Go See Do Photography

A Lot of Travel, A Little Bit of History, and a Whole Bunch of Photos

Tag: review

AKASO EK7000 Action Camera Review

While our recent cruise wasn’t a photography-centric trip, I can’t travel without taking pictures. If I don’t have pictures, I don’t have content to share with you! Since we were planning on snorkeling and river tubing, I knew I wanted a camera that I could get wet. I considered getting one of those underwater cases for my iPhone, but those don’t protect against dropping it underwater and I really didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars replacing my phone, I began searching for inexpensive waterproof cameras.

After hours of searching Amazon and technology review sites, I found the AKASO EK7000. It is a small, GoPro sized, action camera that came with more accessories than I know what to do with! I think one of them is supposed to be a helmet clip but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to put it together. It has wifi so it can connect to your phone to share your pictures/videos on social media and supposedly it shoots 4K video. This camera is ridiculously highly rated on Amazon so for less than $50 I decided to pull the trigger.

Once the camera arrived, I understood all of the 5 star reviews, and its not because of quality. In the box with the camera was a sheet with several accessory packages you can get for free if you show proof of a 5 star rating on Amazon. Right there, that made me incredibly skeptical of this tiny camera’s performance. I played with it in the house for a little bit before we left, but I wish I would’ve messed around with it a little more (this is a lesson for purchasing any new camera gear, really). While snorkeling, I couldn’t figure out how to put it in photo mode as opposed to video mode. Afterwards, I realized it had date stamped all of my photos with the factory date of June 2000, which really messed up Lightroom when I imported the photos when I got home. After getting back to the room, I was able to figure all of that out, but it would’ve been nice to focus on taking pictures while snorkeling as opposed to just working the camera.

Once I stopped panicking about getting out of video mode, I realized that I could pull still images out of the videos so I was able to get some usable shots. This camera did perform pretty well underwater (top), but when it came to taking daylight shots (above), it didn’t do so hot. And lets not even mention the photos that I took inside the cave. My iPhone 7 takes MUCH better pictures than this. The videos did seem to come out better, though. AKASO claims that with the waterproof housing, it doesn’t record sound, but if you watch these, you’ll see that that’s not exactly true. Is that sound 100% clear and articulate? No, but it is nice to capture some of ambient sound. Watch the videos below to see how this camera handles video. And just a reminder, I’m a photographer, not a videographer!

Overall, I think this camera is worth its $50 price tag. Does it perform like the GoPros that are priced 6x+ higher? Of course not! But for capturing vacation memories and not having to worry about accidentally damaging your phone, I think its worth it! Click here for more information about this camera.

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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The Great Camera Bag Search

Camera as Subject
I feel like my life purpose has been to find the perfect camera bag. I want something that I can travel with, that doubles as a purse so I don’t have to carry two bags (granted, since I got an iphone wallet, I rarely carry a purse these days). I want something inconspicuous; I don’t want it to yell “HEY! I’M CARRYING A BUNCH OF EXPENSIVE CAMERA GEAR!” And the trickiest parameter, I want it to be fairly fashionable. Let’s go through the bags I have and my thoughts on them:

Lowepro Passport Sling:

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This was the first camera bag I purchased for my DSLR. This was the perfect bag for my Disney trip! It held my D3100, an additional lens, camera accessories, and everything else we needed for a day in the parks (sunscreen, ponchos, fold-able water bottles, etc.). I like that it is a sling design, so you’re not carrying all that weight on one shoulder, and you don’t have to take it all the way off to get anything out of it, the way you would with a backpack. It is a larger bag, so if you’re looking to just carry a single camera body and lens with minimal accessories, this is probably not the bag for you. While this is a good bag, its very utilitarian looking and didn’t meet my fashionable needs. This is the bag Chris uses these days, but all of the pockets can make it hard to find things, especially little things like extra memory cards.

Eddie Bauer Adjustable Shoulder Strap Camera Bag:

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Honestly, this is not a bag we use too much. We bought a used camera and it came with this bag. But, if you’re looking for a simple bag to carry a single camera body and lens this is a good, inexpensive choice (its $11.99 on Amazon).

Ghope Black Canvas Messenger Bag for DSLR Camera:

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These days, my gear lives in this bag. I’m able to hold my D3100 – lens on and two backup lenses (although one is a small prime lens). There are two pockets in the front for small accessories and a pouch on the back for skinny things like cable releases. The detailing on the front gives it a little added aesthetics and while its pretty boxy for a a messenger bag, it doesn’t scream “camera bag”.My one complaint is the strap is kind of short so it rides a little high if I wear it cross body.

My dream camera bag, if you’re looking to buy me a gift, is the Kelly Moore B-Hobo Bag. It looks like a handbag, but has built in padding for your gear. The price tag is the only thing holding me back. I haven’t been willing to shell out over $150 for a camera bag.
Thanks for stopping by! Do you have a camera bag you love? Let me know in the comments! To see what I carry in these bags, check out my gear page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on  Flickr! This month I am taking part of an Instagram Travel Challenge, posting a travel photo a day on Instagram and I’d love for you to follow along!

Norwegian Gem – A Final Review

Bridge in Fog 22/100

Sailing under the Verazzano Bridge on the way back into New York Harbor.

So far I have reviewed the ports from my cruise: Port Canaveral, Great Stirrup Cay, and Nassau and I’ve reviewed the dining. All I’ve got left is the ship itself. The Gem debuted in 2007 and can hold over 2300 passengers. It is considered a mid-sized ship, but there is so much going on that it feels like a much larger ship. Whether you’d like to lounge by the pool, practice your golf swing, or go on a scavenger hunt with the family, there is something for everyone to do on sea days.

We had an obstructed ocean-view cabin on deck 8. It was on the smaller side but it wasn’t uncomfortable for the two of us. If there were any more people, it would have been crowded. There was a lot of storage built into the cabin so things weren’t lying around and getting in the way. I think next time we would pay a little more for a full ocean-view or a balcony.

There are a lot of entertainment options on the Gem. There are big nightly Vegas-style shows, Second City Comedy shows, and numerous musicians around the ship. We’re not into Vegas-style shows so I can’t speak to the those, but the Second City shows were hilarious! I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time! We also really enjoyed the piano and guitar players on the ship. On the last night they had a huge jam session where all the ship’s musicians came together and even let musically-inclined passengers join them on stage.

The crew was great! The food was great! We loved that you weren’t seated with strangers at dinner. There was a lot to do on the ship. Overall, we loved the Gem and can’t wait to sail with NCL again in the future!

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To book your Norwegian Cruise Vacation visit NCL.com.

Norwegian Gem – A Dining Review

Gem in Nassau 19/100

Norwegian Cruise Line specializes in “Freestyle Cruising” which means no assigned dining times or dining rooms and a more relaxed dress code. The Gem has 11 dining venues. 6 of these are complimentary: Magenta, Grand Pacific, O’Sheehans, Orchid Garden, The Garden Cafe, and The Great Outdoors. The Gem also has several specialty, for-fee restaurants: Cagney’s Steakhouse, Le Bistro, Moderno Churrascaria, La Cucina, and Teppanyaki. I would definitely recommend getting reservations for the specialty restaurants ahead of time unless you don’t mind dining late. You can make reservations for the specialty restaurants online before the cruise, but you have to pay at time of booking. If you don’t want to pay for your food months before your cruise, I recommend booking right when you get on the ship to get the most ideal times. And personally, I would book times on the later side since you’ll probably have a bigger lunch than you’re used to. Unless you have a big group, there is no need to book the complimentary restaurants ahead of time.

Magenta and Grand Pacific are the main dining rooms with rotating menus. Grand Pacific is the more formal dining room but even though they shared menus, we found the service to be better in Magenta. In Magenta they refilled our bread and brought coffee with dessert without having to ask for it. Speaking of dessert, you have to try the Warm Chocolate Volcano!

O’Sheehans is the Irish Pub that is open 24 hours a day. It has a limited menu, but is good if you want to avoid the crowds (especially on embarkation day) or eat at an off time. O’Sheehans definitely had the most restaurant-like feel to it and there was never a wait. The fish and chips were great!

Orchid Garden is the Asian Fusion restaurant that recently got rid of its cover charge and because of that, was the busiest of all the restaurants. This was the only restaurant we ever had to wait for and personally, it wasn’t worth it. The dishes were unusual but they were OK. Service, on the other hand was not so great. I would most likely skip the Asian restaurant on next Norwegian cruise.

The Garden Cafe and Great Outdoors are the buffets on the ship. The Garden Cafe is the main buffet and The Great Outdoors is the al fresco dining option. On sea days, The Garden Cafe was always packed! You could always find a table, but it was crowded walking through. The Garden Cafe typically had shorter hours and a more limited menu. We ate most of our meals in the main dining room because we didn’t want to deal with the hassle of the buffets.

Cagney’s Steakhouse is Norwegian’s Signature Steakhouse and it was PHENOMENAL! It has the highest cover charge of the signature restaurants and it was worth ever penny. Everything I had was perfectly cooked and seasoned. The servers were attentive but didn’t hover. My only complaint is we dined at Cagney’s on my birthday and they brought out an anniversary cake and sang an awkward anniversary song to us (we also celebrated our anniversary on this trip but I brought the card that said we were celebrating my birthday on this day). Our server caught the mistake and asked to sing Happy Birthday to me by herself but I declined. I’d had enough singing for one meal.

Moderno Currascaria is an all-you-can-eat Brazilian Steakhouse where gauchos bring the various dishes around on skewers. This was a meat feast (vegetarians may want to skip this one) serving everything from lamb chops to garlic marinated beef and chorizo sausage. There is also a salad bar with soups and all kinds of different salads. I made the mistake of going up for two trips to the salad bar and I couldn’t even try everything they brought around. I was so disappointed! I think on my next cruise, I will skip lunch on Moderno day.

Le Bistro is Norwegian’s French Restaurant and of all the specialty restaurants, it was my least favorite. I had the filet which came with a pepper sauce that I didn’t care for. We had the chocolate fondue for dessert and I was disappointed that it was cold, and honesty they didn’t give us much fruit. I have heard a lot of good things about Le Bistro, but I just didn’t care for it. It was not worth the cover charge to me.

Teppanyaki is a hibachi-style restaurant and it is the most difficult reservation to get. I have heard a lot of good things about Teppanyaki but I didn’t try it. The same goes for La Cucina, the Italian restaurant, which is also very popular.

Overall, the dining on the Norwegian Gem was great! If you’re looking for a cruise that has a dining focus, you can’t go wrong with Norwegian. I loved that the dining was restaurant-style and we didn’t have to sit with strangers. And unlike the other cruise lines that have “your time dining”, you rarely have to wait for a table.

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To book your Norwegian Cruise Vacation visit NCL.com.

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