Switch from Taking Photos With Your Phone to Epic Shots With the Perfect Camera

For the first 2.5 years of this blog, every single photo I took on all my trips around the world was with a phone (except old photos from my backpacking days in Europe). I hadn’t considered until recently the idea of switching from a camera phone to a camera.

I had a little point and shoot camera in 2009 which I took to Europe. Once I got an iPhone in 2010, I stopped taking the camera traveling with me. I got used to taking photos on my phone and then I felt satisfied with those images.

When I came to India in 2013, I got an MI phone (review here). I love my phone and still have it, although a newer version. I really thought the image clarity was top-notch.

This summer, I decided I wanted to be more professional. I felt weird going on press trips or reviewing hotels and whipping out my phone for a photo in front of their PR people or general manager. I had two things I wanted to change before 2017 hit and that was one, redesign my blog and, two, get a mirrorless camera.

Switching from a camera phone to a camera

Once I started using the camera, the difference was insane. I’m sharing photos from the new camera in this post.

Akko acre isreal
what to do in sigulda
tips for jerusalemAll I can compare it to is when I was in second grade and didn’t realize I couldn’t see well until I got glasses. On the car ride home, I looked out the window at the telephone poles and wires and was in awe of every little detail I could see.

When I saw the images on the camera and uploaded them to my computer, it was such a huge difference. I think people noticed the difference when I took the camera to Israel and Morocco, the first trips I did with my new camera.

photos to inspire you to visit morocco

Why Choose a Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera instead of a DSLR?

I did a lot of research about what camera I wanted to get. There were some I wanted just because they looked good & other bloggers were using them, and others because they were ranked the top cameras. What I found after research was that the mirrorless camera was right for me.

Shopping in Morocco | What to Buy in Morocco & PricesI like that it takes good images indoor, which my camera phone failed at

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Some benefits of getting a mirrorless camera instead of a DSLR:

  • It is much smaller making it easier and safer to travel with (and yes, you guessed it: what makes them smaller is that there is no mirror)
  • It is not just more compact, but also lighter which helps with ridiculously low carry-on baggage allowance weights
  • You can still buy additional lenses and change them out, like a DSLR.
  • According to every site I checked, these days, a mirrorless camera has just as many lens options and works as well as a DSLR except in low light situations.  If you aren’t a professional photographer, chances are anything that is missing on the mirrorless camera, is something you would never use. You can read some of the small differences here.
  • The main drawback is that it doesn’t do as well in low light as a DSLR but if you’re upgrading from a phone to camera, I think you’ll be very impressed with what this type of camera can do in night shots.

photos to inspire you to visit morocco

What Mirrorless Camera I Chose & Why

I have thePanasonic DMC GX85 which has different names in different countries (like “GX80”). It has a 16-megapixel sensor. It has 5-axis dual I.S. which means that when on the move, it can take a stable non-shakey photo.

I won’t lie, the look had something to do with it. I chose a tan leather, which gets complimented all the time. It almost looks vintage. I figure since I’ll be traveling and using this every day, it might as well be something I like looking at and using.

I also love how tiny it is. It’s really compact, more so than other mirrorless ones I looked at in shops.

Graffiti in Tel Aviv

Most mirrorless cameras are fairly similar. The reason I got the Panasonic GX85 is because it has 4k video. This is a feature where I can take a quick video of something at 30 frames per second and then go back and choose the exact frame I want to have as an image – and it will be great quality. Then, you can use the post-focus quality to choose your focal point in the image.

It also has a live viewfinder like a DSLR (you can look through holding it close to your eye, not just the screen on the front).

Shopping in Morocco | What to Buy in Morocco & Prices

Moroccan Desert Experience Closer to Marrakesh

Les Cinq Djellabas Review, Marrakesh

If I want to take an image from a lower vantage point instead of laying on the ground to look at the camera, I can actually angle the screen up. It’s movable!

This next bit is SO important. The WiFi on it (well it’s basically blue tooth) is the best. You can link your camera and phone with the Panasonic App and then choose the ones you want to add to your phone and quickly add them. You don’t need WiFi, it’s just a bluetooth connection so you can do it in the middle of a flight if you want. You can quickly add the images and edit on VSCO to upload to Instagram or Facebook.

I do this while I’m traveling and don’t have time to edit on my PC in LightRoom. But after a trip, I do my editing on my computer.

Lastly, I really liked that it had post-focus. Nothing is worse than taking a shot and it didn’t focus properly then you can’t use it. With this feature, you can fix it after and make the point you want to be clear, clear and make the background fuzzier.

It’s also their newest version and got amazing reviews. I also got the Panasonic Wide Angle Lens 7-14mm. For me as a travel blogger, it made the most sense to photograph inside hotel rooms and huge lanscapes.

photos to inspire you to visit morocco

Les Cinq Djellabas Review, MarrakeshThese photos above show you what a wide-angle lens can do. With just two images I can show pretty much this entire villa!

If you’re not needing indoor photography or doing big landscape shots, you wouldn’t need this lens. It’s kind of got a fish-angle look to it.

I’m no pro yet, but I want to share with you the journey of how I switched to a mirrorless camera and the things I learn about photography as I start to use this on my travels. I hope I learn a lot and can share it all with you!

Panasonic Camera Case

I had a hard time finding a case for this camera. The camera bags for a DSLR are huge and unnecessary and the camera cases for a point and shoot were just barely too small for this camera. In the USA I looked at Best Buy and other similar shops in camera sections and found not one case that worked. I actually had it wrapped in bubble wrap in my purse at one point!

I ended up finding a great option in a purse that doubles as a camera bag. It’s from Lo & Sons, a company I’ve mentioned before, and I got the Claremont bag. It is actually listed as a camera bag on their website and it is compartmentalized. From the outside, it doesn’t look like a camera bag, though. Perfect!

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About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Mindy @ Nourishing Vegan Journeys February 23, 2017 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    Seems like a good camera, the pics look really good. I deliberated for ages before heading off travelling again as to whether to get a (cheaper) DSLR or a mirrorless camera. I went for the fujifilm x-t10 mirrorless camera in the end, being smaller and lighter was a big , but it looks like an old film camera, just looks so much nicer than the bulky DSLR’s. It’s my first serious camera though so still a lot to learn!! :-)

    • Rachel Jones February 24, 2017 at 7:28 pm - Reply

      I’m in the same boat as you – too much to learn! haha

  2. Betsy February 27, 2017 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    Hey Rachel!

    I like your post! I am a photographer and I so wish I had a mirror-less camera. I bought a new DSLR at the end of 2014, which is fantastic. But for living and traveling here in India, I wish I had a smaller camera for all of the reasons you listed above.
    As a former photography professor, I would recommend a mirror-less camera to anyone who plans on traveling or just wants a good camera. No need to have all the things that come along with the DSLR.

    :) Cheers!

    • Rachel Jones February 27, 2017 at 6:53 pm - Reply

      Ah so you can help me with the question of keeping it mold free! How to do this in moldy monsoon Goa!? I’m worried it’ll be ruined. Also, I go to the beach and want to take photos there but am so nervous!

      • Betsy March 2, 2017 at 8:04 am - Reply

        Hey Rachel,

        Last monsoon season in Udaipur my camera did not get moldy. I kept my camera in my camera bag. I will do some research about camera’s and mold. I don’t think you have to worry about the inside getting moldy but since it has leather on the outside it might get some stuff growing on it. My roommates leather shoes got mold on them but it was easy to wipe off.

        As for the beach it should be fine. When you are not using the camera keep it in the bag or wrapped in a beach towel. And obviously do not take it to close to the water.

        :) Betsy

  3. Lucas Rodrigues February 27, 2017 at 7:22 pm - Reply

    Hey Rachel!
    That’s so cool that you used your phone for so long!(same here haha). What would you recommend for someone on a budget, DSLR or Mirror less?

    • Rachel Jones March 1, 2017 at 3:48 pm - Reply

      Mirorrless for sure! they are smaller so easier to keep safe and clean

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