As a blogger and an “explorer like Dora,” I take pictures of almost everything that interests me (e.g. food, building structure, street signs, interior design of rooms, animals, plants, etc.) wherever I go using my iPhone 4 camera (with 5 MP) or sometimes my digicam—Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP3 (with 12 MP).
While I’m mostly satisfied with the sharpness and the vibrancy of the colors of the photos, picture quality in dark areas is dismal. Image noise can particularly be seen when I use the zoom function or when I shoot at night.
Both the camera-phone and the digicam have terrible low-light pictures. Even with flash turned on, pictures turn out to look harsh, full of red-eye and have too much contrast. It upsets me when I’m discouraged to capture great moments because I know the photos would result to be overly grainy anyway.
So as soon as the iPhone 5s was released this September 2013, my excitement has been up really high. I wished to buy the gold one! I felt that it was the right time again to get an upgrade, yet the only feature I wanted from the iPhone 5s was its camera.
Raves on iPhone 5s Camera
The iPhone 5s’ iSight camera is able to display photos accurately and it has improvements in low-light settings. It’s equipped with a larger sensor and aperture and it calibrates white balance and exposure well. What’s more, it has this new tonal mapping technique called “True Tone Flash,” which utilizes two different-colored LED lights while independently enhancing the contrast between various portions of it. As a result, dark subjects with bright backgrounds would not be washed out or difficult to see.
When prices of the latest iPhone were released in the Philippine market, frugality and practicality won me over. Prices surge from PHp 35,000 to PHp 50,000 in the initial weeks.
Trying to find other convincing motivations, I’ve watched the videos posted on the Apple website featuring the specifications and updates available in the new phones several times. I’ve also read several articles showing differences between shots taken by iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s cameras. After weeks and weeks of deliberation, I finally ended up with a decision. And that was to forgo the iPhone 5s and instead buy a more ideal option: DSLR!
An entry-level DSLR, at least. 😉
Transition from iPhone 4 Camera, Point-and-Shoot to DSLR
Hopping from one online forum and blog to another, I read reviews and recommendations on entry-level DSLRs and learned the things to consider before buying a DSLR. I found these two as the bottom-line best contenders: Nikon D3100 and Canon EOS 1100D. SnapSort.com shared a good comparison and rated the Nikon D3100 as the winner and the Canon EOS 1100D as the runner-up. I asked physical stores in SM Mall of Asia for suggestions and they also gave the same answer. So I dropped the Canon one and began asking around for the best buying price of the Nikon D3100 Kit (with 18-55mm lens).
- Gadget stores in malls sell the Nikon D3100 at PHp 19,990 (cash) – PHp 22,990 (credit).
- Sulit.com.ph sellers offer brand new Nikon D3100 at prices ranging from PHp 18,000 to PHp 20,000, while second-hand handsets’ prices range from PHp 14,000 to PHp 16,000. Freebies differ.
- Henry’s Professional, a reputable camera store in Hidalgo Street, Quiapo, sells the Nikon D3100, free bag and 8GB SD Card at PHp 17,399 with one-year store warranty. When my mom went to their physical store, the seller gave a discounted price of PHp 17,200 (cash).
- Amazon.com‘s prices are much more expensive at PHp 20,640 not including shipping fee from US to PH.
- eBay.com offers varying prices (auction and buy-it-now) from over PHp 12,000 (problem is that item cannot be shipped to the Philippines) to about PHp 19,000.
- Lastly and luckily, I performed a quick search on google with keywords “where to buy best cheap Nikon D3100 kit in the philippines” and landed at kim.com.ph. Kim Store (online gadget store) sells the same camera for PHp 17,150 with the lens, free bag, 4GB SD Card, screen protector, cable, Nikon F mount and one-year store warranty.
Meet-up and Purchase Transaction with Kim Store
Hurriedly, I booked a meet-up and confirmation of purchase via SMS and e-mail and immediately received a reply. Kim.com.ph has been operating for seven years now and I see that they have a lot of followers on Twitter and on Facebook. They also are responsive in interacting with users online—a point which makes them seem legit.
Our meet-up date was supposedly on November 10, 2013, last Sunday, at 1PM in Lucky Chinatown Mall – food court. I even exchanged confirmation with the Kim Store shipping guy the night before. The deal-breaker was when the guy did not show up on the agreed date, time and place, leaving me waiting for over an hour while calling their contact numbers (2 mobile phones and 1 landline, all of which were either “out of service” or “cannot be reached”) more than 10 times.
I was dismayed and disappointed, of course. After an hour, when I was already back home and had thoughts of buying from Henry’s instead, Kim Store called me up and arranged another meet-up. He asked if I can go to Vito Cruz, Taft Avenue, Manila at 4PM. The excuse he gave was that there was an event happening at the mall and the shipping guy may not be able to answer my phone calls because of the noise and the guard who was telling him to move.
I did not understand his defense as it was quite irrelevant. Going to Vito Cruz for another meet-up was negative because I had other things to do that day. The guy managed to negotiate and he asked if they can just deliver the item to my office the next day with no shipping cost since they were at fault. Being considerate, I said okay. He then took note of my free time so I can have a close look at the camera before cashing out.
Kim Store has been able to clear its name and restore its reputation in my view. (Trust me, it’s not a scam business.) The guy arrived on time during my lunch break and showed me the basic buttons and parts of the camera. He also answered my questions without a problem and without seeming rushed. I therefore conclude that I had a fair experience buying the Nikon D3100 at an affordable price from Kim Store, but that’s just the beginning. I may have to continue contacting them for any service/s covered by the warranty within the one-year time frame.
Meanwhile, I’ll still be using both my iPhone 4 camera and digital camera but maybe less in travels, blogger events and special occasions. I’m happy with the purchase transaction with kim.com.ph and enthusiastic to learn photography and take my first shots using this DLSR soon. Any tips and comments from my readers who are into photography will be appreciated! 😀
P.S. If anyone would be so kind to sponsor or give me an iPhone 5S-Gold as a gift, I will be super thankful! Hahaha. Although I know that’s highly improbable, I’m not losing my hope here.