Cameras as a tech boon for hoteliers

You may remember the days when a digital camera was a serious investment. The first digital SLR (single lens reflex) cameras were large and expensive. A four-megabyte image was considered hefty. Memory storage cards were typically 32 to 64 gigabytes, pretty puny by today’s standards. Your iPhone beats this hands down.

I recently had the opportunity to buy one of the latest digital cameras. Growing up in an era of 35mm SLR film camera gear, the experience was beyond anything I could imagine. The camera I eventually selected was the Olympus OM-D, one of many new compact SLRs offered today. The basic camera with zoom lens was about $1,500, which considering the feature set is a pretty good deal. (I purchased an additional lens; more on that in a minute.)

Here is what impressed me, and importantly, why you should consider acquiring one of these examples of new technology for use at your property:

1. Compact size with a high-quality image. The days of having to be big to be effective are over. My latest camera weighs less than half that of a full-size SLR, and in many ways offers superior performance.

2. So easy to use, even a GM can do it! No kidding, I was able to master perfect images within minutes, with barely a read of the intimidating instruction manual. This camera has a simple point-and-shoot mode that performed flawlessly. However, there are many additional options I am sure work perfectly for special circumstances. That is, if I ever read the 100-page manual.

3. Basic controls are a cinch. The lighting controls and low-light capabilities allow for great images without a flash. This means you can shoot guestroom features and staff photos with natural light — even in low light situations — and still have exceptional results.

4. The wide angle of the standard lens is adequate for most situations. Okay, I spent an additional $1,000 for a Lumix ultra-wide lens (14 mm equivalent) for room shots, but it is not really necessary. Imagine the whole room from the doorway, with no image curvature.

5. The auto-stabilization eliminates the need for a tripod. This is key. Tripods take a long time to set up properly. Plus, they are cumbersome.

6. Color balance technology eliminates the need for Photoshop correction of most images. There are further in-camera options for special effects that work miracles. The point here is that having to Photoshop every photo before it can be posted online eats up time and chews away at available funds. Additionally, having the camera automatically take care of pesky issues for you frees up your “on-location” time for more important matters like shot direction or capturing those rare candid moments.

So, does having a camera of this quality eliminate the need to hire a professional to undertake your next website? Hardly, as there is more to shooting a perfect photo than just the camera technology. All professionals have “the eye” — the mental skill of lining up an aesthetically pleasing shot from various angles. The French coined the term mise en scène to describe the beauty behind this principle.

The bottom line is that having a camera like this and shooting documentation of people, staff, events and your property is a cost-effective way to enhance social media as well as the odd business-urgent picture. With this said, consider adding one of these to your next capital budget allocation.