Last week myself and my better half flew to Italy for a few days – the city of Bergamo to be exact. Bergamo is in northern Italy and has a population of about 120,000. We’d never been to this country before so were looking forward to see what it had to offer.
Turns out, it’s a beautiful country with very friendly people, superb cuisine and amazing architecture. It’s also very affordable to dine and drink out. Food and drink costs about half what we pay here in Ireland. You’ll get a decent bottle of wine in a supermarket for €3.50.
Initially, we thought that the weather would be lovely – sunny, no rain, etc – that was our impression of Italy. However, when we read up some more, it turned out that northern Italy and Bergamo in particular can be pretty wet. Because it’s nestled in the foothills of the Italian Alps, it gets quite a lot of rain. However, when we were there the weather was beautiful and sunny. We had one thunderstorm late on the second day but besides that, we got really lucky.
Anyway, this really isn’t a post about Italy or Bergamo …
… it’s about my photographic experience there. I didn’t fancy bring my main camera – the Sony A7R III, with its 24-70mm, F2.8 lens, despite its smallish, mirrorless form factor. I wanted to wander around and enjoy my time there instead of lugging around a camera, fiddling with settings, etc.
So, I brought the Fuji X100V, my One Plus phone and the GoPro Hero 11. Any of these could easily fit into a pocket – maybe a jacket pocket for the Fuji and all are fairly discreet.
In total, I took 386 photos while on holiday. Between coming and going, we were gone for 5 days so I wouldn’t say this was a lot of photos. Now lets break down what devices the photos were taken on. I took 86 photos on the Fuji, 143 on the phone and 164 on the GoPro. What did I discover?
With the Fuji, I had to think a little – about settings as well as composition. With the fixed 23mm lens, you had to figure out what you could and couldn’t fit into the scene – not always so easy in the narrow streets of the old town in Bergamo. And I did want to include a sense of the people and the place. I didn’t use it as often as I thought I would. But it is a lovely street camera and I do intent to use it more often. Below are 3 photos of the 86 that were taken with the Fuji X100V.
Next up was the phone. I took 143 photo with it. It’s so handy – you always have it with you, there are none or very few settings you have to fumble with and most people take no heed of you because everyone has their phones out. I know I can probably change it but my phone by default, takes photos that are quite wide or long, depending on the way you’re holding it. But, you can make this work in certain circumstances and besides, I could always crop the photos after – which is what I did. Below are 3 photos taken with the phone.
Last, but not least is the GoPro Hero 11. I only acquired this recently so I’m still thinking with the still photography mindset as opposed to the video mindset, which is what this device is primarily made for. The most photos I took were with this camera – 164 in total. I used it in hyperview mode which is essentially a very wide field of view. It gives a fisheye view of the scene in front of you and this is especially exaggerated in the narrow streets of the old town in Bergamo. I felt this worked well in capturing the almost claustrophobic atmosphere here. This camera is also very discreet and easily fits in the palm of your hand or in your pocket. Here are 3 photos taken with the GoPro.
So, what do I think of these 3 cameras after this experience?
The mobile phone is dead handy. It takes a reasonably good photo and is very discreet when you want to avoid being noticed. I don’t think the photos stand up to as much editing as photos from the Fuji or the GoPro. Would I use it as my only camera? No, I wouldn’t for the above reason but also I think the pictures from it lack that bit of soul that the other cameras have, the Fuji in particular. But I’m being picky here and I can see how people would use this as their only camera, especially when travelling. And I reckon the photos from a different camera phone may be higher quality.
The Fuji X100V. Despite having taken the least amount of photos with this camera, overall I think I preferred the pictures from it. The fixed lens forced you to think a bit more before clicking the shutter and this is good, as it stops you from doing the run and gun photography that we are all sometimes guilty of. The aesthetic and colour from the images are really beautiful and using the in-built film simulation recipes renders gorgeous pictures straight from the camera. When used with a wrist strap, it is also pretty discreet when out on the street.
Lastly, the GoPro hero 11. This is without a doubt the funnest (is that even a word) camera I have ever used. I took the most photos with it. It’s very discreet and I really enjoyed the fisheye effect with the wide lens when shooting in and around the narrow streets of old town Bergamo. You can change the field of view to get photos without the warped effect at the edges. I definitely think this camera will go everywhere with me from now on.
So, which one is the best?
I honestly couldn’t pick one camera out as being the best, or my favourite. At the end of the day, all took a pretty good photo – some may have better quality or a different perspective. However, I can say that I really enjoyed not having the “big” camera and its associated lenses along with me. A combination of these three cameras or any one of them will be fine for any foreign travels I have in the future.
Some other shots taken with the GoPro Hero 11
Some shots taken with the Fuji X100V
Some uncropped shots taken with the phone.