“Pure” Instagram Photography & Samsung Galaxy NX for Instagram Travel Photos #IGTravelThursday

March 13, 2014 Katja Presnal

Samsung Galaxy NX review

I have been changing up my IGTT Weekly 5 lately, and today I am taking a break from the Instagram News. I got the Samsung Galaxy NX camera for Instagram travel photos, scroll down to read why I am so excited about it, and what are my thoughts on using cameras to take Instagram-photos.

Reminder! Today on March 13th, we are hosting a Twitter Party to talk more about Instagram and travel. Join us at noon New York time, that’s 12PM EST, and due the daylight savings time, some of the other times were wrongly listed last week. Noon in New York is 4PM in London, 5PM / 17:00 in Sweden and Germany, and 18:00 in Finland, and 9AM in Los Angeles. It’s sort of confusing with our international community, but just keep following the #IGTT hashtag on Twitter today to join the chat and follow me as @skimbaco.

Isn’t Instagram photography about in-the-moment phone photography?

Today I wanted to dive a little deeper in the subject of “pure Instagram photography.” I honestly think most phones nowadays take perfectly fine pictures, and the Instagram filters are great too. You certainly don’t need anything else for Instagram, and it’s more about your skills and artistic view that sets you apart than the gear. Instagram is as much about community and connecting with like-minded people as it is about photography, and that’s how it should be.

Many people pride themselves for “iPhone photos only” and many only post photos “in an instant” as they happen. Instagram may have been built for this kind of “in the moment” photography of sharing the moment, but I think what it has evolved to, is something very different. I think what happened was that so many people who were not professional photographers, started using Instagram, and became amazing photographers. Maybe they had never even thought of being a photographer before, and for the first time realized they have a real talent.

They say that you need 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill, and many people have been using Instagram daily for 2-4 years now (and hit the 10,000-hour mark) and simply have turned from hobby-photographers to professional ones. They have started selling their photography work, and being hired for Instagram/photography projects. When you start getting paid for your work, and people want to print your photos, phone photo quality just isn’t necessary what you want to sell. I completely get why these people don’t only post phone-photos on Instagram anymore, but also use photos taken with professional cameras, after all, now photography has become their work, and Instagram their professional portfolio. Of course you want to put your best work out there!


Street photo from Austin, Texas, testing my new Galaxy NX camera.

In the moment photography

And when it comes to “in the moment” photography, I have to be honest, I have always thought you can easily ruin the moment by using any social media tool. If you are having a great experience, why you want to take away from it by posting about it on multiple social media platforms? ENJOY THE MOMENT, take your photos, but please by all means, come back to the internetz later on to share it with us, when you have also time to talk with us and tell more about it. You can’t be present at two places at the same time, not even in real life and online at the same time. Be present offline and enjoy life as it happens, and then later on come and share it online, when you have time to talk and connect with people. Don’t come just dump a tweet or a photo.

I broke up with my iPhone. Well, at least we are separated.

I have been one of the Instagram purists, and only used iPhone so far, but in all honesty, I want to be able to provide the best content I can, and I just broke up with my iPhone. The battery life in an iPhone sucks, and my phone memory has been full for months and I need to delete photos from my phone almost on daily basis, and it is becoming painful to try to erase my “favorite 3000 photos” that I just sort of want to keep on my phone. I still love my iPhone, but I just feel like it’s time to see some other cameras too.

Taken with the rich tone smart feature on Galaxy NX, non-edited.

Taken with the rich tone smart feature on Galaxy NX, non-edited.

I am a lifestyle blogger, meaning I am a professional photographer

I don’t think myself as a professional photographer, but I do sell content, including photos, and have been asked to travel to places with a simple purpose: to take Instagram photos, my first this kind of Instagram photography trip was to Bali last year. This year I also started getting paid for some of my Instagram photos. If getting paid for taking photos makes you a professional photographer, I am a professional photographer.

I guess when you realize your strategy of using Instagram, you will have a better feeling what kind of tools of the trade you will need. Most Instagram-photographers who are being hired for cool jobs, are not using just phones anymore. If I want to keep up withe the others, and hope to get more paid partnerships, I need to do what any professional person would do: invest in my work and get the best gear that fits my needs.

You don't want to startle a baby with flash, so I took this with ISO 1600 indoors in a rainy day, and there is enough light to see the face without any extra help. Non-edited version.

You don’t want to startle a baby with flash, so I took this with ISO 1600 indoors in a rainy day, and there is enough light to see the face without any extra help. Non-edited version. Since the camera is so easy to use… this aunt scored by taking the first picture of her smiling!

Samsung Galaxy NX

I read multiple camera reviews before purchasing the camera, and the “real experts” all said the Samsung Galaxy NX camera is amazing and there are multiple functions that are beyond brilliant from the photography point of view. I, however, stalked photographers on Instagram who were using the camera, and the photos told me almost more than the technical data.

Taken with Samsung Galaxy NX with the "food" smart feature.

Taken with Samsung Galaxy NX with the “food” smart feature. Nothing special, muffin and fruit, taken indoors in a rainy day. Ha!! Expect much more food photos from me for now on!

I just bought the Samsung Galaxy NX 20.3MP that comes with with 4.8-Inch LCD screen and 18-55mm OIS lens and I can easily take photos, edit them and directly post them from the camera to Instagram. Everything about this camera is sweet, except the high price tag. The Galaxy NX goes for $1,699.99 (currently $1,433.74 on Amazon, the cheapest I found online). I totally scored and found it for 999 euros in a special gift box at Amsterdam Schiphol airport tax free shop, and got a Galaxy tablet for free when purchasing the camera last week.


Since I am not a camera expert, let me explain with the simple language what all the Galaxy NX can do from the Instagramming travel pictures point of view.

– In-camera editing. There are actually several ways to edit your photos immediately after you have taken the photo.

– Several smart photography setting for food photography, nighttime photos, portraits, landscapes, you name it. The camera has manual settings if you are professional photographer, but for us who just fake it, the smart settings get the job done with excellent results.

– Face smoothing and thinning feature. Seriously, anyone can snap a “selfie” of me now, and the camera editing will smoothen my face from flaws, make my cheeks thinner and eyes bigger for making me look better in an insta-minute. Stay tuned for more pictures of me.

– Photo Suggest knows where you are in the world by using the camera’s GPS and connects you to libraries of images taken by other photographers in the same location. By referencing these other photos, you’ll can steal other people’s ideas and take the same shot in the same spot. You can literally teach yourself to become a pro. I actually didn’t test this yet, I am overflowing with original ideas.

– 3G/4G and Wifi. Add a SIM card or connect with wifi, and you can connect with the camera to internet and to all social media networks, including Instagram. Heck, you can even watch movies or YouTube videos with this camera, and even the screen is bigger than on iPhone. I hotspot my iPhone and use that to connect online.

– The camera’s backside looks exactly like a Samsung smart phone, but instead of ability to make phone calls, this is a mirrorless camera and you can even swap better lenses for it than the 18-55mm that the camera comes with.

– Get any app and possible widget. This includes all social media apps, travel apps, maps, photo editing apps, and even the ones to make cute posters or watercolor pictures of your photos. It’s a smart camera, not a regular camera.

These are the features I figured out in a matter of hours of using the camera for the first time, and I have just scratched the surface here.

Oddly, the photo that completely sold this camera for me is this one of a pulled pork sandwich I ate in Austin, Texas, last week when attending SXSW conference. It’s not the prettiest dish, and I have never been able to take good food photos with an iPhone, and this photo actually makes you want to bite into the sloppy sandwich.

I also liked how on this photo I was able to focus on the salt on the rim of the glass.

So there you have it. I’ve crossed the line from Instagram purist to a commercial photographer. Follow me as @Skimbaco, next week I will be heading to Portugal to report live from a food festival in Madeira.

How are you living your dreams and what tools are you using?

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Katja Presnal

Katja Presnal shows how to live globally inspired life to the fullest and plan your dream life. Katja owns Presnal5 strategic marketing intelligence agency and wants to help marketing professionals to combine a dream career and dream life via freelance work.Katja is an award-winning marketing strategist, and a well-known speaker. Katja has lived in five different countries, and seven states in the USA. Her three children were all born in different countries within three years. When not working or jet-setting the world, Katja is at home cooking big family dinners.She has been featured in NY Times, Glamour, Redbook, Fodor's, Forbes and Woman's Day magazines among many other national and international publications and written for MTV3 and Lifetime TV networks.

Comments (8)

  1. I’m one of the “iPhone only” purists but I do agree with you and getting something like this could be the next step in my Instagram “career”. When it comes to Instagram I do tend to live in the moment though and the I might even post images I took a week back. Especially here in NZ I haven’t often been connected to wifi or 3G so it has been impossible to even share moments there and then when they happen.

    Thanks for the informative post, I think my husband is going to be horrified when I tell him what I want for my birthday ;)

  2. Your photos are amazing. Is this a DSLR? I’ve been wanting a fancy camera for years, but I’ve just never taken the plunge. My blog photos, as a result, are pretty crappy. ;)

  3. I have to admit, the pictures do look amazing (especially the food). With the right light and keen eye (which you indeed have) will give any instrument amazing pop! I love that you reiterated what is most important in the moment. That’s HUGE for me! And yes, you are a photographer for sure my friend!

  4. I too have given up on the purely iphone Instagram images because I am having so much fun learning to take better pictures with my “real” camera (and ughh- dont get me started on my awful iphone battery!). I have heard such great things about the Samsung cameras- looking forward to following your new camera journey :))

  5. Reeta Laaksonen

    The quality looks amazing, especially the food photos are extra sharp!

  6. I’ve been debating on the same topic! Instagram has definitely sparked the photographer in me and I absolutely hate the current state of my Samsung phone camera. Debating on if I can handle another device on me with two tots! A new lens perhaps. Can’t wait to see your food and drink pics come through!

  7. So glad you posted this review! I’ve been trying to read more about it ever since I saw some of your IGs mentioning this camera.

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