thinking process. I needed as compact and lightweight as possible. Well, then I started getting frustrated with my shots. The kids were often a blurry mess if they moved (and what kid doesn't move?). If I used the action setting the photos turned out very grainy and I couldn't get a firework shot if I tried. Can you say frustrating? Dim light pics? Forget it. I decided it was time to purchase a new camera. I did a ton of researching online and in stores. I finally decided on a refurbished Nikon D3100 and it was the best decision for me starting out. I wasn't sure how I would do with a DSLR so I decided to try and keep it as simple as possible. I didn't want to have to worry about different settings. ISO, shutter speed, f/stop, aperture, etc. Yikes. Who wants to spend a ton of money on a camera and not know how to use it properly? I can honestly say that I am truly in love with my camera of choice. So much so, I don't even mind schlepping it in the parks. It is bulky and can get in the way when wrangling kids but getting amazing pictures at my favorite vacation destination is definitely worth the hassle. I'm now obsessed with taking pictures everywhere at the parks. I use the automatic setting the most. I can now get some good firework shots, clear action shots and the details are by far more crisp with my Nikon D3100 in comparison to my old point and shoot. I do still have some difficulties at times with low light though and I am starting to research a new lens so I can zoom in closer but overall I highly recommend it for anyone who may be interested in purchasing a beginner DSLR camera.

Kelly: I have a Kodak Easyshare M340. It was a great camera a few years ago but it is now time to upgrade. I keep reading all about cameras on the Disney Tourist Blog and wishing I could take amazing photos like he does (but I can’t.) If you need help picking out a camera check out their Photography Review section it is very informative. When I was at Disney last month for the Fantasyland grand re-opening I used my Kodak and the camera on my Samsung Galaxy S3. The camera on the S3 has some very cool options I really liked burst shot with “best photo” enabled. The burst shot allows you to take a photo and the camera will take a series of quick photos and they appear at the bottom of the screen. The “best photo” will display the thumbs up symbol on it and you can save that photo and the rest will be deleted. It was something I don’t have on the Kodak and was great for taking some many different types of photos. I am on the look out for a new camera for my next Disney trip.

Here are some photos taken with the Galaxy S3.

Danielle: I'm not sure if I'm in the majority now, since we're in the age of smartphones, after all, but my favourite camera to bring to the parks is simply my iPhone! I have the iPhone 5, so the outdoor picture quality is great, and it is just so super convenient to have such a small camera that doubles as my phone, as well! With two young kids in strollers, lugging around my DSLR is just not appealing at this stage of the game - especially at WDW, which we visit every few months anyway! Of course, if we were on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, I would totally bring a higher-quality camera! But, for my home-away-from-home, of which I already possess WAY too many photos, my iPhone works just great. Additionally, I can do super cool photo effects with the click of a button with the help of some free (or low-priced) photo editing apps. Here are the before and after pictures of the toy soldiers from Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. This particular picture (after) was created using the app, Tadaa.

Janine: I am a techno-phobe. I don't do anything fancy with a camera other than take a picture. We do have a digital camera, it's a Samsung NV3 7.2 mega pixel if that means anything to you ;). I point it at something and press a button! I can just about turn the flash on and off but that is all ... But it is the camera we have and use and it suits us just fine! This trip I also used my iPhone to take a lot of photos and again, this served its purpose. I see people with tripods set up who talk about shutter speeds etc but that just isn't for me. If anything we found we took far less photos this time with Tink because we were so absorbed in watching her we kept forgetting to capture it ... Thank God for those ever present Photo Pass guys :)

Natalie: Back many years ago, I purchased a Nikon N65. It was a great camera taking beautiful film shots. After having my son, I quickly purchased a few extra lenses, wanting to get the shots of his little feet and hands with the best available lenses. As time marched on, the way of the camera went to digital film. I decided I would also move on to a digital camera, the Nikon D90. I decided on this particular camera for its ability to use the same lenses I had originally purchased for my Nikon N65. I also liked the thought that this camera could also take film when needed.

On my first trip to the Disney parks with the new camera, I thought it weighted a ton! I was already wagging around a baby, a diaper bag, a stroller and a purse to the theme parks. The camera really felt like too much to handle. The camera would flop down and nearly hit everything as I moved to pick up my son or the diaper bag. The camera was pricey enough too that I refused to leave it in the stroller. Each trip to Disney, I refused to leave the camera behind. I knew it was going to be more for me to have to lug around the parks, but wanted only the best photos without the cost of getting the photo pass. I also found it comforting to know that the Disney Photopass workers were using my exact camera! This made me feel as though I not only had the best camera, but made it easy for the Photopass photographers to quickly change the settings on the camera when my son and I wanted a photo with the characters.

Looking back on the photos, I am excited I decided to purchase a camera that would capture many of our great Disney vacation moments. Now that my son is now 6 years old and I have had many, many vacations with using this camera, I hardly notice the weight of carrying it all throughout the day! 

Many thanks to JanineCorbyNatalieDanielle, and Kelly for sharing their camera tips this month.   Please check out our Minnie Moms page for past articles and more information about this terrific team. 


  1. Long ago I took at Kodak Instamatic to the park and the "old" pictures I have posted used it. I got hooked on photography one summer and replaced the Kodak with a Minolta SRT-102 35mm camera. I took a lot of pictures of Amy with it (check out the Photo Flashback icon/picture on the main page). One trip to Orlando, I bought a small digital camera and my digital age began. I replace the small camera with an Olympus, and when Tink was born, the Canon EOS XSi. I have been to WDW twice with the XSi and love the results I have gotten with it. It's heaver than a point-and-shoot camera or an iPhone,but with the top-load camera case I bought it is easy to carry and the photo's are well worth it. I just need to spend the time/money and get some of the pictures put on paper!

  2. I have a DSLR that I always take with me to the parks, and I will always take it. I would feel naked without it there. I also have my HTC Evo 4G LTE phone that takes decent pictures for instant sharing. I love taking pictures at the parks despie the fact that the camera does seem a bit heavy and overwhelming at times. To me it's worth it!!!!


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