My DSLR Wannabe

I am generally a frugal person. The only thing I am willing to splurge significant money on is food. Other than that, I am a borderline nutcase between being frugal and being miserly. Before my travels to the US, I have never bought any branded goods for myself. My clothes are mostly from Jusco, my shoes from Bata.

I did say generally, didn’t I? Over the years, there were certain big ticket purchases that I made, and then regret almost immediately after I walked out of the shop. This guy is one of them. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you my DSLR wannabe, the Nikon Coolpix P520!

Nikon P520

No, this one is not a DSLR. The lens does not detach. It only looks like a DSLR, but it is still classified as a compact camera.

I bought this when I was in the US, early winter 2013. I don’t know what possessed me back then, my usual rational judgement became nonexistent for a few hours and that’s it. I parted with US$300 (slightly below RM1000 back then) for this guy.

It was my fourth time traveling to the States, I expected to mostly remain couped up in the office or hotel. I did not expect to take a ton of photos, so I did not bring my compact camera with me. I did not expect that with nobody to take care of, I could actually give in to my crazier tendencies and drive further in search of sightseeing opportunities. Also, in my previous trips, I have always traveled with at least one other colleague. There was always someone to take pictures of me. I did not need to worry about having to take selfies.

A short while into my stay, I realized that I was mistaken, that I had to worry about good photo quality and about taking selfies. I was planning to drive 150 miles to Loveland Pass and Vail, where the scenery is supposed to beat whatever I have seen before. I became desperate to get my hands on a decent camera. I think that was it, the first reason for my undoing: DESPERATION.

A couple days before my planned road trip, I quickly went to Best Buy (big ass electronics gadget store) to hunt for my camera. I did set a budget of $300. I wanted a compact camera that has a flip screen for ease of selfies taking. I can’t take selfies without seeing the screen. I just can’t.

15 minutes into the hunt, I found that there’s only two cameras that met my requirements and budget. One was a Fuji brand, $250. It looked lousy. Another one was this Nikon P520. It was $300, on the dot.

Nikon P520

The usual me would have thought: “This camera is so big ass, how am I supposed to hold it with one hand to take selfies?”

Instead, this was what I thought at that moment: “Che wah! $250 for a lousy looking camera, and Fuji somemore. Who buys Fuji brand cameras? Add another $50 can get a formidable looking, Nikon brand camera that looks like a DSLR!

When one thinks this way, the outcome is obvious, isn’t it? So I parted with my money, and got the camera.

And thought of the right thoughts two days later, on my road trip. The camera was too heavy to operate one handed. To make matters worse, my head is big and my hand is not exactly long. It was impossible for me to take selfies with the scenery behind me decently. It was either me, OR the scenery. There was no me AND scenery. In the end I got a camera that was not able to do what I wanted to do the most.

If you ask me right now, did I regret buying this P520, the answer would be a definite YES! I definitely should’ve gotten the Fuji brand camera than this one. The usual me would think: “$50 cheaper is $50 saved, spending $50 more for some bragging rights I do not need is still $50 wasted”.

I did try to make full use of this P520 though. I brought this guy with me on my hiking trips. I spent a few days playing with aperture setting and shutter speed setting, and then gave up. I am not meant to be a photographer. I do not have the passion. Better to just stick to Auto mode 🙄 .

Since I came back to Malaysia, I have not used this camera for more than 5 times. I carried it with me back to KL twice, the second time to borrow it to my sister. I carried it with me when I was playing semi tour guide round Penang island. I carried it with me once to a buffet lunch in E&O Hotel to hoodwink the attendants to think that I was a professional blogger and not bother me when I took photos. That was about it.

Okay, enough of my complaining, less you think that I am a perpetually whining old man. Maybe I’ll show you some of the photos I captured with this Nikon P520 instead. Here we go 😀 :

Boyd Lake State Park, Loveland, Colorado

The first of my few hiking trips. It was a 3 miles (~5km) trail over 7 different lakes. The lakes were nothing spectacular, but I enjoyed the walk.

Nikon P520
Perfect location for Korean drama/samurai fight scene
Nikon P520
It was late autumn/early winter

Lake Loveland, Loveland, Colorado

I had always passed by this lake while driving to and from the office, this was the first time I came here for a walk.

Nikon P520
2 miles (3.2km) of walk, 1 mile go and 1 mile back
Nikon P520
I was imagining that this statue was a superhero charging his powerball to throw into the lake to destroy a monster

Loveland Pass, Colorado

The road trip that I mentioned. Loveland Pass is a mountain road 120 miles away from Loveland town where I was staying at. The main reasons tourists come here are to see the Continental Divide and to reach the Arapahoe Basin ski area.

Nikon P520
Dillon Reservoir panorama shot. Dillon is a town at the end of Loveland Pass
Nikon P520
Don’t be deceived by the clear sky. It was freezing temperature!

These are all photos in original condition. I did not do any touch ups to them. Don’t know how to use Photoshop anyway.

Do you think my camera is good? Do you think I did not make a mistake buying it? Or do you think I am a bloody moron for wasting money?


    • I’m not sure, I think it is an adequate camera for me, but I probably will feel the same with a Canon or a Sony. I’m no camera geek 😛

  1. Well, you may not use the camera a lot but it does take some awesome shots. I absolutely love the second scenic picture with the leaves scattered everywhere on the ground. Maybe you can consider purchasing a tripod. My husband and I take one whenever we go hiking and take pictures together using the timer mode!!

    When it comes to buying big ticket items, I am like you. I will research it, study it, and question myself a thousand times about the purchase. My last camera, which called it quits last year, was a great buy, took great pictures, and I definitely got my money’s worth out of it as I took nearly 50,000 pictures with it (I had it for nearly 7 years).

    • I was having a walk in a park and I came across that place in the second picture and thought, “This is nice!”. It was late autumn/early winter, scattered leaves are a common sight though.
      7 years! Now that’s value for money!

  2. Since I have my iPhone, I don’t use my camera anymore. All the pic you see in my blogs are from my phone. Lazy to carry a camera with me. Your pics nice what. Time to polish your camera and take more pictures with it 🙂

  3. Hear it from my friend, this type of camera should called as semi DSLR, like DSLR but no as pro as DSLR like semi of it!!

    I also dislike to carry a big camera around, I used to have a semiD, even is not so heavy, but I found it so troublesome to bring it around, so like in the end I switch to my camera now, something like DC but with all pro feacture in it!!!

    I think all the camera has their own special feactures, even with a old and simple camera, the photographer also can shoot a very good quality picture, so basically is really the skill of the photographer, the camera just “tools”!! If you’re asking mistake buying it, I would say if you really use it then is definitely worth it and you’re not wasting any money. BUT if you buy it and let it sitting at home never use it, that’s kind of waste (same thing goes to me, before I’m buying something I’ll think what am I gonna to do about it, I’m really will use it or just buy because I want to buy)

    • I am usually like you, will think hard before buying anything, but sometimes for some strange reasons, my reasoning is shut off, and I buy things that I hardly use 😐

    • Thanks! I believe mine are exceptions, where the photographer has very little to do compared to the camera and the scenery 😀

    • It’s easier to capture some difficult angle shots more effectively with flexi screen, no need to agak-agak 😉

  4. Initially i tot of getting one canngih camera like yours too… But I didnt…i bought a sony digital instead, in fact I have two now…and not using them cos now most of the pictures, I use my faithful iphone4 only! Hahaha!… So lazy to carry cameras now… Too heavy for me….

  5. The photos are actually very good! I think it was money well spent. But then hey, if you don’t want the camera you can always give it away, OK? hint..hint… 😀

  6. Alamak, today talking about DSLR and cameras ahh? Pssstt, I dont even know what DSLR stands for.. Call me jakun, I’ve never owned a camera in my life, not even a digital camera.. All the while using phone camera to snap pictures only. huhuhuhu..

  7. Ten years ago, I attended a Digital Photography course and learned about aperture, shutter speed and so on, etc, these no longer come in use when I have the point and shoot camera in my mobile phone.

  8. your handsome camera looks cool!! I guess if you travel a lot and enjoy sight-seeing, it’s actually a wise to invest in a good camera.. though I would also say whether one can take great shots depends on the skill of the photographer, a good camera can actually help in that a lot.. everything is about tools and skills right?? BTW, nice shots you have got there.. 🙂

  9. In the old days, when people want to take selfie, they will just buy a tripod, set the timer and voila! a selfie with scenery. A tripod would work for you too.

    The scenery in your photo is lovely. For me, I prefer a small point and shoot camera so I still have my 6 years old point and shoot panasonic lumix dmc fx520.

    Give the camera to your sister then if you don’t want to use it anymore since your smartphone takes good photos.

    • Tripod don’t really work in the US, sometimes the wind is crazy, unless you hold on to the camera, it will be blown away or blown into pieces..
      My ego is preventing me from giving it to my sister for good. The few times I carry it out, it still felt awesome to be able to hoodwink people into thinking that I am a pro 😀

    • In fact they are getting obsolete. Only the pros use DSLR, commoners mostly go for mirrorless camera now 🙂

  10. the scenery pics looks superbly awesome! either the scenery or the camera really does the trick! i dun like heavy gadgets too…to cumbersome for travel and heavy to bring around. I still stick to my mobile phone camera…who cares if the pic quality doesn’t turn out good?

    • Either that lah, for sure is not due to the photographer skills 😀 .. Besides those seasoned photographers, nobody will be able to tell between good photos and great photos one lah 😀

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