I haven’t been checking my Instagram DM inbox until recently – basically because I’m such an IG noob even if I’ve been using it for years – so I didn’t know until now that I’ve been receiving several inquiries regarding what kind of camera I use for my Alden/AlDub photos. I don’t have a single answer to that question, so I decided to dedicate a blog entry for that and (hopefully) those who asked will be able to read it.
A short backgrounder: I came from a family (my father, in particular) who loves documenting events through photographs, so I have developed that kind of habit even before I became a full-time fangirl. I took photography more seriously when I became a bandstalker, basically because I hung around both professional photographers and serious hobbyists practically on a daily basis. I started with simple point-and-shoot non-digital cameras (and spent a lot of moolah on film, batteries and photo processing fees) to those small Casio point-and-shoot 1.2 megapixel digicams (don’t judge; at the time, 1.2 was a lot of megapixels). Then those photographers and photography enthusiasts taught me tricks and tips on how to take photos that would tell stories instead of simply just taking them. One simply can’t be creative by using Auto Mode, so I started procuring bridge cameras, ie., point-and-shoot cameras that have manual features, making them almost like DSLRs.
When I transitioned from bandstalking to becoming a fan of Korean entertainment, a simple bridge camera simply won’t cut it anymore. My camera must have at least 10x optical zoom with fast lens, but preferably NOT a DSLR because most venues would not allow it. I had to change gears every now and then as much as my budget allows it because trying to catch Koreans on cam? Not an easy thing to do.
Nowadays, I am thankful that I was able to invest on photography gear for the serious fangirl. I’ve realized lately that catching AlDub (especially Dub) on camera? Also not an easy thing to do.
With that lengthy introduction, I bring you the current gear that I use for my Alden Richards/AlDub photos.
Side-note: You might notice that all my gadgets have names. It’s a habit that I have developed from being friends with people who give names to all of their toys/gadgets.
Canon EOS 600D “GD-TOP”
This was my first DSLR which I bought as a birthday present to myself way back in 2012. I wrote about it in detail here (complete with explanation on why I named it ‘GD-TOP’). I admittedly neglected to use it after I found it too heavy and bulky to lug around at gigs and trips, basically because I was already getting too frustrated with my Korean fandom that I wasn’t willing to suffer anymore for the sake of fangirling. (Wow, that is one, big #hugot statement.) Then I was jolted out of fangirl retirement last year, which eventually led me to also plucking GD-TOP out of retirement at the SM Marilao leg of Alden Richards’ Wish I May album tour. The venue was too near my house that carrying a heavy camera wouldn’t hurt so much. However, I loved the resulting photos so much that I ended up using GD-TOP on a regular basis, if the venue permits it.
I use two lenses for this camera: the 18-135mm kit lens (‘TOP 1’) for routine use, and the bundled 55-250mm telephoto lens (‘TOP 2’) for gigs that would require further zooming.
Sample pics from GD-TOP:
Canon EOS 100D “Mini-GD”
True confession: This camera was an impulse buy. Two years ago, I was walking around a camera store at Robinson’s Galleria with only one intention: to survey about the possibility of moving over to the ‘dark side’, that is, getting a mirrorless camera to replace GD-TOP (I was in the middle of my ‘frustrated K-pop fan’ mode at the time). Sales guy was good at the sales talk and he was able to convince me to buy this little DSLR instead. The deal-breaker: this small DSLR came with a 50mm pancake lens but it’s also compatible with all my existing Canon lenses, therefore, nothing goes to waste.
I used Mini-GD on all legs of Alden’s album tour except the SM Marilao one. Last December, I gifted myself a Tamron 18-270mm lens (nicknamed ‘Tam’ to differentiate it with the TOPs) so that me and my niece can use both GD and Mini-GD without the need to transfer lenses. See: our coverage of the 2015 MMFF Parade of Stars.
Canon Powershot SX270 HS “Aqua”
I got this one at 50% off last year at Lazada. I realized later on why it was on sale: it has a very short battery life that I had to buy a replacement battery in order to avoid a repeat of what happened at Big Bang’s concert and at David Foster and Friends where it died halfway through the show. It was a very good point-and-shoot camera, though. Some of my recent best work were taken by this camera. Specifically, the aforementioned Big Bang concert, and Tamang Panahon at the Philippine Arena.
Yup, that little beast of a camera took those photos. The one of David Foster and Gerphil Flores was particularly special because Gerphil even used it as cover photo for her Facebook page.
Why did I call this camera, ‘Aqua’? Well, aside from the fact that its color is aqua blue its predecessor was called, ‘Pinky’ because it was pink. Yes, I was getting lazy thinking of names to give my toys.
I was using this camera as the substitute for events where DSLRs are not allowed (eg., at Sunday Pinasaya), until a friend literally pushed me to make another impulse buy early this year, on Valentine’s Day.
Canon Powershot SX710 HS “Blackie Lou”
I bought this camera even if Aqua has been giving me awesome results, for the following reasons:
1. It was on sale (notice that I don’t usually buy things at regular price );
2. It has 30x optical zoom, as opposed to Aqua’s 20x;
3. Additional megapixels, although I’m not really into the megapixel count;
4. Better image quality;
5. The WIFI capabilities allow me to transfer photos to my smartphone for real-time posting to social media. On this day and age where netizen fans are fighting over social media supremacy, this is a MUST. Of course, this also would mean real-time leeching off my work, but one can’t have everything.
I’ve been using this camera even on events which do not really prohibit DSLRs (eg., the MaiChard Bench Launch Party; or at Eat Bulaga when I took this Wall of Zoom-ins), but I simply didn’t feel like carrying something heavy that day. Don’t ask why.
Blackie Lou has been doing an excellent job, but I think the best output that came from this camera, so far, is this photo taken from the nosebleed section of GMA Studio 7:
Alden Richards loved this photo that I had it printed on canvass and sent it to him. The problem, though, is that until now I still don’t know the exact whereabouts of said canvass print. Oh well…
Another great shot produced by Blackie Lou was this photo of Jed Madela from the recent GMMSF Blockbuster Entertainment Awards. Jed loved this photo so much that he not only liked and commented on it on IG and RTed it on Twitter; he even sent me a PM asking for an un-watermarked copy of it.
As for the name ‘Blackie Lou’: remember how I named its predecessors ‘Pinky’ and ‘Aqua’? Since this one is black, it follows that this camera should be named ‘Black’ or ‘Blackie’. Parang pet dog lang. While I was deciding for its name, there came this Kalyeserye episode where Lola Nidora was speaking in English with an African-American accent, channeling Wally’s ‘Blackie Lou’ character from way back Bebot days. Thus, the name for this camera.
Fuji X-A2 mirrorless camera “Boojie”
I’ve finally crossed over to the dark side with this new baby.
I think the origin of the name is a no-brainer: this camera is a Fuji, so I named it ‘Boojie’. Side note: one of my hard drives is named ‘Anselmo’.
I bought this after the Lee Min Ho Bench event at Trinoma, but that was not the reason why I bought it. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’ve been dabbling around the idea of using a mirrorless camera for the longest time. As you may have noticed, I’ve been an avid Canon user because I prefer bold and vivid colors on my photos and Canon cameras were able to produce that for me. However, some friends from PEx suggested getting a Fuji since they have some of the best models in the mirrorless line. Fortunately, Fujifilm had a promo for some of its models, including the X-A2. I got this dual-lens bundle under that promo.
Since I was a Fuji user at the early stages of my ‘bridge camera’ era, it won’t be a totally new experience to me. Or so I thought. I felt so dumb when I first started using Boojie, but once I got the hang of it, I got results such as this:
I was also blown away when I tried a 100% zoom in on one of the pics and this was what came out:
Look, Ma! No pores!
This camera also has built-in WIFI capabilities which enable me to upload and post the photos taken by Boojie in real time on my social media accounts. I can’t say it will totally replace my other cameras, though. For some reason, I still prefer the outputs of my DSLRs (is there such a thing as ‘too HD’?). As for Blackie Lou (I’ve already bequeathed Aqua to the other members of my family), it’s still going to be my default camera for Sunday Pinasaya. For some reason, the Orange Boys would always call my attention whenever I bring out Boojie to take pics during commercial gaps. Which brings me to this question: I see a few AlDub content creators who were able to take HD photos at Sunday Pinasaya even while the show is airing. They’re obviously not using a point-and-shoot because the photos are too HD; they should be using least a mirrorless to be able to produce outputs like those. I wonder if they ever get reprimanded by the Orange Boys for taking pics during the show? I’d like to know their secret, if any.
Samsung Note 4 and Note 5
For moments where I didn’t bring my camera, or something happens to my camera (eg., the battery conks out in the middle of the show), it pays to have a phone with at least a decent camera on hand for back-up.
I used my Samsung Note 4 when Aqua’s battery died halfway through Big Bang’s Manila concert last year. It was there that I fully appreciated the capabilities of its built-in camera.
But for me, its best output was this photo taken at Walk of Fame Philippines:
As for my current phone, the Samsung Note 5, it has been Blackie Lou and Boojie’s trusted social media partner. Not that its camera is not up to par; aside from all my recent foodporn photos on Instagram, it’s the one I used to take photos of all the cameras I featured here except for GD-TOP. This one’s also from the Note 5:
So there you have it. Agent P’s Battle Gear. One has to remember, though, that photography is really not about the camera but more on the photographer. Wala sa pana kundi nasa pumapana, ika nga ng mga mahuhusay na litratista. I’m not saying I’m good at it; to tell you honestly, most of my work are just lucky shots. What I’m saying is, my personal view on photography is this: no two photographers have the same output even if they’re using the same camera. So just fire away with whatever camera you have and have fun with it.